What makes UMA feel like a dance and movement home? The top quality adult hip hop dance and yoga classes are the beating heart of UMA. (We’ll continue to roll out more blog posts about our amazing dance and yoga instructors in the coming months.) It’s also the physical space: The friendly jungle-feeling from all of Vince’s plants (He has a green thumb! Who knew?) makes it feel warm and fresh all year round. The calm coziness of the yoga studio (studio C) offers peace and tranquility amidst the business of daily comings and goings. The walls of windows in the big studio (studio A) overlook Chestnut & 21st street, making an already massive dance studio feel even more spacious and light. Our warm lobby is home to snack time and homework for the MoveMakers kids, and social catch ups and slow downs in between classes for our adult students. For a lot of us, it’s the MURALS, what and who they represent makes UMA feel extra welcoming.
When our friends Martial Posture (an award winning Karate School) moved out of 2100 Chestnut St, we renovated the studios, completely redecorating and upgrading. We invited Muralists Lynne Holland Weiss and Isaac Tin Wei Lin put their work up on our walls and it gave the place new life.
LHW Was recently interviewed for KeepRotating.com about her background as a dancer, and how dance and visual art are intertwined.
We're pleased to share an excerpt of the interview below:
Keep Rotating: You say you’ve always been extremely aware of people’s body language and movement. I think that’s something so interesting, it almost works as a secret weapon to better understand the world. I don’t think a lot of people are good at reading body language! What’s so appealing to you about detecting body movements and translating them into drawings instead of just…keep dancing?
LYNNE A:Yes! Body language is so honest and unfiltered. Which is why I think both dance and figurative painting or any visual art concerning the body has such a powerful way of making us feel so deeply. Dance has had such a big influence on my interest in figurative painting and simply the way I approach form and observation. Both practices require a deep level of awareness to detail and the ability to break down what you are seeing until it is abstract and you feel it in your body, so that then you are able to truly mirror it. For me, however, painting seems to have an incredible way of capturing movement and holding a lapse of time, while also allowing the viewer to sit with the moment, gesture, idea or feeling and actually have extended time to engage. The history is all layered within the paint and when you are in front of a painting, you feel all of it. Dance is so raw and so human, I love it…but it’s fleeting and disappears. You have to be present in the flesh for the exchange, and then it’s over. While this is incredibly beautiful, I love the way painting records time in its layers and is this crystal of information that can be observed, felt and contemplated over and over again. Also, color!! Color plays such important role in painting for me, so to be able to experiment, push, pull and heighten emotions with the complexity of color and textures is endlessly exciting.
The physical transformation of UMA was also supported by the elbow grease of volunteers from dance, yoga, and fitness communities in Philly who were eager to see us succeed. And none of it could have happened without the generous financial donations our Move Makers families. We're so grateful!
At Urban Movement Arts we want you to bring YOU, to be yourself, to find your own groove, your own flavor. Are you doubting yourself, scared to dance, wondering: Am I too old? To big? Too small? Too inflexible? Too busy? Don’t let those voices win! Stop that mess and come take a class with us. Everyone and anyone can get in shape with time. It helps when it’s something that feels goods, that’s fun: like dancing! Are you worried about taking Adult Hip Hop classes because you have two left feet? We understand. So many people think they have two left feet when they first start taking dance classes. Over time, it gets easier. It takes practice. Practice means coming to class as consistently as you can. This means you’ll get to know all the other two-left-feet folks out there too. It’s a lot less intimidating once you realize most people were scared when they took their first adult dance class.
Feel like you don’t have the time? We have many hard working moms and dads coming through our doors, trying to balance work and kids and staying healthy. We understand! Yes, we love when you’re on time, but sometimes the baby sitter is late or a kid’s shoe is gone missing. If you’re a few minutes late: no stress. Warm up and jump in when you’re ready. Getting some workout in is better than none at all! Besides, we fully believe EVERYONE has a right to learn to dance, no matter their background or current ability. In addition to parents, our classes are also home to full time students who need to sweat out the stress, as well hard woking au-pairs (talk to us about our discounted price!) looking for some time to themselves. There’s doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc. And yes, there are also professional dancers who come to class. They’re here to learn too! Here at Urban Movement Arts, dance is for anyone willing to sweat it out.
