UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

An Afternoon of Pure Joy at Lainie Sakakura’s UWS DANCE

Dance, Photography, Theater
UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

I had an afternoon of pure joy at Lainie Sakakura’s UWS DANCE last week. Lainie and her young students were gracious enough to let me photograph their class, held on Thursday afternoons at Ripley Grier-Studios on 72nd St in New York.

Lainie is a 22+ year Broadway veteran, a choreographer, teacher, director and writer.

Her teaching career of over 25 years includes American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, New York University, CAP 21, University of the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Steps NYC, Broadway Dance Center, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Center, CCCEPA, New Jersey Ballet, and she was the proprietor of her own school, Dance Theatre Arts in CA.

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Her professional performing career started with joining Ballet Hispanico in 1988 after training with San Francisco Ballet for 8 years. Since then, she has been in the Original Cast of six Broadway shows including FOSSE and CHITA RIVERA, THE DANCER’S LIFE. Also in NYC – Radio City Music Hall Rockette; ARMIDA, Metropolitan Opera; 3 shows for City Center Encores! and many other shows, productions and tours too numerous to name. Currently in the Tony Award winning Broadway revival of THE KING AND I at Lincoln Center.

She is an Award winning choreographer and is the recipient of the 2015 Joe Callaway Award for Best Choreography – Off Broadway RED EYE OF LOVE with co-choreographer Alex Sanchez; Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Choreography – DAMN YANKEES and Nominated for Best CHoreography – HOT MIKADO both at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago. She recently choreographed and associate directed THE MERMAN SONGBOOK at the 92Y Lyrics and Lyricist Concert Series; choreographed two new shows for Holland America Lines; Jimmy Buffett’s Concert Tour; Allen Knee’s Syncopation (NY Times, “sheer movement provides its dramatic momentum, visual grace and defining metaphor”). She recently directed, produced and wrote ALVIN ING – GOT A LOT OF LIVIN’ TO DO, a cabaret show, at The Duplex. BroadwayWorld.com.

Robert Longbottom, Jodi Long, Jose Llana, Virginia Wing, Darren Lee, Hazel Anne Raymundo, Lainie Sakakura and More Celebrate Alvin Ing’s 84th Birthday -“GOT A LOT OF LIVIN’ TO DO” at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre 

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie has two daughters, Avelina and Isa, and is a passionate co-chair of the PS 87 Culture & Community Committee which promotes multicultural awareness in our community with five events a year including International Dinner Dance, Winter Holiday Festival, Pan Asian Lunar New Year, Black History and Fiesta Latina.

THE KING AND I’s Lainie Sakakura Ushers in the Year of the Monkey at P.S. 87 with Broadway Pals Ann Harada, Jose Llana, Telly Leung, Amaya Braganza, Sam Tanabe, Belinda Allyn, James Ignacio and YoonJeong Seong 

Laine shared, “Lia beautifully captures all the aspects of teaching children… how they learn, the friendships that form, putting on shoes, doing their hair, standing in line, waiting for the next moment, laughing, struggling, then doing something unexpectedly wonderful, the pride that fills their face, the silliness and seriousness of it all and the loving relationships I have with them all. They fill me with joy and I’m always honored to teach and help shape the way they see the world even for just one afternoon a week.”

Pre-Ballet (3-5yr old)

Tap (3-5yr old)

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Tap (6-8 yr old)

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Ballet (6-8 yr old)

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

Jazz (6-10 yr old)

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

UWS DANCE with Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Lia Chang

All classes held at
Ripley Grier Studios
131 W.72nd St, studio #3R (Amsterdam & Columbus)

Classes available:
Thursdays
3:00 – 6:00pm

Check out UWSDance.com to learn more about the upcoming class schedule and LainieSakakura.com to learn more about Lainie.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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