Sarah Riddle, owner of The Viscount Dance Studio, is doing what she loves, and The Viscount Dance Studio reflects it.
The Dancing is Social: Believing that anyone who feels like a dancer can be a dancer, Sarah Riddle teaches social dancing at the Viscount. Social dancing does not have to look a certain way, but gives dancers the freedom to express themselves with the music. Sarah’s goal is for students to leave class excited they learned a new way to spin their partner or another way to move with the music. She is not concerned if they can recite the technicalities of the dance steps, but wants students to experience the fun of dancing. Similarly, she lets her students decide what level of class to take. She believes students know the level where they belong and where they want to be. It is not a competitive environment, but as she says, “Real Dancing for Real People.”
Born to Salsa: Sarah has been part of the Portland dance scene for many years. She was originally drawn to dancing through her love of music. She studied ballet and jazz dancing for several years, but her passion is for Salsa dancing, attracted to the varied rhythmatic patterns in the music. In her early 20’s, Sarah worked as a preschool teacher by day, and learned to Salsa dance at night. An addiction to the dance grew. Completely self-taught, Sarah just kept dancing. She eventually joined Sabor Latino, one of the first Salsa dance companies in Portland, and her Salsa dancing blossomed and developed.
A Natural Teacher: Sarah didn’t start out thinking she would own a dance studio. While out dancing at the local Salsa clubs, people began asking her where she taught. So, she started teaching dance lessons at her house and teaching workshops. She later started teaching drop-in lessons at The Viscount’s old location (formerly the Bassanova Ballroom). Sarah and a partner eventually bought The Viscount, and then three years later Sarah bought out her partner.
Sarah is happy having her own studio. She enjoys watching her students develop friendships, witnessing shy people connect with other dancers, and seeing the community of her students grow and get closer. She has attended weddings of couples who met at her studio, and watched as social dancing brightened the lives of many people. It strikes me that for Sarah it is almost as much about the people and the community as the dancing. Or perhaps, it’s the people, the music, and the dancing mixed together that create such a rich community.
About Sarah: Sarah is busy outside the studio too. She belongs to the Portland band, Ages and Ages. She also gives back to the Portland community by teaching pottery classes at the Central City Concern. For Sarah, these these activities also provide a creative outlet she craves.
Sarah is one of those rare Portland natives and is a sixth generation Oregonian. Maybe that explains why she even enjoys the winter and does not mind the rain. It’s in her blood. She loves how nature connects with the City of Portland. She lived briefly in Seattle and misses the water, but Portland is where her heart is.
The Viscount: The Viscount Dance Studio offers classes in a variety of social dances. (My personal favorite is swing dancing and the shim sham lesson and swing social the 3rd Friday of every month). Sarah teaches the Salsa and Latino dances. Check out the schedule at its website. The studio is located at 720 SE Sandy, just off SE Stark Street. Sarah tries to keep the prices reasonable, so that everyone can experience the joy of dancing.