Instructor Spotlight: Rae Polivka

CVDA is thrilled to welcome Rae Polivka to our faculty. Rae moved to McMinnville in August 2016 from Chicago to join her husband, Caleb, who was hired to be the general manager at The Oak. As fate would have it, Kristen and Francisco were chatting with Caleb one evening at The Oak and he mentioned how his wife was a dance teacher.

Kristen connected with Rae over Facebook and they met for coffee once Rae moved to McMinnville. Everything clicked and Rae started teaching a class at Newberg in the fall. Next season Rae will choreograph and coach some of the Performing Company teams, as well as teach at both locations. Read on to learn more about this talented dancer and teaching professional.

Chehalem Valley Dance Academy: Where are you from? Tell us about your background.

Rae Polivka: I lived in the Chicago area practically my whole life until we moved to McMinnville last year. For college I went to the University of Iowa for one year, then transferred to Wheaton College where I earned my English degree. During college, I taught dance classes part-time at my old high school, Wheaton Academy, which was about 15 minutes away. After I graduated from college they offered me a teaching job. Over the course of four years I taught English, drama, and dance, and developed a full dance program there. The school now offers six dance classes a day.

CVDA:  How did your dance career start?

RP: I started dancing at age three. My first recital was “Under the Sea” and I remember wearing a big bow on my head! I danced at the same studio until 6th grade – jazz, hip hop, ballet, lyrical, and musical theater. I joined a competition team during junior high and my freshman year of high school. In my sophomore year I transferred to Wheaton Academy, and they only had a performing team. So I took classes in the city at the  Louconte Studio of Hubbard Street Dance Company all through school, in addition to the school performing team. There was only one dance class offered at Wheaton back then, called “cardio rhythm.”

CVDA: What’s your favorite genre?

RP: Lyrical and contemporary, for sure. I loved dancing in story-driven pieces in high school. Lyrical and contemporary naturally lend themselves to a storyline. These genres make the audience feel something. You can be more free and expressive; let your body move and breathe. I have witnessed how liberating lyrical and contemporary can be for my students, too.

CVDA: What have been doing since you moved to McMinnville?

RP: A lot! I worked at Yamhill Valley Dry Goods for about six months. Currently, I have a one year contract at Western Menonite High School, directing their fall and spring productions. I also work as a project coordinator for Denny and Lucetta Elmer’s businesses: property management at Douglas on 3rd, tasks at Union Block Coffee, and administrative duties at CraftMark. I taught some ballet classes at CVDA Newberg in the fall until they found a more permanent instructor, and now I’m subbing in various classes.

CVDA: What’s up next?

RP: This summer I’m teaching hip hop, lyrical, musical theater, and the Jumps and Turns Intensive Camp. I’ll be (teaching) at both studios. Come fall I’ll be choreographing some of PC dances in Mac, and possibly in Newberg. I’ll know more after the PC auditions in May.

CVDA: How do you feel about choreography?

RP: Oh wow. Choreo pushes me a whole lot. I love the challenge of creating new dances. I’m so excited to work with the girls and create those relationships. My goal is to always choreograph to highlight their strengths and tap into their souls. There needs to be intention behind the dance…I love figuring that out – it’s like a puzzle.

CVDA: McMinnville is the opposite of Chicago. How do you like it so far?

RP: It’s great! I love the small businesses….the boutiques on 3rd Street. Everybody knows each other. Living here is a much slower pace. It’s more community and people-oriented. Chicago is go-go-go all the time and everyone’s into making money. People here take the time to sit and just be with someone. It’s nice to see that’s a reality.

CVDA: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

RP: I like to read, paint, and draw. I love yoga. Our dog, Stevie Nicks, a boxer, is the center of our lives. Caleb and I take her on walks. We love the coast because it’s nice and quiet. Both of our parents have moved out here so we see our families. We also like to hike and explore, but we’ve been so busy with work. Hopefully, this summer we’ll go on some Oregon adventures.

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