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Recommendations for schools in Portland, OR?


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Hi, everyone!


I'm preparing to embark on my ballet journey, and had planned to begin this month. However, a sadly (and stupidly) broken toe is delaying things a bit. Now that I have a month to mull over my options...


I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation on classes in Portland. I've been poking around on the websites for both the Oregon Ballet Theater and the Portland Festival Ballet. While both offer adult classes, I'm not which (if either) is more focused on technique and rigorous learning for adults. Additionally, Portland Metro Arts and Vega Dance Lab look like good possibilities.


I don't want a class that is solely a casual workout; though I'm certainly way past the point of dancing as a career, I'd like to train as though I'm an aspiring professional. :) If it matters at all, I've never had a lick of training.


I appreciate any insight or experience you might have. And thank you for this forum! I'm inspired daily by you guys and I hope to soon be on my way with you.


Thank you so much!

Edited by promnesiac
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I had a similar question a few months ago and didn't get many responses. I would LOVE to take classes at OBT. I've heard that even the true beginner classes are very hard and the atmosphere sounds pretty serious. Vega is mainly a hip hop and jazz studio, so I'm not sure if you'll find serious ballet there. I would love to take a burly-q class there, however!


Center for Movement Arts looks like a good studio - they have a large variety of adult classes.


I take classes at Sherwood Dance Academy, which could be an option if you can make it to the suburbs. The adult ballet instructors are wonderful, we work very hard, and the classes are longer than an hour, which is hard to find. For the fall, the schedule is intermediate adult ballet Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00-8:00. Beginning ballet is Thursday evenings 7:00-8:30. Classes are small and include a mixture of ages and abilities. Prices are some of the best in the area - unlimited classes are $148/month. I love my studio. :)

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DD used to take few adult classes in Portland, OR area and I was able to watch some of them. From our experience, we would recommend OBT, The Portland Ballet and Northwest Dance Project. You can also find some open classes at Bodyvox. Just take few here and there and see what you like better :dizzy:

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I've taken ballet classes at many different places in Portland, over the past few years. The instructors at Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Portland Ballet, and BodyVox are the exact same instructors who teach in their respective schools. Many of their students have been accepted at professional ballet companies in the United States or prestigious schools such as Juilliard (in fact an alumni just came back about a week ago for a special performance). I would stay away from places like Center for Moving Arts. I tried a class their once, with another adult student friend, and we were shocked. The beginning of class is not traditional and mixes in aerobic style warm up. The people who took the class seemed to enjoy it, and I don't begrudge them something they enjoy, but from your post it doesn't sound like what you are looking for.


Principal Dancer Artur Sultanov just opened a Russian Ballet Academy in Beaverton with his wife (about 10 minutes from Portland) and he teaches the Russian style he learned in St. Petersburg, including character dance. He has adult classes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. http://www.russianballetacademy.com/


Oregon Ballet Theatre Instructors: http://www.obt.org/adultclass_instructors.html

and schedule: http://www.obt.org/adultclass_schedule.html

The OBT instructors have a varied background, but all are high caliber, have been teaching successfully for decades and/or are retired professional dancers themselves. Even if you are not a professional, if you've had as many different instructors as I have had, you can tell the difference. Their adult classes are typically on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings and some evening classes as well.


Retired professional dancer Valerie Limbrunner occasionally teaches at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, also teaches regularly at Portland Community College. She is classically trained, has very high standards, and is an excellent teacher. PCC is very lucky to have her. I have taken class from the other instructors at PCC and their background is modern or... one of the instructors also teaches at the Center for Moving Arts and I will leave it at that. If you want to take Valerie's class, make sure you sign up right away. Not only does the class fill up quickly, but so does the 30+ long waiting list.


The Portland Ballet and BodyVox have adult classes throughout the week and are taught by experienced instructors and retired dancers. They have a close relationship with each other and have cross instruction. It all depends on who is teaching that day, but if you are looking for a solid, classical instruction, you won't be disappointed. http://www.theportlandballet.org/About/Instructors.htm and http://bodyvox.com/bios/teacher There are morning and evening classes throughout the week.


There are other places to take ballet classes in town, including North West Dance Project http://www.nwpdp.com/ and Portland State University (their instructor Alexandrous Ballard just accepted a ballet master position for a company in Canada, so I'm not sure who teaches there now), but I don't have any experience with their adult ballet classes, so I have no comment.


Feel free to reply here with any quesions or send me a message directly. How long will you be in Portland, how much training have you had, and what will your schedule be like?

