UMA People is a series of profiles of UMA 'regulars,' though there's nothing regular about them! UMA People shares stories about how people in our community found dance, found UMA, and what it all means to them.
Shainaz lives in Ottawa. She's an optometrist by profession with a deep love for hip hop and started taking dance classes about 2 years ago. After all the studios around her shut down due to COVID, Shainaz found UMA through a google search. She's never even been to Philadelphia.
We caught up with her to learn a little more about her and her hometown and hear about what her experience with us has been like so far. She shares some great tips n tricks for getting the most out of a zoom dance class. Check it out!
How did you find UMA?
S: I've never even been to Philadelphia! I just looked online and came across your website. I remember thinking it seemed very inclusive and welcoming. There was an Intro Month Special which gave me the chance to try out the platform and see what it's like doing a zoom dance class
It was also great because I got to try out different styles- things that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Like House, Latin Dance and Movement Flow for example. All the instructors have been amazing. I never thought I would be motivated to try a Latin style dance, but Laurel's instruction is so easy to embrace. Ron was so welcoming, he gave me one-on- one instruction and it made me feel like I was actually in the room with everyone, getting the same instruction and the same motivation. And Vince has also been amazing. After his house classes he'll send the music that he's used- it gives me motivation to practice on my own time.
Do you have any tips for making the most of virtual classes?
S: I think I have changed my space several times just to get the most out of it. Having a dedicated space is so key and thats not easy for everyone because they probably have to move furniture around. I would also recommend putting up a mirror. I put up a mirror when I dance and I find that is super helpful. Personally thats how I learn best- I'm able to compare myself to how Laurel or Vince looks.
Do you ever use the members library of pre recorded videos?
S: I have! Especially if there is some choreography that I'm having some trouble with, I've gone back to retrace the steps and see what I'm missing. I do really enjoy the synchronicity of the live stream classes though. That for me is so cool- someone in their living room or dining room miles and miles away is doing the same routine as I am and that shared connection really engages me.
What keeps you coming back to classes?
S: I'm so glad to be a part of the community and have a space during a difficult time like this when we don't have the social connections we're used to and we can't always interact in the ways we want to. Having an outlet like this and especially UMA's dance community has been a life saver for my mental health as well as physical. We're cooped up in our homes and moving our bodies is so key to our mental health. I'm really grateful to UMA for providing these classes and making it so simple. It's been a fun few months which is a lot to say during a pandemic.
Pre- pandemic Shainaz participated in theatre arts, doing stage managing and directing lighting for productions. So cool! Check her out in action!
And here is an absolutely stunning photo of Major's Hill Park in Ottawa, where Shainaz has been taking walks with her partner to get out during the pandemic
Thanks so much for sharing Shainaz! Hope you can visit UMA and Philly in the near future!
HEY YOU! Yeah--- you! We got you with another workshop from the one and only Virgil 'Lil O' Gadson! This time he'll be focusing on rhythm.
Sunday January 10th @ 2:30pm
90minutes | All Levels
Virgil has appeared on TV shows like "Americas Got Talent", MTV‘s “Americas Best Dance Crew”, and placed as a finalist on Fox’s Emmy nominated reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 12. Commercials for Disney, Target, Samsung, Chase Bank, Rush Card and Timberland brand. Virgil was nominated for a Fred Astaire Award for his Broadway debut as a principal dancer/actor in the Tony nominated show "After Midnight" along side Dule Hill, Fantasia Barrino, Patti LaBelle, Tony Braxton, Babyface, K.D. Lang, and Vanessa Williams. In Philadelphia he attended Freedom Theater and became an alumnus of University of the Arts in 2008. At UArts he was able to integrate a broad spectrum of dance genres into his canon such as Modern, Jazz, Ballet and Tap; although Hip-Hop continues to be his specialty. Virgil is involved in outreach to dance communities locally and internationally, encouraging the importance of the history of dance as a tradition and sharing his knowledge and passion for dance with the world.
We'll have to be quite a bit more spread out than this ^ but that doesn't mean we can't be just as hype!!!
Tyler has been practicing locking since he discovered Dru's class with us about 2 years ago. The funk has definitely been unleashed in him!
In an episode of "Monday's with Mr. Vince" (a mini series started for our kids program) Vince talks to Tyler about his locking journey and his other pursuits that make him a Polymath. Check it out:
Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming workshops with dru!