Our Recommended Adult Dance Classes for Beginners:
Laurel Card’s Dance Fitness happens Mon, Wed, and Friday mornings. These dance classes are a combination of basic dance fitness moves from Latin and old school hip hop dances that will wake you up with Laurel’s feminine flair!
On Tuesday nights, it's Intro to House! This is a great chance to get to know UMA’s founder and director, Vince Johnson. Sure, Vince might be intimidating in the cipher (dance battle!) but when he’s teaching adult classes, he’s in his happy place! This class is a cardio workout where you’ll learn basic footwork and grooves of House dance, an ecstatic and aerobic club dance style that will leave you feeling powerful and free!
Yoga Conditioning with Emile Sorger is every Tuesday evening at UMA!
We know there’s a million places to take Yoga in downtown Philadelphia. We also think our teachers offer something special. Not only in their physical ability and teaching experience, but also in their perspective on fitness, training, practice, and life in general. Instructor Emile Sorger has been teaching Yoga for nearly a decade. Emile’s experience allows him to meet students wherever they are in their Yoga journey. He has worked with everyone from total beginners to professional Parkour athletes. A Philadelphia area native, he's also a dad and a business owner. He’s co-owner of Yoga Movement Arts up in Brewerytown.
Emile started teaching Yoga to the Parkour athletes at Pinnacle Parkour in East Falls when the gym opened two years ago. Emile has always loved running, jumping, and climbing trees. His Parkour and free running training allows him to sprint through trees branches. At times, when he’s reached a new branch or while trying to achieve a new route, he sits still and meditates. Don’t believe us? Check out his Instagram: @mysticalphysical.
Here are Emile’s thoughts on teaching yoga to parkour athletes:
There is an aspect of teaching yoga that has to do with bringing one's students to a more neutral and balanced state of being. Often students show up early in the morning barely awake or after a long day at work, when teaching Parkour athletes however it is usually directly after flying through the air, flipping, twisting and climbing. Therefore the first half and sometimes the majority of class is spent meeting them at a level of intense focus and physical exertion and slowly scaling their energy, breath and state of mind to one that is more calm. The most challenging area of practice across the board for Parkour athletes is quality of transitions. Attending not only to the posture that is directed but to the way in which the body moves into and out of it. The most challenging part of my job is to keep them focused on an exercise which doesn't involve explosiveness.
Emile’s social media is also full of the #yogadad hashtag. Emile and his wife Jess LaBarca (a Yogi and Art Therapist!) had their first child Max this past May. Emile and Max are always up to acro-yoga hijinx, balancing and making ridiculous faces together. We asked Emile how he has maintained his Yoga practice during this first year of being a father.
The most important tool I have in maintaining my yoga practice as a father is the attitude of "just do it." This often relates to the morning when instead of getting a precious 60 minutes more of sleep I decide to wake up and spend the time on my mat (and drinking coffee). It also has to do with practicing at odd times, potentially after eating, when I have low energy etc... The value of this willingness is hard to appreciate until during and after practicing at which point it is abundantly clear, it is the knowledge that circumstances, even those of a screaming baby who is covered in his own poop, do not determine one's state of mind. And for me it is through the "just do it" approach to practicing that I am able to rediscover that knowledge daily.
Damn. Someone call Nike!
Emile is also known for his epic hand-standing and hand-balancing skills. Be sure not to miss his next inversion series. If you don’t understand how Yoga can improve your upper body strength, you better take Emile’s yoga class! If you want to handstand, but it feels a million miles away, Emile’s yoga class is a great place to start. In Emile's Yoga classes you will learn healthy alignment in order to build capacity to transfer force and carry greater load without injury. His class will bring you back to healthy alignment while building strength and flexibility so that you can jump, punch, throw, thrust, or kick in a more explosive manner.
