The Moxy Movement | Buzz Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Moxy Movement

Looking into the latest dance studio to setup in Draper.

Posted By on December 18, 2016, 8:00 AM

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While a lot of the dance groups and companies are focused in or around downtown SLC, some newer companies and troupes are spreading out around the valley, adding more places to train and perform in cities that were rarely served. This year, The Moxy Movement took up shop in Draper, offering an array of classes to aspiring dancers and those who just like to learn a new skill, while also providing a performance space where they recently started showcasing original productions. Today we chat with the co-founders of the company about their careers and starting the new space. (All pictures provided courtesy of The Moxy Movement.)

Angela Nelson & Sarah Child
click to enlarge JOHN THACKER
  • John Thacker

Gavin: Hey Angela and Sarah, first off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I was born and raised here in Salt Lake Valley. During the day I work as a massage therapist and love helping people through this discipline. I lived in downtown Salt Lake for several years, but recently relocated to Draper to help our business.

Sarah: I was born in Wyoming and split my childhood between my mom's house in Kentucky and my dad's house in Wyoming. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with my B.S. in Occupational Science and my minor in Dance. I am an outdoor enthusiast, a capable free spirit, and an extreme sports fanatic. I'm happiest when my feet are off the ground. I currently live in Draper with my husband, Loren, and our six-year-old, River.

click to enlarge Sarah Child - NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier
  • Sarah Child

How did each of you first take an interest in dance as you grew up?

As far back as I can remember, I have had a love affair with dance and movement. Some of my earliest memories were of creatively moving my body. I love the performance, stories, and the stage. I fascinated with the human body, and am continually awed with its capabilities and capacities. It is an evolving study, and I remain eager to expand my understanding. I grew doing gymnastics and loved the dance component the most. I found pole dancing about five years ago and that just became my passion and something that I really love to do. I started teaching at a studio with Sarah and that flourished into what is now the Moxy Movement.

Sarah: I vividly remember the first dance production I ever saw. I was four and it was at Western Wyoming Community College. From that point on, I wanted to dance. For several reasons, I didn't have the opportunity to get involved in a dance program growing up. To keep myself in motion, I did yoga with my mom, ran track, played softball and took Tae Kwon Do, teaching myself to dance along the way. I discovered modern dance during my freshman year at Eastern Kentucky University and changed my minor to dance as quickly as they would let me so I could take as many movements classes as possible. During this time I got to choreograph pieces for the bi-yearly Dance Theatre productions. After leaving the University I kept up with dance through community classes and Zumba. In 2010, I sustained a spinal cord injury, putting a momentary pause on my dance career. Thankfully, aerial arts and pole fitness reopened the door to dance and movement for me in 2012, an unexpected gift which I will be forever grateful for.

click to enlarge Melissa Hite - NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier
  • Melissa Hite

What kind of experience and education did you both receive over the years?

I received my Master of Bodywork certification from Utah College of Massage therapy and Structural Integration certification from Structural Integration Institute in Salt Lake City. These disciplines have fostered a heightened sense of body awareness with the aerial and dance teaching she's done. I started pole dancing about five years ago and have since placed in several national competitions, winning first place in The U.S. Aerial competition in spring 2016. I've been teaching pole and dance since 2014, including traveling to Pole Conventions and Competitions to run workshops.

Sarah: I completed my group fitness certification while at Eastern Kentucky University. After immersing myself in the aerial world, I worked with the instructors at Onyx to get education and shadowing on running aerial classes. I've been teaching aerial hoop since 2013. During the summer of 2015, I made good on a lifelong promise to obtain my 200-HR yoga teacher training through Yoga Assets, under the guidance of Denise Druce. Last April, I completed her FloorFlow training with Marlo Fisken.

click to enlarge NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier

Prior to The Moxy Movement, what groups were each of you involved with around town?

I've been involved with Onyx Pole Studio, KitKat Cabaret, The Velveteen Serpent, An October's Evening, Voodoo Productions, Life Elevate Aerial Competition, Leggy Meggy Productions, Hunt's Gymnastics
Sarah has been involved with Onyx Pole Studio, Aerobatics Studio, Leggy Meggy Productions, An October's Evening, Aerobatics Gym , The Little Gym, Life Elevated Aerial Competition, Yoga Assets, Marlo FloorFlow, Salt Lake AcroYogis.

