Here’s Part II of UV’s profiles of the talented local teachers helping dancers of all skill level get a move on.
Story by Jennifer Grafiada Photos by Tristin Godsey and Tom Boyd
In the fall issue of UV, we profiled the history of the Roseburg Dance and Fitness Studios (see “Dancing Through the Decades”). Inside the facility, you will find, depending on the time of day, bodies stretching into downward dog, curving gracefully to the sounds of Middle Eastern drums, or breaking it down to the latest hip-hop and R&B.
No, you are not too old. No, you are not too out of shape. Check your inhibitions at the door and join the dance renaissance happening nearly every night of the week and led by talented teachers like those featured here.
Fry grew up in Roseburg, training in dance locally as a child and traveling the west coast for training as a teenager and young adult. She then began studying yoga and, in the process, says she found a deeper connection to herself.
“After 12 years of teaching ballet, jazz and hip hop, I studied the movement arts and became interested in therapeutic dance practices. Recently I spent a semester in Israel and Europe exploring therapeutic movement practices and am now happy to be home benefiting my community with the practices I’ve learned.
“Currently I am teaching well-being classes such as somatics, qigong and yoga, as well as weekly dance classes such as dance basics, improvisational dance and diva dance. I lead a dance performance group named Roseburg Dance Crew.
“I host a variety of workshops that incorporate yoga, meditation, dance and art. I also developed an outreach program where I teach a teen yoga class for girls at the juvenile detention center.
“I feel fortunate to have received movement training from a young age. It helped me to develop a strong mind-body connection and a confidence in my ability to move well. I recognize that this seeps into other areas of my life and I want to share this gift with others.
“I see that other people yearn for this and think that they can’t access it. I have developed techniques that have helped so many people to ‘drop into their bodies.’ Seeing the joy on their faces propels me forward.”
Sakari has been teaching in Roseburg for almost eight years, most recently at the Roseburg Dance & Fitness Studios. She is also affiliated with three groups who dance at various Douglas County venues and events — the Vixens, Mellonia and the Apiary.
“I jokingly call my classes Generic Pacific Northwest Belly Dance, but there really are regional flavors in these dances.
“I fell in love with belly dance at my very first class, almost 14 years ago, but even now I’m not sure I could tell you why. Some of it is the music, but I think the holistic use of the body plays a role. In Middle Eastern dance, we use the entire body to show the audience how we ‘hear’ the music.
“We live in a culture that makes a woman’s body an ornament. Belly dance teaches her that her body is a tool for expression and communication, and it doesn’t have to look a particular way to do that.
Mezdulene has been teaching various Middle Eastern and belly dance styles for more than 37 years, and for 23 years in Douglas County. She teaches at the Roseburg Dance & Fitness Studios via Umpqua Community College and at her own Dancing Goddess Studio & Boutique in Sutherlin.
“I call what I teach Divine Feminine Belly Dance because it’s holistic and involves body, mind and spirit. There is a lot of misinformation about belly dancing but simply put, if it’s not family entertainment, it’s not belly dance.
“The thing I love most about belly dancing is its power to heal and empower women. It’s a dance for all women, any age or size, and there is so much diversity, from folkloric to cabaret, that anyone can find a niche that feels comfortable to them.
“I get to watch women blossom into beautiful dancers, gaining not only a new skill but increased confidence and enhanced self-image and esteem. There is nothing like having a woman come to her first class with her head down, either shy or a victim of abuse, and watching her become an empowered performer who gains the strength to make healthy life changes as she shares her beautiful essence with the world.”