Dance Wire PDX Portland Oregon's Dance Community
Johnny Weaver – Wallflower to Enthusiast

Johnny Weaver – Wallflower to Enthusiast

Interview by Jessie Nowak

What was your first experience with dance?
It was my high school year and it was a small dance right after a football game. After the game, I changed into my dress outfit and went into the commons (location of the dance). I stood there with some friends not doing anything except watching others have a great time dancing. It was cool to see some of the upper classmates do some swing dancing, but other than that, it was miserable. I didn't go to a another dance until my Junior and Senior prom because you kinda had to. Not much happened at those two dances. I slow danced with my dates, but that was about it. Dancing was not something I enjoyed doing.

How has your perspective on dance changed since then?
I went off to college and started studying to become a Physical Education Teacher. I noticed on the list of required classes that dance was one of them. After putting if off for almost two years, I finally picked ballroom dancing as my required dance credit. In the class I learned how to swing dance, waltz, polka, cha cha, salsa, and more. I was very nervous my first couple of classes, but I was partnered up with someone who loved dancing and who already knew how to dance. The instructor did a great job breaking the dances down so that anyone could learn them. It only took about 1 month before my feelings of dance changed. After learning how to dance, having a partner who would set time aside outside of class to help me, and building my confidence up, I started loving dance. My partner and I started going out to dance clubs and dancing. I started going out with my friends just to dance. As I kept dancing, I started learning more dances and even making up my own dance moves. I even got my little brother to start going out and dancing with us.

How do you use dance now in your teaching and day to day?
I remember my interview for the PE position at the school I am teaching at right now. It was 13 years ago. One of the things that my boss really liked in the interview was that I enjoyed dancing and wanted to incorporate it into my classes. I know for a fact that helped me get the position. Since that day, I have had a dance unit in each of my classes (K - 8th Grade). I also put on a sock hop dance competition each year. I teach each class 4-5 different dances and then the classes pick one. At the sock-hop, each class gets up on stage and performs their dance. The class that gets the most votes from teachers and parents is the class that wins the sock-hop. This has been going on for about 12 years. I also collaborate with the classroom teachers to teach dances done during different decades. Eighth grade learns about the 50's so we teach some popular dances from back then. Seventh grade learns about the 20's and fifth grade has the Civil War Ball where they learn to waltz, polka, and do the Virginia reel. Dancing is a very large part of my curriculum and I try to go out dancing with my wife as much as I can. Each day I teach dance I thank my college professor for showing me how to make dancing easy to learn which in turn makes if fun!

Do you think you have been shaped at all by dance?
I would definitely say yes. All of my colleagues know me as the dancer in the school. They will come to me whenever a school dance is coming up or if they want their students to learn a specific dance. Whenever I answer the question, "What are your hobbies?" dance is always one of my top three. It has built my confidence not only in dance, but also speaking in front of large groups, showing my students how to do tasks that are not always easy, and helps me relieve unwanted stress. I will always believe that dance helped form who I am today and has always had a positive influence on my life.

 

Are you Dance CURIOUS?

Raise your hand if you've ever felt too old, too fat, too inflexible, too uncoordinated, too shy, too masculine, too ____________ to dance. The truth is, even professional dancers feel those things all the time because everyone plays the comparison game. At Dance Wire, we are determined to erase those stigmas. Dance is for EVERYONE.

Rhonda graciously agreed to tell her story to launch our new series Dance CURIOUS. Follow along especially if you are new to dance or working to reconnect with it. If you have a story you'd like to tell, email emily@dancewirepdx.org using subject line Dance CURIOUS Story to Tell

And if you want to hear more stories like this and help us expand our resources on the website, please make a one-time or recurring donation. Together we can Keep Portland Dancing!

