THE PLACE TO DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!
• 615 SE Alder Street • Portland, Oregon
I was introduced to dance for the first time at summer camp in Southern California at the age of 12. The Israeli Dance interest group that I signed up for had 2-3 guys and maybe 10 girls. Even at 12 years old, I saw the numbers were in my favor, and that might have played a part in my decision to begin dancing.
I continued to dance, finding it as a wonderful expression of music; and by the age of 18, I was teaching Israeli Dancing to children at several Sunday schools in Beverly Hills and in the West Los Angeles area. After sitting in Sunday School, the children experienced dancing as the highlight of their day, giving them the chance to jump, move and let loose to the music.
Working with children is excellent training for any instructor
Children don't want to stand around and listen about how to dance, they want to get up and move to the music. Teaching adults dance is similar. I began leading Israeli Dancing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and weddings and I found much pleasure in leading dancing for those unfamiliar with Israeli Dancing. To keep the energy high at any event, I avoided stopping to teach. I selected early foundational dances that are easy enough and by utilizing a person's natural rhythm, can be picked up quickly. I love to see the response of people on the dance floor when they do things that surprise them, like "getting it"!
The 70's in Los Angeles was a hot spot for Israeli Dancing as about 3-6 performing dances groups toured the city at any one time. I performed in three different groups during a 5-year period. Israeli dancing was much more than just a way of socializing as these were the people that we danced with, ate with, partied with, dated and married.
Settling down during the 80’s to raise a family, I found myself in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque was a nice place to live and to work and raise a family, but it was a town without much dance in the 80’s. Moving my family to Portland in 1990, I resumed Israeli Dancing once again. In the late 90’s, my daughters and I formed an Israeli Dance Performance Group called P’nai Malach (Angel Face) with some of the other young dancers in their early to mid teens. They performed in the Portland Area for five years representing the Jewish Community at both Jewish Community and non-Jewish outreach events.
Over the next 10 years, I continued Israeli Dancing twice a week in Portland while attending dance camps in Olympic, Los Angeles, Chicago and Israel.
Branching Out To Other Types Of Dance
In 2009 I had the unfortunate experience of going through a divorce and found solace in dancing to beautiful music. I took waltz classes from Uwe and Colleen and spent many evenings dancing to the amazing music of Dennis Meyers. It was the music and the dance that helped me through a difficult time. Waltz Brunch was one of the most special events, as I could take the feeling it created in me and carry it throughout the day. I have told Dennis Meyers that I am his biggest fan and maybe he believes me.
I added Contra, Zydeco, and Blues to my dancing and found myself dancing most nights. Monday night waltz with Marion at Lenora’s Ballroom was a wonderful night to play and try new things. The ballroom had a wonderful energy and was always warm and social. In March 2014, Lenora’s closed ending Monday Waltz.
I often walked by the ballroom wondering why it still was not being used, so in August, I approached the owner asking to rent it for Monday Waltz. As Dorothy and I decorated, word spread, and others began asking about rentals at Lenora's, so my lease was extended to allow for growth. The wonderful dance floor was being used again and with an ambiance that gives Lenora’s Ballroom a style all her own.
Connecting With Smooth Waltz
Having a Monday night dance evening has given me the opportunity to use aspects of connection that are vital with Israeli Dancing and apply them to waltz. Since Israeli dancing is completely choreographed and the moves are very rapid, a good arm connection is very important. In my dancing experience in Portland, I have discovered that a good connection can be lacking with many dancers, as they are in their heads with the steps. This can create a "disconnect" with the body and actually stand in the way of the body’s necessity to connect. With my Smooth Waltz class, we focus on connection. We connect to the ground and to the sky and to ourselves first. Then we can connect to the music and then to our partner. It is this connection that makes dance special, and you can feel the beauty when you are inside of it.
Now that Lenora's Ballroom has been reopened, I view it as a return to dance. It is a return to a room similar to the one I danced in during the 70’s and it is a place to share the love of movement and the beauty of moving to music with others. I feel blessed to be a part of it.