Odoru Dance Studio

About Odoru Dance Studio

Studio founder Emiko Sugiyama created Odoru Dance Studio, near downtown Los Angeles, as a place for street dancers to come together and build community. Emiko was already organizing a weekly house dancing open session before she opened the studio. She founded Odoru ("to dance" in Japanese), Emiko says, because she wanted to offer people classes, but it was important to her to keep that separate from the pure creative, sharing environment of the open session.

"It's a house community, but I'm coming from a breaking background," Emiko says of the Open House Family house dancing session she hosts at Odoru. Some of the other dancers who come through also have a different background, such as breaking or popping.

“This place is for releasing the
stress. To be free . . .”

Odoru Dance Studio brings together the international house dancing community. Many of those at the open sessions are visitors to L.A., here for a couple of weeks from places like New York City and France. Sometimes Emiko brings in visiting instructors from NYC to offer workshops and share knowledge, but mostly, the open session is for dancers to learn from their peers.

"How I learn is mostly watching in the club . . . this is a place for people to come and learn that way," Emiko says.

As of September 2011, Odoru both hosts the house dancing open session and offers open-level classes in house dancing and breaking. Currently in a temporary space, Odoru will add more dance styles when it finds a new permanent home! Emiko would like the studio to return to downtown Los Angeles. Because she's Japanese, she says, it would be nice to locate near Little Tokyo, a neighborhood that represents who she is.

For now, the studio is renting a nice space in Lincoln Heights, a spacious artists' loft owned by a dancer who likes to rent to other dancers. Three tall mirrors lean against the front wall. On the side walls, several elegant windows made up of tiny panes swing open for ventilation. (Because the studio is on an upper floor, there's still privacy for the dancers.) Most of the ceiling track spotlights are turned off, and small, soft white orbs hang from the ceiling to provide additional lighting.

"This place is for releasing the stress," Emiko says. "To be free, to not worry about anything and be creative."

About Emiko Sugiyama

Growing up in Tokyo, Emiko studied ballet. It was when she came to California to study physical therapy at the extension school of UC Davis that she developed a love for breakdance, hip hop, and house dancing. Afterward, she moved to L.A. to pursue dance.

But she just wasn't feeling the industry, Emiko says. It was hard going to auditions because she felt she needed to try to be who the people casting wanted. That was confusing, when she didn't even know yet who she really was.

"I wasn't finding out about myself," she says, while doing that.

Emiko moved to New York City planning to study modern dance. But a San Francisco Bay Area house dancer, a friend from UC Davis, connected her with people at the heart of NYC's house dancing club scene. Emiko got deeply into house dancing and also worked on her breaking. Then she joined a crew, Illstyle and Peace Productions, and moved to Philadelphia to be closer to her rehearsals.

Emiko toured overseas and on the East Coast as a member of Illstyle. Individually, she also entered b-girl battles as far away as England and France. In Philadelphia, Emiko organized a seven-week summer camp, "Hip Hop Island," that offered classes in each element of hip-hop culture and ended with a block party that brought generations of dancers together.

In 2008, Emiko married and moved back to Los Angeles. As soon as she arrived, she rented space and started a house dancing session. She felt that the house dancing community needed a place to come together, Emiko explains. The following year, in November 2009, Emiko opened Odoru Dance Studio.

Emiko has found working in L.A.'s dance industry more comfortable the second time around. Now that she knows who she is, Emiko says, she doesn't feel a need to try to be who a job calls for. She just performs her job by playing the role that is requested.

Sometimes Emiko also books jobs as a crew with the Syrenz. In summer 2010, she danced with her all-female crew in Justin Bieber's "Somebody to Love" video.

"I did not know how big he was," Emiko says.

When she arrived and saw the caliber of artists on set, she thought, this must be a good job. The Beat Freaks and Poreotics crews also appeared in the video. During the choreography phase, Syrenz Crew was switched from the chorus to the verse. Because of that, Emiko says, they were the ones who got to dance with Usher! You can spot the Syrenz in the video by their bright pink handheld fans.

All the Details: Odoru Dance Studio

Contacting the Studio

Phone and E-Mail

The best way to reach the studio is by phone. Dancers may call Odoru Dance Studio owner Emiko Sugiyama between 10 am and 10 pm.

Voice messages can usually be returned quickly, on the same day.

Emiko has a lot of e-mails to check, so response time for an e-mail message is usually about two days.

