Chamber Music Northwest The Old Church Strings Portland Oregon

Dance Week Diary, Part One: Be moved


You can dance if you want to.

No, seriously: I’m not just singing Men Without Hats lyrics here. You can dance, even if you think you can’t. You don’t have to have experience. You don’t have to be young and pliable. You don’t even need to buy special clothes or shoes (most of the time).

To prove it—and to alert you to National Dance Week, which is happening now and is more worth celebrating than most holidays, in my view, even if you just pop a Quaalude, pull on your yoga pants and rewatch All That Jazz—I took a different dance class in the Portland Metro area for five days running. Full disclosure: I have some dance experience. But I’m also old enough to qualify for an AARP card, and one of my knees has been acting up lately, so I’m not exactly waiting for a phone call from World of Dance.

Laura Haney teaches BeMoved at BodyVox/Photo by Chole Hamilton

Luckily, Portland is wall-to-wall with classes for all ages, skill levels, tastes and degrees of decrepitude; check out Dance Wire PDX’s useful Class Finder to find some that sound appealing. To narrow my choices, I set a few parameters: I’d only take a class that didn’t require the purchase of special shoes (sorry, ballet and tap), that you could drop into (workshops were out), that didn’t require a partner (see you later tango, salsa, ballroom) and that was open to beginners. What follows is a day-by-day diary of what I found.

Part One: BeMoved at BodyVox
What is it? A movement class inspired by a range of social and cultural dance styles
What makes it fun? The thrill of the unknown
Who is it for? People who want a dance-y workout without killing themselves
Who is it not for? Genre purists

The hardest part of Be Moved is finding parking near BodyVox’s Northwest Portland studio, so plan your time accordingly. Former BodyVox company member Laura Haney teaches this class twice weekly to all skill levels, so if you’re not an absolute beginner, you could probably modify the movement to make it more challenging, if that’s what you’re into.

BeMoved® is a trademarked class syllabus created by former River North Chicago AD Sherry Zunker; it’s available in 10 U.S. states and various parts of Canada, and requires teacher certification. (BodyVox is the only studio offering it locally.) It’s designed to be what Zunker calls “therapeutic,” with a gentle warmup and cool-down that incorporate stretching and flowy movement that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary class.

What distinguishes BeMoved is that classes come with a different theme each week—backup singers, disco, Roaring ‘20s—featuring choreography and music to match. So you don’t really know what you’re getting into until you show up; in my case, it’s Bollywood.

Haney leads us through a simple combination of Indian dance-inspired movements: unfurling “flower petal” fingers, stamping promenades and turns. Haney, a pleasantly serene sort, breaks down steps clearly and offers encouragement without all the shouting you’re likely to find in, say, Zumba. (I don’t have go “woo!” while I dance? Thank you, Krishna.)

In this 15-person class, which skews older and female, nobody seems to be flailing, and many people are outright beaming by the end, when we dance the finished combination to “Jai Ho” in two groups, facing one another. I don’t leave drenched in sweat—a bonus, since I’m heading to work directly afterward—or in pain, but my upper arms get enough of a workout to be noticeable later.

Coming Next: Hip-Hop at Vega Dance Lab

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

Tilikum Chamber Orchestra A Musical Gift Exchange Lake Oswego High School Lake Oswego Oregon
CoHo Productions presents Laughing Matters Portland Oregon
Literary Arts The Moth Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Portland Oregon
Open Space Not-Cracker Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
Chamber Music Northwest The Old Church Strings Portland Oregon
Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon
PassinArt presents Black Nativity Brunish Theatre Portland Oregon
Oregon Repertory Singers Glory of Christmas Concert Portland Oregon
Imago Theatre ZooZoo Portland Oregon
Bridgetown Conservatory Ludlow Ladd The Poor Little Orphan Boy Holiday Operetta Tiffany Center Portland Oregon
Northwest Dance Project Sarah Slipper New Stories Portland Oregon
Portland State University College of the Arts
Oregon Cultural Trust donate
Arts Education series
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.