Dhoonya Dance To Offer Garba/Raas Week Sept. 25 – Oct. 1

Dhoonya Dance, Washington D.C.’s premiere Bollywood dance school, is excited to offer a Garba/Raas Week during its classes Sept. 25-Oct.1 in celebration of Navratri, an Indian festival that celebrates the fall harvest season.

Originating from the Indian state Gujarat, Garba and Raas are some of India’s most popular folk dances. Garba is characterized by a group of people dancing in a circle, bending sideways and clapping. Raas is the traditional “stick dance” done with partners. An example of a Garba/Raas dance is below:

Garba and Raas events are traditionally held during Navratri (“nine nights”), an autumn Hindu festival. This year Navratri starts Sept. 28. During this season, Garbas are held throughout the Washington D.C. area, including at the University of Maryland and Northern Virginia Community College.

“The upbeat tempo of the music and graceful swaying movements of Garba and Raas create this energy and atmosphere of fun that everyone can enjoy. Raas also incorporates a lot of jumps, which makes for a great workout,” Kajal Desai, Dhoonya Dance managing director for the Washington D.C. area, said. “Whether this is your first time experiencing Garba/Raas, or you are looking to refresh your skills, Dhoonya’s Garba/Raas week is a great way to prep for the fun Garba season ahead.”

Dhoonya Dance will be teaching routines that feature Garba and Raas influenced steps at the following locations:

Sept 26, Dhoonya BASICS, 7:30-8:30 pm, Saffron Dance, 3260 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon Metro)
Sept. 27, Dhoonya FIT, 6:30-7:30 pm Born2Dance Studio, 305 W. Maple Ave. Vienna
Sept. 28, Dhoonya FIT, 6:30-7:30 pm, Saffron Dance
Sept. 29, Dhoonya FIT, 6:30-7:30 pm, Jordin’s Paradise, 1121 7th St NW, Washington DC (Mt. Vernon Square Metro)

In the Dhoonya BASICS class, students will learn a short dance. The DhoonyaFIT class is a non-stop workout program, similar to Zumba. Classes are $20 for a single drop-in; $18 with a five-class pass; $15 with a 10-class pass. For more information visit http://www.dhoonyadance.com.

The above information is adapted from a Dhoonya Dance press release received Wednesday, September 15th.

Master Class with Vincent Thomas and Works-in-Progress Showing at The Dance Exchange

From Hayley Cutler, Artistic Director of darlingdance company

Looking for a creative and engaging way to round out your weekend? Head to the Dance Exchange for a master class with Vincent Thomas*, and a showing of works-in-progress by choreographers of the 2011 Eureka Dance Festival. Preview their diverse works before they are debuted in December, and experience the unique processes employed by each artist. The Eureka Dance Festival, in its third season, highlights and fosters the blossoming careers of six choreographers from the Greater DC region. Beginning with the selection process in May, and culminating with a Dance Place debut in December, the Festival provides support to artists embarking on the journey of creating a brand new work.

Choreographers who will be showing work this Sunday are Hayley Cutler (darlingdance), Marissa Guerrero, Sara Herrera, Eureka Co-Director Orit Sherman, and the Festival’s International Guest Artist, Nir Ben Gal.

If you like what you see this Sunday (or are excited by the info posted here!), please head over to www.dancefestival-eureka.org when you get home and help us reach our Kickstarter Fundraiser goal of $1,000 by 11:59pm that very night, September 18th!

We hope you join us for both the master class and showing! (Master class attendance is, of course, not required to attend the showing)

*Vincent E. Thomas, dancer, choreographer and teacher, received his MFA in Dance from Florida State University and a BME in Music from the University of South Carolina. He has danced with Dance Repertory Theatre (FSU), Randy James Dance Works (NY/NJ), Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (MD), EDGEWORKS Dance Theater (DC), and is currently an adjunct artist with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. His choreography has been presented at various national and international venues including Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland, Avignon, France, Athens, Greece, and Bari, Italy. Vincent is a recipient of a 2008 Kennedy Center Local Dance Commission Project Award, several MetroDC Dance Awards, multiple Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards, 2009 Best of Baltimore- Choreographer Award, and a 2009 Baker Artist-Baltimore Choice Award. He is a faculty member for the Urban Bush Women Summer Institutes (NY & New Orleans), and an Associate Professor of Dance at Towson University (MD).

  • 6:00-7:00 pm – Master Class with Vincent Thomas ($10 Eureka members; $12 Non-Eureka members [suggested donation])
  • 7:00-9:00 pm – Work-in-progress Showing ($5 suggested donation)
  • Location: Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Ave, Takoma Park, MD Metro: Takoma Park Station (Red Line)

Moving Meditation Drop-in Classes with Ilana Silverstein

Ilana Faye Silverstein has performed with Daniel Burkholder/The Playground, Dance Box Theater, Lotta Lundgren, Christine Stone Martin and other independent artists in the D.C. area. In addition, her work has been presented by the Philly Fringe Festival, Gaia in Washington DC and The Source Festival. If you’re interested in taking class with Ilana, she currently teaches Moving Meditation drop-in classes Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas. Moving Meditation is a course based on Contemplative Dance Practice developed by Barbara Dilley. Learn more about the class from Ilana:

The goal of the class is to suspend self-consciousness, self-doubt and abusive training of the body. I will introduce a simple structure and we will all go for it together. We will settle into our bodies and check in with our thoughts in the moment. And then, we will play. I have found those who meditate enjoy this invitation to take the mindfulness practice into motion. And those who dance, appreciate the direction of a few minutes of stillness.

