Interview 034- The Lab Creative Arts Studio

Valerie Ramirez and Carrie Calkins started the Lab Creative Arts Studio to provide a place for people of all ages to explore their creativity,  express themselves find a creative outlet. This is so inspiring! Thanks girls. To find out more about The Lab Creative Arts Studio, you can head to their WebsiteFacebook or Youtube or follow them on Instagram & Twitter: @InTheLab247.

How did the idea for The Lab come about?

Valerie Ramirez opened her first dance studio at the age of 17 and has spent the last thirteen years working towards her ultimate goal of opening a full creative arts studio/gym in the community of West Covina, California. She knew from a young age that she was destined to create a place where creative energy was nurtured and united. Her passion for dance combined with her desire to leave a lasting legacy that would benefit many, led to the idea of The Lab. Carrie Calkins came in to work alongside Valerie in 2011 to help see their dream become a reality, and together, they hold strong on the theory that every community needs a place where dancers, musicians, artists and athletes can go to create, train, inspire and motivate the mastering of their craft. The Lab Creative Arts Studio was built with the intention of becoming the main hub of creative energy and a home for eager minds. It has proved to be a place for artists of all kinds to come together and think of unique ways to collaborate and make a living doing what they love.



What are some of the different creative classes that The Lab offers to the community?

The Lab currently offers weekly classes in dance (hip hop, house, bboying, clogging) and fitness classes such as tumbling, gymnastics, Pilates and MMA Muay Thai Kickboxing. Many groups use the facility for photo shoots, video sets, and audition/rehearsal space. It is not uncommon for a competitive cheerleading group to be working on their set in the gym, while a group of folks have filled the large room with yoga mats for a Pilate’s class. At the same time, there might be a hair stylist doing a photo shoot featuring their latest cut and in a different room, a group of dancers preparing their routine for a big performance. On the weekends, we hold banquets, parties, bboy jams, workshops, photo shoots, the list goes on and on! One thing is certain, The Lab is always buzzing with people from all walks of life, who have an appreciation or interest in health, happiness, and creativity.



Tell us about why finding a creative outlet is so beneficial for people of all ages.

We believe to live a healthy, happy life, one must be active. The nice thing about The Lab, is that, you get not only a physical work out, but a mental one as well. We encourage everyone that comes through our doors to think differently, to collaborate, and to push the boundaries of their current state of being. We believe in hard work, determination, and we believe in productive honesty to become the best version of yourself. It’s much easier to achieve that goal if you’re surrounded by others who are working towards the same thing!



Create You play a wonderful role in supporting your students. Tell us a bit about the not-for-profit organization.

Create You was designed as a scholarship program to promote a disciplined study of high-quality dance instruction for the most deserving students chosen by the Create You review board. Scholarships were awarded to students based on financial need, artistic ability and availability. We were able to grant over $10,000 in funds from 2008-2011 and look forward to raising enough money to start the program again next year.



It’s amazing to see such talent in the videos, especially from such a young age. How does it feel to be inspiring creative minds in your artistic movement.

The Lab has become home to many kids, and it has been a blessing to watch them grow over the years. We’ve watched them train, non-stop for hours and hours to master different styles and movement. Many of their parents have sacrificed a lot and are equally as dedicated to the studio as their children. Many have reaped the benefits of their hard work. They’ve won competitions, performed on stages they’ve been dreaming about since they were little, auditioned and gotten agents and some of our students are working in the industry as young as age 8. We celebrate their victories and we help them through the hard times. It is our job to see that every person that comes through our door has the tools they need to succeed. Success means something different to everyone and as long as people are happy, then we’re doing our job.



You’ve received recent success, with some great awards and students being featured on TV. Tell us about these.

Last spring, the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune & Whittier Daily News announced that The Lab Creative Arts Studio was voted the 2013 Best Dance Studio/Best Dance School in the San Gabriel Valley! This was a big honor for our studio and we accepted it proudly. In August of 2013, we took three dance crews to compete at the largest hip hop competition in the world, “Hip Hop International”. After an intensive training schedule and their first international competition, they are currently ranked 5th, 6th, and 10th in their Junior and Varsity age divisions in the USA! We are lucky to have great dancers and a staff at The Lab, and some of their successes include television shows such as “America’s Got Talent,” “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “Shake It Up,” “The Kris Jenner Talk Show,” “Bank of Hollywood,” “Your Chance to Dance,” and many more.



The Lab is currently under renovation. What are the plans for the exciting future of The Lab?

Our 12,000 sq ft facility is still under partial renovation and at its completion will have an in house barber shop, a full gym, lounge, an art gallery, photography room, beauty bar and multiple dance rooms.



What advice would you have for people looking to explore their creative side?

Our advice for people looking to explore their creative side would be to understand that you have to be willing to put in the work, to get the results you desire. We are strong believers that you get what you give and if you can find the confidence to try new things, to master things you’re good at, and to explore all avenues of the creative arts, you’ll find a new sense of belonging and happiness that can last a lifetime.



A few more links to enjoy:

All of the crews from The Lab Creative Arts Studio – First Class, Royalty, Mixd Footwork Kids and Society perform at West Covina High School in Jan 2014


Bedlam Bboy Jam 2014 at The Lab Creative Arts Studio



All Photos Courtesy of The Lab Creative Arts Studio


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