February 01, 2010
By ERICA TAYLOR
Award-winning choreographer Lula Washington is an international icon of dance. She is the founder and artistic director of the Lula Washington Dance Theater and the Lula Washington Contemporary Dance Foundation. It was Washington who “Avatar” filmmaker James Cameron sought to bring acrobatic life to the avatars on screen. After meeting with him about the characters, they confirmed the ritualistic dances and moves for the characters.
In 1980, Washington opened her self-named dance school in South Central Los Angeles with a $25 loan. Since its inception, Washington’s dance foundation has served more than 10,000 young people. It’s not only a place to learn the art of dance, but Washington uses her resources to serve the community by providing a safe haven for children and single mothers in the area. She works with children starting as young as three years old in a program called “I Do Dance, Not Drugs!”
Washington’s dancers have performed at both the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, and she has received the prestigious Minerva Award for women’s achievement in California. She’s worked with historic, prominent dance figures like Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey to produce choreography for her troupe.
Lula Washington continues to teach inner city kids at her dance theater on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Central Los Angeles.