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THE BULL Fall 2019/ Winter 2020





Kevin Lendio Cameron Kern

Photo Editor/ Managing Editor


Jackson Hayano Reporter

Maja Losinska

Reporter/ Social Media Editor

Arielle Zolezzi

Reporter Reporter


Belen Hernandez


Abdul Alsadi Meilani Welbeck

Sonya Miller

Nicole Benda


Giselle Ornemo Reporter

Jill Connelly and Jeff Favre Advisers


Sergio Torres Reporter

A Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, Thank you for picking up this magazine. “Live Performance” is the theme I chose for this issue. Here’s why. I was 12 years old. At the time I was seeing a therapist for anxiety. And my brother, who’s three years older, was in a production of A Christmas Story. He played the bully. As I watched him opening night, with the lights shining and a packed house enjoying the performance, I noticed the audience didn’t see my older brother. They saw a bully. A character. That amazed me. It made me realize that when you are performing you get to release yourself from your troubles, enabling you to become anything you want to be. Like any stereotypical younger brother, I followed closely in his footsteps. I soon joined theater and performed in plays and

musicals. Quickly, my anxiety subsided. I haven’t seen a therapist since. I hope the stories give you a feeling similar to the one I had watching my brother that night—a feeling of appreciation for others who dare to perform live. I hope you are inspired to go see a show or maybe be in one. This magazine is the result of the hard work, dedication and teamwork of the Bull Magazine staff. I have much love and respect for those who contributed to this issue. My sincerest appreciation goes to professors Jeff Favre and Jill Connelly, as well as to the entire Pierce College Media Arts Department. Anybody that has let Jeff and Jill into their lives and genuinely listened can agree that they are two of the hardest working instructors. They pushed me beyond what I thought was my limits and I am forever indebted to the time they have spent trying to help me be a better journalist.

Best, Cameron Kern

Special Thanks Photography: Bleu Briggs Cecilia Parada Katya Castillo Chris Torres Natalie Miranda

Ryan “Hundo” Williams pose in the photo studio at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Oct. 16, 2019. Photo by Bleu Briggs

Instruction: Calvin Alagot Taylor Arthur Sean McDonald Sean Collins-Smith

Your support and dedication to the Pierce College Media Arts publications do not go unnoticed. Thank you.

CONTENTS Read more online at


The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Culture surrounding of one of the most famous cult classics in cinema

@thebullmagazine The Bull Magazine

13 Photo illustration

The current state of arts and music programs in America

14 Women’s Mariachi

All-female Mariachi group’s re-evaluation of cultural standards

10 A new vision 16 Hundo and Justbeatz

Performer doesn’t let disability stop her


Rapper and producer dream of reshaping a community

18 Another side

Kind-hearted heavy metal guitarist embraces darkness

22 Full-time college student and stripper 32 Flame on Exotic dancer in today’s world of social media

24 The art of scream


26 Keep on clowning Being a clown in a scared world

Metal band Disturbed Euphoria belt for pleasure

28 Celebrating a culture through dance

Mexican Americans celebrate heritage through Folklorico

The Rocky Horror Picture Show lIVE Story by Arielle Zolezzi Photos by Katya Castillo


efore the lights dimmed and the teleportation to Transylvania commenced on a recent fall Friday, host Zoey Hayes crawled on stage at the Nuart 5IFBUSF JO 8FTU -PT "OHFMFT UP nVGG UIF DSPXE CZ EFNBOEJOH UIF WJSHJOT in the audience take part in a rite of passage. Virgins in this case included anyone who has not seen the live adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Those who got on stage were asked to pick their favorite cartoon character— and then instructed to fake an orgasm as that animated alter-ego. After they each groaned it out, everyone ran back to their seats for the main attraction. Each weekend, the Nuart welcomes people from all walks of life and immerses them in the longest-running continuous midnight movie of all time. And although UIFZ XFSF OPU UIF mSTU MJWF DBTU JO UIF DPVOUSZ UP QFSGPSN BMPOH XJUI UIF NPWJF Sins O’ The Flesh is a veteran crew willing to get extreme when the lights go out. Abby Mahle has been participating in the cast since she was 16. Starting as a Transylvanian, because it’s the only role you can play when you are younger than 18, she then tackled other roles, such as Magenta, Columbia and Rocky. Now she serves as the group’s photographer. “I think the thing that gets me the most about this is the community space and generational mixing, which is really uncommon,” Mahler said. “To have that


Nina Minnelli glows in the spotlight as she struts across the stage as Frank N. Furter at the Nuart Theatre in Santa Monica, Calif., on Oct. 19, 2019

community space, which is LGBTQ safe and is not alcohol centered, is really amazing, because most LGBTQ places are not only 18-plus, but they are bars. Having a place that isn’t that, where you can see people getting older, is rare and should be treasured.� Mahler explained that the important thing about joining the Rocky Horror community is being open, because there is so much history to learn, and to enjoy the experience. The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s general U.S. release date was in 1975, CVU 3)14 IBE JUT mSTU NJEOJHIU TIPXJOH around April Fool’s Day at the Waverly Theater (now called IFC Center), in 1976 in New York, according to the PGmDJBM Rocky Horror Fan Page. This was the start of Rocky Horror’s “audience participation� that has lasted throughout the decades. Dressed as characters from the mMN BNBUFVS QFSGPSNFST DSFBUF B replica of what’s happening on screen, while audience members play their part with props and lines of dialogue that have developed organically through the years. The response to a movie that didn’t do well in its initial run during regular hours was a surprise to everyone— including its creators Jim Sharmon and Richard O’Brien as well as to its cast. Tim Curry, who played Dr. Frank N. Furter in the original motion picture, even attended a showing while living in New York, just down the street from the Waverly Theater, and he often witnessed fans going to midnight showings in costume, according to NPR. Living up to the cult classic’s legacy is a big act to follow, but it doesn’t discourage generations of fans from dedicating themselves to learning every facial expression, dance move and stage block. Austin Fresh, who is Sins O’ The Flesh’s cast lead, said there is still pressure to get creative because it is such a phenomenon, and they have seen so many iterations of it. “I come from a very strong theater background, so I have a lot of tools in my to break down and analyze a character as far as emotions go,� Fresh said. “Like when I played Frank, I probably took about 50-to-60 hours to break down all the facial expressions and motivations in a scene. I feel it naturally, then I build upon it. But with Trixie (the waitress or

Marlee Blackwell laughs diabolically as Frank N. Furter as Hannah Jarvis, in the role of Columbia, looks at her at the Nuart Theatre in Santa Monica, Calif., on Oct.12, 2019


Live Performance 7

Austin Fresh and Renee Jeske mirror the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie as they embody their characters Columbia and Magenta at the Nuart Theatre.

