New Nonprofit Debuts Contemporary Dance School

Published : Friday, January 25, 2019 | 5:47 AM

Image: Above at right, Jennifer Cheng

On Sunday, January 27, Action Arts Lab, a new contemporary art dance school, will open its doors to Pasadena.

The Action Arts Lab “focuses its classes and program content on all forms of contemporary dance, physical narrative, and musical theater,” according to its website.

Sunday will feature 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. Official classes start Monday, January 28.

Created by longtime Pasadenan Jennifer Cheng, who also founded the Dance Conservatory of Pasadena in 2010, the school will equip its students with an arsenal of valuable dance techniques that will prepare them for a professional career in dancing.

Cheng has brought with her Jim Vincent as creative advisor, who adds a wealth of experience as former artistic director of several acclaimed dance companies around the globe.

Inaugural classes include tap dancing, musical theater, jazz, and gaga dancing. Gaga is taught by Ate9, a renowned contemporary dance company whose founder just recently worked with Jon Hamm.

Gaga is an hour long continuous movement experience that fosters awareness of one’s body, adding strength and flexibility in the process. It’s almost like a workout. But don’t take our word for it. Cheng tells us, “[Gaga] is something you have to take to actually understand what it’s about. It’s an experiential kind of thing.”

Luckily for Pasadenans, there are two levels of Gaga classes. One for serious dancers that will use dancing terminology, and another for anyone who’s interested, no movement experience necessary.

“We don’t restrict the age, so it’s whoever comes in and takes a class,” says Cheng. “We’re going to be welcoming kids and adults of all ages.”

Cheng said dancing is more than just performance. It’s a method of creative expression that exists in all of us, whether we’re aware of it or not.

“That movement, that wish to move when you’re listening to music, when you put it into a classroom where you have dance, you have people in there and they’re dancing together…it really speaks to the very basic essence of what it is to be a human being.”

Action Arts Lab plans to prepare students 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.

The company will also host visiting artists and masterclasses throughout the year.

Action Arts Lab is located at 100 N. Lake Ave. The Grand Opening features free dance classes with a reception following, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can RSVP for the event here https://www.actionartsmovement.org/rsvp

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