From the fly girls of In Living Color to the famous silhouettes of Beyoncé’s single ladies, there are plenty of pop culture examples of jaw-dropping, coordinated women dancers.
But for Oakland-based Jenay Anolin and Samara Atkins, both classically trained dancers who later fell in love with street dance, the options for women felt limiting. The pair met at a dance audition in 2008, and “in a lot of the groups that we were seeing, there was a heavy focus on the objectification of women,” Anolin tells KQED Arts.
“They didn’t have the essence of what I wanted to portray as a dancer, which was freedom, confidence, and empowerment,” adds Atkins.
The two formed a partnership, and set out to create what they weren’t seeing for women and girls in the street dance scene. Mixing hip-hop moves with breakdancing, house, samba, waacking, ballet, and jazz, they started Mix’d Ingrdnts, an all-female, multi-genre, multi-ethnic dance crew.
The group has danced at street festivals around the Bay and has been a featured act at the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest, where they will perform again this year Nov. 20 – 22, 2015. Mix’d Ingrdnts also makes a point to perform at local schools and conferences, as well as hosting a full-length annual show at Oakland’s Laney College to spread their purpose of community and unity through dance. – Emma Silvers