usherette), that one is nuts, because there is no one on screen, so you have to build it from scratch, and it has to be different every time.� Fresh also touched on what is like to go outside of the box and to push boundaries. “I’m Trixie, for the most part, so I do a lot of gender bending Trixies,� Fresh said. “So I’m either a full blown drag king or full blown drag queen. Very over the top, old school burlesque style.� Fresh thinks that newcomers should continue to push boundaries but also maintain the integrity that has been built. Marlee Blackwell, who has been with the cast for six years, said that the audience base and excitement has remained consistent, and that gives her hope that it will continue. “It’s because the people you meet here are amazing, and a lot of us tend UP CF PVUDBTUT PS EPO U RVJUF mU JO BOE then you come to Rocky Horror and no one cares who you are, what you look like or where you come from,� Blackwell


said. “We have people that are in theater, people that are disabled or QPMJDF PGmDFST BOE UFBDIFST *U JT TVDI B widespread group, and it is cool to see how we can all bond over this.� Blackwell picked up sewing and costume design because of Rocky Horror, and said she has sewn more sequins than she can count, all of which as an unpaid volunteer. She tells people it is more than a hobby—it’s a lifestyle. “This experience has been very cathartic,� Blackwell said. “It’s our home away from home. It gives me an outlet to perform as someone who likes to be on stage but not necessarily act in a traditional setting, and it’s a blast getting to put on makeup and costumes as well as having the community play a big part in it.� The Sins O’ The Flesh has many recurring cast members, including Lindsay Huston, who has been with the cast for more than a decade, as well as Nina Minnelli and Renee Jeske, both of whom are coming up on 20 years. Huston said that when you are

mSTU SFIFBSTJOH B MPU PG IPVST HP JOUP preparing a character. To fully study them, you must watch the movie “an obscene� amount of times. As one of the older castmates, Huston now is at the point where she knows her roles so well that she doesn’t usually need to spend a lot of time on them. She watches the movie in October for refreshers, but it’s like going on autopilot. “I would say I bring history to the cast, because I was around when a lot of the original cast members were still around, and I remember what happened, what lines were yelled out, what signs they held up,� Huston said. “Also, I feel like I’m the cool dad or the cool uncle. I just take people and I’m like, ‘It’s going to be okay my sweet summer’s child.’� Minnelli said she can’t comprehend how many hours of preparation has gone into being a part of this cast. “Thankfully, I’ve done and seen UIF mMN TP NBOZ UJNFT UIBU * DBO KVTU naturally pick up and crawl into the skin

of any character that I play,� she said. “It is just fun to see that people still want to come out, and that it is still relevant in so many ways.� Renee Jeske said that the family atmosphere is why she doesn’t quit it. “The reason I’ve been doing Rocky Horror for so long is just the people and having a cool group of friends that are just as much of weirdo as I am,� Jeske said. “We are always looking for people to join the cast, and most of my long time friends I met through Rocky. Even when people leave the cast they remain friends with people forever.� Pierce College Department Chair of Performing Arts Michael Gend said going to see a movie versus a live theater experience such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show is much like comparing listening to your favorite song on iTunes and then listening to it live in concert. “There is this viceral energy that you get from being surrounded by a live audience watching an actual actor or performer on the stage that you can’t replicate in the movies,� Gend said. “It’s this unique piece of theater that is so reactive and has this element of improvisation where the actors can really play off of audience response.�

The audience SFQMBDF MJHIUFST XJUI QIPOF nBTIMJHIUT BT UIFZ swayed side to side to a musical number at the Nuart Theatre.

A group PG mSTU UJNFST WJSHJOT DBMMFE PO TUBHF CZ emcee Zoey Hayes, reenact an orgasm as their favorite cartoon character at the Nuart Theatre.


ince 10th grade, singer and actor Stephanie Smith has struggled with her vision, from the simple need to wear glasses, to getting into a car accident that detached her retinas. Exacerbated by diabetes, she began to slowly lose her eyesight, with tunnel vision in her right eye and only peripheral in her left. Still, Smith was able to see … until 2009. “They kept doing surgery after surgery after surgery until my eye went dead,” Smith said. “I don’t even have light perception anymore. I’m completely dark.” But Smith hasn’t allowed the

Professional Singer Stephanie Smith refuses to let losing her sight stop her

Story by Meilani Welbeck Photos by Kevin Lendio

darkness to effect her passion for performing, while also helping others who are visually impaired to continue performing as well. Smith’s voice was trained by classical expert Bradley Baker. At 13, she sang background for R&B singer Natalie Cole in 1991 at the Greek Theatre. Smith went on to compete in the Los Angeles Music Center’s “Spotlight Awards” held at their Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where she became the 1995 Spotlight Award winner in her category after competing against 5,000 other music students throughout California. “I participated in anything that had music—musicals, plays, anything,” Smith said. But in 2009, she began to have issues with her eyesight. Smith said that she still was able to sing gigs, but because she let people know about her debilitating eyesite, the work opportunities came less. “Phone calls stopped,” she recalled.

“Nobody reached out to me, you know? discouraged because it seems like you And then I would reach out to them and reach out to people and people don’t want to be there, but outside of that, it’s nothing.” According to the World Health like God’s saying to me, ‘I’m showing Organization, “Globally, at least 2.2 you right now, even though you don’t billion people have a vision impairment want to do it, you can do a lot of this by yourself or blindness, without the help of whom at of those other least 1 billion people that have a vision you’re reaching impairment out to,’” Smith that could have said. been prevented S m i t h , or has yet to be BGUFS mSTU USZJOH addressed.” to resist her Despite inevitable being what blindness, some would eventually c o n s i d e r she learned to forgotten in the -STEPHANIE SMITH embrace it. industry, Smith S h e has managed to enrolled in the adjust her life. Smith’s oldest son, Jordan Taylor, California Department of Rehabilitation. who often serves as her aid, said his According to Smith, they sent people to her home to teach her how to travel mom is independent. “Generally, she tries to do stuff with a guide cane and taught her how to by herself, and when she asks, she at navigate through her kitchen. She later least lets you know she tried to do it by enrolled in computer classes. In June 2018, Smith founded The herself,” Taylor said. Smith credits her faith in God and Vizionz Project, Inc., with the purpose the encouragement from her children of providing people who are visually impaired with the same opportunities when she is feeling down. “I do have my days where I feel their sighted peers have, and to bridge the gap between the groups to help facilitate more inclusive interactions. The schools that are designed for the visually impaired children, Smith believes, are not taught at the same level.

“People saw that I lost my sight. Phone calls stopped, nobody reached out to me.”

Live Performance 11

“These kids do not get the same opportunities. No one’s teaching dance to blind kids and only some schools teach drama,� Smith said. Smith said the hardest part about running The Vizionz Project, Inc. is not UIF GBDU UIBU TIF T CMJOE CVU UIF EJGmDVMUZ to acquire fundraising. “Everything that I do is going to SFRVJSF NPOFZ BOE * N PO B mYFE income,� she said. “Using your personal money to get your business started is already hard. And when your money is limited, it’s even harder.� "DDPSEJOH UP 4NJUI T OPOQSPmU consultant Alicia Barmore, who founded Favour Consulting Group, there are NPSF UIBO i NJMMJPO OPOQSPmUT JO UIF 6 4 BOE BCPVU PG BMM OPO QSPmUT bring in less than $50k per year in revenue.� Barmore said she has helped start BOE EFWFMPQ IVOESFET PG OPOQSPmUT GPS over 12 years. “What’s really unique, and what I love about Stephanie’s story, is that she’s taking a stand for thousands of other people that are in the same situation,� Barmore said. Stephanie Smith performs at the DiPiazza Smith acknowledged that although Restaurant and Lounge. she may have lost her eyesight, she hasn’t lost her gifts. “My physical sight is gone, but my vision is very much there and I want the world to know I can see a lot more than you think I can,� Smith said.

6WHSKDQLH 6PLWK¡V music director and best friend, Jeremy Jeffers, plays at Smith’s fundraiser at DiPiazza Restaurant and Lounge on Oct. 13, 2019.

