C-Star Productionz artistic director, Christopher Estrella, wakes people up to new life through dance
By Cynthia Robertson | SDUN Reporter
Taking life in stride is a hallmark of North Park resident Christopher Estrella, artistic director of C-Star Productionz. Gaining that quality early in life, Estrella said that when he was a young boy, he wanted to learn all the dance trends but could not afford to take classes at a regular dance studio.
Instead, he taught himself.
After minoring in Visual and Performing Arts at California State University, San Marcos, Estrella opened his own dance company in 2003. On his company’s website, he said his aim at first was to have students work towards a goal and to showcase performances for families and friends. For Estrella, the entire dance community needed a venue where their talents, hard work and creativity could reach a larger audience.
Nobody is too old or too young to learn to dance, Estrella said, who often teaches hip-hop dance to all ages. “I believe the oldest I’ve taught is 75 [years old] and the youngest is three years old. I teach hip hop according to my students or group,” he said.
His free dance classes are a way of giving back to the community, especially for those in the same situation as Estrella found himself as a boy, mainly those who can not always afford it. “I want to uncover the diamond in each of my students and watch them become superstars,” he said.
What is one of the most sought-out dance moves? Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” of course, where zombie wanna-bes come by droves to Estrella’s free flash-mob course that teaches the iconic moves. At different places around San Diego County, from Balboa Park and Mission Beach to Poway, students turn out for the lessons to learn, beat by beat and step by step, the entire dance.
Estrella said he believes “Thriller” is an iconic song and dance to which people of all ages almost immediately relate, and that the routine is fun to learn, regardless of experience levels.
“After learning it and performing it, the dancers like to brag about how they know this dance,” he said.
At Estrella’s June 23 “Thriller” performance, which was a tribute to Jackson on the anniversary of his death, Estrella joined the un-dead dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis in their stagger from the rose garden in Balboa Park to the fountain in front of Reuben Fleet Science Center.
After cuing the music, Estrella donned a mask, an orange suit and that symbolic, glittered glove. He joined the rest of the zombies lying on the ground, lurching up with them at the sound of the creaking door that opens Jackson’s song.
“People love to perform this because they get to dress up and be in zombie costume character,” Estrella said, adding that he strives to celebrate Jackson’s memory and honor the pop star through the dance mobs.
Encouraging more people to take part, either as a dancer or spectator, is Estrella’s way of contributing to richer and more fulfilled lives.
“By teaching dance, my hope is to inspire students to discover pleasure in movement as it relates to music,” he said on his website. “Dance is not just for the professionals. It is for everyone, adding another dimension to everyday routines.”
Magic happens when people learn to dance, Estrella said, because not only do people improve their social skills when they learn to dance but it changes the way others feel.
“One of my students told me that dancing made them feel young again. Another student said, ‘I was depressed and now dancing gives me joy and purpose.’ My students go from being shy to superstars,” Estrella said. “They’re exposed to hard work and the transforming experiences of performing on stage or being in front of a live audience.”
The next opportunity for zombies to join in a “Thriller” flash mob will be on July 14 in the Gaslamp Quarter during Comic-Con. For more information, visit cstarproductionz.com or call 858-231-0133.