Alex teaches Dance Acrobatics & Floorwork classes at UMA 812 Chestnut location. He offers a beginner level class on Mondays from 8-9pm. You can get into all levels 'Dance Acrobatics & Floorwork' classes with Alex from 7:30-8:30pm on Thursdays and 2:00-3:30pm on Saturdays. All at 812 Chestnut.
I asked Alex to share more about his dance journey and his classes at 812 Chestnut. Hear more from him below!
Tell us about your entrance into dance as an adult- what sparked your interest? What hurdles have you had to overcome?
This has been and still is a difficult question for me to articulate into words. I’ve always been one to “dive in” to the physicality of my active pursuits as well as the mental states they bring about. Physicality has always been something I've expressed as a way of creating art more than as a way of pursuing fitness regardless of the sport/activity. What I can say is that ‘dance’ and more specifically acrobatics and the culmination of movement vocabulary that contemporary dance provides, had a certain “-ness” to it that just felt “right” to me. It’s more of a gut feeling of this is where I wanted to be and need to be at this time in my life. Along the way, I have been inspired by many folks from many vernaculars of dance that shape how I move today.
In terms of hurdles, some of the biggest were body awareness (didn’t have a good sense of moving backward or inverting/cartwheeling), inflexibility (couldn’t touch my toes), and lack of dance vocabulary.
How does dance relate to other athletic pursuits in your past?
I had specialized all my efforts into being a distance runner for 10 years prior to pursuing dance as an adult. This caused most of the hurdles I had to overcome as I stated above. However, it laid the foundations of what I find are my strengths in my dance as a practice and as an art of self-expression. Namely, persistence in my goals and a positive mindset. Whether it's dance, running, or some other physical or artistic pursuit, I seek and find solace in being able to dive into the ‘flow’ state where time stops, stresses release, and creativity can flourish.
What is unique about your approach to teaching dance as opposed to what one might find in standard dance classes?
I think what makes my class different is in the atmosphere/vibe of the class and the details I try to provide to my students. The atmosphere is one that is de-pressurized, supportive, and welcoming to all folks regardless of their experience. For those who are looking to dive deep, there is plenty of wormholes we can dive into. For those who are just testing the waters of acrobatics, there is space to wade.
I try to share as much detail as I can to each individual and their specific troubleshoots. My personal goal is to provide at least one cue to each student in each class that makes them feel seen or even helps them accomplish their goal.
What are your goals for your students?
My goals are to provide students with a supportive space where they can discover and pursue the world of acrobatics and floor work on a scaleable level. I want students to feel that the class provides the fertile ground that inspires confidence, challenges fears, and encourages flight. If they want to learn specific moves, I am all for helping them pursue those goals.
What is your favorite part about teaching Dance Acro and Floorwork classes at UMA?
There are so many favorites! But one of them is seeing student actualizing their acrobatic goal. The joy on a student’s face after getting their first cartwheel, or flipping their first macaco, or grooving through a sequence they are proud of is priceless! I love it!
Dance Acrobatics & Floorwork Class Times:
Beginner Dance Acrobatics: Mondays 8-9pm @ 812 Chestnut
Dance Acrobatics & Floorwork: Thursdays 7:30-8:30pm and Saturdays 2-3:30pm @ 812 Chestnut
Ase (they/them) teaches All Levels Hip Hop @ UMA 2100 Chestnut location on Tuesdays at 7pm. This class is the bridge between you feeling immersed in a music video or a bumping party. Expect to listen and jam out to bangers, both old and new. Ase and Alexis (the Thursday teacher of All Levels Hip Hop) are pursuing careers in commercial choreography and performance, so they will be able to share all of their knowledge and experiences with you. But they're not going to be trying to trip you up. This class is open to dancers of all levels. The goal is to provide you with tools to grow and find your groove while letting loose and having fun!
I asked Ase to share more about their dance journey and All Levels Hip Hop class. Hear more from them below!
How did you get into dance?
"I look at dance as expression as opposed to codified techniques. Dance is more often than not a spur of the moment physcalized feeling.
In this regard, it has always been apart of my life. However, beyond my innate curiosities to explore movement, my initial entry points into dance were the black Christian churches I’ve attended, the filmed version of “The Wiz”, and the ever changing world of street dance.
In church, Grandmas, Uncles, “churrin”, it didn’t matter. People held on their skirts or suit jackets and tapped their feet. Everybody danced like they had something that needed to get out of them. Something they were holding back on. I also enjoyed “The Wiz” where the dancers stretched their smiles just as far and wide as their limbs while moving. Always reaching towards something greater. Lastly in street dance, I so graciously witnessed how people had conversations through movement that coincided with not any ol’ music. But music that in my childhood was my absolute favorite kind to listen to. Pop and Hip-Hop."
What are your choreographic influences?
"I am blessed to be around such kind hearted people. Whether they are friends, family, teachers or co-workers. They all inspire me to create. Creating art is so precious to me, because it’s how I express myself with agency. My loved ones encourage me to be confident in my capabilities, and they are my biggest artistic influence."
How do you see the current commercial scene- What are the lanes, who are the music artists to chart and follow?
"Sean Bankhead, Fullout Courtland, and Parris Goebel are the 3 that seem to be on the front line of social media. Danyel Moulten and Lyrik London are the 2 people I hope to work with the most. I love that before accentuating their body, they play with character, facial expressions and an intentional energy they’d like to give off. They dance from deep with in."
What is your favorite part about teaching your class at UMA?
"Commercial Hip-Hop at Urban Movement Arts is a very joyous weekly celebration. We come together ready to explore and try new movement we’ve never done before. I appreciate the consistent turnout of attendance. It uplifts me to see people of many different levels of dance in the same space. Some people have been dancing for 10 years or more, some people take their first class ever with me. Everyone is so committed to themselves wherever they’re at. People surprise themselves every single class. I may have hard days, but walking into Studio A at UMA Tuesday nights really positively reshapes my entire day. That to me is worth celebrating!"