Photo by Steven DiCasa

Raising the Bar in Dance

Originally Published By: InterviewHer.com on January 20, 2011

“I’ve danced my entire life,” began Lauren Pellettieri, as she described the co-founding of her dance company, Liberated Movement. “In college I was part of a student-runliberated-movement dance group for four years. I performed, rehearsed and taught classes.” After she graduated from Fordham University, she moved to Manhattan – the home to some of the most prestigious dance academies and companies – and discovered that advanced instruction cost at least $18 per class. “I was still dancing, but not nearly as much,” explained Pellettieri in an interview. “ I missed my regular routine.”

Pellettieri found herself attending more yoga classes than dance because a St. Mark’s Place Studio, called Yoga to the People, offered donation-based instruction, which worked better for her budget. Then, as her need to dance grew, and she heard how much her friends struggled to pay for dance classes as well, she had an idea. What if she could create, with the help of her friends and trusted teachers, a dance initiative with donation-based classes that would fund space at a dance studio?

After doing research she discovered that such a company didn’t exist…yet. “This is New York City,”
she said, “it should exist. This is the dance capital of the world!”

Next, Pellettieri brought her idea to her best friend, Elizabeth Fielder who later helped her start Liberated Movement, and asked, “How feasible is this?”

Now, over a year later, Liberated Movement, a dance initiative founded to teach anyone with a desire to have fun, learn new technique and exercise, has classes almost every day for a suggested donation of only $5. With a variety of classes throughout the week in a Battery Park studio in lower Manhattan, seasoned dancers and first-timers alike, gather to move freely together – in more ways than one.

liberated-movementPhoto by Steven DiCasa 

There’s no membership fee, just positive attitudes, passion and a desire to sweat. “Our goal was to make dance more accessible to experience, without the expense,” explained Pellettieri . “Everyone is free to give what they want. An envelope is passed around at the end of class – all donations are anonymous.”

Classes at Liberated Movement include a wide variety like Masala Bhangra (which is taught by Pellettieri), ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, hip hop, theater dance and West African. Plus, she and her band of dedicated friends are always adding new courses like this month’s Glee themed class or their special Thriller event for Halloween in 2010.

For Lauren Pellettieri, Liberated Movement is not just about getting her dance fix. “Personally, I wanted to break barriers about dance,” she said. “Taking a dance class can be intimidating. We want people to feel welcome and comfortable. Sometimes you want to take class and just bust it out!”

To date the program has had two private donations, but runs solely on donations to pay for using space at the Battery Park Dance Studio, where Pellettieri was once an intern. Each class offers the same quality of instruction from some of the most sought after studios in the city because the instructors volunteer their time. In the future, Ms. Pellettieri hopes to expand Liberated Movement and build upon this notion of empowering women. A private space, more classes and eventually a way to incorporate a clinical practice for therapeutic movement are some of her big picture plans.

“I want to do dance and movement therapy. I would love to have classes that empower positive body image and confidence with moves that promote health.” This combination approach of physical and mental wellness will surely come – especially since Pellettieri is in the process of getting her Master’s in clinical social work. “It wasn’t something I originally saw under the umbrella of Liberated Movement, but then I realized it could encompass the entire thing.”

For anyone looking to embrace their inner dancer, get a little exercise, or simply feel liberated — check out the classes offered each week at LiberatedMovement.com. And, remember feeling good about your body is only a few steps away with a friendly group who simply love to dance.

Written by:  Christa Fletcher

LIBERATED MOVEMENT

www.LiberatedMovement.com

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