Co-founder & Artistic Director
Lula Washington is Founder and Artistic Director of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT), a contemporary modern dance company, school, and youth ensemble based in Los Angeles. Founded in 1980 with her husband, Erwin, the company provides a creative outlet for minority dance artists in the inner city. Today, Lula and her company are revered across the U.S. and around the world. The company has danced in over 150 cities in the United States, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, China and Russia.
Thousands of low-income youth have attended dance classes at her inner city studio. Trained in Lula’s unique style, requiring them to express their passion through dance, her most ardent students join her company and tour around the world. The school’s motto: “I Do Dance, Not Drugs!” has elevated many at-risk youth to become professional dancers on Broadway and with major dance companies, such as Alvin Ailey and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her students have become successful in other fields as well – although their love of dancing from Lula remains.
Lula is admired as a teacher, leader, dancer, and choreographer who blends modern dance with street dance, African, ballet, jazz and performance art. Her works are humorous, experimental, high energy, accessible, and squarely focused on communicating with broad audiences on issues of contemporary African-American life, history and culture. Apart from her company, Lula has danced in many movies and TV shows, and with singers Cher and Al Green, and choreographed the movements of the Na’vi people in “Avatar.”
Among her numerous awards, in 2000 Lula Washington received the Lester Horton Award for Sustained Achievement in recognition of her 20 years of continuous excellence in dance in Los Angeles.
Lula’s Favorite TED Talk is Sakena Yacobbi: How I stopped the Taliban from shutting down my school.