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Baseball’s Most Valuable Dancers

“We need some extra movers at a packing house in Anaheim.”

 

Packing house? Movers?? That was exactly how UCI Dance Professor Sheron Wray described March 26th to me as well as several other dancers while asking for our help. It’s relevance to dance was quite beyond my knowledge at the time and I wasn’t the only person to have doubts. Little did I know that this day would be filled with plot twists.

 

At the time, I didn’t realize that this was an event produced by JazzXchange, a non-profit performing arts organization, to expose to the public and give a taste of the Citrus Festival that is to occur in April 9th in honor of Jazz Appreciation month.

 

And, contrary to my initial thoughts, the alleged “packing house” is actually the Anaheim Packing District where the interior is lavishly decorated by artsy furniture, garnished with touches of history and full of a  multitude of unique restaurants that serve food from around the globe in different styles.

 

Well . . . I thought I would be hauling around boxes of potatoes.

While my day consisted of taking photos and documenting the event under the supervision and mentorship of Annalisa Carrillo-Fulk, one of JazzXchange’s administrative volunteers, Artistic Director Sheron Wray and guest choreographer and UCI alumni Leann Alduenda led the young dance majors around the area to teach them various pieces and perform said pieces in front of the unsuspecting crowd. One of the pieces that certainly turned a lot of heads was Sheron’s tap piece that was taught in the center of the Packing House on the wood floor. Meanwhile, the dancers have also utilized the furniture within the building such as one of Leann’s pieces on one of the tables. Several other dancers choreographed a modern dance on a patio outside of the House and mimicked the same choreography on the different stairways throughout the building.

 

Instead of the masses attending a dance show, our job today was to bring the show to them.

 

For the dancers, it’s not a surprise that they’ve performed site-specific work around the UC Irvine campus; however for some such as Jazmine Curie, they’ve never had experience in performing in areas as public as the Packing House.

“It was wonderful to hear the inquiries of passersby and see those intrigued enough to stop and watch.  There were a few times I felt bad to be in someone’s way or making them feel they couldn’t interrupt.  Looking at it now I think it’s a very interesting social situation.” said Jazmine as she recounted her experience on Saturday.

 

Of course, there would be more to occur on that Saturday. After the number of surprise performances, one of UCI’s dance majors, Irishia Hubbard, arrived with the intention of conducting three impromptu workshops for the youths at the Packing House.

 

When I first gave out the announcement that the workshops were going to happen, I expected small groups of girls to approach us with the eagerness to move. We didn’t predict that the turnout would actually be a large group of rambunctious young boys! When Irishia started to warm them up by doing basic dance moves to hit songs, it became obvious that the boys weren’t interested in learning a small hip hop combo but rather kept urging Irisha to host an intense dance battle instead! When Irisha complied with their wishes, March 26th became the funniest and cutest day in my life.

 

When the event came to an end, everybody was able to leave the Packing House with a story to tell. For me, this mysterious event transformed into a pleasured memory. I learned that nothing is what it seems and that perhaps the result would be pleasantly surprising

 

Instead of the masses attending a dance show, our job today was to bring the show to them.

 

Instead of bringing the show to the masses, we brought to ourselves a renewed cognizance of our extraordinary world.

 

Written by Shannon O’Connor