Published : Saturday, March 23, 2019 | 5:09 AM
A new contemporary art dance school opened in Pasadena in January offering classes for anyone aspiring to dance professionally as well as those who’d just want to enjoy dancing for fun.
Action Arts Movement opened its dance lab at 100 North Lake Avenue in Pasadena to focus on “all forms of contemporary dance, physical narrative, and musical theater,” according to its website, and to serve as a sister studio for Dance Conservatory of Pasadena.
The Founder and Artistic Director of Action Arts lab is Jennifer Cheng, who also founded the Dance Conservatory of Pasadena in 2010 with the goal of creating “a place for all dancers to share and foster the love of dance.”
While Dance Conservatory offers mostly core ballet instruction, Action Arts intends to equip students with an arsenal of valuable dance techniques to prepare them for a professional career in dancing, Cheng said.
“We discovered that most dancers today wish to go professional. They need to actually other types of dance. Hence, we created Action Arts Movement lab which actually provides other classes in other styles including hip-hop, musical theater, tap, contemporary and jazz,” Cheng continued. “It allows our students to pick a path – whether they like to be trained to do ballet, mostly with some contemporary, or whether they want to take a commercial track for performance on Broadway or, say, Las Vegas shows, or join other dance companies that are not necessarily ballet.”
When the studio opened classes in January, lessons included tap dancing, musical theater, jazz, and gaga dancing – taught by Ate9, a renowned contemporary dance company whose founder just recently worked with Jon Hamm.
On Sundays, the studio features free dance classes so prospective students can get a flavor of the work, including a musical theater class taught by Seth Stewart, one of the original cast members from Hamilton.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cheng has lived in Pasadena since 1972 and was trained in ballet by Stanley Holden as one of his first students at the Music Center in Los Angeles, and later at his studio in West Los Angeles.
Cheng received her Advanced Certificate from the Royal Academy of Dancing at age 15. She was a recipient of the Ford Foundation Scholarship to the School of American Ballet.
As a young dancer, she performed extensively in ballet performances and television including Australian Ballet’s Don Quixote with Rudolf Nureyev, the San Francisco Ballet, the Brady Bunch and the Odd Couple.
With Action Arts, she said she wants to encourage young dancers to look forward to a professional career in dance, and intends to provide them with world-class commercial and contemporary training.
Whether the students pursue classical ballet or music videos or Broadway work, the techniques they learn at the Action Arts Lab will be applicable, she said.
“Right now, we have a shortened schedule, but I believe in the next few months, we’ll be creating a pre-professional program that will give them an official training, with goals and certain levels that we would expect them to achieve and, hopefully, will give them a headstart and a career for them in the dance world,” Cheng said.
What’s more, Cheng said Action Arts does not restrict the age for anyone wishing to take dance classes. The lab is now giving classes for kids 10 to 13, and then to high school-level students up to adults, so it’s just normal seeing parents bringing their kids to classes, and taking lessons themselves.
“It’s whoever comes in and takes a class. We’re going to be welcoming kids and adults of all ages,” Cheng said.
For more information about Action Arts or to sign up, visit their website, www.actionartsmovement.org.