Airport ‘transcends’ race and age with dance

Posted: May 5th, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Features, Top Story | 1 Comment

By Margie M. Palmer

The San Diego International Airport’s Performing Arts Residency Program continues to thrive. Founded in 2016, goal of the program is to enrich the airport environment while helping to cultivate the performing arts community.

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project at their fi rst of eight planned performances at Terminal 2’s baggage claim, as the San Diego International Airport’s Performing Arts Residency Program for 2017. (Photo by Ken Walsh)

And while the inaugural year featured the acrobatic and theatrical skills of Fern Street Circus, the airport’s choice for year’s resident group, the transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project, hopes to bring an inspired, youthful kaleidoscope to the venue.

Group co-founder and creative and executive director Cat Corral said she was excited about pursuing the residency from the moment she heard about it, especially since transcenDANCE’s mission is to empower youth to mobilize social change through dance and performance.

“I felt we were perfect for this and that we needed to go for it,” she said. “We have an innovative approach because we’re interested in breaking down barriers and connecting authentically with our audience through different styles of dance, spoken word and music.

“I felt we could bring a breath of fresh air, a youthful voice and diversity of content and style,” Corral continued. “We were excited the selection panel was receptive to having a younger dance company come in to hold the residency for the year.”

Their first performance took place on at 9:30 a.m. on April 26 in Terminal 2; it began in the baggage claim area and eventually spilled into a dance procession along the outside curb.

Corral describes the experience as “exhilarating.”

“We had a musician and seven dancers spanning ages 17 to 27 who performed,” she said. “We wanted to provide a joyful presence and provide aesthetic relief while showing how young people can make a positive impact in our community through the beauty of dance.”

Exploring the various “creative possibilities” within the airport space will allow the dance troupe to make both “small and significant” connections for not only the transient travellers there, but the employees as well, Corral said.

“We made people smile and we look forward to continuing to do that,” she said.

Robert Gleason, San Diego Airport Authority arts advisory committee board liaison, agreed that watching the performances adds an element of joy to the airport experience.

“It’s great to watch these performances along with the reactions of travelers that come across them,” Gleason said. “They get to experience a performance in a way that’s more personal and interactive than seeing someone on stage or behind a microphone. The performers are able to surprise and delight travelers who come across them unexpectedly.”

Gleason said he feels the Performance Arts Residency Program helps create a positive customer experience for the traveling public.

“It’s a way for visitors, travelers and the general public to connect with the airport and see it in a different way,” Gleason said. “It’s also a way for people to experience some of what San Diego happens to offer in terms of cultural uniqueness.”

Embracing the arts is not only a sign of the times but a way for our local airport to stand out among the others.

“I think San Diego International certainly aims to be a leader in terms of its customer service and in this aspect of customer service,” Gleason said. “There are a growing number of arts programs at many airports around the country and we want to try to be a leader in this field.”

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project will continue to perform at SDIA’s Terminal 2 baggage claim area throughout 2017. Their next scheduled performance will take place on May 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information on transcenDANCE, visit To learn more about San Diego International Airport’s Performing Arts Residency Program, visit

—Margie Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Reach her at

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