What moves you? Have you asked yourself that question? What moves the L.A. Cultural Exchange team and all the dancers that we’ve had in our cultural arts exchange program is, hands down, Movement Lifestyle, aka, mL, aka, our happy place.
The mL Studio’s vibe is happy. It’s open. It’s accepting. It feels safe. And that’s just when you walk in the studio. We’ll have to do another post entirely on the lineup, the choregraphers and the class vibe. They call everyone movers because they want everyone to feel like a mover no matter what level they are…or age.
This is on the front page of their site: “The mL Studio is a home where community lives. We hope dancers find this studio a place they can identify with and depend on for quality teaching/training. Come learn in a warm and friendly environment! Make mL Studio the foundation from which you can grow in your journey of becoming a professional dancer or choreographer.”
The Evaristo brothers, C.J. and Shaun, have put together a family of talented folks to efficiently run a studio focused on training, and it’s all done with a huge heart. This same mentality flows seamlessly to their work study team and our dancers feel it in waves, from the moment they step into the studio. “The front desk staff has been nothing but friendly and helpful when it comes to informing myself and fellow movers on which classes would be beneficial to build our craft,” said Kobe, a U.S. dancer from our 2017 inaugural Summer Dance in L.A. season who has now moved to L.A. “The classes have helped tremendously to build my foundation and technique for hip hop. Everyone at Movement is beyond welcoming and supportive. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to dance in.”
The L.A. Cultural Exchange staff is grateful to the mL team, for the help and care they’ve given our dancers throughout the years. They just celebrated seven years as a studio in the NoHo Arts District. How did they celebrate? They gave everyone the gift of free classes! This is how they give back and why they’re a cherished member of the North Hollywood arts community.
We got to chat with mL work study supervisors and professional dancers Vienna and David about the program and how it works.
So what does work study really mean?
You are working so you can study, study dance and nearly all aspects of running a studio! It’s important to understand studio logistics, scheduling, choreographers’ needs, social media, special event planning, the dancers’ needs, the community, etc. Movers learn this in the work study program but also time management, customer service, creative problem solving, good people skills and, ultimately, patience. It’s hard to find a better way to dance, learn how a studio operates and become a better person all at the same time than at mL.
So what are the requirements?
– Two shifts a week, four hours each.
– Every hour worked is a class so that means eight classes a week.
– You must take four classes a week. “Don’t forget to dance,” says David.
So you want to join the mL work study family?
You will have to commit to three semesters, which are four months each. It’s a constant group of new work studies – a constantly moving program of movers from all over – so there’s always someone there to help.
1. For the first semester, the newbies, the focus is on respect, as in respecting people’s time, the check in process, the class etiquette, and respect to the choreographers and fellow movers. They do one on ones every semester and ask you about your strengths, like in event planning, admin, marketing, social media, etc., so they can have you do what you do best, or at least help you find out what you do best.
2. Mentorship with faculty. Once they decide what you’re focusing on and interested in and, good at, they pair you with a mentor. It’s required that you take your mentor’s class. These pairings are a way to build a bridge between faculty and the work study team but also collaborations. After all, we are a creative community and working together is not only smart, it makes for a better product, and a more efficient one. If a work study makes music and their mentor needs music, that’s a match made in heaven. We say don’t reinvent the wheel, collaborate. During this time you will have a mentor but also newbies under you. Remember, dancers help other dancers and in this case, movers help other movers.
3. During months 8-12 there are shift lead position available as well. This is a time where they focus on your career path and how they can help. Do you want to work in production, as a choreographer, as a dancer, in graphics, in admin? Now would be the time to take advantage of the mL knowledge base and network.
-Work Study Workshops – you get to have a workshop in the big studio with promotion, including flier and photo shoot. You can do whatever you want in your workshop space. It’s your space and time. You’ll get help preparing for your workshop via the Teaching Seminar – an open forum of sharing experiences like the creative process, gauging a class, etc.
So what are some of the other perks?
-Privates. You will have a monthly private faculty class with flexibility to do what you need like run it as a rehearsal, camera training, audition practice, freestyle, etc.
-Funday. We all need some fun and the Funday is a good to find your people, your tribe. They’ve done hiking, game night, mini golf and a bounce house. “We want everyone who works studies to becomes friends,” says Vienna.
– August once a year showcase. Anyone who has completed the full work study program within the last year can participate and showcase their choreography. They were here because they wanted to dance. And now they’re here showcasing their moves.
So you want to join the mL work study family?
Their suggestion is simple:
“Take a class,” says David. “If you dance here you know the environment. You’ll know if this is the environment you’ll feel happy.”
Check the mL Instagram for updates on work study submissions and deadlines!
Is there a success story?
There are many but the one that popped into Vienna and David’s mind was Kevin. He came for a summer and was there every day, like a piece of furniture, he slept on the bench just so he could take the most amount of classes. L.A. was not his scene, at first. But he applied for the mL work study program because he felt comfortable at the studio and the work studies became his friends. He’s dancing, living his life, still takes class, helps out when he can, living his best L.A. life and it all started with him feeling comfortable. He may not have moved here if it weren’t for his friends at the front desk.
“The greatest thing about this program is that you become friends,” says Vienna. It creates life-long friends, not just dance friends.”
We know this to be true, first hand. Stay tuned for our next post on the Gentle Ladies, our summer dancers’ mentors and former mL work study buddies. We’re big time fans. #GentleLadiesWassup