Professor Rick Crawford dances through life

By Julie Rincon


Dancing for many famous companies and in some of the most recognized musical numbers, East Los Angeles College professor Rick Crawford has traveled a long way.

“I believe that art is the emancipator of the spirit,” Crawford said.

He is a man known to perform in many known dances around the Los Angeles County area and has taught classes in several schools and auditoriums.

Crawford is a professional performer, choreographer and teacher. He started performing at an early age and ever since, has been a part of public and private organizations in the United States since 1984.

Crawford studied at the University of California Irvine and received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dance in 1993.

After receiving his degree he started working closely to instructors at UCI.  He worked close with Donald McKayle where he professionally performed one of McKayle’s famous works, with the Lula Washington Dance theatre.

While he was at UCI, he taught sections of social dances, jazz, and Irish dances from Jan. 1996 to Dec. 1998.

While in Irvine he worked professionally for Princess Cruises reconstructing shows and producing them as well.

Additionally, he performed in an original updated version of “West Side Story,” which McKayle was also a part of.

“In art we may embody our imagination, our understanding of beauty and our desire to express who and what we are.  In that, we may view our world with a perception which only develops from having obtained the freedom of the spirit,” Crawford said, when describing what motivated him.

During this journey of success at UCI, he received many opportunities to perform in other studios such as the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont for production of a famous Broadway hit “Dreamgirls.”

Another successful night was when he performed in “Cabana Beat,” at the LA County Fair, on the Cabana Sunset Stage.

Crawford has put his hard dedication and studies to well use at ELAC. He teaches classes such as yoga, pilates, social dance, hip-hop dance, introduction to choreography and Casino and Mangrove Salsa.

These are a few of the many dances he has inherited by attending UCI.

Now at ELAC, he is a member of the Dance Discipline Committee, American Council on exercise certified group fitness instructor and co-director of the touring dance company.

Crawford is always trying to motivate his students into learning every day during and outside of school hours. He encourages them at all times, by constantly reminded them about the three elements of dance, which are the mind, spirit, and body.

By repeating this to his students, he says they’re able to control the way their body moves along with balancing everything else that may be going on in their life. He encourages them to keep focus during class hours and is always correcting his students so that they may continue to learn from their mistakes.

Furthermore, Crawford is regularly helping his students to strive to what they want to attain by taking his classes. Whether it’s to be strong and healthy or to lose a couple of pounds, he motivates them to reach their goals and never give up.

Whenever students seek help, he is there to correct them and tell them how to position their body, when’s the right timing for breathing and when to keep concentration and balance in order.

“Concentration, control and core,” is what Crawford tells his Pilates class while doing warm ups. He finds that by reminding the students about the “three C’s,” they’ll automatically self-correct themselves, without having the professor do it for them.

Ultimately, Crawford has been an inspiration to all students in the dance/music department.

He is always willing to teach at group fitness and/or private clubs and organizations during his summer vacation and strongly encourages anyone to join a type of exercise that will keep your mind focused on the positive things in life.

Crawford, like any other person, started off by learning, self-correcting, performing and then teaching.

It takes a dedicated person to achieve everything that he has done. From performing in schools, to performing in Cruises and famous Broadway musicals, Crawford has come a long way and will continue to encourage students to get involved in any dance classes.

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