Dancing through life is what Aubrey Mamaid loves most.
"I can’t progress in life without dance," she said.
She came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 2016 and has been active ever since with the Versa-Style Dance Company in Burbank.
"I felt so lonely. It was a new culture. It was a new country for me to explore, and I feel like hip-hop culture and Versa-Style at most, it was the family that I grew up into," she said.
Co-founder Jackelyn Lopez, who dances under the name "Miss Funk," started the troupe in 2005.
The nonprofit Versa-Style was aptly named to reflect versatility within street dance and to honor the roots, origins, beauty and power of hip-hop dance. Lopez began offering $5 classes at a time when they were going for four times that amount, and she quickly attracted kids from all across LA County.
"We were really targeting a specific group of kids that just couldn’t afford it but really really wanted to dance, so then through the years, these kids started coming and we started saying, ‘Wait, we could create something special,'" Lopez said.
Over 15 years later, a program called Versa-Style Next Generation offers a hip-hop intensive training program to help empower high school and college students who want to pursue a career in dance.
"Without dance, I would not have succeeded in college. I would not have the same mentality that I have now pursuing a career or pursuing everything at least in my life," Mamaid said.
Versa-Style says Proposition 28 would help them get into more classrooms and expose more kids to a possible career in the arts.
"There’s a lot of dance teachers out there, but because of the lack of hip-hop and street dance as a whole, they don’t have the proper tools," Lopez said.
"I wasn’t necessarily the most outgoing person," said Ernesto Galarza, who dances under the name "Precise."
Galarza was a product of the Next Gen program himself and now runs it. Not only does he see students from all walks of life leave with more confidence, but "I also see them walking away with a better understanding of this, a better understanding of movement," he said.
The State Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates Prop 28 would allocate at least $800 million to K-12 schools, which would take effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
"I dream of the day that dance and the arts as a whole gets the same support as sports," Lopez said.
"No other dance style honors the black and brown communities the way that hip-hop does. No other dance style can provide the same opportunities, the same freedom, the same form of self expression," Mamaid said.
It’s why she and her fellow dancers feel Prop 28 is one of the best moves California can make.