When did the two of you first meet and eventually become friends?

We met while teaching at Onyx Pole and Aerial Fitness. Specifically, our friendship started to blossom when we did a photoshoot together with Lee Hester Studios. At this event, there were lots faux-fur coats and platform heels. Angela was right in her element and I was merely attempting to mimic her movements. There were lots of "Am I doing it?" moments, and I discovered a new side of my self through her guidance. At the time, I had just started my yoga teacher training with Yoga Assets, and I asked her to be one of my yoga students while I completed my certification. We bounded over our love of dance, corny jokes, old-timey references and empowerment through movement.

click to enlarge Meg Hinds - NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier
  • Meg Hinds

What sparked the idea of starting your own dance studio? Where did the name come from?

We always talked about how fun it would be to teach pole, dance, yoga and lyra all day. We would daydream about what our ideal teaching space would be like, neither of us wanted to own a studio or be studio owners. We wanted to dedicate all of our time to the disciplines we love. Eventually, the seed was planted that we COULD make it our full-time jobs, but that we would have to open up are own space to incorporate all the movement arts we wanted in one place. We began to work with Lyn Christian at SoulSalt, Inc and she was really the catalyst to slingshot us into business ownership. From the start, we knew we wanted to classify our space as a movement studio. Movement can take shape in multiple forms and we didn't want to limit ourselves to just pole or yoga or dance, we wanted a place that could incorporate it all. From there, we tried on several different names and nothing felt quite right. One day, after a meeting with Lyn, Angela and I were standing on the sidewalk describing what we loved about pole dancing. In a fit of enthusiasm, Angela said "You have to be bold, you have to brave. You have to have MOXIE to do it!" I wish there was a visual for the supernova explosion that happened in my head as soon as she said that word. MOXIE. The Moxie Movement. It fit so perfectly with what we wanted to bring to the world. We decided to change the spelling to Moxy because we believe that there is a way things have always been done and a way that things could be done.

click to enlarge NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier

How did you come across the Draper location? What was it like turning it into the kind of space you needed?

The day we found the school seemed like a magical day indeed. In the morning, I was looking at the Draper news-flyer that we generally just throw in the trash. There was a short article about the renovations happening at The Old School in Draper Town Center. The building owner, Shelley Godfrey of Godfrey Entertainment, mentioned in the article that she was hoping to fill the school with creative spaces and mentioned wanting a dance studio. I thought "I have a dance studio" and called Angela immediately to tell her that I found our space. 30 minutes later, Angela had a serendipitous run-in with someone who worked with the Godfreys and by that afternoon we had a contact number. Later that week we got to tour the school building and hear the grand vision that the Godfrey's had for the building. Everything we had asked for when dreaming up our studio was there and we felt a great connection to the vision for the school, with the Godfreys and with Andy Renfro, the other owner of The Old School. Thankfully, we didn't have to do much work to the space on our own. Both rooms were already equipped with the type of flooring we needed, and the building owners were open to our inputs and needs as they restored the integrity of our two rooms. It was important to us to maintain the feel of the classrooms; we love the rich history that the school provides. Most of the nuances of our rooms (cubbies, chalkboards, cabinets) are original to the school with a fresh coat of paint. We had to installed mounts for our aerial hoops and reinforcements for our poles. Additionally, we installed lovely mirrors and added a few furniture pieces to help us achieve a 1920's flare.

click to enlarge NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier

How has it been starting up and bringing in groups and classes?

That's happening right now! Our grand opening showcase was on Dec. 2, and we had a marvelous turnout. The community was eager to see our space and meet our instructors. Currently, we are reaching out to businesses in the Draper Area to further build our community and bring in new faces to our classes. It's been thrilling, exciting and very challenging as we navigate all that comes with business ownership. We were lucky to have an entire year before opening where we could build a following. Our students, instructors, friends and family have been incredibly supportive throughout this process. We wouldn't be where we are now without the enthusiasm of these individuals.

