Lula Washington: “A gifted original”

Los Angeles based Lula Washington Dance Theatre brings a striking repertoire to the Alberta Bair Theater

On Stage
Lula Washington is Founder and Artistic Director of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre
Lula Washington is Founder and Artistic Director of the Lula Washington Dance TheatrePhoto © Sol Washington

Lula Washington Dance Theatre brings powerful, high-energy dancing and unique choreography to the Alberta Bair stage at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4; the troupe also offers a free master class and performance at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Billings Public Library.

Washington has steadfastly focused on using dance to explore social and humanitarian issues, including aspects of African-American history and culture. Her young, athletic dancers unveil a repertoire of honesty, integrity and unparalleled power.

The artist, who stumbled upon modern dance at a community college, won admission to UCLA, where she performed in the Academy Awards telecast, in the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Band” film, with singers Cher and Al Green, and in “Funny Lady” with Barbra Striesand. She also established the Black Dance Association at UCLA.

She went on to found the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theatre, later renamed the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, which is committed to performing her unique, risk-taking, experimental works, as well as the works of legendary pioneers in African-American dance.

In 1983, she established her own dance school and provided low cost and free dance classes to neighborhood children through an after-school program called “I Do Dance, Not Drugs!” Since then, the school has taught dance to over 45,000 inner-city students.

Stylistically, Washington fuses African and Afro-Haitian dance. She also incorporates the dance styles of gospel, classical ballet, modern, street, theatrical, and hi-hop, while drawing from various ideas and issues.

Among her most notable projects, Washington created cultural/ritual movements for the film “Avatar,” including war scenes, hunting, and large dance sequences; she also choreographed Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” including the Academy Award-winning song “Under The Sea.”

The New York Times, which praises Washington as a “gifted original,” describes a concert this way: “Live jazz. Athletic bodies, jumping and undulating. Rousing, infectiously enthusiastic performances by fine dancers.”

Tickets are $19-$35; call 256-6052 or visit