Caleb Teicher and Company

Caleb Teicher and Company

 

“Astounding expressiveness, natural charm, and unforced theatricality”
-2011 Bessie Awards

Caleb Teicher, 2011 Bessie Award Winner, is a truly original artist. Utilizing tap dance, jazz, Lindy Hop, and a mix of other dance styles born and bred in America, his works represents a unique style of theatricality, humor, and emotional expressions and aesthetic exploration. Whether moving to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, or swing dancing to Ella Fitzgerald’s famous recordings, Caleb Teicher and his remarkable company are among America’s most innovative dance artists. ​

FOR ALL AGES | 3 SHOWS

THUR-SAT | Oct 17-19 | 8PM
Lincoln Hall, Portland State University

https://www.whitebird.org/caleb-teicher-company

Full Circle – StepsPDX and Steps for Youth

Full Circle – StepsPDX and Steps for Youth

Take a moment to consider what the barriers are for kids participating in dance; lack of programming in schools, insufficient family funds to afford private lessons and the cost of proper apparel, to name a few. Kathryn Harden, owner of StepsPDX and Founder of Steps for Youth, would add lack of mentorship and a feeling of not belonging in the dance world to a long list of other barriers.

Helmed by Kathryn along with her Director of Education and Community Engagement, Monica Parra, Steps for Youth partners with local schools to provide dance opportunities to kids from all backgrounds with an emphasis on schools that have little funding for art or physical education.

"There is no one size fits all to this program as each of our partners have different needs. For example, at Kairos PDX, a K-5 school, we participate in their Community Action Fridays every week for three hours. We teach three, 45-minute classes based on the styles the students want to learn. In the past two years, we have been teaching the students hip-hop as well as creative movement. The students have power in picking their classes and all grade levels are encouraged to sign-up. The response has been extremely positive, with classes overflowing with kids that are eager to participate." remarks Kathryn.

However, the road to helping kids unlock their true potential has it's climbs as Kathryn explains an all-too-often heard scenario here in Portland, "On the other hand at Centennial Park High School, the students are not offered PE and do not have proper space for us to come in. Thanks to some incredibly dedicated teachers who drove kids to Steps PDX, we were able to teach them yoga, meditation as well as contemporary movement in the classroom."

Classes are only part of the vision mind you. Ideally, there are two tracks, a recreational track and a career track. For the students who discover they have the passion and desire to pursue dance as a career, they would be welcomed into the Steps PDX School with a full scholarship, mentor, transportation, dance attire, and equipment kit to set them up for success. Outside of the classroom Steps PDX directors and artistic staff take students to shows so they can experience professional-level dance firsthand and get a taste of what they are working towards.

For many students in the current partner schools, dance is anywhere from invisible to out-of-reach for them. The vision for the Steps for Youth program goes far beyond helping kids overcome practical barriers to experiencing and even excelling at dance. If offers a safe space to give young creators a sense of belonging coupled with the life experiences needed to help them succeed wherever their path may take them.

Full Circle is an event hosted by Steps PDX created to raise funds specifically for this program with the broader community involved. The event itself consists of a full schedule of classes during the day, followed by an evening of food, drinks, live DJ performance and a silent auction. The event is named Full Circle because Kathryn wants people to understand that their involvement means everything. Donors, sponsors and class participants are all coming together to support dance for youth. "Our first year, we offered the Steps for Youth program to the schools free of charge and subsidized the cost of instructors and administration of the program to show the power dance can have on young lives. We were in our first year as a business, it was not easy, but it is what was right in our hearts. Hopefully, staff and students alike can spread the word and value of the program." Kathryn says "In an ideal world, dance is not something you have to seek out, but is available to everyone."

The next Full Circle event will be happening on Oct 20th, 2019! More info at https://www.stepspdx.com/

Portland Dance Film Fest

Portland Dance Film Fest

The 3rd Annual Portland Dance Film Fest is excited to share 20 dance film shorts, four mini dance documentaries, and the Oregon Dance Film Commission during three nights of screening. Join us for the post celebration party following the last screening and then begin creating your own dance film at the full day workshop on Sunday!

PDFF Picks 1 > Oct 3rd at 7:00pm
PDFF Picks 2 > Oct 4th at 7:00pm
PDFF Picks 3 > Oct 5th at 7:00pm
At NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium

Closing Night Party > Oct 5th at 8:45pm
At Fields (Sunken) Ballroom / Portland Art Museum
Free event! Cash Bar & Food on us!

http://www.portlanddancefilmfest.com/