Stand outside Yaelisa’s East Oakland dance studio on a quiet night and you can hear the sound of dancers practicing their footwork. Inside the studio, about ten women in long skirts are standing in line behind their teacher. She sings throughout her class and calls out guidance to her students as she keeps the rhythm with her hands and feet. The dancers move in unison. The sounds of their stomps take on the quality of a drum.
Most artists follow their visions in the privacy of their studios, but one Oakland artist is re-defining public space: a park. Laila Espinoza is a community artist — one whose art touches larger social themes while engaging the surrounding community. She does all this at Athol Plaza Park in Oakland nearly every weekend.