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:
If you're a student in our adult program, you may not have yet gotten to take class with Rukus. He holds it down as a nain instructor at MoveMakers Philly, our youth hip hop education program. He's incredible with the kids; he's an endless engine of encouragement -- with a knack for cutting off kid mischief before it gets out of hand. Along with the breaking instructors in our adult program, Jerry Valme and Mark "Metal" Wong, Rukus also teaches all over the tri-state area with Hip Hop Fundamentals. If you need to energize your day, just put this You Tube clip of Rukus on repeat. You can work on your breaking stance at home in the mirror while he hypes up a bunch of toddlers.
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.
Photos: Adriana Imhof
At a very young age, Lu Donovan's (they/them) was plopped into a Ballet class by their parents. Perhaps a common occurrence in suburban Boston. However, for Lu, “Unlike a lot of other people who have that experience, I just never quit. I never stopped doing it. It took me through the first 18 years of my life on a momentous path of training: 6 days a week, 4 hours a day.” Lu continued with Boston Ballet’s pre-professional training program until, when it was time to consider college, conservatory, or something else, mentors and teachers made it clear to them that “it wouldn't be possible for me to become a professional ballet dancer. Mostly because of body size and shape.” If you’re not familiar with ballet this might seem confusing. In the world of professional ballet, it’s not just about silhouette. It’s about 1 million other predetermined anatomical factors, such as one’s muscle development, metabolism, torso to leg proportions, and range of joint mobility, especially the hips. Mix that in with Ballet’s embedded traditions of racism, sexism, and classism, and it starts to be clear that, despite an entire lifetime of training, the cards can be stacked against an aspiring ballet dancer despite years of training.
When Lu decided to leave Boston Ballet and attend a liberal arts college, they experienced a “beautiful awakening about what dance is and could be.” Lu explains to me that at Boston Ballet discouraged exposure to other ballet studios or other styles of dance. The mindset was: “If you don’t go here, then you’re not a good dancer.” Moreover, the depressingly common belief that ballet is the one and only foundational technique for all other dance styles, was hammered home constantly in their early training. It wasn’t until they left Boston Ballet that they found out about the Dance Complex. The Dance Complex is housed in a labyrinthian historic building just across the river from Boston Ballet, in Central Square, Cambridge. It has been a home to a plurality of dance styles since the 90’s, and before that, in its former capacity as the Joy of Movement since the early seventies.
Lu laughs as they describe their first experiences of the contemporary and improvisation based styles they encountered in college, “I kinda got bullied out of being a bunhead when I showed up the first day in a leotard. Everyone was like ‘What are you doing?’” Lu got over the initial shock, and so did their peers, whose initial shade became a call to awareness, and eventually, a supportive community. Lu explains almost everything they made in university was collaborative; their growth was fueled by the acceptance and encouragement of their peers. “I was realizing I don’t have to point my feet and turn out my hips to be a dancer. It opened all the possibilities of style, movement, textures, that my body, and a body, could hold in dance. It showed me the infinite possibilities of what a dancing body could be.”
Lu graduated from Wesleyan University in 2018 with a dual degree in Dance and Critical American History. I asked Lu why Wesleyan. With the benefit of hindsight, they replied, “I think I liked that there was a lot of queer people.” Similarly, Lu moved to Philly in part because during early visits to the city, they appreciated the presence of queer communities. Before COVID precautions kicked in, Lu was organized a gathering of Queer dance makers. Lu explains, “I found a lot of queer people in my life when I moved to Philly. And the community is very vast. But the places where my queer community and my dance community overlap are fewer. Is this a problem that other queer people are facing? Is there a gap?” Lu explains that the event they were planning, now indefinitely postponed, was intended to be “a space where people could come together and be seen as queer and want to collaborate. To talk about ideas or recommend other queer photographers, designers, spaces, choreographers. To really bulk up that community."
Lu first came to UMA at the urging of friends Julia Bryck and Kayla Bobalek. Lu was attending Headlong Performance Institute (HPI), and found themselves missing dancing. (HPI is an extension of Headlong Dance Theater, a boundary blurring dance and physical theater company that's been an engine of Philly's dance/theater scene since the 90's). Short on funds, but desperate to move, Lu signed up for an 'Intro Month' at UMA -- back when we had a physical studio space -- and came to class every day. “I tried everything”, they said. That was about a year ago. Pre-COVID Lu was no longer at UMA everyday, but found a sustainable training rhythm; they took house regularly and often dropped in on UMA other classes, becoming a work study in early 2020. (Lu also shouts out Shannon Murphy's classes as another local favorite.) Lu says they feel safe being queer at UMA but the space, overall, with its many purposes and sub-communities, hasn't put forth a sense of queer community or collective for them. Lu says "queer people are there, we dance together on a regular basis" but Lu is "craving something a step further."
For Lu, the multitude of styles they’re able to train and explore at UMA is part of the expansiveness of queerness. Lu is invested in “all of the possibilities of how a body can move.” They explained, “I’m excited about researching and investigating in a dance context with myself and other people about gender and queerness, how a body looks, walks, moves through space.”
We launched an online platform on April 1! Check it out!
Nearly all of our regular programming is available, though class times have shifted slightly.
Learning online is different than learning in person. It's not for everyone. We understand that for some folks, we will have to find other ways to connect with you during quarantine. Similarly, learning to teach online is certainly an adjustment. This is an experiment for us as a business and community, during a bizarre and challenging cultural moment. It's no small feat especially as a quick pivot given totally unforeseen global circumstances. Big thanks to our teaching staff for their willingness to go with the unpredictable flow.
Drop in classes like waacking, b, house, hip hop, Afro-club, Afro-Cuban, and more are up and running! Many of your are familiar with these classes in a one hour format. Take note that online classes will be 45 minutes instead. We suggest getting yourself ready to go 10 min before class: clear some space in your living room, get some water nearby, and start to warm yourself. Not sure how to warm yourself up? Well, jumping jacks are tried and true. Roll your ankles one by one. Do a push up or two (or ten). You could also put on a favorite mid-tempo song and just go whatever feels good, going slowly, taking it easy. The goal is to get your heart rate up and mobilize your joints.
For those you want to dance it out every day, membership packages are still available. Membership online includes all live-streaming classes as well as recordings of classes from the last 30 days, so you will have lots to practice. It's also an opportunity to try a class you may have been curious about, but where too shy to test drive in person. Well, now is the time!
We miss you already.
Lily & Vince
collage: Mark "Metal" Wong
Informative and vaguely erotic. The best the wellness industry has to offer.
Rashaad Hasani talks about his journey as a popper and the roots of the dance. Rashaad is originally from Harlem/QueensNYC. He grew up in a family full of music and funky. When he moved to DC in 2003, he found mentorship with Junious “House” Brickhouse and would later become Aristic Director of Urban Artistry, an organization devoted to hip hops ancestry and future. Rashaad is a wealth of knowledge on the traditions of funk. This mini-doc made by UMA's Adriana Imhof walks through milestones of Funk music and dance while exploring Rashaad's relationship to genre.
UMA People shares the stories and testimonials of UMA students and community members. There are some really special people around here! So much love and gratitude to Will Morris, for being part of the UMA magic and our first feature in this new series.