Nationality: African American
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 25, 2015
Primary Language: English
Informant H is 19 years old and was born in Inglewood CA. She moved to a place near Valencia just outside of LA soon after she was born. After 5 years, her little sister was born, then her little brother, and then her youngest sister. The family then moved to Bakersfield. H homeschooled for many years and then transitioned into a public high school.
H: So the very first people who started Xpressions started this um I guess its like a pre-show ritual where they have this little purple fuzzy stuffed animal and he’s about, I don’t know, he’s very small like this size, like a small ball. And we stand in a circle um backstage before its time for our show and the director holds the little fuzzy bear and he goes around and he puts it in front of everyone and everyone has to kiss the fuzzy bear for good luck.
Me: That’s really cute. Do you think people believe this will actually give them good luck and if they don’t do it like maybe they wont have a good performance that night?
H: Not necessarily. I think we know that the amount of effort and time we put into it is what’s gonna make it a good show but I think its just something that everyone has done every semester. So just knowing that from the very first group of people who did it now were doing it its cool that connection to the people who started it.
Me: So it’s about the history and the tradition more?
Me: Do you think the bear itself has any significance? Other than it was picked sort of randomly, do you know why it’s purple…?
H: I don’t know why its purple, I think its just a personal article, I don’t know any other significance to the bear.
Me: Do you believe personally that if you had done this or if you don’t, do you think something is going to happen?
H: Nope! I just think it’s a cute tradition.
Me: Do you think that’s why people do it? They just do this because it’s a nice bonding exercise?
H: Yes, I think it’s very much like a bonding exercise.
Me: Do you think it serves any other function besides a bonding thing between you guys?
H: I feel like bonding is mainly…and just that you know that that’s something you have in common with the Xpressions people because I know its changed over the years. So that’s something you have in common with someone who is an alumni of Xpressions, like oh you remember when you kissed the fuzzy bear?
Me: Is this like a secret thing? Do you guys talk about it very much?
H: Um no its just something we do like right before the show just like oh remember guys kiss the bear.
Me: And all the new members everyone together…?
H: Yeah everyone.
This dance group uses this fun tradition and ritual to bring all its members together and prepare them to work together as a unit for the show. Like other rituals, it ties them to the past and the origins of the group while keeping them in the present as they are about to perform. Also like other rituals, this takes place on a liminal moment in time, right before the dancers perform and is used to bring the dancers good luck. This ritual also includes a kind of folk item, the fuzzy bear.