Mandy Bell and Lisa Navarro have been in the dance world for 20+ years each. They originally met while doing a “triple threat” camp in 2006—that’s acting, singing and dancing for the less artistic of us—and they “just clicked.” Shortly thereafter, they started teaching together at Groovitude in Palo Alto and the rest is (very rhythmic) history.
The classes at Groovitude, which are mainly held in the mornings, run the gamut from jazz to hip-hop, contemporary to tap. Lisa recommends the jazz class for anyone who might consider themselves a beginner. Its soundtrack is not so much strictly jazz music as it is pop and musical theater-oriented tunes; it involves more basic dance techniques than some of the other classes. So, if you have two left feet, jazz at Groovitude should be your choice. No matter which class you choose, the format of your one-hour session is pretty consistent: a 20-minute warm-up followed by learning a piece of choreography.
This choreography piece is a sight to behold. Yes, coming up with the actual steps does take artistic skill, but coming up with choreography that is truly fun for people of all ages (from 35-75) and all levels (from beginners to professional dancers)—that takes work. Even then, the act of teaching these steps to this variety of people—considering possible injuries, dispositions, varying learning styles—is harder still. It requires patience and flexibility (pun intended).
“What I love about teaching dance is that dance is a discipline that strengthens the mind, strengthens the body and strengthens the soul,” Mandy says. Lisa’s favorite moments in class always revolve around watching people learn to express themselves. “[In dance you] learn to emote, and it’s fun to see what comes out,” she says. Lisa herself began dancing as a way to express herself because she had difficulty with articulation in other ways earlier in her life. It was a way to say what she wanted and needed without any words at all.
We spoke to many dancers who frequent the studio and everyone agrees that Mandy and Lisa are wildly talented. And it’s clear that dancers are getting a lot more from the classes at Groovitude than just some smooth moves. Tammy, a student there, says; “The Groovy gals, Lisa and Mandy, are two of the most inspiring women I know. When you come [into the studio] and take a class, you will walk away a new person, ready and waiting for their next round of joy! Groovitude is my home away from home, my go-to place when I need to just dance and escape the outside world.” Above all else, positivity is key at this hub for Peninsula peeps who want to get down with their bad selves. It cultivates an atmosphere of supportive vibes, which is welcoming for people who might not feel totally comfortable getting their groove on in front of strangers.
That confidence-building is only one of the many benefits of dancing. Dancing has been proven time and again to be an incredibly healing art form. It allows you to express yourself without words and absorb the high vibrations of music. To learn more about classes, or about Groovitude’s non-profit umbrella, Dance Visions (which allows artists in the Bay Area to have subsidized rent), visit groovitudedance.com.
4000 Middlefield Road, Room L3