Open House Collective
Ongoing for over 15 years, Open House Collective (OH) hosts bi-weekly open dance sessions for dancers of many backgrounds to train, practice, be mentored and develop their craft. OH also organizes classes and workshops with nationally and internationally recognized House dancers, social dance events, and forums, thus bringing thousands of dancers globally together. By cultivating and tending to our local and global relationships, we aim to nurture an international consciousness within House Dance, music, and culture in Los Angeles through dance training, education, and art-making. As the pandemic slowed down and semi-normal life resumed, original member, Vanessa Neva Verdoodt decided to open a physical space to celebrate dance, culture, community, and wellness in October 2021 and welcome the continuity of OH community contribution locally and worldwide.
Open House Collective History
Formed in 2008, by Emiko Sugiyama, and the collective efforts of Jason Bueno, Eric Carter Chu, Houston Do, Rod Emortal, Amrahu Ibraheem, Andrea Lomelin, Juliet Mendoza, Ritchie Ramirez, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Vanessa Neva Verdoodt, Larry Lazaga, Versatil Nasr Ismael, Angelo Paulos, Onisha Paulos, Cheryl Samson Ramirez, Scotty Hsieh, Carlos Hernandez and Whum aka Tomahawk Bang (Open House AZ). Open House Family Collective, also known as “Open House” or “OH”,is a community of House Dance, music practitioners and enthusiasts. As one of the few active and long-standing House Dance and music communities in the U.S. that is self-organized on a grassroots level, Open House aims to preserve and grow House Dance and music culture in the greater Los Angeles area and in multiple cities globally. We provide a creative haven for people of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender identification, and sexual orientations, as well as space to share knowledge about House Dance and music celebrating the diversity of contemporary American culture.
House dance started in the 70’s and 80’s in the underground dance movements of Chicago and New York and was mainly inspired by African dance, Latin dance, Martial Arts and Tap. It developed from House music that originated in clubs and residential community parties. House DJ’s developed this genre of music as a way to break free from the Disco dance Music that dominated this period. House dance is now a worldwide phenomena with classes offered at dance studios, worldwide events and a flourishing community celebrating American cultural innovation.
Over the last 15 years, Open House has been commissioned for several video projects by Metro Art Los Angeles, worked with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., led several African American history and culture panels like “Decoding the Code”, educated artists about the evolution from social African American dance forms to House Dance and culture, and organized many events at the Ford Theatre amongst other venues. Our first well attended event was our 6th year anniversary, celebrating the life of Marjory Smarth, a pioneer in House Dance. At Creatington, we held a celebration of life, invited local dance groups and had panel discussions. This event brought a mix of people, including non-dancers. From music lovers to culture patrons, our reach started to expand. Our weekly practice sessions increased to 30-60 participants and our bi-yearly events grew to 500 people.
In addition, Open House has worked and performed for the community through the Brasil Brasil Cultural Center, Creatington, Pieter Space, Live Arts, Downtown Dance and Movement amongst other venues. For four years, Emiko Sugiyama was the producer of Juice Hip Hop festival at the Ford Theatre. This platform helped many performers to get to the next level in their artistry. Various artists who have taught/spoken through our programming include: Chester Whitmore (legend of Swing Dance), Moncell Durden (USC Professor), Willy Souly (UCLA Professor), Dr. Shamell Bell (Harvard Professor), Dr. Imani K. Johnson (UCR Professor), Rachel Hernandez (Afro-Brazilian artist), and many pioneers in House Dance such as Brian Green, Marjory Smarth, Sekou, Babson Baba Sy (France), Ejoe, Caleaf, Buddha Stretch, Tony McGregor, Edson Guiu (Brazil), Brooklyn Terry, Yugson (France), Hiro (Japan) and more. Musicians Derf Reklaw, Kamasi Washington, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Nia Andrews, Karizma, Basil Thomas, Wayne Lyons, Jose Marquez, Adam Gibbons, Coflo, Estaban Fernandez have also worked with us on several projects over the years.
Lastly, our founder, Sugiyama has won the Lester Horton Award for community leadership, as a result of her contribution to the impact of street dance and culture through the work of the Open House collective in Los Angeles. She has also been awarded the Chime Grant, “Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME)”.
The dedication to preserving culture, growing community, and maintaining wellness is witnessed through the fifteen years our collective has been dedicated to the work.