What made you decide to allow all kinds of groups to utilize the space, rather than focusing on a few specific styles?

First and foremost, Angela and I both have a "problem" with collecting new ways to move and bend our bodies. When we started talking about classes we would like to offer, it became a discussion of what classes we would like to take. Secondly, this is a tricky question: On a base level, we are focusing on a specific thing, which is creative expression and empowerment through movement. Different types of movement will appeal to each individual, and we believe in the magic that happens when two styles begin to merge into its own unique fusion of art. We want our members to consistently challenge their bodies, minds, and hearts by experiencing movement in a new form. This will help breakdown barriers of what we believe we can and can't do and help cultivate new strengths and abilities. Also, moving in new ways keeps it fun and interesting! Finally, we believe in the potential of our studio to bring together multiple communities so we can all be more integrated as movers.

click to enlarge Aaliyah Jenny - NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier
  • Aaliyah Jenny

You also utilize the space for yoga classes. What kind of yoga classes do you host in the space?

In our space we currently offer yoga for beginners, flow yoga, power yoga, restorative yoga, prenatal yoga, our own special yoga/dance blend called Moxy Movement. So much of the aerial and pole world is pulling up to get away from the floor, and we want to balance this fitness approach with the grounding and pushing into the earth that yoga provides. This is a great way to ensure happy and healthy bodies, hearts and minds. It's not quite yoga, but we would [also] like to mention that we are also offering a martial arts inspired movement meditation called QiGong.

You also offer a professional massage/structural integration as well. What made you decide to incorporate that as part of the space, and how have people responded to it?

Massage and structural integration is another tool for maintaining/promoting health and balance within the body. Balanced bodies are happy movers; they work more efficiently and are less prone to injuries or dysfunction. Our members LOVE having this option available and use the services frequently. Currently, Angela is our only Massage Therapist; however, we are looking to incorporate other professional in our network.

click to enlarge NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier

How has it been for you holding performances at the space and putting on original productions?

This is one of our favorite aspects of the business! Angela and I are both performance addicts and avid storytellers. Dance and movement are an easy way for us to convey thoughts and emotions. We've also both been in several productions, so we understand the work that goes into creating meaningful and moving events. Thankfully, The Old School has the perfect venue for shows built right in! If you haven't had the opportunity to see the Auditorium in the school, I would HIGHLY recommend checking it out. Our first show highlighted the skills and artistry of our instructors, which we call our Mavens and Mavericks. We look forward to our next event, which will be showcasing the passion, dedication and talents of our members. In addition, we've been fortunate enough to represent The Moxy Movement in several shows around the valley over the past year.

For those wishing to get involved with classes, or bring a class to the space, what do they need to do?

There are several ways to contact us! First and foremost, please visit our website. From here you can register for classes by clicking on the "class registration" button at the top of the screen. Right now, we are also offering a Bee's Knees 30-Day trial membership, this is a great way to get involved with space or an easy gift to get someone who loves to move. Please also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updates on shows, classes, workshops, and where you can find the Mavens and Mavericks around town. We also just registered The Moxy Movement on YogaTrail. In addition to classes, we offer private lessons, semi-private lessons and customizable group parties! We would love for everybody and every body to come move with us! For any specific questions, you can email us at or shoot us a private message on Facebook. Also, feel free to give us a ring at 801-999-8630.

click to enlarge Angela Nelson - NIKKITA SAULNIER
  • Nikkita Saulnier
  • Angela Nelson

What can we expect from both of you and The Moxy Movement going into 2017?

Well, darling, we are just getting started! As Angela so often says, "Hold on to your socks!! It's gonna be good!" Our full-time class schedule begins in January, and in our classes we promise to help empower you so you can discover what moves you. We promise to provide a safe and clean environment for you to get fit, make new friends and have fun. We will also be offering two workshops a month, several shows throughout the year, and we will be performing at events throughout Salt Lake Valley. If you are interested, you can catch me, Angela and several of our Mavens and Mavericks at the Now or Never New Years Eve dinner at the Leonardo in Downtown Salt Lake. We invite you to discover your own Moxy in 2017, dare to move!

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