Women Take the Lead at Los Angeles Dance Festival

Marshall Ayers Beyond, College, Dance, Events, Opportunities, Performing Arts, Performing Arts, Student Resources

The 2016 Los Angeles Dance Festival is April 14 – 23

LA. Two simple letters bring a light to the eye of dreamers. This is the city built by people with dreams that had the nerve, persistence and guts to make their vision a reality.

Dance in LA has the same DNA of dreams. This is where the new art form of modern dance was created at the turn of the last century. Created by women before they even had the right to vote. That spirit of independence lives on today in the Los Angeles concert dance scene which is largely defined by women choreographers.

LA differs from most major centers of dance like New York City and London because the vast majority of our contemporary companies both large and small are under the creative and administrative guidance of women.


Lula Washington Dance Theater, Lula Washington, Director Photography by Erwin Washington

In other US cities, there is a well defined structure for companies and choreographers to develop their craft complete with funding and opportunities, and this tends to favor male applicants similar to other businesses. LA has less structure, here if you want to do something you just do it. There is less funding but more freedom. And women have taken that freedom and run with it.

The Los Angeles Dance Festival is a great example of the LA spirit. The festival was conceived by, and for the first two years co-directed by myself and Matt Wells (CFO of Diavolo). The festival is now produced under the sole direction of Brockus Project Studios and has grown to feature 30 contemporary companies each year from the Greater Los Angeles area. LA’s impulsive and free nature is demonstrated by the speed that the festival was created in, as there were no committees or boards to seek approval from. The timeline from the initial idea to the festival’s premier was a mere four months. Matt and I talked over drinks in January and the festival opened in April.


BrockusRED, Deborah Brockus, Director Photography by Denise Leitner

The festival is conceived as a way to both celebrate the art being created in LA and also to highlight the different voice that was evident in the work of LA dance creators.

“Women are the predominate choreographers and company directors yet again in this year’s festival with 22 of the 30 featured companies under the direction of females.”

My short list of women influencers who are both presenting or who have inspired or supported the festival reads like a “who’s who” of the LA dance scene including: Ann Haskins at the LA Weekly, the grand dame Lula Washington, BODYTRAFFIC co-directors (Lillian and Tina), Kate Hutter, Ana Maria Alvarez, Laura Karlin, Rossanan Gamson, Heidi Duckler, Josie Walsh and so many more all the way back to Bella Lewitzky who I studied with.


CONTRA-TIEMPO Futuro Jr. Dance Company, Ana Mara Alzerez, Artistic Director, Jasmine Burgos, Futuro Jr Director

LA choreography uses space, music, structure, and themes very differently than dance from other cities. Is this because of the city we live in or because of the predominance of the female voice in dance that resonates in LA? Time will tell, as LA ‘s reputation for being a dance center has grown, more men are moving into town to join the residence female choreographers, will the money follow them or will it flow to the females who have been creating here?

The fourth annual LA Dance Festival is April 14-23 visit www.LADanceFest.org for tickets, performance schedule and class information.

Author Deborah Brockus

artistic director photo copy copyDeborah Brockus is the Artistic director of the award winning and internationally touring dance company BrockusRED and Director of BPstudios a leading professional rehearsal studio in LA. As a dancer and choreographer Brockus has worked nationally and internationally on stage, in film and television. She has received awards for both her teaching and choreography. As a teacher her students work in international and national modern and ballet companies, jazz companies, on Broadway and in the Hollywood industry. She specializes in professional and pre professional training working an performing arts high schools and professional studios. Brockus is also the producer of Dance in LA choreography showcases and the Los Angeles Dance Festival.

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Marshall Ayers
Arts education specialist with 25+ years experience in non-profit organizations and public educational settings. Marshall founded Artzray to create a community of young, multidisciplinary artists who are seeking professional, practical and personal career resources. Marshall lives and works in LA with her family, but hails from the east coast. When she's not working on Artzray, she would rather be sailing, reading or listening to her son play cello.
Marshall Ayers