Nickelz Production Strengthens DMV Hip Hop Community

Nicole teachers her students some new moves during an evening hip hop class at the Broad Street studio.

When one thinks of cities with strong dance presences, Los Angeles’ performance studios or prestigious New York City ballet schools may come to mind. Surprisingly, with over 6 million multicultural residents in the DMV radius, it can be hard to pick up the hobby of choreographed dancing at an adult level.

“I was a member of the X-Tasee Dance Crew at the University of Virginia and when I moved to D.C., I thought the dance scene would be bigger than it is. I think there are some underground pockets and a lot of kid-focused classes, but it is harder to find a place to go for adult hip hop,” says Nicole “Nickel” Charles-Pierre, founder of Nickelz Production, a boutique dance studio in the western region of Falls Church.

The quant white studio with solid hardwood floors, side windows offering natural light, and a colorful pink and black logo showcased on the back wall sits atop a massage spa in the West End Plaza off of Broad Street. Around ten students make their way into the studio for the Monday evening beginner hip hop class, some recurring members and some nervous newcomers saying they aren’t sure what to expect.

Christina “Rocs” Huertas, their instructor for the evening, begins her warm up to Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller that they will soon be learning a simple, yet detailed dance routine to.

“I think everyone having a good time motivates me, but I also like motivating the students who don’t get noticed a lot. I like when they do get noticed by me, or Nicole, or anyone else that is teaching. Their face really lights up and I know how that feels because I was always the kid in the back of the room and my teacher did that for me. My goal in life is to be as great of a teacher as I had,” says Huertas.

As the hour-long class wraps up, Christina is fielding compliments from students explaining that the experience was “exactly what they had been looking for in a dance class” as Nicole takes some time to chat with me about what her vision is for the future of the studio.

“I don’t want it to become anything pretentious because that is intimidating for everybody. I want it to be a cool spot in the community where you can come hang out, meet good people with good vibes, learn dance the right way, and pursue dance if that’s your love and passion,” says Charles-Pierre.

As she continues to grow in the community, Nicole offers evaluation surveys to new and recurring students to better understand what students are looking for and enjoying about her classes.

“Some of the responses from people on why they enjoyed coming here were really touching. I was reading things like, ‘I was going through a difficult time in my life and I came here and, in a way, it really saved me.’ Or ‘I was depressed and it was something that helped me connect with people and really brought back my desire to dance.’ Those kinds of things make me feel like my purpose is being realized,” says Charles-Pierre.

Shelby Barnes, who had never taken a dance class before she came across Nickelz Production, has been a student for over a year now. She explains she found a sense of community and encouragement in the Broad Street space.

“I like different things about coming here, but now that we have classes almost every day I get to learn different styles, which I really appreciate to help myself grow as a dancer. The teachers are friendly and helpful and if you don’t get it they will help you do the best that you can. It is just so much fun and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my nights,” says Barnes.

To learn more about Nickelz Production visit Facebook page

Chloe Detrick is a communication professional and freelance writer located in the D.C. area. She enjoys writing about the D.C. arts scene, women’s issues, cannabis and drug policy, and any other relevant topics that come her way. You can follow her writing and other ramblings on