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East Side Dance Company

East Side Dance Company

204 East 83rd Street
New York, NY 10028
212 249 3600
esdanceco.com
Hours:
See website for class schedule
Established: 2014

I have visited quite a few dance companies on the side streets of Manhattan, offering a variety of classes from ballet to modern; however, East Side Dance Company is the first studio where I found hip hop to be the primary focus. Meeting the inspirational founder, Trammell Logan – whose enthusiasm for both dance and his students was contagious – I recognized how special both he and his program are.

I stopped by during an optional open hour where children ranging from eleven to fifteen were working on moves and routines prior to class. I was impressed by each of the students, one of whom was a one young boy. Trammell then highlighted that boys make up a significant contingent of the school – about twenty are boys out of two hundred students. In fact, he has two all-boy classes. Trammell pointed out that it is a lot easier for young kids to commit to hip hop than ballet: where more traditional dance forms like ballet and tap require discipline from children, hip hop allows them to express their creativity. “You throw yourself on the floor, that’s a dance move. You jump in the air, it’s the same thing,” Trammell said.

During his childhood, Trammell had the incredible experience of touring the country with a group of talented singers, actors and dancers from the Harlem Boys Choir, as did the co-owner of East Side Dance Company, Darron Singleton. Though dancing is not the emphasis of the Boys Choir, following this rare opportunity, Trammell was able to transition into the New York City professional dancing world. He also became skilled in boxing and martial arts and even joined Soul Cycle as an instructor. Darron similarly used his experience in the Boys Choir as a launching board into dancing, modeling, and personal training.

Though Trammell is still active in each of the above pursuits, he has discovered that his main passion is for teaching. “Teaching’s my thing,” he declared with a broad grin. Before branching off and founding East Side Dance Company in 2014, Trammell worked at a musical theater dance company on the Upper East Side. It came as no surprise to me when Trammell said that two instructors and many of his students followed him to his new studio. He is also tremendously grateful to many of the parents who helped him with the transition.

When I visited the space in 2016, I was in awe of what Trammell had created. The shiny floors and mirrors set off the fun graffiti mural that announced “East Side Dance Company” to the street. Trammell informed me that his friend Angelo had designed the mural in five hours. Trammell wants to continue decorating the space: his plan is to allow the kids to draw on the blank white wall.

East Side Dance Company accepts students from preschool age up through high school. “We’re open seven days a week,” Trammell told me, proudly. There are three to four classes each weekday afternoon and more classes on the weekends. The studio follows the pattern of school semesters, with culminating performances in January and June at prestigious performance centers, including the Alvin Ailey Theater. Trammell appreciates how dedicated his students are, calling them “super loyal and super committed,” but he is equally proud of his staff, with whom he is very close. Every teacher makes sure to train their classes in the history and culture of hip hop, but they also each bring something different to the team. Desteny, for example, used to be a student of East Side Dance Company, and as an instructor can really relate to her pupils.  Nova is the breakdancer of the group, whereas Haley, who is trained in ballet, teaches more lyrical styles. Dina and Trammell probably have the most similar styles, though Trammell admits that his style is slightly more raw and aggressive and tends heavily towards “krumping.” Trammell prefers not to put too much importance on difference in styles. “Dance is dance,” he said to me. “No matter who you are, you feel it.”

On a separate occasion, Olivia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, had been walking down 83rd Street at night and noticed a stream of people exiting the studio, seemingly from a festive final performance. When we asked Trammell about it, he answered that
Olivia had probably witnessed one of his “freestyle nights,” where he invites a large group of dancers from the New York area to have a dance party, while also including his students.

When I asked Trammell what he is most proud of in building East Side Dance Company, his answer warmed my heart. “Our kids love each other,” he said with a smile. “What brought us success in such a short amount of time is the loving environment.” He explained how the students never feel judged and that the instructors attempt to create a close-knit community in their classes. The kids form strong friendships with each other, choosing to take group classes together, going on play dates, and even traveling on vacation with each other’s families. “It’s all love,” Trammell said. “And that’s the most important part.”