If you believe serendipity is quite real, it will come as no surprise to read a tale of dancing on a rooftop in Hollywood, California with choreographer Benjamin Allen.
He says his dance classes are for people of all ages.
For on a balmy August evening, an 18-year-old from Japan moves coolly alongside a 70-year-old from Torrance, California doing dance steps made famous by Michael Jackson.
By chance, an inquisitive reporter finds herself in the midst of measured movement; at the helm, Allen steers so smoothly, directing everyone toward fun.
It’s all part of his plan: To make dance widely accessible and fantastically enjoyable.
With GROOV3, he has developed a (sort of) class that feels much like a party, complete with a live DJ. Allen choreographs the routines, a blend of funk, pop, soul and hip-hop, and presents them with a positive spin.
It’s no wonder that an hour later, participants routinely chant: “One more time…one more time!”
No one wants to go home!
It’s this comfortable camaraderie that keeps Allen pumped, not only to present his Summer Rooftop Dance Series, but to develop other aspects of his dance enterprise, too, including his free online dance classes.
If it’s dance you want, Allen delivers.
As a child growing up in Tucson, Arizona, Allen always seemed to have a natural knack for dancing. People noticed, too, especially the young ladies. It’s probably one of the reasons that he was asked to–and attended– six different proms (not including his own)!
There are times when great dancers are in high-demand.
Yet, Allen wasn’t convinced his fancy footwork would put him on a path to his future career. Studying business and communications at Arizona State seemed like a more sensible road…
That is until he found himself in a dance class at a rec center in a park. It was there that his passion was ignited, giving Allen a newfound ambition, one that would lead him in a new direction…to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
Allen gladly took that route and was rewarded with some success, including TV shows, commercials and the like. But eventually show biz left him feeling empty sometimes; his motivation was waning.
Pursuing a career in dance “wasn’t fun anymore,” he recalls.
Instead, Allen began looking for a way to share his passion for dance with others.
“There are so many people who loved to dance (in the past), but they stopped after high school or college,” he said. “I wanted to create a way for people to connect through dance.”
That’s where GROOV3 comes in.
With a variety of classes throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond, plus the expansion of his international audiences by way of the Internet, Allen’s “global dance community” is coming of age.
His inclusive approach to dance has allowed him to broaden his network, too. In collaboration with the yoga community, Yoga for Dancers, Yogazilla and GROOV3 will present “BDAY– Beyonce’s 34th Birthday Celebration!” on September 4. This dance and yoga extravaganza will be chock full of great music, giveaways, glow sticks and much more.
Accordingly, as Allen continues to do his thing, word of his appealing style is rampant.
Absent is the intimidation factor. Present is a supportive one.
Everyone is welcome.
Thus, on that aforementioned balmy August eve, Kanna Iwasaki, an 18-year-old from Japan who loves Michael Jackson and who has dreams of becoming a professional dancer, was invited by her Boogiezone Utopia dance instructor John Edwards to attend the GROOV3 class. Edwards, 70, for his part, only started dancing fifteen years ago, after retiring from his position as Deputy Chief Engineer for the Air Force. Want confirmation that he’s an engineer who also knows how to strut his stuff? In 2008, he won $100,000 competing in the ABC show “Dance Machine”!
Yes, well, a friend of Edwards’ had recently told him about this great dance class, so Iwasaki and Edwards hightailed it over to Hollywood; Edwards’ friend was there, too…and that’s the story of how everyone met on a rooftop and danced, and laughed, and had fun.
(Summer Rooftop Dance Series is Monday nights at the Montalbán Theater, 1615 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. Doors open at 7 p.m. Class starts at 7:30 p.m. Click here for ticket information.)