Underground Dance Company (UDC) is a dance company based out of Orange County, California. They take pride in educating their students about their physical health by teaching them proper techniques and the right way to care for an injury. They support their students’ mental health by promoting body positivity, setting realistic expectations, and even consult with a therapist on how to handle certain situations. UDC understands that their responsibility to their students goes beyond the studio, which is why they develop relationships with the parents to ensure that the standards they set aren’t just in the classroom, such safe social media practices.
Here is more about UDC from its owner Elizabeth Lund:
Tell us about UDC:
Underground Dance Company is an age-appropriate children’s & teens dance studio located in Laguna Hills. We are a proud member of a non-profit, Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD) which encourages age appropriateness with clean music, clean costumes, and clean choreography to keep kids healthy and safe in dance. Underground Dance goes beyond dance classes by offering self-esteem seminars, encouraging body positivity, parent seminars providing safe social media behavior and more; we stand against hyper-sexualization of kids in dance and we are proud of it. The studio offers dance to ages 18 months and up in ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz, contemporary and more. Our uniqueness in our area really comes from doing our best not to expose our students to inappropriate pop-culture icons that are being praised for the wrong reasons & caring for the well-being of our families.
Where does your passion for dance come from?
My passion for dance started at a young age, I knew I wanted to own my own dance studio at the age of 13. Performing was the most exciting part to me. But as I grew and continued my education through college, my passion shifted when realized that I was a far greater teacher than a dancer. Now being in business a few years, my passion once again has shifted into building the business, running it, using my creativity from the right side of my brain. Dance is both an art form and sport. You get the best of both worlds in this industry. The art: Allowing your body to move freely and create beauty is like something you’ve never felt. You break barriers in self-hang-ups. Am I good enough? How does this look? Who cares; how do you feel? That’s what matters. The sport: The sport side of dance is also a rush of emotion, nerves, and pure adrenaline. When you perform on stage it’s like no one, yet, everyone is there. You see the audience but you feel your movement. You hear the music but it’s muffled by your heart racing. Mixing the two through dance is a wonderful opportunity for anyone’s capabilities.
How is Underground Dance Company, doing dance differently?
We are the only YPAD Certified studio in Orange County, the 3rd of 4 Certified in California. We instill confidence, compassion & kindness in kids that will someday grow up. We let them enjoy childhood for as long as they can. We teach them how to carry themselves, make mistakes & learn from them. We are making waves in the over saturated, over sexualized industry. “We don’t teach kids to make great dancers, we teach dance to make great kids.” – Misty Lown
How do you educate your dancers about their mental and physical health?
Education is our top priority. “We can’t choose this costume because…”, “We aren’t able to listen to this artist in class because…”, etc. Our pre-frontal cortexes are not fully developed until we are at least 25 years old, logic and decision making aren’t clear. We make it our responsibility to surround our students with positive images and influences. If they hear music encouraging sexual conduct, how to move their body and what their face should look like to get more attention, they will begin to believe this is true. As a YPAD-certified studio, we have all staff trained in how to handle situations when it comes to mental health and more. We also have wonderful psychologists, therapists, nutrition coaches, and more at our disposal that can help and educate. This includes them providing us with the right words to use when we talk to a student.
Dance is a very passionate profession and often a person will assert their passion before their health. What advice would you give to someone trying to maintain a balance between the two?
Passion can become a thorn in your side if you let it. While, yes, being in dance, or a dance studio owner can be stirred by passion, what we forget is, passion may not always be there. It’s the DRIVE that will get you through ebbs and flows of dance. We encourage students to rest an injury, illness, etc not to push through your pain. So many times, our culture encourages to “keep going”; but sometimes you need to see an injury or illness as a way of your body saying, “it’s okay to take your time on this.” Slow down, be present, take care of you because no one else can.
What are some misconceptions that people have about your profession?
Some very common misconceptions that we run into are:
- Dance is only about competitions
- Kids wear next to nothing on stage
- There are a lot of injuries because we push them too hard.
While, these things are not true in OUR studio and are, in fact, misconceptions at UDC; they came from somewhere. Therefore, kids are competing and not learning the value of dance education; they are being sexualized and objectified through costumes. Sadly, our youth are being overstretched, overworked, and not resting which makes them much more prone to injury.
Tell us something that you feel people need to be informed about.
Parents: There are other options out there for safe practices in any sport, art, class, etc. Do your research. We feel we can be the diamond in the rough when it comes to dance, and hope your readers are happy to try dance out!
UDC is Located at:
23034 Lake Forest Dr. Ste C
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Hours of operation:
Mon – Fri 2:45 – 8:45 PM
Sat 8:45 AM – 12:30 PM