Ever since I can remember I loved to dance. When my cousins and I were younger we would make up dance routines and put on shows for the family. And even though I was a bit of book worm in high school, one of my favorite memories were the jazz classes and performances I did with my bestie at the local Community Centre. In University, you could find me every Thursday night at the SFU pub dancing to hip hop with my friends. Dare I say I even won one of their booty shaking contests (I hope my father isn’t reading this). Needless to say, dance, music and movement have always brought me joy and has been part of many of my happiest memories. Fast forward to present day, when life has definitely changed as a raise two children in my early forties, and dance is the one constant that helps me regulate my body and release all the stressors in my life. In recent years, as I grapple with my anxiety and navigate a broken mental system in our country, I can say with all honesty that dance and its community has saved my life and I have the people at Formation Studio to thank.
Back in 2019 (yes, when life was really good and COVID wasn’t in our vocabulary), an acquaintance posted on Instagram a new dance studio opening up around the corner from my house, near Olympic Village in Vancouver. I had to check it out, because of said love of dance, and also the name was Formation Studio. Anyone that knows me, knows that I have been a die-hard Beyonce fan since the early Destiny’s Child days (remember the Beyonce Bachelorette Party I threw for my bestie?!?). It was a sign from the universe and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was life changing.
Formation isn’t your typical dance studio with ballet bar and bright white lighting. It definitely has its own special vibe from the moment you walk in. At the front, you enter to a big community space which has a modern boho feel. In fact, the team calls this the Living Room, where they invite visitors to gather and connect before and after class. This sense of community is exactly what I feel we need in a time when everyone lives behind their computer screens and phones. Also, living in/through pandemic (and don’t get me started on how hard this was on fitness based businesses like Formation), this space is where people can start to reconnect with other humans after being isolated for so long.
And of course that isn’t even where the real magic happens. The dance space is what I imagine to be similar to a workout space that JLo has in her house. Concrete, with one long mirrored wall and lighting that is just like out of a music video. All of this can be choreographed with the music/mood. It is unreal and still to this day, three years later, I smile every time I enter, knowing I am going to have the best time and as they say at Formation say, “TURN OFF, TURN UP, GET DOWN”.
So what do you do in this dance studio space? Oh the opportunities to move, connect and unwind are endless. They have three class types, none of which even require you to have a dance background. Freedom is a cardio based dance class that I compare to Jane Fonda’s Jazzercize of the 80s, but for 2022. Basically non stop movement to incredible hip hop and old school beats for 50 minutes. My other favorite class is called Power. Using weights and bands, you are guided through a 50 minute strength class. And Formation has even offered this format as a mom and baby class, which I know from experience a few years back, is a great way to connect with other mothers in the community. And finally, for those that love to learn a dance routine, Presence is for you. My busy mom brain has trouble with these classes, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. Depending on the song (ie. if it is Lizzo, Megan the Stallion or Beyonce), I still give it a go. By the end of a 50 minute Presence class, you will know a great little number you could break out at a next wedding to impress your friends and family. Additionally, other dance offerings come about throughout the year, such as the Dancing in Heels and Contemporary Workshops.
And while Formation is a free from judgement space, perhaps you aren’t keen on moving in front of others. Not surprisingly, the brand has an online platform as well. This was a lifesaver during COVID. The same great classes are offered on their digital platform for a very reasonable monthly cost, with your first two weeks being free! So if you are reading this in my home state of Minnesota or are all the way in Japan (yes, I do have readers overseas), you can get access to the Formation Digital Studio from anywhere! I encourage you to check out the goodness that exists on the platform.
And I couldn’t fangirl over Formation Studio without mentioning its Visionaries and Owners, Sashie and Roman. These humans are something else, as this business came out of an extremely traumatic event. People that take something so bad in their lives and make something so good, are my kind of people. Maybe because this is my goal in life too as I look forward. In 2014, Sashie’s sister Chantal, a bright and if anything like her amazing family, kind and compassionate individual, passed away on Thanksgiving of 2014 alongside her boyfriend Cody. Working through her darkness and grief, Sashie attended a Beyonce dance class with a friend. Feeling the good energy from doing so resulted in Roman suggesting she organize her own classes and the rest is history. Well, let’s just say, it is an ongoing story that you are going to want to follow. These two are changing the world, one step at a time (LOL, see what I did there). While dance is where their company is rooted, Formation also is a space that hosts community events, such a women’s run craft fairs, charity events and other wellness based programming. Heck you even host a birthday. I had my girlfriends for a class to celebrate 42 years and will do the same for 43. Because why the heck not.
If you are are still reading, I hope you can understand why this place has become so important to me. It isn’t just about the music or movement, though let’s be honest in my darkest moments, this has become even more important as it gets that good serotonin flowing and helps me feel physically strong when maybe I am not feeling strong mentally. But it is about the energy I get when I am surrounded by the community this space brings together. From the Owners to the Movement Motivators and all the awesome individuals that come to take part, it is this energy and enthusiasm I crave and love. Some would say its “Big Big Energy” (and yes, they play this song at Formation).
Photo Credit: Movement by NM, https://movementbynm.com/
Photo Credit: Stephanie Braconnier