Helen Hayes Modern at Joy of Motion/Bethesda

source: http://www.joyofmotion.org

I decided to switch it up and take an intermediate/advanced modern dance class at Joy of Motion in Bethesda.  Plus I wanted to make good use of the Tippr deal I bought last week ($25 for $51 worth of classes at any Joy of Motion studio).

If you haven’t been to the Joy of Motion in Bethesda, it may be hard to find.  Take the Red Line to Bethesda and the studio is just a couple blocks south on Wisconsin Avenue NW.  If you take the elevator up to street level, you’re only about a block away.  Joy of Motion is in the Air Rights Building – same building as Cardinal Bank and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.    I recommend entering near Cardinal Bank, which is on a side street off of Wisconsin across from the Marriott Residence Inn.  Once you enter the building, go left to the elevators and take it one level down to LL.
I came straight from a happy hour in Dupont before coming to class so I had to change.  Luckily, there is a small changing area in the ladies’ bathroom.  I wore black leggings and a tank top, which most girls were wearing.  Some wore black tights or booty shorts and leotards.  Most people danced barefoot, but others like myself opted to wear socks.
It was obvious from the start that a lot of the students are regulars of Helen’s class.  She knew the majority of dancers by name and frequently complimented students for a job well done.  She even pointed out individual mistakes so others could benefit from correcting next time around.
Despite being a huge fan of hip hop dance, I actually have a background in ballet.  I studied for about 11 years so an intermediate/advanced modern class seemed fine to sign up for.  I have to admit.  I had a hard time keeping up with the choreography.  Her teaching style for the combinations was show, show and go.  She would ask if people had specific questions before breaking up into groups, but most people were able to pick it up rather quickly.  In some instances, she would ask us to figure out the combination to the opposite side by ourselves.
The class was scheduled to end at 930pm, but one of the students told me that she’ll probably go until 11pm.  I had to meet up with my boyfriend at 11pm so left around 10pm but she was still going strong.  On my way out, I briefly spoke with the girl that works at the front desk.  She said that she tried one of Helen’s beginner classes and even that was challenging.
If you’re just looking to dance around and learn one combination, this isn’t the class for you.  If you’re looking to work hard and improve your overall dancing ability, please give it a try.  It is a great class and you definitely get your money’s worth.

The Deets

  • Helen Hayes
  • Intermediate/Advanced Modern
  • Joy of Motion – Air Rights Building 7315 Wisconsin Avenue NW; Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Wednesdays 8pm-930pm or until Helen feels like it
  • $17 drop ins
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Contemporary at Six Step Studios

Met up with Lisa K again for another class out in Fairfax.  Seriously, I don’t know how she finds these places.  From Crystal City, it was about a 20-30 minute drive.  Without her TomTom, I’m not sure we would have made it as the studio is tucked away in a warehouse of an industrial park.  There is no big sign on the main street marking Six Step Studios, but there is a small sign on the door.  The space is a converted warehouse with a loft for the office and waiting room.  It’s only one room, but it feels spacious since the ceilings are so high.

According to the website, the contemporary class with Chelsea Cooper starts at 9pm but it was more like 930pm.  She explained that they are pretty lax so warned students (and probably more so the parents since the majority looked a bit younger) to plan on staying longer than the scheduled time.

She opened the garage door of the space which freaked me out since it is so humid out these days, but it was fine and actually nice to sweat.  She started the class with a warm up and then had us move to the music in the dark.  Yes, no lights!  It was comforting to not be seen because I didn’t feel like such a loser when I was moving around awkwardly.

Chelsea gave a thorough explanation before teaching the combination.  She shared her personal experience and how it related to the song she chose.  She even cited Bill T. Jones dance theory somewhere in there.  According to Chelsea, she choreographs the movement first and then makes the combination fit to the music she is using.  This made it a little difficult to follow along, but after doing the combination a few times I think I was able to fake my way through the timing.  Overall, I think it’s a great class if you want to become a better contemporary dancer.  She is really passionate about dance and fosters a really welcoming educational environment.

Here’s a YouTube clip of a contemporary workshop Chelsea previously did at Six Step:

The Deets

  • Chelsea Cooper
  • Contemporary
  • Six Step Studios – 2724 Dorr Ave, Bay #3; Fairfax, VA 22031
  • Wednesdays 9pm-10pm
  • $18 cash only
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