3773 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
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Dance Foundation

2014 Summer Showcase Shows New Talent

A group of sixty children showed off their dance moves at the 2014 Summer Dance Intensive culminating showcase at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

Many of the dances featured seasoned young performers, while others shined a light on new beginners. Either way, the concert demonstrated just how much the children learned during the six week intensive session with classes all day, five days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm for the little ones; and from 1 pm to 8 pm for the teens and young adults.

This year’s summer session included a few new things; a drum line marching band class that taught LWDT’s young boys how to play drums in the style dramatized in the film, Drum Line. The boys got to take fitness and sports classes and they learned how to make web pages and how to make their own movies.

But, they also had to learn to tap dance and to partner with girls — something they found to be not as unpleasant as they might have originally thought.

The students also got their first taste of Middle Eastern dance and they loved it. They also got to perform in two theatrical plays and in an excerpts from Donald McKayle’s classic 1951 work, “Games.”

One of the young boys portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a stage play by Eric Mesiyah McGinnis. The young man was exceptionally strong as King.

The students danced their hearts out before a full house of cheering family and friends who loved every minute of what they saw.

Lula Washington Receives Ujamaa Cooperative Economics Recognition Award in Honor of her Community Service Work

Lula Washington was honored with a “Ujamaa” Cooperative Economics award from the Christ Liberation Ministries Ujima Collective. The event took place on Sunday, Dec. 29 during the morning worship service.

Minister Bolanile Paggett, leader of the Izibongo Praise Dancers, praised Lula for her dance studio’s consistent celebration of Kwanzaa over the years, and also for extending use of her facility to the Izibongo Dancers and other dance artists in the community.

The award was presented by Pastors William and Thembekila Smart, and Tulivu Jadi, representing Kwanzaa creator Dr. Maulana Karenga and his US Organization.

In accepting the award, Lula Washington said that celebrating Kwanzaa and the Seven Principals of the Holiday were a positive way of teaching young people and steering them in the right direction.

–Photo by Erwin Washington
–Pastor Thembekila Smart presents award to Lula Washington
–Lula Washington with Pastors William and Thembekila Smart and Tulivu Jadi of the US Organization.

Lula Washington to Receive UCLA Chancellor’s Award for Her Three Decades of Dance Work

More than three decades ago Lula Washington applied for admission to the UCLA Dance Department and had to fight her way in.

On May 17, 2013, Lula Washington will receive UCLA’s Chancellor’s Award — the highest honor that UCLA awards its alumni. Lula is being honored in the category of Community Service, for her work in dance over the last 33 years in South Los Angeles.

The awards ceremony will take place in the Bel Air home of UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Along with Lula, UCLA is honoring five other alumni. Two of them are Appeals and District Court judges; another was the 2012 National co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign; and the others include a nun who specializes in nursing theory; and a former chief librarian at UCLA who is now a philanthropist.

Established in 1946, the awards recognize “outstanding achievement” in service to the community, the public and the university,” according to a statement from UCLA.

Earlier on the awards day, Lula will speak to students about coming from a low income family and working her way through UCLA with a major in dance and with a strong Afro-centric creative aesthetic that did not always sit well with the post modern dance department faculty.

After college, she founded the Lula Washington Dance Theatre which encompasses an international touring dance company; an inner city-based dance school; and a $2 million dance building which provides a creative hub for dance in South Los Angeles.

Lula gained international recognition for her choreography for “The Little Mermaid” movie and for James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Her company has toured across the US and around the world.

Lula Washington Wins New Awards

Lula Washington

Lula Washington

Lula Washington has been honored with the National Dance Association’s 2011 Heritage Award — the highest recognition given by the organization which represents dance educators nationwide.

Lula was recognized  at the associatiion’s national convention in San Diego on March 30, 2011, for developing young dancers at her inner city school in South Los Angeles and for grooming them to enter her international touring dance ensemble. Two apprentice dancers from Lula’s school accompanied the Lula Washington Dance Theatre for its 25-day performance tour to Central China this May.

The Heritage Award was one of three honors received by Lula Washington in March.

She was honored March 26, with the 2011 “Artistic Vision Award” given by the Los Angeles Black Business Association as part of its “Salute to Black Women” awards luncheon. Upon accepting the award, Lula said she is most proud of the work she does in the community via her school and locally based dance studio.

