3773 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
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Dance School » About Our Youth Programs

Members of the Youth Dance Ensemble in Caribbean dance.


The Lula Washington Dance Theatre offers a dance school for children starting at age three and going up through senior citizens. The school offers classes six days a week, Monday – Saturday. Classes for adult professional dancers are held during the mornings with members of the LWDT Company. Children’s classes meet after school during the week, and all day on Saturdays starting at 9 a.m. The school takes enrollment all year.

The LWDT school seeks to serve those who want to become professional dancers, and also those who dance for love, joy, physical fitness, health, and cultural enrichment. Over its three decades, the LWDT School has turned out some of the best dancers in America, while also treating hundreds and thousands of others to the joys of dance.

Levels & Placement

Tiny Tots I & II — Ages 3-5
Pre-Steps — Ages 5-8
First Steps I & II — Ages 8-11
Teens — Ages 11-18
Adult — Ages 18+
Professional Development Intensive (PDI) — Intermediate to Advanced Teens and Adults. By invitation only.

Youth Dance Ensemble

The Youth Dance Ensemble is a performing group for students ages 7 to 17. The group performs all over Los Angeles under the guidance of Lula Washington and her staff of teachers, dancers, choreographers and YDE alumni.

The students in this group make lasting friendships. Parents get involved to volunteer and help out as needed. This is truly a “Village” project. Students take dance classes together in modern dance, jazz, African, tap, hip hop, ballet, Brazilian, and Caribbean dance.

The YDE has been a core part of Lula Washington Dance Theatre since 1983. Read more about the Youth Dance Ensemble here.

Annual Youth Recital

Every June, every dancer, from three-year-old students to the young adults and members of the professional Lula Washington Dance Theatre, perform in an annual recital. It is a treat for family and friends, and it is an important opportunity for the students — particularly the young ones making their first appearances on stage. The recital is generally held at the Marcee Auditorium at El Camino College. Rehearsals for the recital begin in the Spring session (beginning in January). Students are advised to get in class ASAP in order to be ready for the recital.

Kwanzaa Concert

Every December, right after Christmas, LWDT students dance in the annual Kwanzaa concert. The focus is on African dance. The concert celebrates children, family, and community. This is a non-religious, cultural holiday celebration designed for the entire family.

Lula with Summer Dance Camp students after culminating dance concert in the LWDT studio.

Summer Dance Camp

Every summer the Lula Washington Dance Theatre holds an 8-week Summer Dance Camp for children ages 7-17. The children come all day from 8 am until 5 pm Mon-Friday. Late evening classes start at 5 and go until 8 pm. The Summer Dance Camp also includes a Summer Intensive Workshop for young adult dancers who want the chance to study intensly to improve their skills. Students learn choreography during the summer session and they get to perform in a culminating Summer Concert. The camp is an ideal time for young adult dancers to try out for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre company.

Jenny Ligon, a pioneer in tap dance, speaks with LWDT students about her life in dance.

Master Dance Classes

Lula Washington frequently brings master teachers in to instruct students in various forms of dance, and to give talks about their life experiences in dance. Master teachers have included famed pioneer tapper, Jenny Ligon; Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem; Jeffrey Daniel, who taught Michael Jackson the Moonwalk; New York choreographer, Ronald K. Brown; members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; teachers from the Katherine Dunham School in St. Louis; and many, many others.

Partnership with Dorsey High School

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre has entered into a partnership to provide dance training for students at Dorsey High School for the 2010 school year. The project is supported by the California Arts Council. Tamica Washington-Miller, associate director of LWDT, will teach dance at Dorsey twice a week during the school day. The students will get a field trip to the LWDT dance studio. Additionally, students from Dorsey will be able to audition to attend the LWDT school on a full scholarship for a year.

Students from Dorsey High pose with Lula and Tamica following a workshop at the LWDT studio.