Breeonna Fiamengo and her mother Dyan Lopez-Fiamengo at their Rolling Hills studio. Photo by Chelsea Schreiber
Mother and daughter dancing team and studio owners Dyan Lopez-Fiamengo and Breeonna Fiamengo want to bring Hollywood to the Hill.
“Our goal here as a dance studio is to train our dancers to be successful in the industry,” Dyan said, adding that they currently have previous students working in both Hollywood and on Broadway. “We can take them all the way.”
Dyan and Breeonna opened Elite Dance Studio in Palos Verdes in September of 2012 with money from 20-year-old Breeonna’s college fund.
“She didn’t want to go to school, so we used the money for a career instead,” 54-year-old Dyan said, adding that she still wants her daughter to get a degree. “People told us not to expect to make any money for a year, but after three months we were already expanding.”
Breeonna grew up in Palos Verdes watching her mother teach dance as well as choreograph. She started dancing before she was a year old, and when she was 14 won a Young Artist Award for a dance she choreographed.
“I didn’t like what my mom was choreographing so I choreographed my own,” Breeonna said, adding that choreographing a dance is different every time and starts with the most basic dance step of all, movement. “I grew up dancing, I guess when I was little I just knew everything because she would teach me at home and I would watch classes.”
The pair had been planning to open their own dance studio since Breeonna was 15.
“We would sit in the car and talk about opening a state of art three-story studio,” said Dyan. “We wanted to teach the whole dancer feel, as well as music lessons, and [offer] a dormitory as well as a place to eat. We dreamed about bringing people in from L.A. and New York to give Palos Verdes kids the whole experience without going off the hill.”
Their studio, located in two locations near Deep Valley Drive in Rolling Hills Estates, is on track to make their studio dreams come true.
“It was rough going getting us on the same page, at first,” said Dyan. “But we worked out the bugs. It only took me 20 years to realize she is an adult.”
“I like training the kids and get them to be good, and see them grow,” said Breeonna. “I think it’s cool to teach them stuff that you know.”
Because of the location and the pair’s history dancing and teaching in the area, the dance studio has been a success, Dyan said.
“For some of these kids, I’m teaching the third generation,” said Dyan. “I’m teaching my student’s student’s kids and they’re bringing their children. It’s really rewarding. It’s gotta be the most rewarding job, especially when a child isn’t skilled and I get them to blend in really well.”
Dyan refers to the studio as a “career studio” because they to guide dancers in a professional career path in the industry by assisting them with agents as well as teaches them the skills to be competitive. They are also taught how to teach so when they leave the studio they have the skill set to work in a studio.
“We bring in top notch instructors,” said Dyan, who has personally taught dance for over 30 years. She was also a dancer for the L.A. Sparks and has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” She has also performed at the White House and the World’s Fair, among many other accomplishments. “What we do is different than other local studios. We teach the whole package.”
As well as teaching dance in Palos Verdes and sometimes L.A, Dyan also substitute teaches in local school districts.
“I’ve taught in L.A. Unified district and those kids I’ve found are organic, hungry to learn anything,” said Dyan. “Anything I give them is accepted very well because they have nothing, it’s a really unique joy that you want to go back and keep giving to them. Up here the kids are very well taken care of, they expect a lot from me. So I have to be on my A-game up here. They expect perfection up here I have to work really hard to be cutting edge and ahead of the game because they are used to the best. In L.A. Unified I don’t have to work so hard and can have fun, but both are equally rewarding.”
Elite Dance Studio teaches all levels of tap, jazz and hip hop as well as ballet and niche classes like tumble and ‘tricks and turns.’ The studio also offers adult classes and a core boot camp.
“I get my girls ready to audition for cheer, song and [choreography] team at the local high schools,” Dyan said. “I also teach dancers and actresses how to move well and how to audition for theatre [and] music videos.”
Dyan hopes to continue to expand the studio with her daughter.
“We’ve had some great mother-daughter role models,” Dyan said. “Now it’s our turn to carry the torch.”
Elite Dance Studio’s next performance will be its Company Showcase on March 22 at the Norris Theatre for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. Visit www.elite-dance.net to learn more. PEN