Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Lula Washington Dance Theatre, adjacent to Los Angeles’ historic Leimert Park African-American cultural district, includes a dance school and contemporary modern dance company....

  • About The Studio
  • Meet The Director
  • Studio Details
  • Visiting The Studio

About Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Situated at the gateway to Los Angeles’ historic Leimert Park African-American cultural district, Lula Washington Dance Theatre encompasses a dance school, a world-renowned contemporary modern dance company, and a traveling youth dance ensemble. Artistically inclined people meet and mingle at the studio’s cultural events and performances, but also in the halls: Lula Washington Dance Theatre offers rehearsal space not just for dance, but also theater, music, and other arts. A thriving community hub, the studio hosts events from comedy nights and poetry slams to community meetings, and has served as a polling place for Los Angeles voters.

LWDT is a world-class institution, but it’s also home
to a supportive community of local artists.

The studio’s atmosphere is low-key and friendly, and you’re likely to find that people who see a new face come over to shake hands and introduce themselves. Anyone may drop in on a given day, from a professional dancer certified in Dunham technique to a neighbor looking for a dance class for their child.

While LWDT founder and artistic director Lula Washington’s prestige draws visitors from the international dance community, the studio is also very much a part of the neighborhood.

“The studio is very down-home . . . we’re very wholesome,” says assistant director Tamica Washington-Miller. “You know, you have grandma sitting in the hallway and the tiny tot is in class and the young adult is in class, so you have a nice multigenerational cross of folk that come through.”

Lula Washington Dance Theatre offers a variety of opportunities for cultural enrichment. The studio holds classes and activities for the public, and when LWDT receives free tickets to cultural events, the staff may offer them to whoever is around: dancers taking class, or parents waiting to pick up children.

Located just down the street from the art galleries and coffeehouses of Leimert Park Village, Lula Washington Dance Theatre is at the center of a lot of cultural arts activity happening in the area, Tamica Washington-Miller says. LWDT is a world-class institution—in late 2010, the company toured 22 cities in Russiabut it’s also home to a supportive community of local artists.

And Lula Washington Dance Theatre is active in the community, participating in events like the AIDS Walk and Taste ofCrenshaw, a large neighborhood street festival. The annual Kwanzaa dance concerts at the studio are a part of local holiday tradition.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s dance school offers multiple options for adult dancers. The adult classes on the dance school’s regular schedule are open to both drop-in and registered students. For promising 18- to 25-year-olds, the studio offers a Professional Development Intensive (PDI) program by invitation only.

In addition, when the dance company isn’t touring, LWDT holds open company classes. And through community partners, the studio offers dance styles of African origin, such as African/Guinean and Afro-Cuban.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre can be spotted from Crenshaw Bl by a long, bright purple facade depicting the LWDT logo. Inside, a spacious lobby next to the open-design front office is decorated with colorful art, news articles, and commendations LWDT has received. Similarly decorated hallways lead to Lula Washington Dance Theatre amenities including five dance studios.

Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence in Dance

In 2010, Lula Washington Dance Theatre attained its 30th anniversary!

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre contemporary modern dance company was founded in 1980, and the dance school opened soon after in 1983.

LWDT celebrated its milestone anniversary with extensive touring that both introduced new work by Lula Washington and provided a retrospective of choreographic works she has created for the company over the past 30 years.

New repertory pieces premiered during the year also included works byRennieHarris and Christopher Huggins—in addition to Lula Washington’s pieces, the extensiveLWDTrepertoire also encompasses both contemporary and classic works by notable choreographers and legendary pioneers of African-American dance including Katherine Dunham herself.

In 2010, Lula Washington Dance Theatre performed at venues from L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl to the State Theatre of Drama in Sakhalin, Russia. To finish the year, the company returnedfrom overseas just in time to perform the annual Kwanzaa concerts at the studio.

James Cameron’sAvatar

In addition to choreographing works to be performed by her dance company, Lula Washington sometimes lends her creative gifts to popular culture.

For instance, Lula was selected to choreograph the movements of theNa’vitribe in James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster science fiction filmAvatar.

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre company dancers are trained in styles including modern, ballet, jazz, and West African dance. To assist with the film, the versatile troupe wore computerized body suits that recorded their motion as they performed Lula Washington-choreographed movements inspired by Native American, Australian aboriginal, and African tribal movement styles, as well as Dunham modern dance technique.


Meet Lula Washington

Lula Washington Dance Theatre founder and artistic director Lula Washington grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and went on to become an acclaimed graduate of UCLA’s Master of Fine Arts in Dance program. Deeply committed to community involvement, Lula has touched the lives of over 45,000 young people from the inner city through the classes offered at her dance school.



All the Details: Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Contacting the Studio

Phone and E-Mail

The best way to reach the studio is by phone.

Reply turnaround for a voice message is normally within 24 hours.

Reply turnaround for e-mail is normally also within 24 hours, except over the weekend or when the studio is flooded with e-mails regarding an upcoming special event.

Studio Hours

The studio’s regular hours are 9 am to 7 pm, Monday through Saturday.

Social Media

Facebook Profile

LWDT posts several times a month with news regarding both the dance school and the dance company.

MySpace Profile

LWDT isn’t active on MySpace, but has a nice description of the dance company at the upper right on its profile and an attractive slideshow of the company’s dancers.

YouTube Channel

LWDT has quite a few videos of the modern dance company’s powerful performances posted on its YouTube channel.