The class is based on Contemplative Dance Practice, a combination of sitting meditation, personal warm-up and group improvisation. I have been teaching the practice for 10 years, sporadically. What would it be like if more of us in DC were familiar with it and started practicing together regularly?

This post is a revised version of a story posted to Joy of Motion Dance Center’s Dance is for Everyone blog.

Maryland Institute for Dance Promotes Arts Exploration

The Maryland Institute for Dance (MID), a nonprofit organization that provides affordable dance education and dance scholarships to students, launched Dancing on Purpose last month. Dancing on Purpose is an eight-week summer education and outreach program that provides youth with various avenues to explore the arts and a safe option for parent’s seeking summer activities.

“Our mission is to transform lives through dance. Dancing on Purpose will do exactly that by giving local youth a positive summer option to keep them active and moving”, says Essence Moore, who co-founded MID in 2010. “We are committed to not just teaching dance movements, but giving our dancers a full instructional experience, which includes building blocks and fundamental lessons that transcend beyond the dance floor.”

MID kicked off the Dancing on Purpose summer program with “Dance Chronicles,” a dance showcase and silent auction to raise funds for their scholarship program on June 18th. Hosted by Fox 5 Morning News co-host, Allison Seymour, “Dance Chronicles” featured the areas best young dancers performing African dance, hip hop, tap, ballet and modern routines.

MID offers group dance sessions, choreography and performance classes, and audition choreography to students, ages three to adult. MID sessions run on a semester basis and include toddler focused classes, traditional dance classes, youth dance companies, summer intensives and Project Move, an education outreach program that supports the “Let’s Move” campaign championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. For more information about MID, click here.

The above information is adapted from a Maryland Institute for Dance press release received Wednesday, June 15th.

So You Think You Can Jamz Summer Intensive

If you love So You Think You Can Dance?, then you should know that Jamile McGee (Season 1) teaches hip hop at Joy of Motion Dance Center. If that’s not enough for you, check out Jamz Dance Center’s So You Think You Can Jamz Summer Intensive June 27th-July 1st, 2011 in Pasadena, MD. Training with Billy Bell (Season 7), Comfort Fedoke (Seasons 4 and 7), Katee Shean (Season 4), Melissa Sandvig (Season 4) and Brandon Bryant (Season 5) doesn’t come cheap ($449 for the week), but is a pretty decent price with over 35 hours of master class instruction. See the flier below for more information:

WashingTina Takes Class at The Washington School of Ballet

Tuesday night I took the train to Bethesda and instead of making my way to Joy of Motion, I walked further south for a get together at BD’s Mongolian Grill. Local blogger WashingTina was in attendance and had a funny story to share about taking a beginner class at The Washington School of Ballet. Check out an excerpt of her story below and click here for the full story. Have you taken class at The Washington School of Ballet? What was your experience?

Excerpt of WashingTina: Pointe of Contention

The Washington School of BalletThe instructor came in and greeted everyone in the class by name. Everyone but me. Clearly I had found my way into a class of not-so-beginning beginners. “Let’s pick up where we left off last week, with blah, blah, blah something French,” the instructor said. And with that we all spread out across the studio floor to get our ballet on. I stood as close to the back as I could, trying to blend in as we went through the five positions (hey! I remembered something!). Then it was time for barre work, which was great. I found my space at the barre and we went through more of the motions. The woman standing next to me even told me that I had great turn-out (she was wearing a near-tutu, so I was pretty sure she was an expert). About 20 minutes later, it was time for the hell I had forgotten. The part of the class where everyone runs across the room doing various ballet things (that’s the technical French term for it, I’m sure) while everyone else watches.

I hung back and watched the others do their graceful moves, studying their feet so I’d be ready to join in eventually. Then there was nobody left in my corner of the room and the teacher finally noticed me. “Are you new? I’m so sorry! I didn’t know we had a new student today! What’s your name?” Grrrreat . . . now the whole class of beautifully appointed dancers was starting at me. I wanted to hang myself from the barre. After I told my name, the instructor insisted that he and I do the moves across the room together. While everyone watched. I’m pretty sure the shade of red that I turned doesn’t actually occur in nature. And I was so bad, he made me do it three more times back and forth, back and forth, while everyone else stood there, probably wishing I had hung myself from the barre. This kind of awful dancing was cute when you are three, but in your 30s, it’s just tragic. The instructor was patient and easygoing, but the pressure was too much for me. I didn’t care how much I wanted a tutu, I wasn’t going through this kind of humiliation every week.

