The dance floor didn’t sparkle with the scattered reflections of an overhead disco ball, and it didn’t light up in rainbow colors to the beat of the music. In truth, it needed a good sweeping, particularly the area where the couch usually sits.
This dance floor was really my living room.
But with the couch and coffee table pushed against the wall, there was enough space for me to dance my heart out – and get my heart pounding – during a recent virtual Shine Dance Fitness class.
While my diminutive living room dance floor only had room for one, I wasn’t dancing alone.
My Shine Dance Fitness cohorts were busting moves in their own living rooms, kitchens, and basements. I could see their arms shoot up over their heads and their bodies slide to the left and right through the small boxes on my laptop screen. Judging from the sweat and smiles, we were all digging every minute of it.
The free Wednesday-evening class is led by local Shine instructor Rachel Rosenfield, who’s been teaching these classes with her contagious spirit since 2016. Shine combines moves from jazz, hip-hop, and ballet into simple choreography set to upbeat dance music from the likes of Dua Lipa, Todrick Hall, Missy Elliot, Jennifer Lopez, and Bruno Mars.
The hour-long dance workout consists of movements simple enough for a beginner to pick up – step kicks and grapevines and big arms and hip swirling – but that more-experienced dancers can modify, so everyone can move to their own ability. Rosenfield offers plenty of cues throughout, but it doesn’t matter if you perfectly follow each choreographed step. It’s about moving your body and having a darn good time.
“It’s very much like recess,” Rosenfield said. “It’s an amazing workout that uses your entire body, but it’s fun, so it doesn’t feel like a workout.”
Rosenfield keeps the energy level high, even on a computer screen. She’s clearly having a blast as she dances, alternately flexing some sass and then laughing at her own cheeky bravado. She’s also known to host themed classes, encouraging dancers to don holiday-themed colors or bring props.
“It’s never boring, and it goes by very fast,” she said.
Class is also open to anyone who likes to move it. “You do not need to be a dancer. It’s open to all ages, all levels, all genders,” Rosenfield said, and if you’d prefer to turn the camera off so no one can see you? Totally fine.
Prior to the pandemic, Rosenfield taught in-person at a few Portland-area locations, most recently NXGen Fitness Center in Scarborough. Those classes came to a halt last March for the safety of everyone.
“It was hard to lose that overnight,” she said. “At the same time, there’s been a lot of hardship, and I feel grateful for everything I have.”
Recognizing the positive effects dancing has in her own life, Rosenfield found a way to keep dancing every day at home with her daughter and sometimes the neighbors, too.
“We blasted music every day at two o’clock, and we danced for an hour,” she said. “It was awesome, and it kept us all sane.”
Now she leads Shine Dance Fitness classes via Zoom from her home in Cape Elizabeth. While some in-person fitness classes have returned to Maine gyms – including Shine Dance Classes at NXGen in Scarborough – Rosenfield isn’t there yet. “Every member of my family is immunocompromised,” she said, so she’s staying virtual for now.
The Wednesday classes are also free. Rosenfield said she wanted to remove every possible barrier and make it open to anyone who wants to join in. “Times are tough,” she said. “People are going through a lot of stuff.”
Rosenfield’s class is a lively opportunity to move your body, but it’s a mental break, too. Shine is an hour where you have permission to not think about anything else but dancing. It’s an easy mood booster at a time when we can use all the mood-boosting assistance we can get.
“I look forward to it every week,” Rosenfield said. “It’s time that I get to forget about everything. I’m teaching, but I also get so much joy out of it.”
If you enjoy dancing and a bit of diva-inspired silliness, she said, you’ll like Shine. With every class, you’ll grow more adept at picking up the choreography, too, although you’re also welcome to ignore the choreography altogether and move your body however you see fit.
“I know dancing is vulnerable,” Rosenfield said. “Just show up and do you.”
As the temperatures warm up, she plans to move outside, hosting classes in her yard and possibly some other outdoor locations this spring and summer.
In the meantime, you can turn your carpeted bedroom floor or the linoleum of your kitchen into the most happenin’ dance floor on the block. No cover charge or fancy outfits required – although Rosenfield probably has some delightful theme ideas up her sleeve in the coming weeks.
Freelance writer Shannon Bryan lives in South Portland and is the founder of fitmaine.com, where she writes about the coolest ways to be active and get outdoors in Maine.