I’m not a “dancer” in the strict sense of the word. I didn’t do well in ballet or tap classes as a kid and I don’t possess the kind of moves that will impress anyone on the dance floor.
But I do like to rock out to a good tune while I’m cleaning my kitchen or waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. And when a friend calls me up after a rough week and says she seriously needs to dance it out (preferably while wearing a side pony tail and neon pink leggings, because #80s), I don’t hesitate. “I’m in!” I shout. And then I ask how late we’ll be out because I have the sleeping habits of an elderly woman and really want to be in bed by 9:30 p.m.
Truth: I haven’t been out dancing in a long while. Not in that late night, light-up dance floor, bottled beer, sleep in the next day way. But I did dance like mad on a recent Tuesday evening during a SHiNE Dance Fitness class.
SHiNE Dance Fitness combines moves from jazz, hip hop, and ballet into simple choreography set to upbeat dance music of the modern day. In other words, it’s dancing! The hour-long dance workout is comprised of movements that are simple enough for a beginner to pick up, but that more-experienced dancers can modify, so everyone in the room can move to her own ability (all ages and abilities are welcome).
Never heard of SHiNE before? While dancing is as old as time, SHiNE Dance Fitness was started in 2009 in Eagle, Idaho and has been slowly popping up at fitness studios around the country, the way new fitness classes tend to do. Here in Maine, Rachel Rosenfield is the only instructor teaching these classes. Rachel teaches at two locations: Aquarius Ballroom in Portland and NXGEN Fitness Center in Scarborough.
“I stumbled upon SHiNE in the spring of 2016 on YouTube shortly after having my baby, when I was struggling to get back in shape,” says Rachel. “I stayed up practically all night dancing and was hooked immediately.”
Rachel says she’s always enjoyed being active and working out, but SHiNE felt like more to her. “The choreography was intuitive and the music was amazing,” she says. “SHiNE rekindled my passion for dance and made me feel empowered, confident, and strong.” Not long after, she became a certified instructor.
Rachel’s enthusiasm for this class palpable. You can feel it in her voice when she talks about it and you can witness it in full-force as she leads class with this unstoppable smile and spirit. She’s clearly having a ball – and that energy is contagious. (Remember the last time you were on a dance floor with friends and you laughed and sang and busted out moves and didn’t spend any time thinking about how on-point your choreography was or how many calories you were burning because that didn’t matter a lick because you were just having a grand time? Yea, it’s like that.)
At the Tuesday-night class recently, the room was filled with people dancing and sweating. It wasn’t about nailing the choreography point-for-point, although most of us followed along well enough, goofing along the way and not caring when Rachel stepped left and we went right or when it took a few seconds to catch on to the next steps. It didn’t matter. And when it doubt, all were welcome to make up their own routine. The whole point is simply to move – and actually enjoy it.
For Rachel, SHiNE is more than a workout. “It’s this crazy idea that when you step on the dance floor, you are free to feel amazing, powerful, beautiful, sexy, crazy, graceful, silly, and pretty much anything you choose to be for that hour of your day,” she says. “You don’t need experience – or even coordination.”
It’s a laid-back and welcoming class, and your first time is free, so if you’re feeling the need to dance it out, check out an upcoming class.
(Also fun, this upcoming The Unicorn Tribute Class on Tuesday, March 6 at Aquarius Ballroom at 6 p.m. Sequins encouraged, cupcakes to follow!)
SHiNE Dance Fitness
6 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Saturdays
Aquarius Ballroom, 202 Kennebec Street, Portland
First class free, $10 drop-in. Class passes also available (through Feb., you can get a 5-class pass for $25 and 10-class pass for $45).
Rachel also teaches classes Monday nights NXGEN Fitness Center(formerly Lifestyles), 29 Pleasant Hill Road, Scarborough, at 5:45 p.m.