Culture Shock L.A. offers own take on life challenges with ‘BEauty’

Krystle Bueno, center, and other cast members rehearse “BEauty.” (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / June 21, 2012)

Many of the images in last year’s “Beauty CULTure” exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography provoked discussion: the blank stare of a child beauty contestant, a pair of taut lips being poked with a surgeon’s needle. The exhibition touched on issues of vanity, acceptance and self-worth. After catching the show, a handful of dancers from the urban dance collective Culture Shock L.A. were inspired to put their own spin on the concept. This Friday at the Ford Amphitheatre, they will premiere “BEauty,” featuring their own work alongside contributions from contestants of “America’s Best Dance Crew,” guest MCs, and actress and Culture Shock L.A .board member Tamlyn Tomita.

For 19 years, Culture Shock L.A.’s main focus has been on outreach and education. The nonprofit community dance organization offers in-school, after-school and public classes in urban dance styles, mostly in neighborhoods lacking arts education programs. Armed with music and dance, they aim to cultivate dignity and combat stereotypes. In 2005, the collective decided to produce benefit shows. “BEauty” will be its eighth, and its third big production this year.

Allison Tanaka is one of Culture Shock L.A.’s co-executive directors. She is slight, almost fragile. One week before “BEauty” premieres, she is gliding graceful as a feather …

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