Jan 1, 2024
Announcing 2 New Teachers in Portland!
Introducing Lindsey Dreyer and Kenny Frechette
Okay Portland, new year, NEW TEACHERS! We feel your love every time you come to class; you’ve been with us on the dance floor every week since we re-launched IRL classes in 2021. And now we’re reflecting that love back to you by bringing on two new local teachers. We could not be more excited about introducing you to artists, leaders and sparkly ones, Lindsay Dreyer (she/her) and Kenny Frechette (they/he).
Lindsay is no stranger to Dance Church. If you’ve come to a class in PDX you’ve danced with, sweat with or been greeted by Lindsay. Maybe she’s even captured your juicy joy in a sweet post-class pic. A dedicated multimedia artist and arts advocate in the Portland community, Lindsay is stepping into the role of a Dance Church Teacher with more enthusiasm, love and devotion than we know how to handle. Portland, we truly cannot wait for you to take class with Lindsay.
You’ve been an integral part of the Dance Church family for a while now. You’re at class every week, dancing with and saying hi to new and stalwart Portland DC-ers at the door. What inspires you to stay so present in and invest more deeply in this world?
Lindsay: The community that Dance Church has already brought me is immense. I love that when our regulars come to class I get to say "Welcome back!" So many folks show up to class emotionally overwhelmed, carrying and releasing whatever has happened in their day-to-day. It is so important to me that I hold space for them, or for anyone who may come in, and I am always reminded how lucky I am when folks feel safe enough to be vulnerable or to use class time as this outlet they need.
You talk a lot about compassion and humanity and expression. How do you bring these huge ideas into a dance class?
Lindsay: I imagine holding class with people embracing their personhood. They give themselves permission to be vulnerable if they need it, silly if they want to be, and are focused on being present. And when class is over, they talk with each other, hold space for each other, and hopefully build their own communities when they leave.
We know you’re deeply dedicated to the Dance Church PDX fam. What other communities are you a part of in Portland?
Lindsay: I've spent my life engaged in the arts in as many ways as possible, starting with Visual Arts before moving to Dance as my current professional field. I am an impassioned advocate for all things creative and community-nurturing, and thrive in environments that seek to engage and support as many people as possible in safe self-expression. Last year I developed a duet between myself and a musician friend, cellist Alexis Mahler, that was entirely based in improvisation. I wanted to build a duet across different mediums (dance and music), that would showcase the relationships between music and dance to a primarily musician-based community.
We ultimately developed a partnership with the Creative Music Guild in Portland, who hosted our first showing of the duet at their Improv Summit last year. This project showcased dance performance in a space normally exclusive to musicians, and has contributed to a relationship between my field and the music community that continues to fuel collaboration and artistic peership.
We hope you’ll bring your musician and visual arts people into your classes so we can all dance and grow community together!
Lindsay: Absolutely! I love the way that teaching allows me to be a witness to my community, and gives me license to hold space for these little pockets of joy that Dance Church creates. I hope that my classes provide yet another one of these pockets for the Portland community and beyond!
Amazing. When’s your first class?
Lindsay: Tuesday, January 16 at The Portland Ballet. But you’ll see me in class and at the door a lot before then, too, of course. Sign up →
Okay, two more (vital) questions: first, we hear you have a cat! What’s her name?
Lindsay: AHHH! My sweet baby is named Charley.
And finally, as a visual artist, maybe you can give us a poetic preview of your first Dance Church class. If your class vibe were a work of visual art, what would that look and feel like?
Lindsay: I want my class to be like Georgia O’Keeffe meets Yayoi Kusama: unafraid to be yourself boldy, a little out there, and always yourself.
Like Lindsay, Kenny is voraciously developing community and shared practice in Portland. Though they have traveled and danced all over the U.S. and Europe, Kenny’s heart, roots, artistry and advocacy are embedded in and emerge from their homeland of Florida / “The South.” This Leo (sun and rising) self-describes as “Very Queer – Very Gay – Very Grateful.” If their Dance Church vibe promises to be anywhere near as creative and joyful as their outfits (seriously, check out their insta), we should all make plans to show up (and dress up!) for class.
You’ve been teaching and building community in other spaces for years. What drives you to teach movement?