Stephanie Smith performs at IFS OPOQSPmU GVOESBJTJOH TIPX BU DiPiazza Restaurant and Lounge.

Many students in America never get their moment in the spotlight

• About one in three parents said their child received one year or less of music education. One in six parents said their child had received no music education at their school. • By 2010, 40 percent of high schools no longer required that students take arts courses to graduate, according to the report, citing U.S. Department of Education statistics. • Only a third of eighth-graders in the Western United States took an art class in 2016 and only 17 percent played in the school band, the ORZHVW ÀJXUHV RI DQ\ UHJLRQ LQ WKH FRXQWU\ according to a recently released national arts assessment.

1.3 million elementary school students don’t have access to music classes in the United States today.

Photo by Kevin Lendio Model Arielle Zolezzi Information provided by Live Performance 13

Story by Belen Hernandez Photos by Natalie Miranda

Cynthia Avila, a violinist, at the Mujeres, Musica, Mexico concert on Oct. 19, 2019, at the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles. Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas JT BO BMM GFNBMF HSPVQ

Women's Mariachi M

All-female group celebrates traditional Mexican culture in a new way

exico is home to many traditions, culture and music. The infamous Sones de Mariachi date back to the 1800s. Mariachi music was a way to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of a person’s life. Mariachi groups remain an integral part of celebrating important occasions in Mexico, such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Mariachi has generally been a maledominated genre, but there are some notable exceptions. Founded in 2007 by Maricela Martinez in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Mariachi Lindas Mexicans is an all-female mariachi group. They have performed in LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Museum of Latin American Arts and will be featured on season three of the Starz network show Vida. Martinez fell in love with the music style because her father was in a mariachi group, but she never imagined herself becoming a director of one. “I saw my father serenade the ‘mananitas’ to my mom on her birthday


every year,� Martinez said. “I never saw a girl in the group with my dad, and I never thought it was possible.� After attending an all-female mariachi concert with her sister, Martinez was amazed by their performance. “We were like ‘Oh, is that possible?’ After my sister wanted to play [in a mariachi group], she said to me, ‘Come on, let’s do it,’ and so I started playing the trumpet at 16,� Martinez said. When Martinez turned 17 she had become a director for a juvenile group and believed she was a natural-born leader. After working with many different groups she realized how much they took advantage of women. “I noticed how the directors of female groups would take a lot of money from the girls and give them a small amount,� she said. “I wanted to spread the love with mariachi and represent our culture and women.� On Nov. 2, 2007, she went to La Plazita Olvera with Guadalupe Cortez, a vihuela player, and together they found they had potential.

“We had Dia de Los Muertos makeup on,� she said. “We laid our case out and people started to put money for us. Then we had gig after gig, and everything’s been escalating to better and greater things.� Martinez decided she wanted her group to be all-female, because she believed it would give her a place where she felt supported and her voice would be heard. A musician spends a lot of their time with group members, but the closest relationship is with her instrument. “My relationship with my trumpet is so special. Every time I play it I teleport to another world and I forget all my worries and anxieties and I concentrate on just playing,� Martinez said. Martha Flores, a guitarron player for the Mariachi Lindas Mexicans, said it took her time to fall in love with her instrument. “My brother made me play the guitarron, so I did, but I learned to love it, and right after high school I came here and that’s why I am here today,� Flores said. Olga Casillas, a violinist for the group,

Olga Casillas points the microphone to the crowd to sing along during the Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas performance at the Mujeres, Musica, Mexico concert at the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

found interest in her instrument after mOE UIBU UIFJS BVEJFODF T BUNPTQIFSF DBO Mariachi is that it is distinctive to Mexicans,� Herrera said. “It’s not be contagious. hearing it play. “We do catch and feel our people’s something we cropped out from France or “I play the violin, and what inspired me was seeing women play instruments energy. For example, at a funeral you’ll China. It’s something Mexicans created. in this genre of music. I love seeing see us crying, and at birthdays you’ll see It’s part of our Identity.� Herrera said Mariachi has always women included in a male-dominated us celebrating with them,� Casillas said. been male-dominated, but it mFME w $BTUJMMBT TBJE doesn’t mean women don’t Mariachi Lindas Mexicans have the capability of doing a typically work 12 hour days but man’s job. enjoy spreading their culture “The notion that only males and empowering women can participate in this activity is UISPVHI NVTJD 5IFZ mOE UIBU just nonsensical when you think their biggest supporters are about it,� Herrera said. “But we their family members. as people often continue with Casillas said her family nonsensical ideas. So it goes was excited to see that she against [our culture], and we was going to be in a mariachi - MARCIELA MARTINEZ should just get rid of it.� group. Mariachi Lindas Mexicans “My family is very proud Founder of Mariachi Lindas Mexicans wants to be an example of UIBU UIFZ mOBMMZ IBWF B empowerment and hope to mariachi in the family because continue spreading love of Mexican they love mariachi music,� Martinez said. “It just depends on the type of event.� Fermin Herrera, a professor of culture through music. “It is part of our culture. It’s our passion. I “This is an art,� Martinez said. “When honestly don’t listen to anything else but Chicana/o studies at California State University, Northridge, said mariachi we perform, we want people to connect mariachi music.� the music with good people who are The group plays different venues for music is part of the Mexican culture. “The importance of the Son de representing our community.� different occasions, Casillas said. They

“My relationship with my trumpet is so special. Every time I play I teleport to another world.�

Live Performance 15

Ryan “Hundo” Williams and Justin “JustBeatz” Garner pose in the photo studio at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Oct. 16, 2019.



Rapper and Producer plan to take over an industry Story by Cameron Kern Photo by Bleu Briggs


t 18, during one of Ryan Williams’ shifts at Footlocker, a colleague grew sick of listening to his fantasies of being a famous rapper. He took him aside and said, “If you want to be a rapper so bad, prove it.� Williams went home that night and SFDPSEFE IJT mSTU TPOH "OYJPVTMZ IF QVU it on Facebook, the pseudo streaming service of music for teenagers in 2011. After receiving some praise—not only from his friends at work, but also from random people online—he realized this actually could be his career path. i*U XBTO U B EFmOJUJWF UIJOH XIFSF I was gloating, like I’m the man at this. That didn’t come until later,� Williams said. “I only feel that way now. But then it was like, I’m actually pretty decent at this, like if I really worked at it, I could turn this into something,� Years later, after falling in and out of love with the rap game, Williams began to take the art form seriously. Now 27, he is recognized by thousands as Hundo, the up-and-coming San Fernando Valley rapper with a promising career as a signed, featured artist for Sprite, the soda under the $PDB $PMB Company. Williams believes being a rapper today is more attractive than ever, but that many don’t see the power the form has when used as a proactive voice for change. “Maybe being a musician appears cooler than other jobs, but the core of what I do is still to support the community, UP TQFBL VQ PO JNQPSUBOU JTTVFT UP mOE B way to get involved and make a change, whether it be on the smallest scale or the largest one,� he said. “It’s evident in the music I put out. It’s evident in the rapping.� Williams spent many years deciding on what he calls “his purpose.� He worked a couple of blue-collar jobs while he studied to be a youth pastor. “I could have sworn that I was going to focus on ministry,� Williams explained. “I ended up dropping out of college to pursue ministry and then I left ministry soon after.� But it was a conversation with God that convinced him to change his direction. “It was as if God himself spoke to me and was like, ‘If this took you a year

