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Recently, I stepped onto the dance floor to try a new dance style I’d never tried before: GROOVE. I have some dance experience, but not much, and I had no idea what to expect. This class would be technique and choreography free and without those two main parts of a traditional dance class, I really didn’t know what would be remaining.

My first impression came from the instructors, Isabel and Sabrina. Isabel greeted me with the sweetest smile that told me I was welcome, no matter what my body might come up with as we danced over the next hour. Sabrina was very down-to-earth and I could tell she would be accepting of me, even though I felt unsure of myself.

I knew this would be a unique dance class as soon as the instructors explained that there was no ”front” of the class; we could face any direction we wanted. Then the first song came on for our warmup and we were directed to start moving in “circular motions,” without much further explanation. Sabrina and Isabel went right for it, immediately moving around in circular, but very different, motions. Sabrina’s belly dance roots shined through with her mesmerizing flow of movement. I don’t even know how to describe Isabel’s dancing, but I loved it. She danced like you’d dance with your best friend in middle school when no one else is watching—with pure joy, just a love of dance with no desire to impress anyone at all. Sabrina and Isabel didn’t even really seem to watch us dance. They moved for themselves and themselves alone, which encouraged me to move, too.

But how to move? With such little direction, I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I started going through the moves of a more traditional warmup that involves a lot of circular movements—head circles, arm circles, shoulder circles. I slowly started moving more freely, holding back less, and looking around less, as the instructors encouraged us to move however our bodies wanted.

After the warmup, the song selections spanned across the board from electronic to jazz, and we were given a couple simple steps to follow (or not follow) mixed in with our own movements. My favorites were the ones we could really get into character with. For example, a hip hop song with a chorus that said something about dropping it low came on. We walked around, pumping our hands and moving however we felt, and then when the chorus came on, we all dropped it low. Then there was a showtunes song, where we moved in simple counts of three and did a very fitting ball change whenever the chorus played. The most weird, fun, and unexpected choice was a haunting track, during which we were guided to move slowly and solemnly, and never take our eyes off a spot on the wall. For some reason the unexpectedness of dancing like a zombie, totally out of my element, was very stress-relieving and just plain fun.

By the end of class, I stopped paying attention to the time passing, as did the rest of the class. I got fully into the movements and stopped looking around or worrying about the rest of the world outside the dance floor. We ended with some beautiful, calming music as we cooled down. I walked out refreshed, smiling, and feeling like I’d found my own new GROOVE.


Out of my Element

Check out Sabrina and Isabel on Instagram! @grooverenotahoe

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