I asked Pilar for a peak into what she's been working on at UMA. She shared, "Words I'm playing with right now: invasion, discomfort, shifts, siblings, foundation, flooding."
UMA's founding director Vince Johnson, along with many of our all star teachers, have been performing around Philadelphia more frequently this year, expanding their repertoire of engaging and entertaining performances for audience of all ages. Drawing on his years of experience creating family friendly performances for Move Makers showcases, as well his work as an independent performing artist, Vince will be continuing to create performances under the new title Philly Kerplop! Most recently, Kerplop performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On June 14th, they'll be presenting at the Performance Garage.
Check out Kerplop's new website. Kerplop is excited about touring their work to new audiences outside of Philadelphia.
Drawing on vaudeville traditions, Philly Kerplop is both big and boisterous as well as site specific and intimate. Kerplop includes a rotating cast of Philly's best dance theater performers that can expand to fill auditoriums and lecture halls. At the same time, 'i.d.' a duet between Vince and Francois Zayas (Philly Music Factory), is also a Kerplop show that can fit into any dance studio or black box theater. Last summer, Vince was the recipient of a MANCC Choreographic Lab residency. He took this opportunity to research and develop the duet material, and first presented it locally as the inaugural performance after the studio renovation during this past fall, during the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Keep an eye out for more from Kerplop!
UMA is excited to announce we are offering summer residencies for dancers, choreographers, movement and/or performance artists that will take place June - Sept 2018 at the UMA studios in downtown Philadelphia. We are looking for artists eager to interact with our community and challenge the technical, aesthetic, and conceptual assumptions of their genre. This residency offers free studio space, a wide range of dance classes, artistic feedback, and a small stipend. There will be a public showing of the residents work, flexible in nature, at the end of the residency.
Who this residency is for:
Dancers, choreographers, performance and movement artists in any/multiple genres. We want to partner with artists prepared to approach this residency as a laboratory space and research process. We will consider artists in graduate school, but not undergraduates. Womxn, POC, immigrants, and all artists working in intersecting or under-represented disciplines are encouraged to apply. We have capacity for two resident solo artists in summer of 2018. However, we are open to collaborative duos or trios applying as together for one of the two residency slots.
Who we are:
Located in downtown Philadelphia, Urban Movement Arts (UMA) welcomes adults of all ages and experience levels. We guide movers and dancers to develop connection to community and style. We are dedicated to supporting strength, flexibility and overall physicality to promote creativity and adaptability in dance and life. Our classes include House, Breaking, Waacking, Hip Hop, Swing Dance, and Yoga. At UMA there is a strong social component of each-one-teach-one. Urban Movement Arts is directed by Vince Johnson. Johnson has toured internationally with Rennie Harris Pure Movement and is an accomplished martial arts coach and competitor. This residency is co-directed by Lily Kind, a producer and promoter of experimental dance making.
The residency includes:
Duos and trios may apply as unit to one of the two available residency slots. Each individual within a duo or trio will receive free membership, however the stipend and studio time does not change.
Emails with Subject: 2018 Residency Application: [First Name Last Name].
All attachments as PDFs and named [2018 First Name Last Name].
Who is your current movement community? What is your heritage as an artist? Who is currently witnessing your work and how would you like to change or expand your audience? How do you want to challenge your genre? What are you trying to shift in your own practice, process, or performance? What can you contribute to the UMA community and what do you have to gain from this experience?
Laurel Card's 9 am Dance Fitness classes were recently featured on TheMomEdit, a super popular blog for moms run by Shana D. the parent of two MoveMakers students. (MoveMakers is our kids after school hip hop dance program, if you don't already know.) Shana's team came in and filmed Laurel's morning class (our studios look so goooooood) and talked to Laurel about why Solo Salsa is important. Shana also gets the scoop on Laurel's beauty secrets (you'll never guess what makes her skin so bright!) and highlights her sexy-athletic style.
Laurel teaches a bunch of adult dance classes here at UMA. See her full teaching schedule here. Over at MoveMakers, Laurel helped launch Mini Movers, an after school program for 3 - 5 year olds. All of Laurel's adult classes will get you sweating. They will also all leave you feeling sexy as hell no matter how man left feet you have. Laurel is all about the combination of athletic, fun, and sensual. Laurel's classes are motivated to help moms and women stay in touch with the power of their feminine side, despite the demands of raising kids or running a business.
As Shana points out from her experience as Laurel's student "Not only am I in much better shape, but I swear dancing this often (and constantly trying to learn new choreography) is changing my brain for the better. If you ask me, dance classes are the perfect antidote to mom-brain." There's plenty of science to back up Shaina's claim that dancing is good not only for getting fit, but for mental clarity and brain health.
"A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that dance can decidedly improve brain health. The study investigated the effect leisure activities had on the risk of dementia in the elderly. The researchers looked at the effects of 11 different types of physical activity, including cycling, golf, swimming, and tennis, but found that only one of the activities studied—dance—lowered participants’ risk of dementia. According to the researchers, dancing involves both a mental effort and social interaction and that this type of stimulation helped reduce the risk of dementia."
