Lou Moulder, founder of Rebelle Movement studio, was driven to offer adult dance classes by her own desire to continue dancing in her adulthood. Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Moulder started dancing when she was three years old. In her late teens, she knew she didn’t want to be a professional dancer, but wanted to keep dancing.
When Moulder moved to Eugene in 2006 and started taking classes at Ballet Northwest Academy in the summer of 2008, she remembers the studio being similar to the one she grew up dancing in. Before it closed in 2016, Moulder began teaching adult classes there and was asked to take over and refocus the program, to gear it more toward what adult dancers were looking for in a class.
The existing program was like most dance programs for adults, offering classes for the adult beginner and pre-professional teen but nothing in between. Moulder set out to rebel against the idea that dancers “either become professional or stop dancing.” Hence the name of the studio she later founded, Rebelle Movement.
“What you want is just to come and take a class, like you used to do. With peers,” Moulder says. “And be able to feel like it’s your studio, like you did when you were a kid.”
On a Tuesday evening, Moulder is just wrapping up a private instruction class with a student who appears to be a regular. The space is ideal for a single class at a time, with room to observe and stretch out on the sides of the floor. Moulder points out that it’s a sprung Marley floor, which is what gives a dance floor its bounce and grip. “It’s those little things that make all the difference,” Moulder says. “You want a floor where you can really jump, turn. Where you can really move.”
Giving adults a place to dance that’s really theirs is Moulder and her instructors’ main goal at Rebelle Movement, which opened on the first of the year in 2020. Moulder has a group of instructors who have expertise in various dance styles, including tap and burlesque. Moulder says each of her five other instructors teach in a style they’re really passionate about.
Moulder earned her bachelor’s in dance at the University of Oregon in 2013, and is a certified group fitness instructor and holds a functional movement specialist certification. She’s been teaching Functional Movement Training, a Pilates-based program, since 2018, and now that she has her own space, Moulder offers both private training sessions and a variety of dance classes taught by her and the other experienced instructors, including Roshny Bhakta Martuscelli and Jean Nelson, who have been teaching dance specifically to adults, both beginner and advanced, for over a decade,
“All my instructors have either a certification or a degree in movement,” Moulder says. And they all have a passion for giving adults a place to continue — or start — learning as dancers.
Moulder met instructor Chelsea Godon through other dance classes in town, such as at the Downtown Athletic Club. When Godon pitched the idea of having a burlesque class, Moulder was all ears. “I knew from her jazz background that she was going to teach the kind of thing that I would want to take.”
Godon teaches a burlesque class on Tuesday evenings that doesn’t specify an experience level, and manages to simultaneously offer something for the newcomer and the dancer hungry for a challenge. The class begins with a full body warm-up, where Godon checks in with students to make sure everyone feels ready to go into some choreography. The steps are original and musical, and Godon makes it clear that dancers can either run through the combination full out each time, or watch herself or one of her regulars a couple times before diving in.
Moulder laughs in agreement when I say Godon’s burlesque class is the kind of class I feel like I could bring a hesitant friend to and they’d have a great time.
“She’s a good representative,” Moulder says of what all the instructors at Rebelle are trying to do. “We’re trying to help you find your comfort zone, whatever that may be.” Whether dancers are looking to learn a new type of dance or looking to perform, Moulder says “we meet you where you are.”
For those dancers who are looking to perform, Rebelle Movement has opportunities for dancers who are just starting out as well as for those looking to perform at a higher level. The studio is home to Elite Dance Company, a performing audition-based company of which Martuscelli is artistic director. “If you want to really push and go more professional, you’re going to want to work with them,” Moulder says. EDC describes itself on Rebelle Movement’s website as a “creative outlet for dancers who are wanting to take their performance skills to the edge.”
“But a lot of people still want to perform without having that kind of commitment,” Moulder says. For them, Rebelle Movement offers performance opportunities with Rebelle Ballet and Rebelle Burlesque, volunteer performance groups based out of the studio space at Rebelle Movement that welcome both newcomers and seasoned performers. Moulder says the dancers perform with Elite sometimes, as well as city events, such as Eugene’s National Dance Week celebration in April.
Rebelle Movement is a space dedicated solely to adult dance, with instructors who have years of experience teaching adults. “We have an understanding of what [adult students] are looking for and how they’ll want to communicate,” Moulder says.
Rebelle Movement Studio is at 2501 W. 11th Avenue in Eugene. Individual classes $17, 10-class pack $150 and monthly unlimited pass $175. Mask required for in-person class. Select classes offered on zoom. More information on classes and performing at RebelleMovementStudio.com