Kenny: Helping other people learn to move their bodies is one of my very favorite things to do in the world. Witnessing folks as they make connections in their body, how that ripples into their thoughts/feelings/greater lives, is incredible to watch unfold. Everyone deserves to have a vital, sustainable relationship with their moving body, as well as the ability to do so personally and collectively. A teaching highlight for me was independently facilitating a short series called “Community Movement Lab”, a donation-based / free class open to all levels of movers.
You’re talking about accessibility of movement. Can you say more about why access is so important to you?
Kenny: When people ask me why I moved to the PNW I tell them the truth: for access to resources. Healthcare, public transit, increased queer visibility and safety, higher minimum wage, cultural amenities, artistic opportunities. Things that are much harder to access in Florida. I’ve been able to heal and grow my artistic practice (and life!) out here in ways that I couldn’t have otherwise. Having access to a subsidized/free space program in Portland (through a non-profit called “Water in the Desert”) is a huge part of why my dance practice has grown so much the past year. I try to pay that forward by offering free / financially accessible containers for those who desire to dance.
I also wish for any-body that has a desire to join class to be able to do so easily and comfortably. To feel seen and supported by how the space is structured and facilitated so they can find deepened rigor, authentic community, unadulterated joy. Whenever I teach I always make an effort to tune into the wants and needs of the people in the room that day, in that class, in that moment, and guide class from there.
In addition to moving together, I think class can be a space to rally folks around causes and to raise awareness and funds for local organizations helping vulnerable populations. When I developed Community Movement Lab, for example, I hosted it during my subsidized space hours at Water in the Desert. I split donations between myself and WiTD and was able to raise a little money for my practice as well as the organization supporting it!
This feels very aligned with Dance Church’s “Every body, all heart.”
Kenny: Moving with awareness of the wellness of a community (class takers, teachers, venue staff, the larger ecosystems we exist in) has been a rewarding way to practice as a dancer-artist-human. We can affirm and guide each other, recommend other classes and shows, and tap into larger networks of connection. I see in Dance Church the opportunity to demystify dance a bit for folks and a space to empower people to move intuitively, find groove, embody joy.
It seems like you and Lindsay share a deep drive for community activation and care. I think a lot of folks struggle to build community in a new city (or even in a long-time home place). How do you shape and find community?
Kenny: It’s complicated for me I guess. There’s an element of displacement that comes with being queer, especially when you’re from a conservative place. You leave home, your communities & family of origin, not because you want to but because you feel you have to. To survive. To become yourself. I love Florida / The South and miss its all the time. My time in the PNW has been so nourishing, yet after almost five years I’m still working to adjust culturally. That being said as I’ve moved from place to place I’ve found ways to *be where I am* and make an effort to be an active participant of the places I inhabit. Here in Portland I show up to the spaces, classes, and events of my peers. I spend time before and after connecting. I engage with folks on social media. I meet people for coffee. I attend community conversations. I facilitate my own containers, doing so with accessibility, equity and transparency in mind. I politically engage and advocate. I spend time when I can connecting with the colossal natural beauty of this part of the world. Cultivating a relationship with the land through bearing witness to its beauty, acknowledging and honoring the First Peoples of the land (Clackamas, Cowlitz, Multnomah), and learning about the history of my communities, the city, and the region.
It seems like you are finding ways to translate community and belonging and play and advocacy through direct action and also daily presence. Can you talk about your style and fashion and other forms of self-expresion?
Kenny: My overall vibe is a sensitive, stylish, sweet, silly, and sometimes serious queer artist from Florida. I love endlessly curating my sense of style, (particularly because I wore uniforms through high school). I would say there’s a through-line I call “casual and considered”. I’m currently in a big Orange Era. My dancing is often athletic and has a sense of abandon and play. My music choices are always fun, evocative, both, secret third-fourth-fifth things…I look damn good in natural lighting / sunlight? Lol.
Can’t wait to jump in and sparkle with you in your first class, Leo babe. When do you start teaching?
Kenny: Catch my first class (finally getting to live my gay fitness instructor fantasy!) on Thursday, January 11th at BodyVox! Sign up →
Funnnn. Name one song we’re definitely going to dance to in Jan!
A’S EYES by METTE and cannot stop listening! Will def be putting it in a class playlist!