What goes “bump” in the night?
That’s the Halloween-themed name for “Live@LALA,” the first in a monthly series of dance shows scheduled in October at Live Arts Los Angeles, a performance studio where The Pin Down Girls—that unabashedly “super-sexy, sometimes silly dance company”—rehearsed and performed in February 2011.
Clearly, a year and a half after it opened on the corner of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Panamint Street, just a block south of the , LALA has come into its own. The 2,000-square-foot space, with 20-foot ceilings and 10-foot mirrors, has become one of Northeast LA’s premier dance destinations.
“We’re hoping that artists will come here and start visualizing how they can use this community space to showcase their work,” says co-owner Jennifer Vaughn, referring to LALA’s monthly concert series scheduled to begin Oct. 20.
Since its January 2011 opening, LALA has hosted everything from dance concerts and video screenings to fundraisers and award ceremonies, proving what a versatile performance space it is.
And now, as boldly as it began, LALA is encouraging new choreographers to “present their own evening of work and get feedback free of cost,” in the words of co-owner Karen Quick. (There’s no fee for using the space—each choreographer is required to bring two audience members per dancer per piece, with tickets priced at $15 online.)
LALA is a dream come true for Quick and Vaughn. Both are choreographers, dancers and dance teachers who met at a studio in Silver Lake. Quick, an alumna who studied dance at CalArts, had been running a Pilates studio in Brentwood for 15 years. Commuting from her home in Echo Park was "quite the journey," she recalls.
“We wanted to open something on the Eastside,” says Quick, not least because she grew up in Highland Park, where her mother still lives. Quick also saw a business opportunity in an Eastside location, aware that local dancers often have to go mid City or beyond, "all the way to Santa Monica," for performances and to show their work.
“We thought we’d combine our efforts and create a new community space for the Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Glassell Park area,” says Vaughn. Although she hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, “I definitely left my heart in Northeast LA,” Vaughn explains, adding: “So far we’ve had a great response—we have about 200 students who come and go—and we want to expand and be more useful.”
To that end, Vaughn and Quick have teamed up with Sophie Olson, a Mount Washington-based choreographer. Olson moved to Los Angeles in 2004 from her native Canada, where she studied at École secondaire publique De La Salle, a French public school in Ottawa noted for its arts programs, and at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, B.C.
Olson, who runs a contemporary hip hop dance company called Sophie Olson Dance Explosion, specializes in teaching children. She recently began renting space in LALA, where she works with homeschooled and other children. “My whole goal is to bring more kids here,” she says. “If children like what they’re taught—and their parents like the space—the kids grow up in it.”
That’s an exciting prospect for Vaughn and Quick. “Neither Karen nor I have a lot of experience with kids,” says Vaughn, adding: “What Sophie is brining is a whole new layer to the studio that didn’t exist before.”