Edited by Arcturus
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Thank you so much for the input!


lilcris, it would be somewhat of a stretch for me to make it out to the suburbs, but if I find myself a car I'll check out Sherwood! WABallet, thank you as well! It seems like the votes are all for OBT :(


Arcturus, that's some great and very helpful information -- thank you. To answer your questions: I'll be in Portland for the foreseeable future (I just moved here), and I've had no training at all! So I'm starting from the ground up. My schedule is very flexible, and ideally I'd like to be taking 3 classes a week. It's irrelevant what time/day, since I can make it work whenever.


Good to know about Center for Moving Arts; I was concerned that it seemed like a more fitness-only and less rigorous form of training, and that concerned me. I'm hugely interested in OBT, and seeing yours and lilcris's opinions is great. Their adult classes are taught in 10-week sessions, so that unfortunately means that I have to wait until the beginning of the next session in late November. Their adult beginner session is only a weekly class, so I'm not sure if they'd led me take drop-in classes to fill out my schedule.


My interest in the Portland Festival Ballet is because of John Magnus, and I'd love to know if anyone has experiences there.


Thank you all again! This is immensely helpful to me. Now to get the toe to heal so that I can begin!


Arcturus -- I attempted to send you a PM but I don't seem to have the ability to do so. Lest you wonder why I'm being rude. :)

Edited by promnesiac
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Try the Center for Movement arts Absolute Beginner session with Taryn Johnson. She is excellent. You could also take Ballet I at Portland Community college starting in late september, it is possible to audit classes there, I take Ballet III. You apply for admissions, and register. OBT has great instructors, I take there on Fridays and in the summer, but the workshops fill up fast. bodyvox also has some beginner sessions or workshops starting soon. Portland Festival only offers adult "ballet fitness" classes, not dedicated ballet classes, from what was on the website.

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The Portland ballet doesn't have any specific sessions, so you can start any time. May be you should start there and then go to OBT when it's time for their session. TPB also offers a beginning ballet class. The training is kind of similar to OBT, at least, the students switching back and forth fromt OBT to TPB and wise versa.

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  • 1 year later...

I realize I am a year late to this discussion, but since it is one of the first threads to pop up with Oregon dance classes, I felt a need to update the list!

Studios with Adult classes

Cami Curtis: across the street from JeldWen Field/PGE park. Great extremely basic class.


Portland Festival Ballet: SW Portland Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy


The Portland Ballet: Right next to Lincoln High School


BodyVox: NW 17th and Northrup


Vega dance lab: Off of Water Ave in SE. At the class I attended they did center barre. The majority of the class had previous training and the one dancer who was in her first ballet class was completely lost as they didn't explain anything to her.


Polaris: SW Taylor and 15th. Their office and their school are in two different locations. Office is in SE. Classes are in SW.


Center for Movement Arts: SE 12th, two blocks south of Hawthorne.


North West Dance Project: NE Mississippi area at Shaver

Edited by wcsweet
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  • 5 months later...

Hi folks,


I'm following my other half to Portland next weekend (he has a conference to attend), and am hoping to take a ballet class or two - so am looking for a drop-in class on Friday (anytime) or Saturday morning, that's easily accessible via public transit (staying in a downtown hotel). At least an intermediate level. Am looking through the websites, but recommendations/tips/fave teachers/etc always welcome!

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Not sure what they have specifically on Friday or Saturday but I definitely recommend checking out TPB. The open classes are well attended from recreational adults to retired to professionals to current professionals with major companies. Marika Anderson of NYCB and Daniel Baker of SFB/SYTYCD are some big names that I have seen in attendance, to name a few.

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I took a class at The Portland Ballet last summer and left in tears - everyone was well trained (I'm just a beginner) and center just moved too fast for me. So you'd probably love it! :blush:


BodyVox is downtown and also has a popular open ballet program. Several teachers from TPB also teach there.


Oregon Ballet Theatre is just across the river on 6th and Morrison. Their classes are smaller and the teachers are wonderful. Adult Ballet 1 is much easier (slower and more methodical) than TPB's open classes, but they do offer a more advanced Adult Ballet 2.

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Thanks everyone! I appreciate your input. I've been so swamped with work this week that I haven't had much time to think about this - and I still don't know when I'm going to pack even though we leave in less than 20 hours! Hopefully something will work out, and I'll report back. I slightly annoyed my foot in class last weekend, so I haven't been back to class yet, so going to class is a game time decision, and also depends on the conference schedule... but I am going to try!

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