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Move 2 Change

Friday, March 7th, 2014 | Posted by
Julie Marques, center, lines up her students during a Bollywood dance class at her Move2Change studio in Sebastopol. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Julie Marques, center, lines up her students during a Bollywood dance class at her Move2Change studio in Sebastopol. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

By Andrea Granahan / West County Correspondent

Julie Marques is a mover and a shaker – literally. She can dance and shake to the samba, salsa, Bollywood, Zumba, ballet and more. Don’t mess with her, she also knows her martial arts, but if you want to relax she also knows yoga and pilates.

But at her Move 2 Change studio in Sebastopol, she offers more than simple exercise.

“I see this as a center for motivation, inspiration and discovery,” she said.

Movement has been Marques’ pathway to psychological and spiritual awareness. The 40-year-old single mother is from an ethnically rich background, with an Aruban mother, American father and Surinamese grandparents.

She also is well traveled, especially in Asia, but grew up in a conservative Santa Rosa home.

“It was a very religious upbringing with Christian schools,” she said. “When I was 16, I discovered Sebastopol and learned there was an alternative way of life. It meant a lot to me to find there was something beyond my Christian conservative life and it was right here.”

From the age of 3, she studied jazz, tap, ballet and soccer, then discovered Aikido in college, which captured her attention for years. When she began to travel, she was exposed to trance dancing in Nepal and learned new dimensions to movement.

“I realized I don’t have to be martial, I don’t have to be a performer,” she said. Marques forged her own path, studying movement and massage. Along the way, she fell in love and got pregnant.

All she will say of her daughter Alisia’s father is “he was a musician.” Seven years ago, she returned to Sonoma County and her family. “It was my walk of shame,” she recalled with a smile.

Marques opened a studio in San Francisco, although her heart was in Sebastopol, where she had first discovered freedom as a teen. She taught classes in her home at first but said, “I had a bigger vision. I realized I wanted to create a platform for people to move and grow.”

Last summer, she moved into the building that used to house the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Beyond the restful lobby with a burbling stone fountain and comfortable couches, the classrooms are very utilitarian.

“Some of my clients have asked why I don’t decorate it more,” Marques said. “Right now, my energy and money is going into other things.”

Move 2 Change offers a variety of ways to move, some taught by teachers Marques has assembled and others by groups such as Ecstatic Dance and West African Dembaya Collective, which rent the space. Content ranges from afterschool classes for kids to performance art and body/mind instruction.

The enticing Zipper Dance folks also stopped in as part of a national tour to promote the dance form that replaces leading and following with a more equalitarian method.

While some activities attract specific groups — teen girls love Bollywood, for example, while boys go for hip hop and Capoeira — Marques is also interested in combining age groups.

Move 2 Change also offers mother-and-child classes, and Marques periodically holds “Cyphers,” in which everyone gets together to do their own forms of movement. It’s a movement free-for-all designed for all ages and all disciplines.

When someone first comes into Move 2 Change, Marques offers a consultation to help determine which form of movement would work best for them.

She works with schools, bringing movement to children and helping them understand what a variety of movement the world offers. This month, she also plans to launch an online movement program so everyone can learn movement traditions.

“I am a movement junkie,” she admitted. “Movement has brought me to the place of faith.”

Move 2 Change is at 6780 Depot St., Sebastopol, 823-1074, move2change.com.


Writer Spotlight

Andrea Granahan is our West County correspondent.
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