It’s not every DAY that a college class project turns into a passionate career—but that’s just what happened for Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company co-founders Kate Hutter and Michelle Mierz. The two first met in an arts management course at The University of Southern California, and in what most dancers would view as the “best homework assignment ever,” they were asked to create a professional non-profit dance company for their final project. “The idea was that we would create a unique institution that would serve L.A. dance artists,” says Kate. “The project we developed on paper became the basis for LACDC.”
In a thrilling case of vision becoming reality, that original five-year plan has blossomed into a thriving dance company. Since its first season in 2006, the 12-member LACDC has helped put a fresh face on concert dance in the City of Angels. Along with its trademark, high-energy blend of “contemporary meets modern” choreography, the company (made up of both concert and commercial dancers) is known for its daring improvisations onstage. Up to three-quarters of each performance is totally off the cuff, keeping both the audience and the dancers on their toes! Dialogue and music made up on the spot are also key in many LACDC performances, making each show feel like a new adventure.
So where can you see them perform? Along with twice-yearly original shows at the hip downtown Diavolo Dance Space, LACDC has performed at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) and the prestigious Ford Amphitheatre. And, true to Hollywood form, members of LACDC were featured in a national commercial for American Apparel colored tights (filmed from above, Busby Berkley-style) in 2008.
(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 on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.