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Artist Stories 2017 – Anne Mueller

Artist Stories 2017 – Anne Mueller

Anne Mueller has been dancing for 33 years. In this interview she talks about her career as well as her hopes for the future of dance in Portland.

 

Contemporary Floor Work with WolfBird

Contemporary Floor Work with WolfBird

This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.

In the New York Times bestseller GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, the author, Angela Duckworth, argues that the "secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence." Grit is word I personally love because it has the duality of being hard-hitting, yet with an undeniably positive connotation. I bring up this word because I think the WolfBird class definitely requires some grit.

The class is currently being held at Trip the Dark centrally located near NE Broadway and 7th. It's a rather contained space for this class, but a temporary space until Raven and Selina (the mastermind/bodies of WolfBird) build up their following. There is both free residential as well as metered street parking in the block surrounding the building. The door is a little tricky to find - try not to end up in the seedy bar next door - but has the address 707 above the door. The studio is up the stairs and to the left.

A shirt to cover your shoulders, socks and knee pads are highly recommended for this class. We started out with a floor warm up, and the easier you can make it to slide around the better. After warm-up we moved across the floor also remaining primarily on the ground. There are very few classes in Portland that spend this much time breaking down and exploring floor work, so it's an excellent technique class for anyone wanting to become more comfortable moving around on the floor as well as pathways of getting in and out of the floor.

Both directors have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance Performance from the University of South Florida, and their teaching is rooted in a thorough grasp of both the physical and academic elements of their movement style. They encourage all levels of movers to attend, the only requirement for class is a openness to learn and grow!

Our final combination - shown in the video - was slow, by WolfBird standards, but plenty intricate which is common for their movement style. Getting back to the concept of grit, their movement has passion, power and requires perserverance to master. I tend to find that the more difficult something is to master, the more satisfying each achievement along the way feels!

Take class with WolfBird

Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire's Find A Class Directory.

Also see more of their movement from their class at Dance Wire's 2017 Citywide Dance Audition - video below.

Flamenco with Laura Onizuka

Flamenco with Laura Onizuka

This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.

Imagine yourself walking down the street, chewing gum, patting your head and rubbing your belly all at the same time, oh and why don’t we add in lifting your chest, tilting your chin up and wearing heels. This is what Flamenco feels like. The women in the class tell me that of all styles of dance they’ve taken, this is the most rewarding, but more on why later.

Laura just moved this class to Lakewood Center for the Arts in Lake Oswego. It is a large beautiful building right next to the lake, with an expansive parking lot right out front that is ADA accessible. There are bathrooms and changing rooms inside as well as a number of studios. When you go in the front door, hang a left and walk to the end of the long hallway to the dance studios.

The class I went to was beginning Flamenco, as it was my first official Flamenco class ever! The warmup consisted primarily of Flamenco movements of the hands, arms, shoulders, and legs, focusing on just one body part at a time. You will appreciate this as once you start combining them all, you will need the muscle memory.

As we went along Laura introduced some key terms such as gólpe, planta, tacón, and talón… which describe the action. For example with talón, the whole foot leaves the floor to strike the heel down whereas tacón may come from the planta position where the ball of the foot remains rooted in the floor and the heel drops from that position to make an audible sound.

Our final dance (in the video) was the Sevillanas, a traditional folk music and dance from the Seville region. This is often done with a partner, but we learned it solo in class.

After class I asked some of the women what drew them to Flamenco. They commented that it is a very strong yet elegant style and that it’s rich in culture and tradition, so much so, that one woman said even after 20 years she continuously feels inspired and like there is so much more she wants to learn. They all agreed that the immense complexity of the style is what makes it so rewarding. As with most dance styles, it looks easy if done well, but for those who challenge their body’s to do it, the dedication, focus and discipline of doing it well is what offers that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

As for me, as I write this blog I keep stopping to roll my wrists sequencing precisely through each finger one at a time….pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb reverse, thumb, index, middle, ring, pinky…

Check out Laura’s full class schedule including special workshops coming up this summer at the link below. Plus, don’t miss her regular Flamenco retreats to the Oregon Coast and to Spain!

*Laura is a 2017 Dance Wire Ambassador​

Take flamenco with Laura Onizuka

Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire's Find A Class Directory.

Tahiti Fit for Fun

Tahiti Fit for Fun

This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.

Raise your hand if you secretly don’t like to work out… Don’t be bashful, I can’t see you, and the people around you will have no idea why you’re raising your hand, so why not? The thing is, a lot of people don’t like working out until they find something they love. So I have a suggestion for you - Tahiti Fit for Fun. An incredibly welcoming group of people, a unique cultural experience, and fitness all wrapped in one!

The studio is out in Beaverton so it may be more convenient for some than others, but if you have any flexibility in your schedule, it could be worth the drive. This class is held at MVP Elite and there is plenty of free street parking. Since it was Tuesday at noon the studio was completely quiet except for our class.

The first thing you might notice is that I am the only one without a fancy grass tutu. They are not required, but if you started taking class regularly they do make everything look way cooler. At least I think so. But in the mean time even a sarong over your workout pants would give you something to whip around with all those hip movements. And a little secret they told me, many of the women wear weighted belts that sit just above their skirts so that when they take them off, their hips really fly!

The class started off with upbeat pop music and some isolations gradually warming up each area of the body, first in place, then traveling forward and back. From beginning to end you keep moving, keeping your heart rate up! Since everyone else in the class knew the moves, Lisa would run over and help me understand the mechanics of a movement if it looked like I wasn’t catching on. Since the feet are often supposed to stay flat, and the shoulders are not supposed to move, it’s a lot of core work isolating the hips to move in all directions, and picking up the speed takes it to a whole other level! Lisa then turned on some traditional Tahitian music and we continued to work our moves traveling across the floor. At the very end we finish the class with conditioning, including lunges, plank, abs, and glutes.

As I continue taking dance classes of all different styles the thing that really stands out to me is the incredible depth of each! These dance styles have been around for decades, sometimes centuries, and the instructors are experts in their field. We should simultaneously be honored to have access to these teachers, while remembering a quote that comes to mind every time I try a style that’s completely new to me “Beginners, don’t apologize for being new. You aren’t required to have innate talent, just diligence.”

Take class at Hula Hālau ‘Ohana Holo‘oko‘a.

Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire's Find A Class Directory.