Tiffany Chao and Kirsten Marbert think Los Angeles has a dance class problem.
On one end of the spectrum are studios like Millennium and Edge, which cater to the city’s robust community of pro dancers but are also “very intense and intimidating” for those who just want to get a good sweat in, says Marbert (who herself used to dance for a living).
Then, there are dance cardio classes—great for muscle sculpting, but generally don’t offer the kind of swag-ified hip-hop choreography that Beyoncé videos are made of. (And that we all secretly want to learn—admit it, you tried to master a few of those Formation moves when no one was looking.)
So to fill that gap, Chao launched MVMT Theory, a pop-up hip-hop dance class that hits the sweet spot in between those two extremes. “We’re here to serve everyone and provide a safe place to explore,” says the lifelong dancer, whose day job is in digital advertising (she enlisted Marbert to help out as an instructor). “Everybody’s always watching YouTube videos and thinking, ‘Oh my god, I want to do that!’ You totally can; you just have to be in an environment that allows you to do it.”
What to expect
The hour-long classes, which start and end with yoga-inspired stretching and grounding mini-meditations, are complex enough to keep experienced dancers engaged, but not so challenging that they’re completely out of reach for a novice. Each routine is taught at half-speed for the first part of the class, and then slowly builds up in pace, culminating in a “burnout section,” which is basically an all-out dance party to the DJ-crafted playlist. (Expect everything from Drake and Kanye to underground beats by artists like Sampha, DVSN, and Gallant.)
There are currently three classes on offer: the all-levels MVMT, an advanced session called MVMT+, and MVMT Heels—which is not at all as scary as it sounds (and you can still wear sweats with your stilettos). “In MVMT Heels, we focus on simple choreography that you can feel damn good doing,” says Marbert. “Because think about it: Every time you go to a club or party, you’re in heels and you’ve gotta dance.”
The MVMT Movement
Since the concept launched in March, the classes have been filling studios to capacity—they’re currently offered three times a week (at Venice’s 30Fifteen space and at Blackbird Dance in WeHo), and will be popping up at Platform LA’s Fitness Selects series through the month of May with a live DJ. (You can RSVP for classes here.) But offering up a good sweat is only part of Chao’s mission.
“First and foremost, our ambition is to create community,” she says. “We want to work with partners who are willing to push creative boundaries and bring something new and exciting, whether that’s a rooftop dance series, or working with local galleries to do an Art + Hip Hop event.”
She adds that, within the next few years, dedicated MVMT Theory studios and a community dance company are also on her wish list. In other words, better start perfecting your booty pop now.
MVMT Theory, 30Fifteen Studio, 1336A Electric Ave., Venice, CA, 90291 (Wednesdays); Blackbird Dance, 305 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90036 (Thursdays and Sundays); Greenhouse at Platform, 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA, 90232 (May 10, 22, 24); mvmtheory.com