Dance Wire PDX Portland Oregon's Dance Community
BeMoved® with Laura Haney

BeMoved® with Laura Haney

Be moved! Be inspired! Be joyful! Be fulfilled!… all this in one hour you ask? You bet! This can be yours to enjoy when you take Laura Haney’s class at BodyVox.

BodyVox is located at 1201 NW 17th, Portland OR 97209. It is a professional, all-level, inclusive studio with the highest caliber of trained caring instructors each experts in various disciplines.

Upon arrival, there is an efficient check-in at the front desk. There are dressing rooms available and plenty of space to bring your things into the studio. Most street parking is free but pay attention to the time restrictions!

Laura radiates with a fresh and inclusive approach to dance as she dovetails natural movement and the fun of theatrics with weekly rotating themes such as Bollywood, Jazz, Latin Rhythms, Disco, Broadway Fosse…to name a few. Each week is a surprise, though an added bonus of being a regular is sometimes being let in on the secret early!

Laura begins her class with easy to follow luxurious long-line stretches set to rich inspiring music (and no floor work…yea!)

Next she creates the style of the steps to match the themes in seamless choreography with plenty of repetition so all levels of students can be successful. Laura has an excellent musical ear for choosing the perfect music to move by, in tandem with the theme of the day. To complete the hour, the class finishes full circle with a cooldown of scrumptious, easy familiar stretches.

She has a large following of friendly, multi-level, non-competitive, students so there is never a chance to feel “on the spot” or left behind for a newcomer.

Workout or comfortable clothes are best. Bare feet, jazz shoes or clean indoor sneakers that have not been worn outside will work fine. Of course if you are like me, you might want to coordinate your outfit with the theme of the day…but not required and only if you know what’s coming next. 🙂

Now let me see where I put my top hat and tails for next time…

Take class with Laura Haney

Learn more about BeMoved.

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

Kupuna Hula (ages 55+)

Kupuna Hula (ages 55+)

Wait…is that a gentle Hawaiian breeze I feel?...why yes it is… right here at Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a at the Global Art of Dance Studio, while waiting for my first Hula class. I was warmly greeted by Lisa Chang and offered a practice skirt she has available for her students. (Whew…the tutu I brought didn’t really have the flavor of the islands I had hoped for.)

Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a is founded by Lisa and is team-taught with her 'Olapa (assistant) Lani. This expert team dovetail their artistic talents in to a loving warm cultural experience while introducing the gentle art of the Hula dance and language.

Class begins with a brief protocol chant called “E Ho Mai” to honor the art form and the discipline of learning. The class is in an organized three-part structure. We begin simple footwork patterns accompanied by live rhythms which are played on a ipu heke (double gourd drum) by a ho'opa'a (drummer/chanter). Lisa demonstrates the patterns and body form simply and clearly and we follow. The ho'opa'a calls out the patterns to practice so learning the language to identify the calls certainly completes the Hawaiian ambiance.

The middle part of the class is devoted to a group circle where we sing to a 'ukulele and practice the vocabulary of the art form. We then return to dance and now combine our earlier practice into beautiful and magical story telling through movement. This intoxicating dance can also be done seated for those who are unable to stand or in a wheelchair, as much of the story is communicated through gentle hands and gestures from the heart. This is a perfect class for those who have never danced and for those dancers who want add a sensual essence to their style.

sorry about the blurry video!

I enjoyed the other students; they told me they often get together to practice and share a meal at each other’s homes. This truly is an inclusive and welcoming group for a newcomer.

Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a is located at 12570 SW Farmington Rd. Beaverton. The adjacent parking appears to belong to Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a but it actually belongs to the ballroom studio next door… so as tempting as it is, don’t park there. Not to worry though, there is easy free street parking. Also the studio has no stairs and has easy wheelchair access.

As I left, I peeked into the next level of Hula class…and I’m not sure but I think I heard the sound of tall palm trees bending in the wind…

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

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

Senior Tap with Thorey

Senior Tap with Thorey

A touch of Fred and Ginger in the Pearl! If you love the tap dancing of the classic movie era you will be right at home in Thorey Mountain’s Senior Tap Class at Polaris Dance Theatre.

Polaris is located at 1826 NW 18th Ave. Portland, with free street parking and a few spots adjacent to the building itself. The studio is easy to find and well marked from the street view. Polaris is a high quality dance facility with a topnotch in-house performance company of its own. The studio is friendly, well run, with large clean studio spaces and many pricing options to offer.

In brief, Thorey is a Royal Academy certified instructor, a tap coach for the West End production of Billy Elliot and has worked internationally as a freelance choreographer. Thorey offers a one hour fun, multi-leveled tap class delighting the ear with cool jazz, standards, and musical theater tunes to tap to, such as S’Wonderful, Our Love is Here to Stay and Razzle Dazzle from Chicago, to name a few.

No need for “work-out wear” street clothes are fine for tap. Tap shoes are not a requirement either. If you are not ready to commit to a purchase, a clean, hard-sole shoe will work as you test the waters. But if you want to jump right in I have found some great buys on the sale rack at The Leotard on MLK in Portland.

Class begins with a simple easy to follow soft warm up which Thorey calls the “oily warm up” waking up the whole body with familiar movements. Then she moves into tap basics such as shuffles and flaps, which she explains in detail for the proper technique to perfect execution. I really appreciate the repetition and review of these basic steps… as sometimes it takes me a while to catch on.

Following the warm up she skillfully builds on the basic steps to create combinations, patterns, and rhythms, again with lots of repetitions to ensure success for each individual student. Because the class is small (lucky us!) she is able to give each of us one-on-one attention sensitive to our own abilities…I like to think of it as getting a private lesson at a group price…nice.

Next Thorey introduces us to traveling patterns that give us a chance to move across and use the whole space using directional changes enhancing the tap dance experience.

The last 20 minutes, or so (and my favorite part), is crafted into an easy stylish routine set to music constructed of patterns and steps, introduced earlier in the hour, magically transformed into a dance worthy of Broadway. Here is where we let our inner Fred and Ginger shine! And I’m pretty sure you’ll be humming some of those classic tunes on your way home as well.

Take class with Thorey Mountain at Polaris Dance Theatre.

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