Monroe Street Movement Space Redefines Dance

by Rachel Montel

For the past 23 years, Monroe Street Movement Space has offered children and adult dance and movement classes designed to target motor coordination including strength, agility, and body harmony. The space encourages students to discover their natural movements and to strengthen their bodies based on their natural alignment. Monroe Street Movement Space offers a wide variety of classes including parent-child classes, children and teen ballet and modern dance, School Break Camp, Summer Arts Camp and adult classes such as both pre and postnatal pilates, barre express, tai chi and iyengar yoga. Classrooms are available for dance and movement arts rehearsals, workshops and classes in addition to birthday parties.

Dena Reynolds, the founder of Monroe Street Movement Space, moved to New York City after receiving her MFA in Dance from Florida State University to pursue a career as a dancer. After seven years of pursuing her passion for dancing, Reynolds experienced a revolutionary change with her dance career that “wasn’t a plan, but invented itself.” This change began as Reynolds started teaching dance in her living room. However, as the room’s space was limited, she acquired a larger space in order to develop choreography and performance. Along with more space came more students, and suddenly Reynolds found herself teaching dance to a few dozen students. Reynolds never envisioned herself as an “instructor,” but after years of teaching her own dance skills, she had become just that—a teacher. “I didn’t want to become a teacher,” Reynolds stated. “In dance, and in other arts, they say ‘if you can’t make it in your field, then you’ll be a teacher.’” I wasn’t going to be a teacher, but that’s really what I am. Every time I learn something, I end up teaching it.”

Instead of providing structural and stoic dance lessons, Monroe Street Movement Space aims to allow dancers to develop free-flowing and independent movement. Movement guidance is provided according to the independent development of each dancer. Monroe Street Movement Space teaches with this particular style as to avoid rigid dance classes. “I know what it is to stand at the ballet bar for hours and hours working on precision. Precision is each dancer becoming the same—being able to move the same, be the same and be in the count.” While pursuing her graduate studies, Reynolds experienced the more creative side of dance as her instructors posed questions reflective of expressive dance. “They asked us, as dancers, ‘What do you do?’ and ‘How do you move?’”

Although Reynolds is familiar with and teaches choreography, she prefers to encourage dance as an art of improvisation. Working with improvisation, she adds in floor work that demonstrates joint movement and builds strength. “My focus is to find the identity of the dancer and build on that, working to exclude the creation of dance machines, and, in turn, create free and beautiful dancers.” Reynolds encourages a learning space that promotes the natural alignment of a dancer.

The philosophy of Monroe Street Movement Space is based upon building confidence in individuals through dance. “The ability to cross the room with inner grace and confidence becomes a metaphor for living our lives,” Reynolds stated. By creating a studio environment that is filled with positivity, Reynolds hopes that this will encourage students to take their experiences and share it with the rest of the world

Monroe Street Movement Space is located in Monroe Center in Suite C504, 720 Monroe Street, Hoboken conveniently located next to the 9th Street/Congress Light Rail. Parking is available from Jackson Street in the rear of the building.

About the Author/s

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Rachel Montel is a writer, scholar and outdoor enthusiast.

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