Ultimate Dancer’s Guide to Los Angeles
Welcome to LA!
Home to the commercial dance industry!
First of all, give yourself a pat on the back for being here and trying to prepare you and your family for this whirlwind of an industry. It’s not a light decision to make the move out here and follow your dreams with full force, so props to you and your family. What you can expect from us is a different topic every week giving you insight into crucial aspects of the dance industry. We are going explore anything and everything related to commercial dance. A little taste of what you can expect from us in the future are topics such as agencies, standing out in a crowd, making sure you have the right materials for your dancers, making progress in classes, and so much more!
For this first blog, let’s take a step back. Are you not sure if LA is right for you? Are you bringing your child out here to get some additional training? Maybe you are coming on vacation and are trying to incorporate some dance in there. For this blog, we will go over where classes are held, where to stay while you are here, when the best time to come is, and some fun things that your child will actually want to do while he or she is here.
My first suggestion before even moving to LA is to take a trip or two out here first. Make sure you like the vibe before you commit! I would suggest a minimum of a two week stay. That gives you and your child ample time to do some serious training and sight seeing. LA (or any city for that matter) can be all glitz and glam while you do the touristy things. But once the dust settles and you are in the thick of it everyday, how will you feel then? If you can stay longer that’s even better. Two weeks should be your starting point. If you can, I would try to stay out here for a month. I know that might not be ideal for every family and every situation – but the longer you stay, the better sense you will have of your potential day-to-day life in LA. If you discover that LA isn’t for you, then that doesn’t mean that your child can’t have a successful dance career elsewhere (e.g., New York, Chicago, Atlanta).
While you are on your trip out here, your child is going to want to take class. So let’s start there! I would suggest taking class at every place you can. For starters, it helps you get a vibe of the different studio spaces. Trust me, the vibe is different at every location. One studio is not better than the other—they are just different. Secondly, visiting different studios will help you to become more familiar with the greater Los Angeles area.
If your trip is on the shorter side I would NOT suggest buying class cards. Class cards are great if you will be in the area for a while. You get to save a few dollars per class and it sometimes makes for an easier sign-in process. The average drop in class price is $16. Some studios go as low as $14, and some are up to $17. If you decide to take a master class (someone with a big name who doesn’t have a regular teaching spot, or someone not from the area), the price is usually around $25.
While on your trip, don’t take class from the same person twice! There are SOOOOO many incredible teachers and different styles to learn that you might not have in your hometown. You should take advantage of that! That said, LA is known for hip hop and jazz funk—so I would suggest prioritizing those classes. Maybe even take a class in a specific style of hip hop (e.g., popping, locking, vogue, dancehall, etc.). Remember: a booking dancer can do multiple styles!
Below is a list of popular studios to take class at while in LA:
- Millennium Dance Complex
- EDGE Performing Arts Center
- Movement Lifestyle
- Playground LA
- KreativMndz Dance Academy
- IMMA Space
- IDA Hollywood
- Debbie Reynolds (When it reopens)
*Debbie Reynolds was closed due to a Notice of Demolition from the city. They are in the process of looking for a new space, but as of now they do not have a location. It was a personal favorite of mine for taking classes. Continue to check social media to find out details about any progress with the studio.
If you have some favorite choreographers/teachers, make sure you check their social media daily while on your trip. Sometimes they will rent rehearsal studios to hold pop-up classes. Or sometimes they will sub at the last minute. If you are particularly looking to take pop-up classes, you will find that most are held at West Coast Dance Theatre, Evolution Studios, Starwest Studios, and The basement/Penthouse of Noho.
Where To Stay While You Visit
Before I moved to LA, people warned me about the traffic here. I can now confidently tell you that it is as bad as they say. Maybe worse. Although staying close to the beach might sound nice, you will deeply regret it and will want to pull your hair out since all of the places to take class are in the Valley or Hollywood areas. I’m from the Midwest where if I have to go someplace that is 10 miles away, it will take me 15 minutes to get there. Out here, if I have to go 10 miles, I leave an hour to an hour and a half early (depending on the time of day) to get to my destination on time.