With the arrival of 2018, we're taking a moment to see reflect back on the last 5 months since we launched Urban Movement Arts (UMA) this past September. UMA was born from our director Vince Johnson's desire to expand beyond MoveMakers, our kids Hip Hop classes and after school programming. MoveMakers has been growing steadily since 2015. The grown up friends and families of our Move Makers students wanted to get in the groove too. With so many places to work out in Center City, Vince knew it was an audacious move to start up a new center for adult fitness and dance, but we knew we had something special: top notch teachers offering authentic hip hop classes alongside fitness focused yoga and creative workouts. We are excited to be offering both the focus and serenity of yoga classes as well as funky sweat of Hip Hop classes.
We believe these forms compliment in each other and help adult students achieve their goals. We believe this because it's our own experience as professional movers and teachers. Our Yoga teachers are a special breed. We know there are a lot of places you can take Yoga classes in Philadelphia. Our yoga teachers are affiliated with Yoga Movement Sanctuary, and all pursue parallel physical disciplines that work together with Yoga.What we're currently offering is a mix of regular drop in yoga classes and accumulative 6 week series (beginner yoga and splits) where adult students can build strong foundations and dive deeper into building a life long yoga practice. With more blog posts on the way, you’ll hear more about Emile Sorger, Alex Brazinski, and Noah Julian later in the year. In addition to being a healthy habit for everyone, Yoga is also the conditioning and performance secret for many dancers and athletes. Whether you want to learn to simply touch your toes or execute a sexy press handstand, Yoga can help. Yoga practice also builds body and breath awareness, increasing mental clarity and concentration.
There's also a deeper layer of crossover between fitness and dance that connects to Vince's Martial Arts roots, which is about learning to translate passion into discipline in order to grow beyond your own expectations of yourself. It's been so exciting to see our old friends and new students show up and throw down.
Some students come in for Vince's House Dance Class and stay for Lily Kind’s Solo Jazz Dance Class. Others come in for Laurel Card's Dance Fitness classes in the morning and end up in a 6 Week Yoga series. Shout out to the O.G.'s, the adult students that have been with us since before UMA was born, and are still coming regularly to take class, continuing to try new things. Move Makers parent Karen V. has been taking breaking with B-Boy Metal since February 2016. We've seen her in all kinds of classes! She also performed with other UMA adult students in the MoveMaker showcase last month. Vinh & Jude, also MoveMakers parents, are known to take Vince's House class together, showing off new moves in the cipher. Shaina of www.themomedit.com has been taking Laurel Card's morning classes three times a weeks since they kicked off in September. Keep your eye on The Mom Edit to catch Laurel's interview! (Laurel's daughter Gia is a MoveMakers student too!) In fact, watch out for ALL the parents who have been coming through to and taking our adult hip hop classes. Too many to name! We see you!
The arrival of the New Year has brought some new faces through the door. Some folks are keen on a New Years Resolution to get in shape or try something new. Others saw the chalkboard street sign and popped in. We’re glad for the new faces and for the familiar ones. We’re excited to be offering this combination of Hip Hop dance classes and Yoga for adults in downtown Philadelphia. Let’s keep it going in 2018!
Yoga Conditioning at Urban Movement Arts
In addition to being a healthy habit for everyone, Yoga is also the conditioning and performance secret for many dancers and athletes. Whether you want to learn to simply touch your toes or execute a sexy press handstand, Yoga can help. Yoga Conditioning Instructor Emile Sorger has been teaching Yoga for nearly a decade, and can meet students wherever they are in their journey. He has worked with everyone from total beginners to professional Parkour athletes. A Philadelphia area native, he's also a dad and a business owner. In Emile's Yoga class you will learn healthy alignment in order to build capacity to transfer force and carry greater load without injury. His class will bring you back to healthy alignment while building strength and flexibility so that you can jump, punch, throw, thrust, or kick in a more explosive manner. This Yoga practice also builds body and breathe awareness, increasing mental clarity and concentration.