to learn how to get better, without any success, would you be OK with that?’ Williams explained. “Once I answered that within myself, and I said ‘yes,’ I knew it was time to take it seriously.� Williams credits his success from DPOTJTUFOU JOnVFODF PO *OTUBHSBN BOE other social media platforms, as well as his support group Potluck—an artist collective he co-founded. “I wanted to create something where it’s not just about the person at the top,� he said. “Those types of organizations, they fail. So I wanted something where it’s like, if everybody cooks, everybody should eat. It’s like, let’s get people to collectively give their talents and we all SFBQ UIF CFOFmUT w Justin Garner, who goes by his stage name JustBeatz, is a music student at

over an MP3 for a live performance, but it gets boring,� Garner said. “I think people think its eye candy to see a rapper with a live band. There’s no color with an MP3. It brings color when we step into a room together.� Samuel Grodin is an adjunct performance professor at Pierce College. He said that having a live band is usually a more preferable option, regardless of the music style. “It depends on your musical vision, but there is something special about performing in a group,� Grodin said. “You react off of one another, and these reactions can make something great. Rock Concerts, for example, with all the singing and yelling, can sometimes feel like listening to the music aspect of the show becomes secondary to the performance as a whole.� Many of Williams’ songs cover social topics such as racism, political corruption and domestic violence. But his roots are focused on his backyard. “If I could change the way that things are around here in the Valley, if I could bring in more jobs, more work into this community, then that’d be cool,� Williams said. Williams dreams of building his rap career to a global scale, but he also hopes to represent the San Fernando Valley like never before by building a rap culture separate from the Los Angeles scene. “When I say I’m the best rapper in the Valley, I don’t say that to be mean to other people,� he explained. “I’m bringing awareness to the Valley, and I’m also trying to raise the level of the competition. I want people to really come to this and take it seriously.� According to an article by The Atlantic, the likelihood of becoming famous as a rapper is 0.0086%, while more than half of people in the United States ages 18-25 wish they were famous for rapping. But Williams isn’t afraid of pursuing his dreams, regardless of the statistics. “There’s a lot of artists I’ve met that are more naturally talented, but they don’t apply themselves,� he said. “To me, that’s the difference, where I feel like I have an edge.�

“I want to support the community by speaking up on important JTTVFT BOE CZ Ă OEJOH B XBZ UP get involved and make a change.â€? - RYAN WILLIAMS

Valley Rapper Hundo Pierce College and is Williams’ producer. Garner’s work can be heard on Williams’ latest project This Is Not the Album, which debuted earlier this year. “To me, it’s the craft,� Garner said. “Performing is cool, but just being in the studio, crafting new music, is always a fun experience. Always.� When Williams performs live, he raps, Garner provides beats and Erik de Guzman organizes the songs and translates them for a live setting. “When you get a great performance, it’s just like an intoxicating feeling, like you’ve done amazing and the crowd loves it. But I still love crafting a song,� Guzman said. “The process of putting sound after sound together like pieces in a puzzle, and then it all comes together beautifully. Nothing beats that.� Garner believes that Williams having a live band gives him an advantage over other rap artists. “Not to shame anyone who’s rapping

Live Performance 17

David Morgan plays a solo at the Sugar Mill Saloon, on Sept. 28, 2019, in Tarzana, Calif.

Rock Identity

s i th

Story and photos by Kevin Lendio David Morgan performs during a Halloween show at Redwood Bar, Oct. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles.


is friends call him Blake Dedlie. To his family, he’s David Christian Morgan. But on a September night at the Sugar Mill Saloon, neither “Blake� nor “David� was getting ready to perform. It was Bob Margo—the dark persona Morgan learned to synchronize at the age of 16—who stood on a small platform ready to excite the audience. Despite the chattering noise in the background, this self-taught musician pulled up his guitar, curved his back BOE MJTUFOFE JOUFOUMZ BT IJT mOHFST TXJGUMZ ran across the strings while he prepared for the show. Morgan, writer and singer of songs with titles such as Monsters, Heaven and Hell and 3A.M., grabbed his microphone as they began to perform.

“It’s not me,� he said. “That’s what it really feels like. It’s some spirit out in the world. I’m just open to it, and then * mHVSF PVU XIBU JU T USZJOH UP TBZ BOE write it out.� Morgan has written and produced songs for his rock band Twisted Black Sole that express a feeling of anger, torment and frustration rooted in certain life-altering events. Morgan said it was Bob Margo who inspired him to write songs. “One time I was in a shower and I heard a song deep from within, and I knew it was him. He’s my shadow— the animalistic monster inside me that I gave a name to,� Morgan said. This concurring identity eventually became a song of its own.

I am Bob Margo I want out of this s***hole ,W¡V SDWKHWLF , ZDQQD EH IUHH )RXQG WKH ORFN someone give me the key. I want out Let me I am Bob Margo The human stain on your soul Your sympathetic to my cry , FDQ IHHO LW WKLV LVQ¡W D OLH

Born on a Friday the 13th at 12:34 a.m., Morgan’s mother, Christy, said he was considered by the doctors as a perfect baby. “He came out with his eyes open and never cried,� she recalled. “David was a happy kid. He was an honors student, and he always makes sure to do extra.�

Live Performance 19

David Morgan performs at a Halloween show at Redwood Bar.

Morgan has attended Catholic private schools in the San Fernando Valley. He was in eighth grade at St. Bernard Elementary when he started writing lyrics. He was caught by his teacher who found IJT OPUFCPPL mMMFE XJUI DVSTF XPSET “It sucked. I was part of the student government and they kicked me out,� Morgan said. Being introverted as a kid, Morgan started leaning toward music as a source of comfort from a challenging childhood. “David’s songs are his truth and reality that he may not always show to other people,� his bandmate Ismael Ramirez commented. “A lot of them were written when he was young. It reminded him of all the things that shaped him of who he is now. In a sense, he’s kind of the most vulnerable on the stage while he sings his songs.� After Morgan’s performance at Sugar Mill Saloon, he decided to sit outside the bar and grab a glass of beer—his dark messy hair now dripping with sweat. A


few minutes later, he explained some critical moments in his life. “I was molested when I was 5. That was pretty bad. And the moment my grandmother died was a big downer too, because I was very close to her,� he said. At 18, Morgan experienced an overwhelming distress after breaking up with a girl that he thought he was going to marry. “I just became an atheist after that. I started telling people that what they believe is dumb and stupid. I was just sad,� Morgan said. His spiritual life eventually centered more in rock music and less on his religious education. “God is sort of the otherness that we can’t really spell out. Rock and roll is my god. That’s my higher power,� Morgan explained. “There are things in the world that we can’t really fathom. Like, why does music move us? It’s magical.� Throughout history, music has been proven to express and affect human

emotion. Every element of a song, from tempo to lyrics, from instrument choice to the texture of the sound, plays a role in how the brain responds. According to an article of Mmegi newspaper in Botswana, scientists reported that rock music disrupts the reasoning ability of a person by affecting the frontal lobe. This research could help explain why listeners of this genre are more likely to use drugs or even have suicidal thoughts. Because of the negative associations connected with the music, it might be EJGmDVMU UP CFMJFWF .PSHBO T PVUMFU JT OPU destructive or even unusual. “People wear different hats at different times, according to Pierce College Psychology Professor Angela Belden. “Having a side to you that’s a little bit darker or twisted is not abnormal,� she said. “I think people recognize that in themselves a lot of times. They are who they are. They’re complicated people, and

David Morgan tunes his guitar before a show at the Sugar Mill Saloon.

The Terpenese, one of David’s three bands, perform in front of a crowd at Sugar Mill Saloon.

David Morgan smiles to a bandmate in the middle of a performance at Sugar Mill Saloon.

He also mentioned the relevance why people are out marching right now. their thoughts don’t always match their words. We think things deep inside. We of how this identity can be essential in They’ve had enough, and it’s ready to come out.� keep them inside. David may just be more facing political issues. Whether a creative outlet or a “I think the reason why society is willing to take these things out.� psychological product of Apart from being a life experiences, Bob Margo founder of a rock band, became more than just a dark Morgan also has extended his side of a rock band vocalist. It JOnVFODF BT MFBEFS PG BO BMM sheds light to the modern issue NFO DPVOTFMJOH HSPVQ GPS mWF of freedom and suppression. years. To an audience, Morgan Ramirez shared that the may simply be a guy who sings image of Bob Margo has rock music and plays the guitar. inspired counseling members But to his friends and family, to unleash their strong inner he’s an image of strength and potential. authenticity. His willingness to “We are shunned from unveil his true self is the best releasing this energy because -ANGELA BELDEN performance he’s ever done. people are afraid of this power, This rock identity is and they think it is dangerous,� Pierce College Professor of Psychology Morgan’s life song—the Ramirez said. “We just happen harmony that binds darkness to accept it and allow it to be part of our lives, and then we use it the way it is right now is because it’s at from his past with the enlightenment to strengthen us, especially on stage, the point where everyone’s ‘Bob Margo’ PG mOEJOH HPPEOFTT JO IJNTFMG UISPVHI because that’s where our home is. That’s is trying to come out, and no one can music. “It’s who I am,� he said. hold it back anymore,� he said. “That’s where we belong.�

“We think things deep inside, we keep them inside. David may just be more willing to take these things out.�

Live Performance 21

The not-so-secret life of a


Story by Sergio Torres

Photos by Maja Losinska


Dylan dances around the main stage pole before the Odd Ball Cabaret opens in North Hills Calif., on Oct. 20, 2019.

ehind the deep burgundy curtain, the adult GSBHSBODF PG CVSOU UPCBDDP mMMFE UIF EJNMZ MJU Odd Ball Cabaret in North Hills on a quiet Thursday night. A patron sat by himself in the lonely club and watched as a tall woman in a revealing bodysuit that exposed her abdomen and back approached the long metallic pole. When she began to dance, the light centered on the stage lost its gleam that her SIJOFTUPOF DMBE PVUmU HBWF PGG BT IFS OBLFE UBUUPPFE nFTI TUBSUFE UP DPOUPSU BSPVOE UIF QPMF Dylan, who asked to keep her identity hidden, is a 26-year-old full-time student at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) that works on the side as an exotic dancer. After serving in the .BSJOFT GPS mWF ZFBST TIF SFUVSOFE UP TUVEZ BT B communications major while also working the allnude club. “There’d be sometimes where I cried and I would just be like, I’m over this. Why do I put up with this?� Dylan said. “But then, other times, you know, I’ve made good friends, I’ve had great nights, I’ve made a lot of money. It’s just kind of like a give and take.� Dylan moved to Long Beach after her service from the Marines and attended Long Beach City College before transferring. Even though she had her school paid by the government, Dylan wanted UP XPSL B nFYJCMF KPC UIBU CSPVHIU JO FYUSB JODPNF “You know, I was under so many rules for so long and being in the Marines and stuff, I just wanted to have fun,� Dylan said. Dylan decided to work as an exotic dancer. “At a topless club where they sell alcohol, you can get drunk at work. It just sounded like fun,� Dylan said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I’m not going to be able to do late in life.� She began searching for a club that would take her, and she eventually landed an audition in a club called Candy Cat Too in Woodland Hills. Despite

Dylan prepares for her dancing routine in the back stage at the Odd Ball Cabaret.

Several dollar bills rest in Dylan’s hand back stage at the Odd Ball Cabaret.

taking a class for pole dancing, Dylan felt that she wasn’t experienced enough. i* XBT UFSSJmFE * HPU ESVOL JO UIF QBSLJOH MPU CFGPSF * walked in. I was like shaking,� Dylan remembered. Expecting the establishment to be empty, Dylan found herself auditioning in front of several customers. “I guess I was just nervous in the lights. I was just trying hard to look not bad. I made $12 on stage. I’ll always remember that day,� Dylan said. She was rejected by the Candy Cat Too. But after that experience, Dylan found a well-known dancer PO *OTUBHSBN BOE JOTQJSFE CZ IFS MFWFM PG DPOmEFODF CFHBO to message her. Asking for a job opportunity, the woman from Instagram told Dylan about the Odd Ball Cabaret. i5IJT JT KVTU UIF mSTU DMVC * TUBSUFE XPSLJOH BU TP JU IBT B special place in my heart,� Dylan said. Although Dylan started dancing in her early ‘20s, the Odd Ball Cabaret has a wide age range of dancers. A more seasoned performer from France, who uses the stage name Manuella, has worked in the Odd Ball Cabaret for 30 years. She came into the country with a group of dancers doing several different kinds of dances, including ballet, nBNFODP BOE DPOUFNQPSBSZ After she said her husband came to America, he landed a job as a double for a Belgium action star from the late ‘80s to the ‘90s and then Manuella became pregnant. After the baby XBT CPSO TIF CFHBO UP EBODF BHBJO‰mSTU EPJOH CVSMFTRVF and later dabbling in exotic. She and her husband split and exotic dancing became her primary source of income. “I started dancing because I was by myself, and when I started dancing like 30 years ago, naked, it was a lot of good money,� Manuella said. Colleen Dunagan is professor at CSULB who teaches EBODF IJTUPSZ BOE mMN 4IF TBJE UIBU UIFSF BSF NBKPS

differences in technique between burlesque and exotic. “I might take things off but I never really let you see me,� Dunagan explained about burlesque. “It’s the temptation, *U T UIF UIPVHIU UIBU ZPV NJHIU mOBMMZ TFF TPNFUIJOH *U T OPU like stripping, where the whole point is that you’re going to already be naked or you’re going to take everything off.� Exotic dancing is not necessarily seen as a legitimate UFDIOJRVF 5IFSF BSF mOBODJBM IBSETIJQT PG JODPOTJTUFOU QBZ and it’s often not counted as an art. “Dance is probably the least respected of the art forms in terms of economic stability and commitment by the government or the culture supporting it,� Dunagan said. “We tend to expect dancers to just try and survive, somehow.� Like Dylan, Manuella attended school learning the business of beauty salons. “I kept it going with exotic dance because they gave me more money, so I could take care of my son. My son never missed anything,� Manuella said. “He has always known, but he never sees it in a bad way.� She eventually owned a salon in Encino, while dancing and going to school during the early 2000s, but the business failed. Still, Manuella is glad that she was successful during her son’s formative years. “He has had a very good career, and I’m so proud of him, because, for me, the most important thing after having my son, is being a good mom,� Manuella said. Dylan lived through the tribulations of the Marines and is continuing her journey with education. Although she started dancing just as a temporary job, it has taught her some skills that will be useful later on in life. “I’ve never regretted it. I saved up a lot of money. I have a surgery coming up that I’m paying for in cash,� Dylan said. i0G DPVSTF UIF TI UIJOHT DBNF BMPOH XJUI JU CVU * EFmOJUFMZ don’t regret it and I would do it again for sure.�

Live Performance 23

] The art of extreme vocals in heavy metal culture

Story and photos by Nicole Benda

Disrupted Euphoria performs at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, Nov. 1, 2019.


However, many modern acts today, and, two, it doesn’t ruin my throat when I’m entura metal band Disrupted Euphoria waited patiently in the such as Disrupted Euphoria, have all done,� Ribble said. Learning how to manipulate her voice wings of the small bar, Whisky harnessed this sound and taken it up a Go Go, on Los Angeles’ another level to show that extreme in several ways has also been fun for famed Sunset Boulevard, as a one-man vocals are an entirely new style that are Ribble. She likes how anyone can learn, regardless of gender or singing ability. FMFDUSPOJD CBOE mOJTIFE VQ IJT MBTU as technical as conventional singing. “The thing that’s the most fun about it is Ribble explained Disrupted Euphoria’s song. that you’re suddenly sounding Frontwoman Hannah like a dragon,� Ribble said. “Rebel� Ribble cheerily “You’re not using your actual bobbed her head to the voice, so there’s no reason music, chugging down much for it to even sound feminine of her water in only a few or masculine. It becomes moments. irrelevant at that point. It’s She was preparing her pretty cool. It’s just a human voice to make maniacal thing.� sounds some would call Extreme vocals are an shocking or scary. acquired taste, and bands Extreme vocals are most usually accompany it with dark often used in metal and lyrical imagery, along with punk genres. Various types -HANNAH “REBEL� RIBBLE a rebellious or evil-themed of growling, screaming and performance. guttural noises are used to Frontwoman of band Disrupted Euphoria convey intensity beyond Guitarist Austin early days consisted of performing mainly i4IBEPXTJMMw .JUSPGBOJT TBJE IF mOET what singing may express. The roots of these vocal styles are covers of other band’s work until she the band’s practice sessions to be as old as rock n’ roll itself, with artists began to dabble with growling. therapeutic. “Austin, the guitar player, asked me if I in the 1950’s such as Little Richard, “We’re an excellent outlet for Screamin Jay Hawkins and James wanted to learn how to growl. It was about aggression and frustration,� Mitrofanis Brown gaining fame belting lyrics in OJOF NPOUIT JO XIFO * XBT mOBMMZ MJLF 0, * said. “Most of the time, when I’m having DBO mOBMMZ EP UIJT BOE POF JU EPFTO U IVSU a hard week, I know I have band practice moments of passion.

“You’re not using your actual voice, so there’s no reason for it to even sound feminine or masculine. It’s just a human thing.�

24 17

or a show coming up, and it’s cathartic when the four of us get together.� Pierce College’s Music Professor Garineh Avakian explained how Ribble may be able to maintain a growl-like distortion in her voice. i0OF PG UIF XBZT UIBU ZPV DBO EP JU SJHIU JT mOEJOH UIF SJHIU QJUDI GPS you to growl on or yell on,� Avakian said. “So that’s something that I do. Like when I have to get mad, I don’t use my throat. I just pop my sound into the head voice, and it’ll be really loud.� Avakian emphasized that air control is most important when doing any kind of vocals. “We are a wind instrument, so everything that we do with the voice is based on breath,� Avakian said. “Your bottom line engine is your breath management and your breath support.� Similarly, Ribble avoids putting tension in her throat and uses more of her head voice and face. This technique is meant to prevent vocal cord damage. “A lot of the sound is manipulated by how you hold your jaw or your tongue, or how open wide your mouth is,� Avakian said. 3JCCMF MBVHIFE B CJU XIFO TIF SFDBMMFE mSTU BDIJFWJOH B QPXFSGVM growl. “Eventually, when the noises start to come out correctly, there’s just UIBU IPMZ TI * N EPJOH JU NPNFOU *U T MJLF XIFO ZPV SF mOBMMZ SJEJOH B bike,� Ribble said. Mitrofanis understands that same feeling of excitement through the aggressive performance and sound of metal music. “I think metal fans enjoy harsh vocals because the metal is already a very primal genre of music,� he explained. “I can feel a sense of happiness and ease when I’m listening to it. Then there are millions of other people that feel the same way, so it’s one gigantic family of headbangers and moshers.�

Vocalist Hannah Ribble, alongside her metal band Disturbed Euphoria UBLF B HSPVQ QIPUP QPTU TIPX PVUTJEF UIF 8IJTLZ B (P (P

An audience watches metal band Disrupted Euphoria performing at Whisky a Go Go.

Live Performance 18

Today’s clowns aren’t as scary as you might think Story by Jackson Hayano Photos by Maja Losinska and Cecilia Parada


group of children sat together on a lawn and watch as a man in a checkered shirt and polka dot pants juggles red and yellow bowling pins. The clown cried out that he doesn’t know how to stop juggling, and his audience of children and adults laughed at his predicament. Pretend tears, real laughter and wild juggling— just another day in the life of Gilly the Clown. Gilly, whose real name is Guilford Adams, has been a professional clown for almost 20 years and has performed more than 3,000 kid parties. “As a clown, you’re trying to reach the largest group of people. You’re trying to bring smiles and a sense of humor to the human existence that we call life,” Adams said. Born and raised in Texas, Adams became interested in clowns as a teenager. His local church had a


clown ministry, where magicians and clowns would perform for children and the elderly. Inspired by these performances, Adams committed himself to the craft. i* EJE NZ mSTU TIPX JO B OVSTJOH home for an old lady. I remember taking a pair of Air Jordans that I had, taping them up, spray painting them and creating my own clown shoes and costume,” Adams said. World Clown Association Director Dean Cotton runs a clown ministry in Fayetteville, Georgia. Cotton explained how the art of clowning can be combined with Christian ministry. “Clowns can be used to draw people and provide opportunities for relationships to form between people,” Cotton said. “Clowning can be used to teach a lesson from the Bible. At my church, we sometimes introduce the Sunday School lesson for the day using an object lesson or skit during

the group opening session with all the children.” When he got to high school, Adams became more focused on sports and dropped the act. But as an adult, he gravitated back toward clowning and decided to audition for the famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1997. He wasn’t accepted, though even if he had it wouldn’t have made much of a difference because the college closed down later that year. Although Ringling Bros. had one of the most prestigious clown colleges in the world, Adams said that their training and showmanship is different from the kind of performances that he prefers. “Most Ringling clowns that I know do not have a giant skillset to deal with children, because the people are so far away, so you don’t really interact with them,” Adams said. “In a lot of ways the things that people associate with

