From professional dancers to those who simply like to move their bodies, The Music Center is now inviting community members to show off their dance moves with free in-person lessons.
The center’s annual Dance DTLA is returning to the Jerry Moss Plaza, located at 135 N. Grand Avenue, from Aug. 13 through Sept. 10.
After transitioning online last year due to COVID-19 safety regulations, attendees can once again dance the night away in Downtown Los Angeles every Friday night between 7 and 11 p.m., according to Lucy Zepeda, The Music Center’s assistant manager of community relations and partnerships.
The series offers a free night of dancing each week, highlighting a new genre every time, topped off with lessons from trained instructors. This year’s genres will include cumbia, disco, Motown, salsa and Bollywood.
“Dance brings people together,” Zepeda told Los Angeles Downtown News. “You can dance on your own at home, but it’s a different experience when you’re dancing on a dance floor under the stars with your friends.”
The instructors will teach beginner dance lessons with easy-to-follow steps, making it accessible to all skill levels. No prior dance experience is necessary, Zepeda noted.
Cumbia will be featured on Aug. 13, followed by disco on Aug. 20, Motown on Aug. 27, salsa on Sept. 3, and Bollywood on Sept. 10.
Varying local DJ sets will also be in attendance to keep the party vibes going.
The center hopes to provide a space for the community to reunite through dance after a year of isolation brought on by the pandemic, Zepeda added.
“It’s that opportunity to reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a long time, or even if it is just dancing with a stranger and other people again,” Zepeda said. “That’s part of being able to be social — I think that’s one of the fun and healing properties of dance.”
Dance DTLA is open to all ages; however, no outside alcohol is permitted. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
In the past, the series has drawn in crowds of 15 to 2,000 people at any given time, Zepeda explained.
But when COVID-19 required the center’s team to pivot, they were determined to continue to offer the public a safe platform to connect and heal through dance.
“Last year, we shifted to the digital format when we went into lockdown,” Zepeda said.
Each Friday, the center broadcasted 40-minute prerecorded sessions to its YouTube channel and website at 7 p.m. The sessions featured intermediate and beginner courses taught the instructors.
“I think it was hard for the instructors,” Zepeda said. “They are used to vibing with and feeling the crowd — that call-and-response on stage. There was that piece that was missing.”
The assistant manager said she is more than excited to see the series transition back to in-person dancing.
“A lot of staff and artists haven’t seen each other in a long time,” she stated. “It’s great to bring together the artists again and give a platform for the folks that haven’t been working for over a year.”
The Music Center, dubbed as Los Angeles’ performing arts destination, features four theaters and four renowned companies, including Center Theatre Group, the LA Master Chorale, the LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic.
The establishment seeks to inspire audiences through live performances, nationally recognized arts education, and free and low-cost art engagement experiences, its website states.
Home to a series of artistic programs and events, the center is especially recognized for its dance program Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, the website continues. It also programs and manages Grand Park, a 12-acre adjacent greenspace with year-round free programming.
During Dance DTLA, The Music Center will feature free art-making workshops geared toward all ages on select dates, including Aug. 20 and 27, as well as Sept. 10.
As much as Zepeda is looking forward to gathering at the plaza again, she emphasized that the center’s main priority is safety.
“We’re really excited to be coming back live after a year of taking a break,” she said. “But also, we’re looking to have and fun and be safe. We’re asking guests to wear a mask while out on the dance floor.”
The Music Center is also partnering with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to host a mobile vaccination clinic on Aug. 13 and on Sept. 3 during the festivities.
Both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available on both dates, Zepeda said.
The vaccine is free to those who are eligible, and immigration status and insurance are not required.
To learn more about The Music Center’s Dance DTLA, and for a list of prohibited items, visit musiccenter.org/tickets/events-by-the-music-center/danceDTLA.