Saturday, January 9, 2010

30 Years of Rhythm and Motion!

When I arrived in San Francisco six years ago, the first dance studio I went to was Rhythm and Motion. Back then, the studio was located downtown, just south of Market St., in a slightly rundown building. There were just three studios- small, medium, and large- and the flooring was in need of repair. And yet the casual vibe made Rhythm and Motion so inviting; it felt old school, unpretentious, and accepting.
Everyone was sad when the studio closed a few years ago, but were optimistic about Rhythm and Motion’s relocation to ODC Dance Studios in the Mission District. And while I have fond memories of the old Rhythm and Motion, I have to say that the new flooring, large studios, change rooms, and common space at ODC is much more conducive for a dance environment.
Plus, Rhythm and Motion is still going strong as a company. On December 30th, the company celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. There were free classes all day long, wine and an assortment of delicious food served at 5:30pm onwards, and performances from 7pm-9pm. After the show, a DJ spun an eclectic mix of songs and the studio was turned into a dance party.
I kicked off the festivities with a belly dance class by my mentor, Jill Parker. I have never seen the studio that full. There must have been at least fifty women getting their shimmy on. My friend, Mei, was in attendance. It was one of her first belly dance classes, and there seemed to be a lot of other newcomers there, too. Thankfully, Jill Parker had the talent and expertise to pull of a multi-level class, and it was cool to see people progress throughout the lesson. It’s like riding a bike: once you get the hang of it, you never forget. But you might have to suffer a few bumps and bruises before you get it right.
Jill Parker was also one of the performers that night. If you haven’t yet seen her sultry, seductive dance choreography, then you’re missing out! She has the kind of snakelike movement that all beginning (and even advanced!) belly dancers covet. It’s one of the reasons why she’s known worldwide in the belly dance community. Plus, she picks great music for her choreography. That always helps.
There were several other performers, as well. One male and female duo in particular stood out. Two members of the RAWdance company performed a piece entitled “The Beauty Project”, which consisted of strong poses, balance, strength, and almost constant contact between the dancers. The piece lived up to the company’s name. It was raw, powerful, and beautiful. The strength of the dancers was impressive; you could see the tension in their muscles throughout the movements. The physical intimacy and exposed skin (just underwear and sports bra) was arousing; like watching two people have sex.
Watching other dancers perform always leaves me itching to dance. Needless to say, I joined the DJ dance party and got a little crazy with my friends. I mean, belly dancing to AC/DC? Turns out, it totally works. Especially when you throw in multiple hair tosses.

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