Lula Washington

On March 27, Lula received the “Trailblazer Award” from the Los Angeles African-American Political Action Committee (LAAAWPAC) during its 19th Annual Empowerment Banquet. The award recognized Lula for the impact that her dance company and school have on youth and the local community.

Lula Washington Receives “Accolade Award — For Women Who Inspire Us!”

Lula Washington holding her Accolade Award.

Attorneys for major corporations in Southern California presented Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) Artistic Director Lula Washington with their 2010 “Accolade Award — A Salute to Women Who Inspire Us.” Lula accepted the award at the 7th annual Accolades Reception June 24 at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica.

The event was sponsored by the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsels and by the international law firm of Hogan Lovells. The Association represents 70,000 corporate attorneys around the world. The local chapter annually gives one award to an honoree from the nonprofit sector and another from arts or business.

Lula Washington was chosen as the arts honoree because of the impact of her youth dance programs and her dance company. She received a $1,000 donation for LWDT’s new Children’s Dance Scholarship Fund. Bernita R. Walker, founder of Project: Peacemakers, Inc. was honored for assisting victims of domestic violence.

LWDT Board Member Dr. Emma Lou Thomas attended the Awards event, along with members of the Friends of Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

Lula Washington and Bernita Walker, recipients of the 2010 Accolade Awards, with members of the Accolades Committee.

Dancers from Lula Washington's Dance School perform a ballet number at the Accolades reception.

Friends of LWDT Delores Bodey and Mamie Hansberry attended the reception.

Lula Nominated for Fred & Adele Astaire Award

Lula Washington has been nominated in New York City for the 28th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Award (formerly known as the Astaire Award) for her choreography of the feature film, AVATAR. The Award honors excellence in dance and choreography for stage and in film.

James Cameron (above) and his team searched the US for a choreographer for AVATAR. Everywhere they looked, Lula Washington’s name came up. Cameron called Lula in for a meeting one day and asked her how the Na vi people might move, greet each other, and handle rituals. Lula instantly showed him choreograhy that he loved. She was hired on the spot.

Lula and a dozen of her touring company dancers worked on the film in 2007 and 2008. Lula’s dancers also worked as body doubles for stars of the film in important movement scenes. Their movements were captured by very high tech computer suits that read and recorded every motion down to the batting of an eye. Once captured, the moves could be pasted on any individual and replicated hundreds of times.

The photo above is as follows: (left to right) Lula Washington; dancer Christa Oliver; director James Cameron; and dancer Tamica Washington-Miller, who danced as a body double for the character of Mo’at in AVATAR.

Lula was nominated along with other popular choreographers and artists like Marguerite Derricks for Fame and Kenny Ortega for This Is It.

Established in 1982, the Fred & Adele Astaire Awards Ceremony will take place on June 7th in Manhattan.

Lula Washington is now being represented by Julie McDonald of the MSA talent agency, the global leader for dance representation!
See her profile.

LWDT Celebrated 30th Anniversary with Retrospective Performance at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre presented its 30th Anniversary Dance Concert at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University on May 15, 2010 before an enthusiastic crowd that stood up and applauded each of the new 2010 works presented by the Company in the first half of the show. Those works included: www.connections.2010 by Lula Washington; “Love Is…” by Christopher Huggins; and “Reign” by Rennie Harris. The three will be part of the company’s Fall and Spring touring repertory for 2010-11.

The company also presented excerpts from choreography by Lula Washington from the company’s first three decades. A number of alumni dancers came back to perform in the concert. Many of the retrospective pieces were created long before LWDT became a national touring company, and they showed the personal side of Lula Washington, including the style of dance that made her a unique, bold and uncompromising voice in the local and national dance scene.

New Website!


Welcome to the new Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s new, updated website! We’re very excited to launch this new site, which will have more announcements, news, and photos than our old website. We hope this website will keep you updated with the latest information about the company and school.

Here is a brief introduction:

The “News” section will include what is happening here at the studio and where the company is touring. Announcements and press releases can also be found here.

The “Gallery” page is powered by Flickr. Photos from our tours (both on stage and backstage), professional shoots, and events can be found here.

There is also information about the class schedules, company members, future auditions, studio rentals, and how you can support LWDT.

We’re still working and updating the website, but please feel free to let us know what you think.