720 Monroe St.
C-504, 5th Floor
Founder Dena Reynolds didn’t just pick the name out of a hat. The word “movement” has special meaning for this lifelong dancer.
“I started dancing as soon as I could walk, movement really,” she recalls. “When I was a little girl twirling around, I’d love to see my dress fly up. Seeing that, my parents enrolled me in dance classes.”
She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree and an MFA in dance. She studied “ballet, tap, jazz, everything offered in college. I learned different styles of modern dance and started to become more of a modern dancer with freedom to move.”
For most people who aspire to any of the arts, New York City is a big draw. Dena was no exception. “It was really important for me at some point to dance in New York City,” she says.
Hoboken was a natural fit for a group of young dancers who wanted a studio. “I met musicians and artists in Hoboken doing fun stuff,” she says. “I started producing shows for the historical museum and doing little things that involved movement.”
The group opened in the Monroe Center in 1993. But soon, “everybody wanted to move to do other things,” Dena says. “But I wanted to keep the space. It had been the Levolor Factory. There was metal in the floors. We had done all this work on it, and I wanted to hold onto it.”
She started teaching kids, which she realized much later was something she’d wanted to do for a very long time. When she was helping her elderly parents move to an assisted living facility, she came across a letter she’d written at age 27 to her mother saying that she wanted to “work with children and help them find their voice and confidence, to help people in the world.”
Those “people” include grown-ups. She teaches Positively Pilates and Iyengar Yoga to adults. She and her husband, Luke Faust, also teach Tai Chi to adults.
Dena, an Albuquerque native, says, “When I first moved to Hoboken it was calm and quiet and reminded me of home. I knew a lot of people here. There was a lot of music at night, and I was hanging out with artists. Now there’s a beautiful community of families with children. My view of Hoboken has changed with Hoboken.”
Her students range from crawling babies to 13-year-olds. “It’s a movement, music, and language-based learning vocabulary for strengthening the body,” Dena says. “There’s lots of improvisation, building shapes, and arts through movement. Everybody has a dancer inside them, a beautiful way of moving to enhance what they do naturally.”
The students also put on performances. “It’s a chance to find out how they feel about things and what messages are in their pieces,” Dena says.
Though she has some 200 students, Dena is the only teacher. She wants to work with all the kids, so she can impart her vision of movement. “All arts are a different way of approaching movement and finding yourself within your body,” she says. “It’s really about giving them this way of being in the world that helps support them in anything they want to do, so they are comfortable in their bodies and comfortable in life. If you can move across a room without fear, you can move through life that way.”
Kids’ birthday parties are also part of the program. “Parties are movement-based adventures organized around a theme chosen by the family,” Dena says.
She founded the space 23 years ago with her husband, who is an artist and musician: “We fell in love working together and have worked together all these years.”
“My mission in life is to work with children and make a difference with them,” she says. “It’s what I was meant to do.”—Kate Rounds