Beginning Hip Hop with Rhythmik Movement

Beginning Hip Hop

Taking Class

Inspired and powered by the passion of a group of friends who met at their gym's dance classes, Rhythmik Movement offers a warm, personal beginning hip-hop class environment with a strong sense of community. Instructors Louie Siongco, Isa Imamura, and Pearl Aguinaldo know all their students and keep an eye out for them; no one is lost anonymously at the back of the class.

It's no coincidence that the studio where class is held is cozy, private, and inviting. Rhythmik Movement searched out the space specifically to create the friendly, laid-back feel they envisioned. They wanted a comfortable studio where they could focus on the people, not the sign-in paperwork.

Rhythmik Movement and its hip-hop class
have friendships at their heart.

Rhythmik Movement's class, Pearl says, is for "people who just want to dance, who want to dance without being intimidated, who just want to express themselves and be comfortable."

Mind you, this isn't an ultra-slow-paced, super-easy class—it's just that if you mess up, no one cares! So while a friendly environment for real beginners and less confident dancers, this class still offers plenty of fun and challenges for those with a little more experience.

Rhythmik Movement's Thursday-night class draws mostly older teens and adults. Parents of young children bring them to the Sunday-afternoon class, which has a wide mix of ages and is designed to be more family-friendly. On Sundays, the instructors cater more to the younger set, making sure everyone short can see and being more careful with language.

The regularly scheduled classes aren't all the Rhythmik Movement instructors collaborate to provide for their students. The trio hold dance mixers/specialty classes with fun themes, produce an annual summer showcase, host a Christmas party, and even arrange an occasional beach day—and they're always looking for creative ways to take Rhythmik Movement to another level.

One Class, Three Teachers

Having three teachers, Rhythmik Movement says, means three distinct dance styles and three different personalities.

Louie choreographs to R&B songs, emphasizing isolations and popping. Isa's hip-hop style is the most intricate, with some tutting. And, says Louie, "Pearl's always going hard!"

Rhythmik Movement's instructors rotate turns choreographing for and leading the class, but all three participate in teaching each class. It's better that way, they say. Dancers get more people at the front to follow, more teachers to guide them and explain the moves. One instructor can even take latecomers aside and catch them up while class continues.

"There's three of us with the same goal, with the same purpose," Pearl says. "So it's good for our students to find out . . . who they're more comfortable with, who they like to follow, which style they like."

A Class Where Friends Connect

In a city known for its professional dance industry, Louie says, for the members of Rhythmik Movement, dance isn't a job. It's purely their passion.

Isa does property management, Pearl is in marketing, and Louie works in HR. When they got out of their 9-to-5 jobs, each of them used to travel to various locations of the gym they belonged to in order to take all the hip-hop classes—and they kept running into each other.

That's how Pearl, Isa, and Louie, as well as other Rhythmik Movement members who don't teach the class, met and became friends. They began getting together to session outside of class, and even choreographing together. Then they planned a performance for Pearl's birthday party. That's when they decided they needed a name, and Rhythmik Movement was born.

So Rhythmik Movement and its hip-hop class have friendships at their heart. After class, everyone doesn't grab their bag and run out the door. Instead, Isa, Louie, Pearl, and students head for the lobby's couches, make themselves at home, and catch up.

They love to see their students connect, the trio say. When they hold specialty dance classes with themes, they usually have a hour mixer first, and serve wine and hors d'oeuvres.

At those events, Louie says, he can really see the friendships that form between students and the way they talk and share the passion they have for dance.

"Because dance brought us together," Louie says, "it's cool to see dance bring other people together."

Instructor Dance Backgrounds

Each Rhythmik Movement teacher comes from a different dance background. So there's someone here who'll understand where you're coming from if you're a former (or current) athlete, ballerina, cheerleader, or drill team member . . . or even if you're an adult who's never danced before!

Pearl Aguinaldo

Growing up in California, Pearl Aguinaldo participated in drill team from fourth to sixth grade. Then after a break, during her junior and senior years of high school, she joined the dance team. Pearl stopped training while attending college for marketing and fashion merchandising, though she still danced in some small talent shows. But after entering the work world, she found great hip-hop classes at her gym in L.A., many taught by professional choreographers. Pearl started dancing regularly at the gym—and also training at some of L.A.'s top studios—and there she met Isa Imamura and Louie Siongco, whom she joined in creating Rhythmik Movement.

Isa Imamura

Isa Imamura started dancing when her mom put her in ballet at age three. But in her mid teens, after four years on pointe, her feet started giving out. After taking a break, and moving from Guam to California, Isa switched to jazz and then hip hop. She was also a cheerleader on her dance team, and from there she started to choreograph and teach others. In college Isa was intensely focused on academics. Dance faded from the picture. But after graduation, she wanted more from her life outside of work. So Isa started taking hip-hop classes at her gym. Then she also began taking some classes at L.A.'s top studios. But she was especially dedicated to the gym classes, many of which were taught by professional choreographers, because there she met and danced with Louie Siongco and Pearl Aguinaldo. They were "just as passionate and looking for that same outlet" artistically, Isa says, and she joined them in creating Rhythmik Movement.

Louie Siongco

Louie Siongco describes himself as a late bloomer. He was insecure growing up, he says, always thinking that he was the skinniest, he was the shortest, he was the smallest.

"As long as I can remember, I wanted to dance," Louie says, "but I was too shy."

Instead, he poured his energy into sports and academics. While in college—where Louie applied himself hard, studying biology and psychology—he was inspired by seeing hip-hop crews and other dance teams perform live. But it wasn't until he graduated that Louie's focus shifted toward creative pursuits, and he finally decided to give dance a try.

"It helped me kind of boost my confidence. And now," Louie jokes, "you won't be able to shut me up!"

To learn to dance, Louie took all the hip-hop classes he could at his gym. Because many of them were taught by professional choreographers, he was able to reach a level where he could also train at L.A.'s top studios. In his gym classes, Louie met Pearl Aguinaldo and Isa Imamura, whom he joined in creating Rhythmik Movement.

Beginning Hip Hop

Class in Brief

Rhythmik Movement offers a warm, personal beginning hip-hop class environment. The teachers know all their students, and no one gets lost anonymously at the back of the class. Friendly, noncompetitive, and welcoming to beginners, this class is still challenging enough to be fun for advanced beginners and intermediate dancers.

Three instructors all participate in each class, but they rotate turns creating the routines—so students get three different styles. Louie Siongco choreographs to R&B songs, emphasizing isolations and popping. Isa Imamura's hip-hop style is the most intricate, with some tutting. And Pearl Aguinaldo just goes hard!

In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, the Rhythmik Movement teachers hold occasional dance mixers/specialty classes and put on other fun events. The trio also teach private lessons as a team, for a similar price to what you might pay for a single teacher.