EVERY NOVEMBER, Micaya and the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest present its dynamic weekend of performances by artists and companies from around the world, highlighting an incredible range of Hip Hop forms. One festival favorite is the Bay Area’s own Mix’d Ingrdnts, an all female-identified crew led by co-founders Samara Atkins and Jenay “ShinobiJaxx” Anolin. Dancers’ Group interviewed Anolin to learn more about the crew, how it started, and what inspires them.
How did Mix’d Ingrdnts get started?
It all started when I met Samara Atkins at a dance company audition. We both trained as teenagers with New Style Motherlode back in 2008. The idea for our company came from months of conceptualizing ideas together. We felt the need to create something that the Bay Area wasn’t showcasing. That was a collaboration of styles, an all female-identified crew, with a focus on performing. In 2009 I lost my father fairly quick to cancer and was inspired to follow my heart with no time to waste. I said to Samara “Let’s do this!” and Mix’d Ingrdnts began promptly on January 1, 2010.
Where did the name, Mix’d Ingrdnts, come from?
One day we were looking at a flyer for a food event that had a picture of a tongue on it and it had the tastes on there, such as bitter, sweet, salty, and sour. We thought this could be each lady representing a different element of the group. As this idea evolved, we said how bout if we put all of these elements, styles, and things mixed together in a bowl like ingredients, to make good recipe. Thus, Mix’d Ingrdnts was born.
What’s unusual or unique about Mix’d Ingrdnts?
We represent such dynamic styles of dance such as Hip Hop, House, Waacking, Locking, Breaking, Cultural Dance and also have a strong technical background/foundation in dance styles of Ballet, Modern and Jazz. We operate in a male-dominated realm of dance so what’s unusual is that we are such a strong force of women representing street dance in the Bay Area and are recognized for that.
Who is a part of Mix’d Ingrdnts? How do they become part of the group?
The current company is Zoe? Muhler, Esme Kundanis-Grow, Shelley Alingas, Marlena Zahm, Desiree Dela Pena, Samara Atkins, and myself. One can become part of the group by either an audition process or by being asked to train and take class from both co-founders for a matter of weeks to then be asked to join the group.
Where does the company perform?
Mix’d Ingrdnts performs at schools in the Bay Area, street festivals, dance conferences, forums, the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest, at our annual show at Laney College, galas, and various other events.
If no one knew anything about Mix’d Ingrdnts, what would you want them to know?
We’d want them to know that we are not just a dance company, but that we are a group that loves to affect social change, uplift our community, and connect with each other, as well as build stronger community with youth and adults. Mix’d Ingrdnts is a sisterhood.
We just created Mini Mix’d, our first official youth dance company for young girls ages 8-17. I wanted to create an opportunity for young ladies to be a part of our movement. They get to perform with us, develop their team building skills and create social change through performance. We have a lovely group of 9 girls that meet with me once a week for 2 hours.
Mix’d Ingrdnts also hosts and enters battles, which is a whole different experience from just performance. It is very challenging because not only are you testing your skill of movement and musicality at the moment, but it is very fun in the end and I feel makes you a stronger dancer.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of Mix’d Ingrdnts?
I feel like this whole journey has been such a humbling and priceless learning experience. We have had our fair share of challenges, but through it all, we have grown up. It shows not only in our craft and creativity as individual movers and performers but is also shown in our collective work that impacts the community directly. It is extremely empowering to reflect upon it all.
It is also the bonds made with the women in the company. Like minded people and interconnected souls. The energy passed through one another feels good to walk through the world with.
Tell us about the work you’ll be showing at the SF International Hip Hop DanceFest.
The piece we’ll show at the festival is part of a greater work that we will be showcasing in our annual show focusing on the ways we connect and interconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and our world. This will be our 4th year performing at the Festival and we’ve constantly topped ourselves every year so we have that to go up against this year. We were also the poster children last year so now that more people know of us, we have some big shoes to fill.
What is it like to perform at the SF International Hip Hop DanceFest?
It’s one of the only Hip Hop shows that is showcased in a theatre. Street dance and Hip Hop is usually done in the street but to bring it to that kind of venue is unlike any Hip Hop performance.
What’s a future goal or dream that you have for Mix’d Ingrdnts?
To continue to inspire youth, women, and the greater community through storytelling, knowledge, and power. To keep creative expression in the form of the traditional way stories used to be passed down and accessible. To keep the heartbeat of the community alive. Oh, and to travel more!
What Hip Hop group(s) are you inspired by?
We are more inspired by music and messages than we are by specific people or groups. We’re constantly inspired by each other when we work together.
Do you have a favorite dance move?
No, I like to dance free.
What haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
We host a weekly Waacking session every Wednesday night at City Dance Studios in San Francisco from 9:30-11pm. It’s open to all. We play disco and funk and it’s a place for people to practice the dance style at their own pace. All we ask is for a $3 donation to help pay for space. (details at mixdi.com)