10th Way to Redefine Yourself: Hip Hop with Gary at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights

Hip Hop with Gary Beauford

Liz, Gary and Cecile. Thanks for taking the pic, Karen!

Last night, I was at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights for hip hop with Gary Beauford. I’ve taken his class before, but it was my birthday and the last day of my 10 day dance challenge so I decided to treat myself. The first time I took class with Gary was actually his last class with Culture Shock DC. I had also seen his choreography when his company GnC Crew performed at the DCypher show last year.

The combination Gary taught for his last class was choreo to Total’s “What About Us?” Remember that song? I think my brain had reached its mental capacity so I had a hard time picking up the routine, but the select groups he picked at the end had it down. They looked dope! He also singled out one of his students who also trains with Future Shock/Culture Shock to do the combination one last time. She did great.

About 30 dancers, including my friends Liz and Karen, came to last night’s class. Gary’s class is usually pretty crowded, but this was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it. It was probably because he announced on Twitter and Facebook that this would be his last class at Joy of Motion for almost a year. He’s leaving on Saturday to go on tour with UniverSoul Circus. Congrats on the gig, Gary! It’s sad that he won’t be here for most of 2011, but he’s hoping that Kevin Simon of GnC Crew and Culture Shock DC will be able to take over the class in his absence. He’ll be conducting the class the same way Gary did. Three weeks learning the same routine so you can really get something out of class and get your training on. It’s a bitter sweet ending to my 10 day dance challenge as I’ll miss taking class with Gary, but I’m happy to have been inspired by his creativity and wish him the best of luck.

9th Way to Redefine Yourself: Modern with Helanius at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights

modern danceFor day nine of my 10 day dance challenge, I was at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights for modern with Helanius Wilkins. I met Helanius a few months back when I interviewed him for danceDC so was excited to take his low intermediate level class. He started the class with plenty of exercises to warm up our feet. Before moving into across the floor exercises, he taught a short combination that had us constantly changing directions. I was extremely confused when he first showed it, but I think I finally had it down by the last time we did it in groups.

One of the across the floor exercises that stood out in my mind included a cart-wheel. I can’t remember the last time I had done one so was happy to give it a try. I thought we were doing another short across the floor exercise, but it turned into a longer combination that we did in smaller groups of three or four. The combination also included lots of changes in directions like the short combo from earlier in the class. I liked that the choreography traveled across the floor and used the whole space. Helanius also had such a pleasant demeanor while teaching class. I really appreciated that. If you’re looking to learn from a positive role model and also to take a fun, modern class, I hope you’ll try one of Helanius’ classes.

8th Way to Redefine Yourself: Contemporary Jazz with Ashley at Joy of Motion/Atlas

Contemporary JazzFor day eight of my 10 day dance challenge, I was at Joy of Motion/Atlas for Contemporary Jazz with Ashley White. This low intermediate level class is described as teaching solid jazz technique while exploring choreography influenced by the music of today. Ashley started class with a center warm up that included ponches en releve and also splits on the floor. I was probably one of the only girls in the class who couldn’t do them. Definitely need to work on my flexibility. Any exercises you can recommend to help with that?

After warm up,  we did a few across the floor exercises. First up was a jazz walk, chenee and pique turn combo. Next was a petite allegro combination. Finally, we did one that started with battements, was followed by a piroutte and ended with a final jump. After each exercise, Ashley was good about giving some general feedback to help us improve the combination on the other side. The choreography she taught for the rest of class was to One Republic’s Secrets. I was familiar with the song, but still had some trouble getting the timing. When we broke up into two groups to give us a bit more room, I was really feeling the choreography. I was also excited to do the combination one last time with a select group of dancers. I’ll hopefully be able to share the video with you once it’s up on Ashley’s YouTube page. If you’re looking for a challenging jazz class with great choreography, check out Contemporary Jazz with Ashley.

7th Way to Redefine Yourself: HIP with Miasia at Joy of Motion/Bethesda

HIP with MiasiaToday, I was back at Joy of Motion/Bethesda for HIP with Miasia. This Middle Eastern inspired dance and fitness class is part of Joy of Motion’s Move Program, which also includes Zumba and Kukuwa Dance Workout. We started class working in pairs on the floor. I was partnered with Miasia since I was the only new student. Everyone else had taken the class before. I held Miasia’s ankles while she demonstrated different ab exercises. Then we switched and I mirrored what she had just done.

The class continued with students mimicking Miasia’s moves. Hip rolls, undulations of the chest and shimmying to the music had me feeling like I was in another world (and also out of my element since this was my first time taking a belly dance class). Miasia did a great job explaining how to execute moves that look deceptively simple. At one point, she had us squeezing our glutes to create an extra bounce in our hips. It is surprisingly difficult to squeeze one cheek at a time! I liked that Miasia told us what some of the moves meant. How great is it that your body can say things like “I see right through you” or “Just you wait?” My favorite had to be “I can handle it. I’m a woman.” Talk about girl power. If you’re looking to explore another culture through dance, try HIP with Miasia.

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