Easy access to the best of the best. In most cities, dancers need to hire guest artists or go to conventions to learn from celeb choreographers. Not in L.A.! At studios like EDGE Performing Arts Center and Millennium Dance Complex, you’ll be able to take your pick of weekly classes led by top talent. Throw down in hip hop with Tabitha and Napoleon, take contemporary jazz from Sonya Tayeh—or follow in the footsteps of “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 4 finalist Will Wingfield and dance on down to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Culver City.
Being surrounded by the entertainment industry. Music videos, feature films and commercials, oh my! Thousands of shoots take place every year in soundstages, nondescript warehouses and outdoor locations throughout the city. As a dancer, you not only have an opportunity to be part of it on-screen, but you’ll find it will also become part of your daily life. Whether heading out for a latte or a quick shopping trip, we dare you not to stumble upon a slew of cameras (even if it’s just the paparazzi hoping for their Lindsay fix).
The temptation to become a triple threat. Always wanted to try your hand at acting? Or rock the music charts like dancers Julianne Hough and Paula Abdul? Indulge those secret urges with voice or acting lessons taught by industry veterans who’ve been there, done that—like voice coach Bob Garrett, who has worked with Debbie Allen, Tyce Diorio and many “American Idol” contestants, or acting coach Lynette McNeill, whose clients have included Step Up 2 star Robert Hoffman. If you’ve always dreamt of going Hollywood, ain’t nothin’ like the real thing!
Growing opportunities outside of commercial dance. While L.A. is known as the heart of commercial dance, concert dance is also flourishing. Hundreds of local dance companies comprise a diverse collection representing genres across the spectrum—from Bollywood to breakdancing. From Backhausdance to Hysterica Dance Company to The Groovaloos, there’s no shortage of top-notch talent. By joining a dance company, you’ll have more chances to perform, perfect your craft and meet other dancers who are making things happen.
A thriving dance community. No doubt about it—the L.A. dance scene can be fiercely competitive. The flip side to that competitiveness, however, is the presence of an unbelievable support network. After all, tons of dancers flock to L.A. every year to pursue their dreams, and many of them become friends and allies in the process. (Remember how Jersey and Staci and the gang on MTV’s “Dancelife” were BFFs? It’s really like that!) From monthly showcases like the Carnival: A Choreographer’s Ball to dance-centric events like the Choreography Media Honors, the dance community regularly comes out in full force to support its own.
Auditions galore. As a dancer in L.A., you can attend a different audition practically every day of the week. Even for gigs taking place in other cities, much of the casting happens in Hollywood—giving you VIP access to VIP gigs with major stars. Though many auditions only accept agency-referred dancers, don’t lose hope. Lots of studios post fliers for open call auditions, and just by simply showing up for class, you could catch the eye of an influential choreographer. You’re sure to be in the mix in no time!
Proximity to top dance agencies. No fewer than 10 dance agencies call L.A. home, including McDonald/Selznick Associates, Clear Talent Group and Bloc Agency. With so many dance agents in the area, your chances of being discovered will skyrocket! Agents often frequent nightclubs and attend local performances in hopes of tapping new talent. Plus, you’ll be front and center for the agency auditions that take place each year.
No shortage of dance studios. With more than 250 studios on the scene, L.A. holds plenty of promise for dancers of all ages and skill levels. Although studios are scattered everywhere, North Hollywood (or “Noho”) has earned a rep as L.A.’s unofficial dance hub. Along with its thriving performing arts scene, the city also plays home to top studios such as Millennium Dance Complex, Evolution Dance Studios and the Debbie Reynolds Studio. No matter which studio you go to, be sure to bring your “A” Game—many instructors are working choreographers who discreetly use class as a casting session.
Rockin’ dance performances. Nowhere else can you catch a live taping of shows like “SYTYCD” or “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.” And if TV shows aren’t your bag, there are tons of other ways to enjoy performing arts. Check out amazing productions by the Los Angeles Ballet (now in its third season and thriving!) or buy a season pass to the Ford Amphitheatre, which features an unbelievable lineup of dance shows every summer with genres ranging from Brazilian to tap to hip hop. You can also snag a coveted ticket to the EDGE’s annual showcase of graduating scholarship students, held each July. The possibilities are endless!
The great outdoors. With year-round sunshine, who needs the gym? Dancers can stay in shape with hikes in the canyons, outdoor yoga, surfs in the Pacific and beach boot camps. And with a dance future so bright, you’ll need to wear shades!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
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When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.