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Post by Allegra Padilla, Experience Director

Antelope Valley is known for the beautiful desert landscape, the aerospace industry and often times for being a place that is just far enough away from LA to feel like an escape.

View from Jackie Robinson Recreation Center (Sun Village).

Last year the LA County Arts Commission awarded Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre funding to create a project for Outpost. Antelope Valley Art Outpost (Outpost) is a creative place-making project that supports regional vitality through innovative, artist-driven projects in the unincorporated communities of Littlerock and Sun Village.

Our Outpost project is titled A Sign of the Times and uses dance as a catalyst to help build community identity and unity. We’re currently in “phase one” of the project—a series of workshops with different community partners. These workshops lead up to a performance at the Shaw Building. Site-specific dance lends itself to not only creating an end product but also the opportunity to build with cultural workers along the way.

Some of our wonderful collaborators in Sun Village. (From L: Barbara Malone, Vanessa Thomas and James Brooks)

We’ve had a wonderful journey thus far, immersing ourselves into the cultural happenings of Sun Village and Littlerock. We’ve visited schools, restaurants, community meetings and wherever else we are welcomed. One thing I find exceptional about my experience in Antelope Valley is the positive response and open heartedness of the people I’ve spoken with. One of my goals as Experience Director is for my work to have an impact on a larger scale and I am thankful to be in a position where I can carry out that mission.

Part of our “dance manifesto” states, “dance connects us to humanity.” After our recent workshop with the Jolly Seniors—a group of elders who convene to socialize and dance together at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center in Sun Village—we received a beautiful comment. In response to being asked “What surprised you?” the participant said:

“That it was a younger group wanting to hang out with the Jolly Seniors.”

Sentiments like this enforce why our work is important and that a sign of a thriving community is a strong artistic and cultural presence.

Don’t our workshops look fun? (Gif by Sean Deckert)

There are many people, groups and organizations that help define and create a vibrant arts scene in Littlerock and Sun Village: folklorico dance groups; drummers; former members of the Blackouts, an original Frank Zappa band; Native American dancers; church based dance groups; festival builders; school based performance groups; visual artists; filmmakers and many others reflecting a rich and varied history.

Our goal in the brief time we are in the Antelope Valley is to help bring people together to maintain a solid and unified identity in the face of changing times. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is slated to start building a line connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco that will create many opportunities for development and changes to a way of life that has been relatively rural and tranquil. For me creating/connecting with people is an act of love and dedication. It is my hope that a community that can create together will also be a unified force in times of change. The beautiful thing about art is that it acts as social equalizer of sorts.

Please join us for the workshops and performances! (Details here.) We look forward to seeing you there!

This is a project of Antelope Valley Outpost (Outpost), managed by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Outpost is a placemaking project that support regional vitality through artist-driven projects in the unincorporated communities of Littlerock and Sun Village. The project is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council with support from Metabolic Studio.