This article was edited on August 10, 2021.
On July 30, 2021, there was a Zoom “Culmination Celebration” of a two-week intensive workshop sponsored by LA Dance Project and “Everybody Dance LA” with collaborating artists from YOLA, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. Though the sound was an issue the energy and abilities of these young performers was refreshing to see on a hot summer afternoon.
Those of us who dance know the lifetime of benefits this art form has brought to us. Unfortunately it remains off limits to too many due to a lack of funds and lack of access. To help mitigate that lack, Everybody Dance LA (EDLA) was founded in 1999 as The Gabriella Foundation. EDLA is a specifically designed high-quality dance education curriculum for children ages 4 to 19 from low income areas. Along with the fun and excitement of dancing these students gain “lifelong skills of collaboration, discipline and self-expression.” In 2019, with funding from the Eloise Susanna Gale Foundation, L.A. Dance Project approached EDLA to partner on an annual Summer Dance Intensive to offer programming for their upper level dance students during the summer months. All dance and choreography classes are designed and taught by LADP company dancers, with master classes with LADP Artistic Director Benjamin Millepied.
YOLA, an equivalent program run by the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel, supports youth music programs throughout Los Angeles. These two organizations combining for the “Celebration” is a synergetic pairing.
Each day of the two week intensive these dance students follow a schedule of classes, which includes ballet, jazz, modern and choreography. The expert teachers are LADP company members who also work in the world of commercial dance and with various college programs. In addition invited guest artists teach master classes, which gives the students a well-rounded education and an insider’s view of the larger dance world. For this “Intensive” the students are the upper level dancers who have been studying with EDLA for a period of time and were chosen to collaborate with YOLA’s Brass and Percussion Ensemble.
These lucky students had the opportunity to create their own choreography along with input from their very able teachers and the Ensemble. This ability to explore is not available to most students at this level but should be a regular part of dance curriculums everywhere. There is no doubt that this will inspire at least several of these young dancers to consider choreography as an option available to them as they develop. EDLA is to be commended for creating an atmosphere of possibility.
The first number of the afternoon was a new composition by gifted young YOLA musician Gael Saldana entitled “Bossa For You,” a lively engaging piece that he and his fellow musicians took great advantage. Saldana was also the capable saxophone soloist in his work. The dancers dressed in multi colored T-shirts and black leggings danced with exuberance and style. It’s clear that they are receiving exemplary training, displaying excellent line and proficiency. The choreography was exactly right, suave yet energetic and within their ability.
The second piece “El Manicero” by Cuban composer Moises Simon was a romp for the musicians, the dancers and the audience alike. The running transitions from group to group added to the excitement, high spirits and sense of pure joy as all the dancers performed “full out.” Again the choreography was exactly right, challenging but within their capabilities. Unfortunately, there were audio problems throughout the hour and impeding though it was, the joy of the performances outweighed the problem.
EDLA’s website has listed the “Values” they abide by. They are “High Expectations” “Potential,” “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion “and “Safe Community.” Evident in the faces of these young performers is that in striving for these “Values” they have been given the gift of a lifetime.
YOLA and EDLA are a light in this year of darkness and everyone involved must be lauded for their efforts on behalf of the arts community.
Lucinda Lent, Executive Director LADP
Cassandra Krause, Director of Development LADP
Tina Banchero, Executive Director Everybody Dance LA!
Gaudy Sanchez, YOLA Artistic Administrator
Daisy Jacobson, Dancer/Instructor LADP
Lorrin Brubaker, Dancer/Instructor LADP
Nayomi Van Brunt, Dancer/Instructor LADP
Josue May Quinones, Project Assistant YOLA
Guilio Figueroa, Teaching Artist YOLA
To learn more about Everybody Dance LA, click HERE.
To visit the LA Dance Project website, click HERE.
To read more about Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), click HERE.
Featured image: “Culmination Celebration” – Everybody Dance LA and YOLA – Photos in article are by Brian Hashimoto and Patricia Perez