Urban Movement Arts is excited to announce a Popping Masterclass with Emily Pietruszka! Emily is a professional dancer, certified trainer, nutrition coach, and teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Emily has been dancing professionally since 2015, and is currently dancing for Philadelphia based street dance theater company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. While residing in Brooklyn, she had the privilege of working with such names as James "Cricket" Colter and Soo Missy Boogaloo. Pietruszka has shown her own work in Philadelphia at the "Illadelph" street dance festival, as well as "The Come Together Festival" hosted by Koresh Dance. Emily has taught and lectured in various contexts including Front Range Community College (Denver, CO), Mark Morris Dance Group (Brooklyn, NY), New Visions for Public Schools (Queens, NY), The Juilliard School (New York, NY), and The Ailey School (New York, NY) to name a few. As a personal trainer, she specializes in pre/postnatal strengthening and recovery, nutrition coaching, and functional movement training. Our MoveMakers kids are now lucky enough to call her their teacher! Emily is an engaging teacher who encourages her students to try new things, work hard and reach their full potential.
I talked to Emily about her popping journey - what it’s like to come into the street dance scene through a university setting and what it's like being a woman in a very male- dominated world. Check it out below!
What was your first interaction with popping? What made you really want to dive in?
I was introduced to the street dance scene through academia which isn't really the traditional way that people get introduced to it- but it is a way a lot of people do. One of the classes I took was a foundational popping class. My teacher Larry Love grew up in the bronx when the bronx was burning. He experienced how popping seeped into the east coast. I valued that I got a really good foundational education in popping.
One day I had just posted a random video of myself [popping] on FaceBook and Rennie Harris saw it and was like ‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning bring nothing but yourself- I'm teaching you.’ So for a few months I would go to the studio at UC Boulder and Rennie would sit in a chair and be like ‘go,’ and I was like.. crapping my pants the whole time!
What was it like coming into the street dance scene so late? Did you ever experience pushback from people who had grown up in the scene?
I feel the most pushback from myself. Imposter syndrome is a very real thing that I have a very real relationship with. I take my role as a guest in the culture very seriously. That comes with the added responsibility of giving credit where credit is due, teaching movement lineage, developing a library of resources that myself and my students can go and pull from other artists besides myself who have grown up in this culture and have largely contributed to these movement languages. The guilt that I feel from my imposter syndrome doesn't do me or my students or anyone that I'm collaborating with any good.
I remember being at Dance Place before a show in DC and we were having a cypher in the house and Boog Harris was there. I was expressing how I didn't want to step on any toes and act like I was part of the culture- I was scared about it. And I remember all he said was ‘ you're not in it until you're in it.’ That spoke to me so much and I've carried that with me wherever I have gone. It just goes to show that if you're serious about it, people will see it. You can't fake the passion that you have.
Can you talk more about what it is like being a woman in the popping scene?
The popping scene is DEFINITELY male dominated. I think popping provides an opportunity for you to understand and develop the way you want to have a relationship with your ego and your dance persona and how you want to express. Popping gives me a lot of choices. There are women who embrace their femininity in popping and there are women that don’t and there’s a whole spectrum in between. I’m lucky enough to be training with men right now who make me feel very safe and comfortable expressing however I want to express. And I understand that that is very rare not just in the popping community but in the street dance community in general. I am blessed in that way. I think that women in the popping community and the street dance community have the responsibility to keep pulling each other up onto their boats and saying ‘hey we got to do this together- we have to keep pushing this forward together’ it can very easily become a place of severe competition. I think that is what is expected of us and we definitely have the power to change that narrative.
I was introduced to popping and first trained in popping by males. When I went to New York and gravitated to a bunch of women who are very talented poppers and if it hadn't been for the camaraderie I found with them I think my popping journey would have looked very different. I didn't fully understand how to translate popping into a mode of self expression until I saw another female doing it in front of me. I enjoyed popping but I had felt more like I was performing it rather than living it. I remember training with Sue and one day I was in the middle of dancing and I started crying because it was the first time I actually felt like that was my dance. I definitely think the way I was able to find that was through training with a bunch of women.
What are your goals for this workshop?
I want to facilitate an environment of fun. I want us to have fun! I want to create an environment that feels safe for self expression for learning for first time movers and experienced movers alike. I also want to provide insight into the history and foundation of this cultural movement language and I want to offer ideas and movement concepts that can lay a foundational basis for people to build upon. My goal is for everyone to walk away with something that allows them to feel like ‘Yes! Here’s the first step to an accessible journey in popping.’
Sign up for the workshop on December 20th @ 2:30pm through the link on our homepage!
UMA People is a series of profiles of UMA 'regulars,' though there's nothing regular about them! In UMA People shares stories about how people in our community found dance, found UMA, and what it all means to them.
We recently caught up with UMA student Minseo Baek who, due to the pandemic, is temporarily based back in Korea. Minseo was glad that our classes were streaming, but the time difference made it impossible for her to take class live. Instead, with her membership, she is accessing our online library of class recordings, so she can keep up with her dancing while the other side of the globe. Minseo has been taking classes at UMA regularly since March of 2018, and we miss her -- much as we miss so many UMA people we can't see in person -- so we took a moment to catch up and hear her UMA story
How did you first come to UMA?