BO FWJM PS NFOBDJOH mHVSF JT B SFMBUJWFMZ recent phenomenon. “[In old movies] clowns were shown as dual-natured. They have their persona as a clown, but then they’re often shown as being sad or tragic individuals,� Windrum said. “I can’t think of any sinister or evil clowns until 20, 30 years ago.� In the past, clowns such as Bozo or Ronald McDonald gave the profession a light-hearted and positive image. Today, there are few positive role model clowns, which Adams believes is the reason for the strong negative associations with his profession. “In 2019, the only clowns you see are scary looking, like Pennywise and the Joker,� Adams said. “I wonder if clowns in their own way are like indicators of what society is going through. We personalize our frustrations and anxieties in this sort of anonymous face-painted person.� But the negative perception of clowning hasn’t stopped Adams from getting gigs on TV shows such as Modern Family and Glee. He has also starred in more than three dozen commercials and acted in segments for Disney and Buzzfeed. Yet, when he’s a clown on set, Adams has a strange feeling of detachment from his fellow coworkers. “There’s like this extra layer of anonymity,� Adams said. “Because you’re not you—you’re in character. I’m not Guilford Adams. I’m Gilly. I go by ‘Gilly.’ People don’t quite know who you are. More often than not, when I’m a clown on set, my actions are very surface level with people.� Even though Adams loves acting on television, he prefers to have a live audience, because it gives him the opportunity to improvise and be interactive. “As a clown, there’s a slightly richer experience being on stage or being in front of people, because clowns don’t have a wall,� Adams said. “You need Lower left: to have audience interactions, whereas Guilford “Gilly� Adams juggles during an act in Woodland Hills, Calif. Photo by Cecilia Parada. with an actor you could operate with a wall.� As a man in love with his profession, Left center: Guilford “Gilly� Adams performs a magic trick in Woodland Hills, Calif. Photo by Maja Losinska. Adams said the best part of his job is the simple sound of laughter, and added. “The fuel you get from making Right Center: somebody else laugh, it’s such a unique Guilford “Gilly� Adams makes a balloon animal in Woodland Hills, Calif. Photo by Cecilia Parada. experience,� he said.

clowns, like balloon animals or gentle word play, they don’t do that.� Adams moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to pursue an acting career. Wanting to make money between auditions, he joined a clown company and began performing at parties. Adams had learned his tricks largely on the job and from experience, and it was during his early years of performing that he created “Gilly.� It isn’t a single, unchanging character. There are multiple personas, such as Doctor Gilly, Cowboy Gilly and Light Face Gilly and so on. In a digital age where so much entertainment comes from the Internet or television, Adams stressed the importance of exposing young children to live performances. “They watch TV. Everything now is given to you through a two-dimensional phone or video,� Adams said. “ I think there’s something very vital about that. Live performances are something real. We’re an active part of it. Kids, especially, don’t have that anymore.� When most people think of clowns, they imagine a fully painted face and a wacky wig. But when Adams performs for kids, he uses only a little makeup around his eyes and he wears the signature red nose. Adams also adjusts his personality based on the age of his primary

audience. “I try to be more compassionate for younger kids. A little more higher pitched and more agreeable,� Adams said. “But I’ll be a little more laid back and settled with older kids.� Hecklers or other rude audience members might give Adams a hard time during a performance. When this happens, he tries to ignore them. “I just talk to people who are more receptive. It’s a lot like anything you do in any profession. You gravitate toward people who are willing to listen,� Adams said. “When I have people who don’t want to listen or use the opportunity to act out, I just steer myself toward other kids that are interested. Kids will warm up.� Adams believes that disliking clowns is a popular norm in today’s society, but JU BMTP POF UIBU MBDLT KVTUJmDBUJPO “I’ve been saying I hate Nickelback for as long as I could remember, and I couldn’t even tell you three of their songs. But I’m told I should hate them. I think a lot of people fall into that category with clowns,� Adams said. “I don’t fault people all that much for it, because no one is really championing clowns.� Assistant Professor of Cinema Ken Windrum said that before the 1990 TV miniseries IT, clowns in cinema were portrayed as complex yet sympathetic characters. The image of a clown being

Live Performance 27

Company A dancers Alenia Gonzalez, Leslie Ruvalcaba and Arielle Navarrete rehearse before their performance at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem in Encino, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2019. Center Left: Children get ready to perform at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.


Bottom Left: Alenia Gonzalez checks her makeup and hair at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.

Bottom Center: Ballet Aztec studio owner Amy Navarrete gathers her dancers to pray before they go on stage at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.

DANCE TO THE HEART Story by Giselle Ornemo Photos by Kevin Lendio


or many people, a home does not have to be a physical place. Instead, it’s a feeling. Inside Amy Navarrete’s dance studio Ballet Aztec, it’s easy to tell that this place is home for many who enter. The purple-colored walls at the entrance are decorated with pictures of past performances. The studio has a TNBMM XBJUJOH SPPN mMMFE XJUI IPNFNBEF food for the parents to eat while they XBJU GPS UIFJS BTQJSJOH EBODFST UP mOJTI practice. In front of the table is a bright baby pink wall with a rectangle-shaped window where they can peek at the children. The other side of these walls is the actual studio, where these young dancers begin their journey into Folklorico. "OE UIBU T XIFSF ZPV MM mOE Navarrete, who teaches with a spirit of discipline and honor. Her practices always start with a soft melody music warm-up. She explained that doing this helps the children let out whatever stress they had during the day so can focus solely on learning the new

routines. Navarrete has been a ballet 'PMLMPSJDP EBODFS GPS mWF EFDBEFT She started dancing when she was 5 in Jalisco, Mexico. When Navarrete was 12, she moved to California with her family in search of a better future. Even though she had left her country behind, she retained the roots of being a Mexican. Navarrete noticed there wasn’t much Mexian culture represented at her school, which prompted her to start a ballet folklorico club. Navarrete said she has always held a strong sense of dedication in teaching others the values and traditions of Mexico the only way she knew—through dance. This later prompted her to open the dance studio. Throughout the years Navarrete has been teaching, she could see how, through dance, her students have HBJOFE DPOmEFODF /BWBSSFUF SFDBMMFE a young girl who was a great dancer, CVU IFS TIZOFTT NBEF JU EJGmDVMU GPS IFS to really enjoy the performances. “The amazing part is that she never wanted to smile,� Navarrete said, “No matter what I did to her, what I would

Live Performance 29

recently started to be appreciated. “For us to learn language and math, we need to know the patterns and the sequence,” Garcia said. “So, dance also helps children to learn those sequences through learning the steps of a routine.” Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia, the editor of Dancing Throughout Mexican History (1325-1910), explained that the history of Mexico is intertwined with dance. Mendoza-Garcia, is a ballet Folklorico dancer as well. Mendoza-Garcia said the importance of dance is it articulates Mexican culture and preserves its history. “Dancing tells you who we are as a people,” she explained. “There are stories that are passed down in history and then passed down from one generation to the next through movement. These dances are ways of remembering our ancestors through embodied movements, through our dancing.” An analysis by Ed Morales published in 2018 in the Washington Post reported that young Latinos who were raised to assimilate into American society during the crucial developmental years have a strong urge to connect to their ancestral roots when they get older. Many of these young Latinos struggle with how they identify culturally, which causes emotional distress and brings deep insecurities that hinder them from moving forward with their future. That is why Navarrete puts a great emphasis on teaching her students to be proud of their heritage. “We, as a community, have to defend our language. We have to defend our food, our dance, or music,” Navarrete said. “The only way we’re going to do that is to start by the root. And the root is the children.” Navarrete said that she wants her students to be able to recognize that they are ambassadors when they perform— ambassadors of the Mexican culture and its rich history. By opening Ballet Aztec Navarrete hopes that the studio is not only a place of dance but a place of community. Familia. A home away from home. “I opened the doors as a gift to the community, and I want everyone to feel welcome, appreciated and respected,” Navarrete said. “I wanted them to have that space where they could come and say, ‘Oh, I am a folklorist. I belong to a ballet Folklorico,’ and to say it with pride.”