Flickr Photostream

The studio has lots of beautiful pictures of LWDT dancers performing uploaded to its Flickr acount!

Studio News

Newsletter & E-Mail List

LWDT has an occasional (roughly quarterly) e-mail newsletter to let subscribers know about upcoming events including shows and recitals at the studio and tours by the dance company. Similar information is sent to members of the studio’s e-mail list on a more timely basis when something comes up between newsletters.

How to Sign Up for the Newsletter & E-Mail List

To begin receiving news from LWDT, e-mail the studio a request to join the list.

Class Information

Class Schedule

The schedule is online (see “Studio Info” in sidebar.) Classes are open to the public. If in any doubt about whether a specific class is appropriate for you, just give the studio a call!

Class Prices

Please give the studio a call to inquire about prices, or pick up a flyer at the front desk.

Attendance Options

Classes are open on an ongoing, drop-in basis to both registered and unregistered adult students. Registered students have the additional options to purchase class packages and enroll in school programs.

Seniors may wish to inquire whether the studio’s Seniors Dance Program (for people age 50+), which includes hip-hop classes, has an upcoming session.

Affordable Options


Registered students receive a significantly lower price on single classes, and can save a little more by purchasing class packages. In addition, they’re eligible to enroll in dance school programs, which provide a large number of classes for a set monthly fee.

You may fill out the Lula Washington Dance Theatre registration form at the front desk or online (pay by credit by phone or visit and pay in person to complete your registration).


Applicants must visit the studio and pick up a scholarship application form at the front desk. To apply, you will need to both fill out the form and submit copies of your bills.

Visiting Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Policies and Things to Know

Being on Time

Students may not take class if they are late by 10 minutes or more! However, tardy dancers are encouraged to participate and learn by actively observing their class and taking notes.

Food and Gum

No food or beverages other than water may be consumed in the dance studios, hallways, or front lobby.Although food is sold in the front lobby, please take it outside or to the lunchroom to consume. No gum is permitted anywhere in the building.

Class Payment

The studio front desk accepts cash (please use bills smaller than $100), check, debit, and VISA, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards. You may also pay over the phone, by credit card only.

Age Range

The minimum age for adult hip-hop classes is 18. ThePDIprogram is for dancers 18-25.

Class Observation Policy

Classes may be observed from benches in the halls, through large observation windows.


Lula Washington Dance Theatre has sprung bamboo dance floors.

First-Time Students

Please arrive a few minutes early to fill out the studio’s registration form/liability waiver.

Water and Snacks


Room-temperature bottled water is available for purchase in the retail area in the front lobby. At last check, plain bottled water costs $1 and aloeverabottled water is available for $1.50.

There are also a couple of water fountains in the studio hallways. One is just a few steps outside the front lobby, right at the entranceway to the halls that lead to the dance studios.


Snacks such as fresh fruit, pastries, and red licorice are available in the front lobby, and may be purchased at the front desk.However, eating is permitted only in the lunchroom.

Restaurant Meals

The studio is very close to a large supermarket (a few blocks south, same side of the street), as well as restaurants.

Studio Features and Amenities

Changing for Class

The studio’s spacious restrooms are appropriate for changing for class. They have multiple stalls, full-length mirrors, and nice double sinks. At the end of the lobby, the entranceway opens into two halls. Turn left, and the first door on the left side is the men’s restroom and the second door is the women’s restroom (marked with big blue-and-white signs).

The third door is the women’s changing room, which has about ten lockers (bring your own lock) and is furnished with shelves, seating, and a full-length mirror.

Additional restrooms and a men’s changing room are located farther back in the studio.

Front Lobby and Lounge Areas

Lula Washington DanceTheatrehas a large lobby. The front desk/office is at the north end, just inside the entrance. For anyone waiting, there are big, comfortable couches in the lobby and back issues of dance magazines and costume catalogs to look at.

The lobby has lots of green plants and flowers, as well as colorful, artistic decorations and awards on the walls. A bulletin board holds studio announcements and photos. There are also some nice, substantial feature articles about Lula Washington and the studio on display.


At the far end of the studio, there’s a lunchroom with tables, chairs, and a microwave oven.

Dance Floors

The studios have sprung bamboo dance floors.

Clothing and Other Goods

The studio sells items such as mugs and t-shirts.

Navigating to the Studio and Parking

Finding the Studio

Lula Washington Dance Theatre is on the west side of Crenshaw Bl. You can spot LWDT by the long purple facade above the entrance, illustrated with the studio’s name and logo.

Parking Lot

LWDT has a parking lot on its north side. Keep an eye out for an open entranceway in the parking lot wall, just before you reach the studio.

Where NOT to Park in the Parking Lot

Please don’t park in the studio’s loading zone, by the parking lot entrance to the building.

Street Parking

When parking, always check street signs on the block to verify details!

Parking on Crenshaw Bl

There’s a little cove separated from Crenshaw Bl by a median, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre is just past the entrance to the one-way street between the median and the buildings. There is free, unlimited parking on both sides of the one-way street from Monday morning through early Saturday evening.

When NOT to Park on Crenshaw Bl

Tow-Away, No Stopping: 7 pm Sat to 6 am Mon.

Public Transportation

LulaWashington Dance Theatre by Subway

The L.A. Metro subway doesn’t currently come close to the studio, but a line is being constructed in the area.

LulaWashington Dance Theatre by Bus

You can get fairly close to the studio on theL.A. Metro bus.

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