To avoid as much craziness as you can, I would suggest staying in the Valley (North Hollywood, Valley Village, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, etc.) or Hollywood areas.
Studios in the Valley
- Millennium Dance Complex (Studio City)
- Movement Lifestyle (North Hollywood)
- IMMA SPACE (North Hollywood)
- KreativMndz Dance Academy (Burbank)
- Old Debbie Reynolds Location (North Hollywood)
Studios is Hollywood
- EDGE Performing Arts Center (Los Angeles/8 minute drive with moderate traffic from Walk of Fame)
- Playground LA (Los Angeles, Melrose Ave)
- IDA Hollywood Los Angeles/3 blocks from Walk of Fame
Whether you are staying in the Valley or Hollywood, hotels are going to be expensive. Alternative accommodations for your visit include Airbnb, Gypsy Housing, or Home for Dancers. You can, of course, also stay with family and friends.
Gypsy Housing is a Facebook page where people list apartments for rent or sublets. It all depends on how long your stay is and the time of year when you come to visit. If you don’t see a post/listing for something you are looking for, write your own post! Write all the details you need. List everything you are looking from in a place! Does it need to be furnished (probably if you are just here for a visit, but make sure to clarify that), have central AC, have ample street parking, laundry in the building, be close to a grocery store? Whatever you want out of your place, write it down. I have found creating my own post to be more helpful than reaching out to others regarding their own.
Another option is Home for Dancers. They have two different locations with five different properties. Depending on your needs, they have both private bedrooms and shared bedrooms. Although I have never personally stayed here, many of my friends have. And more importantly, they have given stellar reviews. Caution: reserve your room very early if you need a place to stay during the summer. They sell out quickly during this time. Be sure to check out their website at http://www.homefordancers.com for additional information.
For transportation, rent a car. LA has public transportation, but it is not as efficient as New York or Chicago. People who live in LA without a car are crazy, but props to them.
When Is The Best Time To Take A Trip?
Summer is the BUSIEST time to take a trip to LA for dance. This is the most convenient time for parents and children to come out here. But during the summer, you also have all of the international dancers who come for the season on their visas. Sometimes dance classes will sell out for the day before noon, because there are so many people trying to get into any class that they can. I suggest making a plan for whose class you want to take the day before, and then signing up online or through their apps on the morning of.
The best time to come to LA is from the end of September through beginning of December. This is the time when classes aren’t at full capacity and there is actually room to dance! December is a little tricky because of the holidays. A few studios stay open with limited classes between Christmas and New Year’s. Movement Lifestyle shuts down a few days before Christmas and opens back up after the New Year. To get the specifics, you would need to call each studio individually. However, in general, most studios stay open until two or three days before Christmas.
Fun Things To Do While On Your Trip!
“Work hard, play harder” has always been my philosophy! Below are some touristy and non-touristy things for you and your artist!
- Walk of Fame
- Madame Tussauds
- Chinese Theater
- Hollywood Sign Viewing Area
- Santa Monica Beach – Pier and shopping, very busy area, rent bikes and pedal steroids for sale with credit card down to Venice Beach
- Zuma Beach in Malibu- Quiet, surplus of parking
- El Matador Beach in Malibu – Very cool rocks for photo shoots, limited parking
- See a Broadway show at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre
- Get tickets to see a taping of a live TV show! Check out: www.1iota.com
- Universal Studios and City Walk
- Disney and California Adventures
- Melrose Trading Post
- Hike up to the Griffith Observatory (as seen in La La Land). If hiking isn’t your thing, there is also limited parking at the top. It also makes a good look out spot.
- Take photos with famous lamp posts at LACMA. Or make an entire day of it and go through the museum.
- Grand Central Market in DTLA. Across the street from GCM there is the worlds shortest Trolley Ride. $2 cash round-trip per person!
- DTLA Fashion District
- The Grove, The Americana, Glendale Galleria, 3rd Street Promenade (huge shopping indoor and outdoor malls)
I hope this has been helpful! Stay on the look out for next week’s blog where we will teach you how to help create your child’s resume and get it in tip-top shape. Thanks for being with us and see you next week!