- Scott Edwards, "On the Brain" Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute at Harvard University
Informed by her experience dancing for Montage, an all female hip hop crew active in Philadelphia in the 2000's, combined with years of professional ballroom dancing, Laurel created her Solo Salsa dance class. It is ladies' (but open to all) salsa styling class that doesn't require a partner.
In addition to the full time job of being a single mom, teaching a million classes, and working with wellness clients, Laurel hosts a BYOB Salsa Party at UMA every month. It is welcoming social environment for solo and partner dancing.
The next Salsa Party is this weekend! March 24! See you there.
Edwards, Scott. “Dancing and the Brain.” Dancing and the Brain | Department of Neurobiology, "On the Brain Newsletter" Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, 2018, neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/dancing-and-brain.
Ron Wood, otherwise known as Zen One aka Monitor Pardal holds the rank of Monitor in ASCAB Capoeira lead by Mestre Doutor. Ron also holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt under a system that has evolved into mixed martial arts karate incorporating ju jitsu and the Joe Lewis Fighting System. Ron Wood is a unbelievable blend of soft grace and lethal power. Always a student, teaching allows him to share his journey while being challenged to identify the best path for each individual's growth.
Ron Wood’s class is a body weight class using drills from martial arts, Capoiera, Ju Jitsu, and kickboxing to develop overall fitness. Ron explains:
“It’s not just body weight drills, but movement drills. I want to get the brain working, get people outside of their normal routine. Get them upside down, get them moving on the floor. There’s something for everybody, I try to give at least three versions of every drills. If you’re scared of doing a handstand, there’s a version you can do with your leg closer to the floor until you get comfortable. The idea is to increase your range of motion, to learn control and trust in yourself. With each drill, you get a little more confident, like ‘Oh, I can trust myself to do this… Over time your body will take care of you because you’re taking care of your body.”
Ron has also worked professionally as a hip hop dancer and performer. Ron’s movement, in any discipline, is sensual, without lacking for power. Ron can be heard telling his students to make it “smooth, silky, and sexy.” For Ron, dance and martial arts are almost the same thing, “I feel like when I’m doing martial arts I’m expressing myself. I'm trying to be as fluid as possible. When I’m dancing, if I'm dancing in a battle, I’m fighting that person. They are interchangeable. They have different outcomes but for me they have the same thought process.”
We won't reveal how old he is, but Wood has been teaching since 1991. Ron will tell you “the aging body is NO JOKE. If you don’t move it, you lose it.” Teaching has changed for Ron as he gets older. When he was younger, teaching was a little more like showing off, showing what he could do. Now when he teaches, he is looking for how to get everybody in class to a specific goal. “If you have one person [in class] who is not as familiar with their body, how can I help them catch up? And how can everybody else be an example for that person? I think everybody in the class should feel responsible to everybody else in the class.”
Ron’s class is hard to classify. It’s got something for everybody eager to move in new ways. With his depth and range of experience, Ron's expertise is relevant to lots of genres: yoga, martial, dance studios, gymnastics, and the more recently popular #movementculture. But Ron is resistant to jumping on the latest movement trends. “I feel like we, has humans, have always moved. These new fangled branding systems? It’s the same thing in a different package. Parkour, martial arts, yoga, this stuff has always been around. My whole life, through dance, breaking, house, I had to use my body. I like to share that experience versus giving it a specific name for branding and marketing. When I’m at my best, I’m sharing things I’ve gone through, not something I read the book or saw the video. I don’t need a particular label for it, it’s my experience.”
Be sure to check out Ron's class "Capo-Flow" Tuesday and Friday nights at 8 pm. Our full schedule is available here.
Trying to decide which classes to take can be overwhelming. First of all, you don’t have to choose! Try everything: Our $40 Introductory Month is designed to give you chance to taste it all.
For some of us, it’s information overload; we don’t yet know what this stuff is! A common question is: What is Waacking? In Vince’s words, Waacking is a dance of joy, sensuality and sexuality. It presents the opportunity to be raw, graceful, playful, and fierce all at once. (Check out UMA founder Vince Johnson Waacking at Second Sundae!) There’s more info about all our adult dance classes on the class description page.
We also suggest you think about what kind of music you like. Here’s a general breakdown.
What kind of music do you like?
Disco: try Waacking
Funk: try Breaking or Hip Hop (a lot of our Hip Hop teachers incorporate Locking into their classes, which is super funky!)
Soul: try Breaking
House or Electronic Music: try House!
Pop & Hip Hop: Dance Fitness or Hip Hop
Jazz: try Solo Jazz or catch our next 6 week Swing Dance series.
Some of us may feel intimidated or unqualified. “You’re telling me that I, as an adult human, can learn to break dance?” Yes. Yes we are. It starts with coming to class and learning the foundations. Our friendly class atmosphere means you might even meet other adult beginners breakers you want to practice with! We know there are lots of video tutorials online where you can learn moves. While this can be valuable, it doesn’t compare to face time with a seasoned instructor, someone who is part of the hip hop community, who has earned their stripes in Battle but is also passionate about teaching the form to newcomers of all ages.
There’s a lot more styles out there: Lite Feet, Popping, Krumping, etc. Stay posted to our Instagram and Facebook to see what special events and workshops are happening!
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.