One of the few Valley locales to learn and practice street-style dance — Jukebox Dance Studio in Gilbert — continues to make a name for itself in the national and international hip hop arena.
The small studio, opened two years ago by passionate dancers Leah Roman and RaeRae Lafemme of Phoenix, has been seeing some big-time results. Notably: Three dance crews from the studio competed and placed at the recent Hip Hop International competition in Las Vegas.
One of the groups, called 5’FootaThrillaz, placed in the Top 5 at the Las Vegas competition. Roman and Lafemme are part of the 5’FootaThrillaz crew.
The other two crews -- Broken Toyz and BeatKillAZ -- had respectable showings, each placing in the top 20. Broken Toyz is a co-ed group of adults 18 and older, while BeatKillAZ is made up of those 20 and younger; and just last month, the studio held auditions for two new dance crews.
Roman and Lafemme have been active in the dance community for years, but they were newcomers to the world of running a business when they decided to open the dance studio.
“Starting out, sometimes a class would be just one student, sometimes none and we would just be waiting,” said Lafemme.
The idea for the dance studio began when Lafemme came across an ad on Craigslist that described a vacant studio space. That space became the birthplace of The Jukebox. At startup, the studio was a room inside a larger building. Today, the studio is in a bigger building next door to the original space.
The studio is still a small storefront, but floor-to-ceiling windows give it a dance studio vibe, and the simple space and concrete floors fit the no-frills dance style of the classes.
Roman and Lafemme have built the business through recommendations from friends and students. The pair also spends a lot of time attending dance events throughout the Valley and promoting the studio.
Classes are held Monday-Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The limited hours allow these business owners to have day jobs, and keep the studio as a hobby-turned-business-venture in the evening.
Ten different classes are offered, including a class called Femme, which is a feminine approach to the street-style of dance, and Urban Groove, which focuses on concepts and techniques.
Walk-ins are welcome, and the cost of a class is $10. Students also can pre-purchase 10-class packages in the form of a Jukebox Card for $70. The two founders teach more than half of the classes and employ two other instructors to guide the rest.
The crews all danced alongside the Elektrolytes, most recent winners of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew at the recent Valley homecoming after the Las Vegas competition.