I was felt like I was stuck at that time and I needed some change. Then I ran into Haruki Murakami’s book called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It sounded appealing but I wanted something more fun (no offense to runners.) so I googled various places and UMA seemed like a real thing. It still took some time to finally make up my mind, but I dropped by one day (it was a Friday breaking dance class) and it was so strange and fun! That’s how I first came to UMA.
What keeps you coming?
Definitely the people, the classes, and the vibe. I’m quite shy when it comes to dancing, so the hurdle was higher for me, but there was something that kept me coming - until I had a back pain (for reasons other than dancing) and had to take time off.
How are things for you back in Korea right now?
Things are good, though people are taking extra caution these days due to a recent surge in Covid-19 cases.
Want to take dance class on your own time? Any time? Sign up for a membership! A membership gives you access our streaming classes, our in person classes, and our library of recorded classes! We have so many styles to choose from: Locking, House, Breaking, Hip Hop, Waacking, Salsa, and more. Or, if you're new to dance, we have great beginner classes like Hip Hop 4 Two Left Feet. As the pandemic continues, and you live near Philly, you can still dance online, at home, or outdoors in a fun, safe, party atmosphere.
By Kemuel Benyehudah
November 30, 2020
If there's anything everyone in Philly can agree on, it's that Philly just does things different. In this new post, Kem gives a brief history of Philly House Dance culture and speaks with Urban Movement Arts (UMA), an organization teaching House Dance history and keeping the culture alive through dance education. Read below to find out how House provided a safe space for black, brown, and LGBTQ people, and how Philly's House style transcends vocabulary.
The article includes insights from our various instructors, including Ricky "Glytch" Evans, Vince Johnson, Ron wood, and Laurel Card.
UMA instructors India, Ron, and Tyger B, track down Mr. Vince for a rooftop cypher. Powerhouse moves on the roof: waacking, house, krump, and some old school party moves. (Was everyone murdering Lanternflies between takes? You know it.) These dances all originated as social dances. It feels good to dance them socially. We got to find ways to dance together, even with masks on, in whatever outdoor places we can scout. In these COVID times, we're glad to have video help from videographer Aidan Un, so we share with you the smiles behind the mask.
Tyger's been throwing down in the studio this month, and growing a squad of committed regulars. There's a pun in here somewhere about the dangers of COVID, and the song title, but...well...if you figure it out, post in the comments. ;)
Masks aren't slowing down these students at all!
1020 Lombard Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19147
Classes will be held in the animal free grass. Come comfortable to jump and roll around in the grass. On muddy days, you will receive a text and/or email notice that class will move to Hawthorne Cultural Center at 12th and Carpenter.
12th & Catharine St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
Bella Vista Area
Class will be held on the paved area of the park
4300-4398 Baltimore Ave. Philadelphia PA 19104
Meet at the 43rd and Chester Corner on Side A which is on the north end of the park. The meeting spot is at the Dickens Statue*
*Dickens is the bronze dude on a marble platform looking like he can't decide if this is the best of times or the worst of times.
Meet at the 45th and Chester Corner on "Side B," the south end of the park. The meeting spot is at the picnic square close to the grass playing field.
Markward rec center
400 S. Taney St. (26th & Pine) Philadephia, PA 19146
Fitler Sq/ Schuylkill River Banks
Classes will be held on the open black top, next to the basketball courts, which is adjacent to the Rec Center office and playground.
lloyd hall rec center
1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Art Museum Area
Participants should meet in front of of the rec center building entrance.
wharton square playground
1300 S 23rd St. Philadelphia, PA 19146
Participants should meet at the center of the park near the Rec Center office.
UMA is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace and learning environment for all our staff and students. We have developed the following COVID 19 Pandemic Rules and Guidelines for all of our in person dance classes. UMA’s goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 (and all illness) in our workplace and throughout our communities. Full cooperation from all UMA staff and students is critical to our collective success. All UMA instructors, administrators, and students/clients are responsible for implementing and complying with all aspects of this COVID 19 Pandemic Rules and Guidelines. Our COVID 19 Pandemic Rules and Guidelines follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, and OSHA Standards related to COVID-19.
Controls for social distancing
Windows and doors will be open as much as possible to increase the flow of fresh air. Windows and doors may be closed during the afternoons and when heat and/or humidity are high so that the HVAC can be used.
Bleach solution to CDC standards: 60 seconds for nonporous items; 10 minutes for other items (CDC)
70% isopropyl and 60% ethanol alcohols may be used to disinfect in 20-30 seconds. (CDC)
3% hydrogen peroxide: 30 seconds for nonporous items; 6 minutes for other items. Hydrogen peroxide can also be diluted to 5 parts water to 1-part hydrogen peroxide without reducing efficiency. (CDC)
Additional EPA-register disinfectants can be found on the EPA website. (EPA List N Chemicals)
These protocols are based upon the following sources: