Category Archives: About the Company

A Year of Stretch Dance Company: Where We Were Then, and Where We’re Going

Hello Friends of Stretch!


You didn’t think we’d disappeared, did you?

Just in time, too.  As summer comes to a close, so does my first year with Stretch Dance Company.

It has been an unbelievable year.It has been a year of unexpected pitfalls and victories, of friendship, of dance, and especially hope.

If I sat down with the Laura from a year ago, she would have a very different idea of how things would turn out.

A year ago, I had just started writing for the blog and Stretch had just closed its preview performances of I Have Lived a Thousand Years.  A year ago, I thought the hardest part of being in a dance company was trying to make it Lyndell Perfect Land a reality.

As the lights went down on our final preview performance, I thought that the hardest work was complete.

Ah well, I did say it was a year full of hope, didn’t I?

Shortly after the preview closed, I began working with Lyndell on the backend of the company.  Let me tell you, if you think Lyndell Perfect Land is hard on the dance floor, try it on a desktop.

But the hardest about making a dream dance company a reality?  The reality part.  The truth is, it takes time to grow a company—dance or otherwise—and there are a whole host of problems.  From finding the right people to securing a dance space, to finding time to rehearse (while you have the space), to nabbing funds, to promoting the company, which usually means you need more funds…unfortunately dance is often the last thing on the list.

But it has also shown me the kind of company that Stretch could be once it’s off the ground.  Though there have been some drawbacks, I have been so inspired by Lyndell and the rest of the Stretch Dance Company and everyone’s commitment and generosity to pledge their time, their talent, and themselves to this adventure.  I have been bowled over by the excitement of our fans, by my friends who are always there to support and ask me about what’s going on with the company, and even by interested third parties who hear about us at a workshop, or in passing.

The message that Lyndell is trying live—through dance, through the very mission of Stretch Dance Company—is hope.  Each dance she choreographs is a step closer to this ideal.  We are surrounded by news and stories that remind us just how awful the world can be.  Lyndell and Stretch Dance Co. offer a different story: one of optimism founded not in naïve ignorance, but based in the strength of those who have come before us, and in the richness of what we create now.

It will be a hard slog from here, but I believe in my fellow Stretchers, in Lyndell, and most of all, for what we stand for: hope.

Growing Pains: Growing into a Professional Company, Part 2

A few weeks back, I wrote about the difficulties of getting a new dance company off its feet and onto its pointe shoes.  I quickly realized that there are a lot more difficulties than one puny blog post can detail.  Now, back by no demand, I bring you a few more obstacles to starting Stretch….and how we’re getting around it.

Our dancers are awesome…too awesome.

Stretchers are amazing dancers from all different genres and types of dance and are held to very high standards (you have to in order to make it in Lyndell Perfect Land!).  Unfortunately, that means our dancers are good enough to book gigs, which means Lyndell is constantly scheduling around other rehearsals and sometimes even losing dancers to overseas commitments.

Denai and Chris
Denai and Chris also lead dance warm ups when Lyndell is off doing…whatever creative directors do.

How we’re overcoming it:

We dance around our schedules as much as we dance around the studio.  Usually, the only time everyone is free is on Saturday nights.  It’s not always the best time, but we’re making it work for now.  We also have two awesome dance captains, Denai and Chris, who learn every single dancer’s choreography so that they can jump in when someone is missing.  We also take a video each rehearsal (the edited versions are posted on our YouTube channel!) to catch up on any choreography that we missed.  This means that each dancer has to be really on top of their choreography and able to follow it ourselves.

Time is…time.

Like all artists, Stretchers have day jobs.  This means we have anywhere from 20-40 hours of work and/or school in our week before we even begin attacking Stretch rehearsals.  This doesn’t just apply to rehearsals, but to the administrative side of the company as well.  Every assistant, every designer, and especially all of the creative and magic that Lyndell does on her end.  Finding dance space and writing pitch letters may sound boring, but it’s vital for a baby dance company to find its feet.

How we’re overcoming it:

I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with such a selfless, caring group of dancers.  Each dancer does their part to help out.  Whether it’s passing along grant opportunities, finding ten new possible VIPs for our premiere, or a certain dancer typing up a blog every week, each person does their part to help Stretch become an established company in record time.

Almost kissing in a handstand with pointed toes…only in Lyndell Perfect Land.

Lyndell Perfect Land is a hard place to live.

I’ve referenced Lyndell Perfect Land in past blog posts, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained what it is.  Lyndell Perfect Land is an amazing place where gravity only exists sometimes, our spines can bend in two, our costumes are designed by Hugo Boss, and there are 92 hours to every day.  It’s amazing to see it become reality, but getting there is as difficult as getting somewhere over the rainbow without a tornado.

How we’re overcoming it:

Practice makes Lyndell Perfect Land!  It’s always amazing to me when Lyndell says something along the lines of “Ideally, I’d like this to end in a backbend that you hold for two minutes…” or “That cartwheel looks too pretty; can you do it on your elbows instead?”  (this is usually the point in the rehearsal process where I say something snarky).  But somehow, through sweat blood, and the right amount of chutzpah, we make the leap into Lyndell Perfect Land.

Lyndell wants YOU to bust out sixteen pirouettes.

Growing Pains: Building a Professional Company

I know we make it look easy, but it’s a lot harder to get a dance company off the ground and en pointe (pun 100% intended).  I know a lot of new dance companies sprouting up—which is amazing—but there are a lot of pitfalls and obstacles waiting for new troupes.  Here are just a few that Stretch Dance Co. has faced a new professional dance company—and how we’re overcoming them.

If you’re part of a new company, chime in on any difficulties your organization has come across!

Location, Location, Location

This dance studio was dark and had huge poles in the middle of the dance floor. It also had a random cactus in the corner that I almost cartwheeled into!

Stretchers came from all over Southern California for rehearsal, so it can be hard to find a central, safe place to dance.  It took some time to find our perfect rehearsal space—especially because Lyndell has just as high expectations of her rehearsal spaces as she does her dancers.  Helping to search for a rehearsal space was one of my first jobs when I offered to help with some of the background work of Stretch, and Lyndell’s requirements mandated that a studio have sprung floors, restrooms on the premises, and free parking nearby. (Insert pics of past studios and mention why they didn’t work)

How we’re overcoming it: After a few starts in other studios, Lyndell found Studio A Dance.  It’s an awesome, warm space that meets all of requirements and then some.  My favorite part of the studio are the Christmas lights strung up outside!

I Have Lived a Thousand Years   a Fractured Atlas sponsored project
Fractured Atlas has been a huge help in spreading the word and coaching us through grant applications!


The arts is always suffering for funding, and new professional dance companies find it even more difficult to make ends meet. You can read here to find out more.

How we’re overcoming it: We are working to make the company more stable through personal donations, handled through Fractured Atlas.  We’re also starting to apply for grants.  We managed to nab a grant from Disney in 2013, and hoping to add more this year!  Once our productions get underway, we’ll be able to generate income from ticket sales, but until then, every little bit from friends, family, and donors helps!

Who Are We Again?

Part of the problem with applying for grants, and sometimes even venues, is that new companies don’t have much stage or street cred.  Established companies like Alvin Ailey don’t need to explain who they are to many theaters or foundations because they’ve been around long enough to have built a name for themselves.  It’s even harder to for Stretch because theatrical dance isn’t a common dance form.

How we’re overcoming it: Stretch is lucky to have an awesome social media manager in Matt Lardner (thanks Matt!), and weekly blogs, posts, and videos help make a name for ourselves.  Lyndell also interviews with Variety City,  World Dance Awards, and the Shoah Foundation (and looks totally at home no matter what!) to help spread the word.


And these are just a few!  Phew!  Something tells me I’m going to end up writing a follow up to this post.  Anyway, new ventures (whether it’s a professional dance company or otherwise), feel free to chime in in the comments on your experiences!

The Next Era of Dance

Same Love   Stretch Dance Company   YouTube
Theatrical dance relies on the emotions underneath the piece to inform the dancing, not the other way around.


Put this question to a professional dancer and even they might be stumped.  It’s not really musical theater dance.  It’s not concert dance.  It’s not the dance you do while waiting in the ridiculously long line for the bathroom at a theater.

We may not know it yet, but theatrical dance may be the next evolution of movement, thanks to new generation of versatile dancers.  Whereas it was once good enough to be the master of one form, the modern dancer must be as fluent in ballet as they are in break dancing to remain competitive in an increasingly diverse environment.

Television and YouTube have helped bridge the gaps between the different types of dance, and myriad studios offering any and every kind of dance have given birth to a new type of dancer who has learned Bollywood and ballet in the same studio.

Such a diverse and talented new generation of dancers have set the stage—literally—for shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Next Best Dance Crew, and even Dancing with the Stars, ushering in a whole new era of dance that blends the established techniques of different forms to tell create story-specific movement.

Think back to your favorite piece from So You Think You Can Dance.  Do you remember the amazing dancing, or the amazing story told through the dance?  I’ll bet you’ll remember the story better than you remember how many pirouettes, or how high their jumps were.

Stretch - Bench
Many routines on SYTYCD uses short, yet intense stories to capture the audience

These shows have capitalized on their dancers utilizing a wide range of techniques, but have blended it with strong–yet succinct–story telling.  It’s the perfect format for today’s fast-paced world: a snippet of easily digestible story with a strong narrative.

Add to that a modern flair that mixes hip hop dancers with ballerinas or tappers with a contemporary vibe or a pas de deux with aerial—something that the dance critics would have found horrifying fifty years ago–and you have the recipe for a form of dance that is as powerful as it is adaptable.

Each of these shows relies on each dancer’s individual talents and their ability to seamlessly adapt to new styles and partners while still maintaining a through line.  Shows like SYTYCD gleefully reimagine how dance is pieced together every single week.

This adaptability makes theatrical dance the perfect form for Stretch Dance Co.  Theatrical dance takes advantage of the many talents of our dancers, focuses on the individual strengths of each one, and is flexible enough to transition from a dramatic look at the Holocaust to playfulness of Lady Gaga.

Theatrical dance takes the richness of all the traditions of dance, and yet eagerly steps outside the box to suit its purposes, which is exactly what Stretch Dance Co works for in every dance, every song, every story.  This new trend in dance is already popping up onstage, on screen, and on the streets, but few have realized that these dances reach beyond traditional forms and into a brave new frontier.

Stretch - Fierce

What Makes a Stretch Dancer?

Miss our weekly video? We’ve missed making it!  But don’t worry: we’re coming back with a hearty round of Applause from Lady Gaga this coming Thursday! Stay tuned on our YouTube channel to see it first!

Do you think you have what it takes to be a Stretch Dancer?  After watching our dancers back in action at our latest rehearsal, I’ve compiled a list of what makes a SDC member stand out above the rest!


A Stretch Dancer is…

Disciplined – When you only rehearse once a week, you have to be on your A-game.  This doesn’t apply to just  polishing the combinations learned during rehearsal, but making a personal commitment to keep our dance skills and knowledge at its best.

Versatile – Versatility is key for a Stretch Dancer.  One week we’ll go Gaga, the next we’ll turn Pink, then head into history the week after that.  Dancers need to be able to make those leaps without missing a beat while still portraying their character honestly and respectfully.

Stretch - Stretch
Carrie’s got the Stretch part down pat!

Exceptional Actors – Stretchers come from a variety of dance backgrounds ranging from contemporary to flamenco, but we share one thing in common: a solid set of acting chops.  Lyndell’s choreography is extremely story-driven and would wouldn’t pack as much of a punch without some amazing storytellers  behind it.

Stretchy– Dancers have to be flexible, and not just on the dance floor!  Since we come from such different backgrounds, everyone has their chance to shine…and to stretch their abilities. From dance steps to emotional vulnerability onstage, each dancer has to face moments where they move past their comfort zone.

Passionate – Above all, Stretch Dancers are extremely committed to dance and storytelling.  Dance is more than a job or a workout to us; it’s expression at its purest form.  This week’s video might suggest otherwise, but we’re not in it for the “Applause.”

Interested in learning more about becoming a Stretch Dance member?Find out more! 

Stretch - Awesome
We’re also just an awesome, open group of people who love to dance!

 Got a dime to spare?  

Stretch - Donate