30 Under 30: Brigitte Leong-Chung encourages adults to find their groove at Culturally Defined

The decade-old dance studio recently found a home in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood

Brigitte Leong-Chung | Age: 28

Co-owner and operations director, Culturally Defined

Life Story: Brigitte Leong-Chung found her rhythm at an early age: she did tap, jazz and ballet growing up in Vancouver and attended the Richmond Academy of Dance in high school. She picked up hip-hop later in life, around the same time she met her life and business partner, Chris Wong.

“In Vancouver,” says Leong-Chung, “you’ve got these two worlds: street dance, that’s where it all originated—you’ve got popping, locking, house, waacking, hip-hop. And then you’ve got commercial dance, which is more choreography—you’ll see it in music videos; it’s a bit more of a street jazz influence… What Chris wanted to do, and what we still want to do today, is merge these two together.”

In the spirit of celebrating diversity in the city, Wong founded Culturally Defined (CD), a dance studio, in 2013. Leong-Chung joined as operations manager in 2018, after graduating from SFU with a bachelor of arts degree.

The CD method,” she says, “shifts focus from only choreography to building a deeper understanding of the movement and brings back the fun, social aspect of dance.

She saw CD through its pandemic pivot, when it started producing online and video content, and became operations director in 2023—the same year the company found a permanent brick-and-mortar home in Mount Pleasant.

“It’s been a very proud accomplishment of ours,” says Leong-Chung. Understandably, being tied to a space after 10 years of renting around the city feels like a big move, but also a good one: “We’re very, very happy with the result and how the community has rallied for us.”

Bottom Line: In addition to offering a monthly membership ($39), drop-in and private sessions, CD specializes in a four-month training and performance program for adults. “Our age range is between 25 and 40,” says Leong-Chung. The company currently has 275 active dancers of different training levels on board, and in the nine months after opening its physical studio, grew from two to 10 employees and crossed $300,000 in gross revenue.