Arielle Navarrete, the daughter of studio owner Amy Navarrete, performs traditional moves from the Nayarit region of Mexico at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.

Ballet Aztec studio owner Amy Navarrete dances with her group,“pollitos,” at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.

Live Performance 31

Company B performs a traditional number from the region of Sianola, Mexico, at Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.

bring her, what I would give her, she dance, Navarrete shows the meaning Aguascalientes, Mexico. “When I dance, I feel more and the symbolic value of each didn’t smile while performing.” connected to my culture,” Graciela With the encouragement from movement. Destiny Estrada, a 14-year-old Estrada said. “I dance because it shows Navarrete and the other teachers at the studio, the girl eventually began to middle school student, has been a different side of me that I don’t get to say every day.” smile during performances. Now living in Burbank, She blossomed into one of Graciela Estrada brings her Navarrete’s best dancers. granddaughter every Friday Now 12, she dances with the at 6 p.m. to Ballet Aztec to older and advanced group. watch her Destiny perform the “She dances with her same dances she performed entire soul and heart,” in Mexico. Navarrete said. “It’s because “I can’t help but feel of her determination to really happy when I see her dance,” learn and also to let go of Graciela Estrada said. “I feel that shyness. Once she’s so proud of her when I see on stage performing with - GABRIELA MENDOZA-GARCIA how much work and love my the rest of her peers, she’s granddaughter puts in every a really happy and joyful Editor of Dancing Throughout Mexican History time she dances.” person.” Special Needs Educator As with any dance genre, learning the steps is the most dancing since she was 5. For the Estrada Maria Eugenia Garcia said that the art challenging part. However, for these family, dancing is a tradition passed of dancing can help children mature young dancers, many of whom started on through generations, including cognitively, socially, emotionally and as the same time they were learning to her grandmother, Graciela Estrada, physically. She explained that the walk, it is second nature. With each new who was a dancer in her hometown of research on its effectiveness has only

“These dances are ways of remembering our ancestors through embodied movements, through our dancing.”




Moment OF THE


s the sun dipped below the horizon on a fall Wednesday evening, several dozen men and women strolled onto the grounds of Culver City Park. Members of Burn Club, which holds XFFLMZ QFSNJUUFE FWFOUT PG mSF TQJOOJOH sprayed gasoline on to staffs, boltchained balls and hula-hoops, walked toward the empty basketball court— QBVTFE CZ BO PQFO nBNF KVUUJOH GSPN B jar—lit their instruments and entered the QBWFE BSFB BT JG PO mSF Burn Club veteran Sydney


Brushwood, wearing black leggings and a dark navy tank top, enveloped herself with a hot, glowing blaze coming GSPN IFS IVMB IPPQ BOE TFWFSBM mUUFE rings that resemble the claws of Marvel superhero Wolverine. In that place at that moment, Brushwood was exactly where she wanted to be. “You feel free when performing,� she TBJE :PV DIBOOFM UIF IFBU GSPN UIF mSF Fire spinning makes me feel complete.� Brushwood began obtaining the TLJMMT OFFEFE GPS mSF TQJOOJOH BU "GUFS

three years of practicing staff handling, TIF BEEFE UIF nBNF i8IFO * mSTU TUBSUFE QSBDUJDJOH XJUI mSF * XPSF QBKBNB QBOUT w #SVTIXPPE said, well aware now of her mistake. “You don’t want to wear baggy clothing XIJMF EPJOH mSF * XBT EPJOH B mSF TUBGG once, and I put it behind my body and the wick got stuck on the pants and my CVUU XBT PO mSF GPS B CSJFG TFDPOE w Early on, she had several other incidents, including burns and setting IFS IBJS PO mSF (SBEVBMMZ TIF MFBSOFE what to wear and how to handle the

Story by Abdul Alsadi Photos by Chris Torres

Syndey Brushwood at the Burn Club meet up at Culver City Park, Culver City Calif., on Oct. 9, 2019.

equipment—and then she joined Burn Club. /PU UZQJDBMMZ B DPOmEFOU QFSTPO outside of performing, Brushwood said Burn Club gave her a boost of DPOmEFODF BOE EPJOH XIBU TIF EPFT NBLFT IFS GFFM TUSPOH BOE DPOmEFOU “I was the outsider,� Brushwood said. “I would always want to just leave because I felt inadequate. I wasn’t good enough. After a while, after you go repetitively and consistently, people get to know you, and you become like a household name.�

Brushwood became the admin for Burn Club, which means she was responsible to make sure everyone GPMMPXFE UIF SVMFT TVDI BT XIFSF UIF mSF zones are and how to light up in the safe zones. While the art was new to Brushwood, mSF TQJOOJOH EBUFT CBDL UP BODJFOU Polynesian rituals. According to Tahiti 5SBWFMFS 1BDJmD *TMBOEFST VTFE mSF UP channel gods, articulate emotion and QFSGPSN TBDSJmDFT Tahiti Traveler publication noted, “We took the base of the dancing and

gave it a better meaning or took it into another direction. Expressing your feelings of love and passion through the QPXFS PG mSF w Professor of Anthropology at Pierce College Ilya Neman gave credence to UIF IJTUPSZ CFIJOE mSF JO DVMUVSF “Polynesian culture is based on giving and requesting from the gods. 5IF mSF EBODF XBT QFSGPSNFE GPS OBUVSF to be fertile and abundant during harvest seasons,� Neman said. Andy Huang is the club’s current admin. He also founded Burn Club in

Live Performance 33

Upper Left: Lopati Leaso SUDFWLFHV KLV ÀUH VSLQQLQJ URXWLQH ZLWK WKH %XUQ &OXE at Culver City Park. Upper Center: Heather Blount (OOLRWW VSLQV KXOD KRRSV ZLWK ÀUH DW WKH basketball court at Culver City Park. Upper Right: Marci Javril OD\V RQ KHU VWRPDFK ZKLOH ÀUHVSLQQLQJ DW the basketball court at Culver City Park. Bottom Right: Cameron Vermeulen VZLQJV KLV ÀUH ZKLS DW WKH Burn Club meet up at Culver City Park. Bottom Left: Fire dancers practice their routines at the basketball court at Culver City Park.

“Fire is about empowerment and sensing the elements. It’s a primal thing.� - ANDY HUANG

Admin of The Burn Club


2003. His goal was to make a community that can express UIFJS GFBST BOE MPWF UISPVHI mSF “It’s really important to a lot of us,� Huang said. “Fire is about empowerment and sensing the elements. And that’s a primal thing.� Diana Pahk, Brushwood’s partner and friend, sometimes spins with her. She is a dancer and doesn’t consider herself B mSF TQJOOFS “I feel so free when I dance,� Pahk said. “Any type of dancing to me is freeing the soul.� #SVTIXPPE TBJE TIF IPQFT UP LFFQ mSF TQJOOJOH GPS years to come, motivated by the community of friends she has made and the thrill she gets when she performs. “Fire spinning will always be a part of me. It gave me DPOmEFODF BOE TFMG FTUFFN w #SVTIXPPE TBJE i#VSO $MVC JT B GBNJMZ UP NF 5IF IFBU GSPN UIF mSF XIJMF QFSGPSNJOH has an incredible sensation. You feel free when performing. You feel as if your channeling the Earth’s elements.�

THEBULLMAG.COM The “Live Performance” Issue