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This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.
Modern dance on Tuesday morning? Why not? Every day is a great day to dance so why not Tuesday. This class recently changed times and is just starting to build so I was one of only two students. But that just meant we got even more dancing in! Held at N.E.W. at 810 SE Belmont it’s quick and convenient to the center of town. Just park on the street and enter through the door on Yamhill and the studio is easy to find.
This class is based in the Humphrey-Limón tradition and provides students with an organic approach to the principles of fall and recovery with an emphasis on the expressive qualities of movement, but more on that later. We started with a very fluid warmup seated on the floor, working through the flexibility of the spine. The pace was luxurious yet continuous giving us a solid amount of time to get our bodies warm. Then we stood up and worked on a number of other short phrases and across-the-floor movement right up until the end. In some classes, the warmup or technique is preparation for the dancing, but this class is just dancing from start to finish.
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While based in technique of sorts it’s not the kind of technique that requires high leg extensions and fancy tricks. In fact, Shaun describes it as more of a movement philosophy that emphasizes and explores breath, weight, fall and recovery, suspension and opposition, isolation, succession, initiation, gesture, and focus. As a past hip surgery patient, whose flexibility is nothing to brag about amongst the dance world, I relish opportunities to dance without worrying about aesthetics so much. The expressive part is my favorite part anyway!
Another wonderful element of this class is the music choice. Shaun plays rhythmic based drums and piano which he finds lends itself well to the movement.
Shaun is a knowledgeable and intentional teacher. His style and movement is very much rooted in the philosophies of the historical modern greats, yet he owns and practices it in a way that suits his own style and values.
Whether you are looking to explore and expand your movement, or just enjoy a luxurious modern class this class is definitely worth checking out!
Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire’s Find A Class Directory.