At Uptown Ballroom, expert instructors trot out their experience competing at the amateur and professional level to lead students toward dancing acumen. Classes set the ballroom floor ablaze as twinkle-toed senseis cover a variety of styles including the waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, salsa, and west coast swing. Instructors work on each student’s individual strengths or weaknesses during private lessons, restoring two left feet with two deft feet in time for social-dance parties where guests can mingle and try out their new moves. The studio also holds Zumba classes designed to increase heart rates for a cardio routine more effective than imitating a hamster on a public-park carousel.
When Lisa Stark's quest for a sensual, laid-back exercise class turned up nothing, she took matters into her own hands. To forge her ideal workout, which is a balance of sexy sizzle and athletic toning, Stark researched popular dance-fitness styles, documented choreography at local clubs, and even enlisted a former exotic dancer to teach her how to kick, saunter, and fill out tax forms in a sensual manner. The months of studying paid off—today, Lisa shares her wit, warmth, and fitness regimen with troupes of women at The Exotic You. Ladies of all fitness levels gather for classes that teach a complete routine of sensual dance moves, checking negative body-talk at the door and summoning their inner vixen out with slow leg extensions and passionate hip rolls.
When Matt Antis was in college, he was introduced to the practice of parkour—an intensely physical sport focused on efficiently navigating obstacles such as walls, bars, and whatever else happens to be nearby. After college, Matt Antis headed off to train for the US Army, then served in Iraq. When he returned in 2010, he married his fiancée, Whitney—and a year later, he took over ownership of Revolution Parkour.
Now, Whitney, who's also a parkour enthusiast, manages the front desk as Matt and his team of instructors teach students the gravity-defying skills of parkour and free running. Within a gym drenched in reds, blues, and spots of graffiti-style artwork, they lead classes ranging from beginner parkour to Parkour Fit, which emphasizes endurance and speed with challenging courses. Students balance on beams, vault over small barriers, and swing across bars, building strength and coordination. The staff emphasizes safety, keeping a watchful eye on students, taking the time to teach proper technique, and positioning cushy pads and magic carpets to break falls.
Over the 20 years they've been dance partners, 18 years they've been married, and 10 years they've spent bringing dance into schools, Cynthia and Michael Parent have mastered American style dancing together. They duo helms Impressions Dance Club, where they teach American-style dancing techniques such as Swing, along with the Rumba, and Tango. Students seek their tutelage during group and private lessons for adults, and also show up for the studio's Friday night social dance events where students can mingle and practice their newly acquired moves.
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, The Portland Ballet has already sent students off to successful careers at prestigious ballet companies, including American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, and Miami City Ballet. Artistic director Nancy Davis helms an expert staff that follows a specialized curriculum designed to guide students with classes and additional programs with guest instructors that have included Evelyn Cisneros (the former principal ballerina with the San Francisco Ballet) and Marianna Tcherkassky (the former principal ballerina with American Ballet Theatre).
The Portland Ballet accepts students as young as 3 and nurtures their talents through a program that includes creative ballet, curriculum ballet, and a men’s ballet program taught by all-male instructors. Teachers also lead classes for adults and teach alternate dance styles such as jazz and modern. Students get the chance to perform twice a year and can audition for The Portland Ballet’s youth company, which performs repertory pieces and workshops with guest instructors.
Valley Dance Academy teaches dances how to move with energy and grace in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and jazz classes. Over the course of the year, classes build upon technique lessons, gradually improving dancers' skills. Then, every dancer is invited to showcase his or her work at one of the semi-annual performances.