E-mails regarding the Open House Family house dancing open session hosted by Odoru Dance Studio may be sent to a separate e-mail address (see Studio Info box at top of page).

Studio Hours

The studio is open only during class hours and open practice sessions.

The studio's current space is a rented loft shared by other dancers and artists. If you arrive very early for class, you may need to wait outside if the studio is in use by others.

Social Media

Facebook Profile

Odoru Dance Studio's Facebook profile is a good place to keep up to date on the class schedule and any studio news. The same information sent to people on Odoru's e-mail list is usually posted on the Facebook profile.

Studio News

E-Mail List

Odoru has an e-mail list. The list will be used more when the studio finds a permanent location, as the class schedule will expand and there will be more studio news.

The same info sent to the e-mail list is usually posted on Odoru's Facebook profile.

How to Sign Up for the E-Mail List

To join the e-mail list, just e-mail your request to the studio.

Class Information

Class Schedule

Odoru Dance Studio's class schedule is posted to the Odoru blog (see link in Studio Info box) on the first day of each month. Any additional class information, such as if there is a sub, is also posted to the blog.

Please don't rely on the outdated class schedule on the main Odoru web site!

Class Prices

Class prices can be found at the bottom of the month's blog entry giving the class schedule. As of October 2011, classes are $12 each or $80 for an eight-class series and the house dancing open session costs $3.

Class Payment

Payment by cash or check is accepted. (Out-of-state checks are okay.) Exact change is not required, but is greatly appreciated!

Attendance Options

Odoru Dance Studio offers ongoing drop-in classes and open practice sessions.

Visiting Odoru Dance Studio

Policies and Things to Know

Please Check the Odoru Blog for Any Policies

Any notes to students can be found at the bottom of the month's class schedule blog entry, along with prices. For instance, Emiko may request dancers to call to let her know they're coming before they depart for class.

Being on Time

There are no strict rules, but Emiko requests that students arrive on time.

Age Range

Dancers at Odoru are typically all adults. If a child wishes to attend class, as long as the parent understands that their child is taking an adult class, it's okay.

Class Observation Policy

Prospective students may observe a class. There's a small amount of seating in the studio.

Information for First-Time Students

Please arrive a few minutes early to fill out a registration form.

Water and Snacks

Water

It's best to bring your own water with you! In case of need, there is a Brita water pitcher in the kitchen of the loft.

Snacks

Odoru doesn't sell any type of snacks, and there aren't nearby shops or restaurants. If you think you'll need a snack, we recommend bringing one with you.

Studio Features and Amenities

Changing for Class

It's best to arrive already dressed for class! However, there's a small unisex changing stall next to the restroom stall in Odoru's bathroom if you need to change clothes. It can be locked for privacy.

Please use the changing stall to change and leave the adjoining restroom stall available for those who may need it.

Clothing and Other Goods

The studio sometimes has t-shirts available for purchase.

Waiting Areas and Lounges

People arriving extremely early for class may need to wait in the hall outside the studio. The loft is a shared rental space for dancers and artists. Outside of class hours, others may be using the studio.

Inside the studio, a couch and a few chairs are available for seating.

Dance Floor

Odoru has a regular wood floor, not sprung. However, it's a pretty good floor for dance. Because the studio isn't on the ground floor, it's a bit springier.

Ballet Barres

Odoru's studio is owned by a dancer. Four slim pillars that form a square in the center of the studio are outfitted so that ballet barres may be suspended between them.

Navigating and Finding the Studio

Navigating

Odoru Dance Studio is convenient to the freeway. Because classes are in late evening and it will be dark out when you leave, if you use Google Maps or another point-to-point directions service, we recommend printing round-trip directions so you'll have an easy time finding the correct route when departing.

Finding the Studio

The studio is in a second-floor loft. The correct outside door of the building to reach Odoru's stairwell is labeled "Pieter." Inside, the doors of the building's individual units are also labeled, and Odoru is in Unit 10.

If class or open practice is in session, you may be able to follow the music.

Bring Emiko's phone number with you; if you have any difficulty locating the studio, you can call her for assistance.

Available Parking

Street Parking

Unmetered street parking is available on Lacy St or Avenue 33. (Lacy St becomes Avenue 33 when it rounds a corner near Odoru; they're actually the same street.)

When parking, always check street signs on the block to verify details.

Where Not to Park

Odoru does not have parking privileges in the building's parking lot.