Culture Shock Dance Troupe History
Angie Bunch, who is widely considered a Hip Hop pioneer, formed Culture Shock Dance Troupe in 1993. She gathered a group of Hip Hop street dancers to develop and perform intricate choreography, which combined the best of the raw, urban forms of dance burgeoning onto the scene. Adding Breaking to this mix in the late 1990s, Culture Shock has become a Hip Hop powerhouse under Bunch’s direction. The world-renowned company, whose headquarters remain in San Diego, has outposts in Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., as well as Ottawa and Toronto, Canada.
Culture Shock Dance Troupe has now inspired several generations of Hip Hop dancers. Its goal is to bring this dance form into the professional dance arena and let the different modes of expression influence each other. Bunch touts the addition of breaking as a key moment in the history of Culture Shock. “That was the big blossoming for Culture Shock,” she says, “To pull the two genres together: the original and the ‘commercial.’”
Bunch began her 35-plus-year professional dance career primarily in Jazz and Musical Theatre. She then became a Nike-sponsored Dance Athlete, a job that took her all over the world to present dance and fitness programs. She used her experience with Nike to structure how she taught Jazz and Hip Hop at San Diego Mesa College and at Culture Shock Dance Center, which she co-owned, until its closure in December 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Culture Shock persists in breaking new ground under Bunch’s tutelage, turning aside common notions of both who should perform Hip Hop as well as how it should be performed. In addition to the three youth troupes, which start as young as 7 years old, she debunked the idea that it’s a young person’s game with Afta Shock, a team of older dancers who embody old-school Hip Hop. Bunch has also created several original theatrical productions: Christopher: FOR THE LOVE was a tribute to dancer Christopher Braswell; Graffiti Life, written by Graff Writer and Pose2FX; and Culture Shock’s pop-culture interpretation of The Nutcracker.
Bunch’s plans for Culture Shock have not slowed down. She recently opened a new home for Culture Shock San Diego, the Culture Shock Training Academy, and is preparing to welcome the next Culture Shock location – New York City. Future plans include adding a full educational division to the company, to keep up with the high demand for workshops, assemblies, after-school programs, and lectures. Bunch’s creative refashioning of the Culture Shock concept continues as well. “We are always looking for a true artistic endeavor that challenges us,” she says. “We’re not just Hip Hop heads or dance enthusiasts.” According to Bunch, there aren’t any limits to what the company can do. “I see a television show for the troupe,” she says. “I want a Broadway show. It’s been my dream for a long, long time.”