A hip-hop group that taps into teen talent in Los Angeles will showcase their art here in Kodiak.
Co-founder and co-artistic director of Versa-Style dance company, Leigh Foaad, is traveling with the adult dancers on their Alaska tour.
He explains the Versa-Style crew grew out of his work with co-founder, Jackie Lopez, after they initially met for her senior thesis. He says their team developed organically into one that worked with fellow dancers and then with kids.
He says they officially formed Versa-Style in 2005.
“By the time we became a nonprofit, we were also realizing that we were gaining a momentum of raising a new crop basically, young teenagers from the San Fernando Valley and East L.A., which are pretty hard neighborhoods, low-income families, communities that don’t get this access of dance on a regular basis.”
They offer discount classes, and kids who show interest and improvement may become more permanent dancers with the group, all on the condition that they keep their grades up.
Foaad says in addition to being fun, Versa-Style keeps teens active and occupied.
“These kids are at a high rate of dropouts, at a high rate of pregnancy, at a high rate of unfortunately just getting into the wrong business because there’s really no steady ground, there’s really no safe environment for these kids to just have a positive outlet.”
He says membership in Versa-Style has given the kids the chance to travel to places like India, Colombia, Vancouver.
Edit February 01, 2017: A former version of this article said that the teens would be accompanying the Versa-Style dancers, but the Alaska tour only included the adult dancers.