No mirrors, no judgment in dance studio run by physicist

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  There’s probably a lot going on in the mind of Jean Trewhella, given her credentials as a physicist. She holds more than 20 patents and worked for IBM for 27 years before moving to the Capital Region six years ago to became director of packaging for Global Foundries.

         Ever since her undergrad years at Antioch College in Ohio, which were mostly spent ensconced in the science building, Trewhella has turned to improvisational dance as a means of getting out her head and reconnecting to her body and spirit. Earlier this year she opened Movement Insights, a dance studio located in the Malta Commons, just a few miles from Global Foundries, where she maintains her position.

“I’ve definitely had a very full career and I need to have something to balance that. This kind of dance allows me to be completely free,” says Trewhella.

As a kid, Trewhella had some exposure to ballet and those first dances in her undergraduate days were based on the Alexander Technique of body alignment. Later she sought out experiences with modern dance and even choreography. It’s the realm of what might be termed healing or authentic movement that really grabbed her. Within that field there are various avenues of practice and they share a common emphasis on the dancer’s personal experience, not execution of complicated steps or the reactions of an audience.

“It focuses you into the present moment and how breath moves through your body. There’s no past or future, you’re centered in the here and now,” says Trewhella. “My first class was a big awakening. You listen to your body in a different way than your thoughts.”

Ecstatic Dance is the term used to describe what takes place at her studio on Thursday nights. Unlike most dance studios, there are no mirrors on the walls at Movement Insights. To borrow a phrase used by certain gyms, it’s a judgement-free space. Ecstatic dance is also choreography-free. An eclectic 90-minute musical playlist serves as the only guide for participants who have license to move in any manner and take breaks as needed.

Steve Young, a meteorologist from Voorheesville, has participated in Ecstatic Dance a number of times since Movement Insights opened in the spring. “It’s a way to let go and be totally me and in a place where no one judges me for anything I do. That way I can connect with joy and even ecstasy,” he says.

Tuesday nights are devoted to Journey Dance, a more guided experience that blends freestyle and structured movement. It has roots in ritual, sacred drama and shamanism with an emphasis on embodiment and emotional release.

“Moving meditation” is how Michelle B. Provost from Saratoga Springs describes it. “You can shake out your stress and ground and reconnect with yourself,” she says. “You’re with people who understand and they can hold space for you. There’s a feeling of community that’s spontaneous, just a pure connection with others.”

Still other modalities, including Nia and Aromatouch, will be available during Movement Into Wellness – Earth Dance Gathering, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 30. Trewhella and several guest instructors will lead sessions throughout the day. Participants can attend for any or all of the events.


A dance studio launch during a pandemic is hardly ideal but Trewhella is adapting and moving forward. Some programs are offered online and vaccinations and masks are required for in-person events. So far, promotions have mostly been through word of mouth and Facebook, and evening programs have drawn smallish groups, usually around half a dozen. “We’re trying to keep it small because of COVID, so we don’t mind that right now,” says Trewhella, adding that every class has drawn new faces.

Two years ago, Trewhella and her wife moved from Troy and built a new home in Malta. It’s close enough to Global Foundries that Jean can ride her bike to work. Within walking distance is the Malta Commons.

Trewhella leased a suite of rooms that totals 2,600 square feet. In the main space, measuring 1,000 square feet, she installed a dance floor made of sustainable bamboo atop a layer of foam support. Another large room is set aside for varied uses, including meditation and special workshops. A smaller third space has been leased by Patrice Malatestinic, a free-lance hornist and member of the Glens Falls Symphony, for her work as a mixed-media artist.

Creativity and healing already had a small foothold in the complex, where existing tenants include a yoga studio and a chocolatier. The newest addition is a studio for pole dancing. Trewhella holds a vision of a dynamic community of artists, teachers and makers, maybe even a farmer’s market.

“I wanted to set down roots in Malta and give back to the community through dance. Since I have the means, I started a studio as a place where others can come and find movement the way I found it, to be instrumental in their lives,” she says. “I want people to be feel the mind/body experience. We’re missing it with all this technology.”

         Movement Insights is located at 100 Saratoga Village Blvd, Suite 10, Ballston Spa.

For more information, including on the Earth Dance Gathering, which runs 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, go to: movement-insights.com.

 

Joseph Dalton is a freelance writer based in Troy.

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