Get on your feet with VLA Dance classes
VLA Dance, a Black-owned contemporary dance company affiliated with Hibernian Hall and Boston Center for the Arts, has launched a new series of online dance classes every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through March 2021. The classes are designed not only with physical fitness and dance technique in mind, but to provide holistic healing and mental rest during the winter months.
“I was really invested in creating something that was more than just dance fitness, more than just fitness,” says Victoria Lynn Awkward, director of VLA Dance. “Something that’s unique about my dance company is that we take time to appreciate the emotional and mental experiences people have, and how that relates to the body.”
The Heat Up/Cool Down class VLA offers is particularly geared towards these goals. The two-part class begins with a 40-minute, freeform dance party and then concludes with a 40-minute guided meditation. Students are able to attend either or both segments of the class, merging mental and physical fitness.
VLA’s Contemporary class is more technique-based and is designed for small spaces like apartments. What the unification of these two styles offers is an accessible approach to dance. The line between dancing alone in an apartment to relieve stress and taking a formal dance class is intentionally blurred to reap the benefits of both practices.
Awkward says a community of students has formed in the classes, providing moral and verbal support for each other during the dances. “I feel it’s an extension of my culture within the Black community, especially within Black dance spaces,” says Awkward. “There’s a lot of sharing of where you’re at and encouraging people. That’s something that I like to bring to all communities and identities.”
The classes are held on Zoom, typically around 6:30 or 7 p.m. Awkward says she coordinated the classes this way so that they’re not too early for participants in other time zones and they conveniently coincide with the end of the workday for people here in Boston. Classes can be booked individually or in a bulk package and the Zoom link is emailed to participants after purchase.
Awkward says her dance company is planning a performance for June 2021 at the Boston Center for the Arts, and she hopes it will be in person. In the meantime, the online dance classes allow her and her dancers to connect with the community and illustrate the connection between physical movement and emotional empowerment.
“Dance is for everybody,” says Awkward. “The lineage between dancing with your friends and family and professional dance is a lot closer than you might think.”