(Above: Chrissa Dockendorf realizes a lifelong dream of opening a dance-and-movement studio for adults at The Space in downtown Eugene; photo by Randi Bjornstad)

By Randi Bjornstad

Chrissa Dockendorf has been dancing pretty much all of her 34 years, but it’s been in just the past few weeks that her dream of opening her own studio space where adults with some background in movement — all genres of dance as well as other mind-body arts — can come together for classes or work on their own particular movement goals.

Dockendorf calls it The Space Movement Studio — The Space, for short — and it’s located inside Eugene Yoga’s downtown studio at 245 E. Broadway. The studio already offers an early morning ballet barre, plus a variety of other styles, ranging from jazz to hip hop, dancing in heels to burlesque, contemporary to conditioning, with modern soon to be added to the list.

“I’m focusing downtown on adults ages 18 years and older, and The Space is meant for all genders, all abilities, all bodies, a place where everyone feels welcome to work on their own goals,” she said. “It’s really for people who may have done dance in high school, LCC, UO and other places but who now have nowhere to go, people who have some movement background but need a place to work on what their bodies already know how to do. I hope it will be a place for experimentation, for combining art and dance, literature and dance, whatever form it might take.”

Since a “soft opening” on May 1, without much fanfare, the response has been really positive, “but we really want to find out exactly what people want and work on getting more people involved,” she said.

She loves the new space, with its exposed brick wall, plenty of light, and good-sized performance floor.

Dockendorf actually has been in Eugene for five years already, but with four young children (including a set of twins) at home, her husband, Stephen Dockendorf, becoming a funeral director at Andreason’s Cremation and Burial Service, and her own job as a telecommuting job recruiter, she’s had plenty to occupy her time.

“But two years ago, I decided it was time to leave the home cave and look for ways to become involved in the community,” she said. “I started volunteering around town, including with the CASA program for kids in foster care, and then I saw a posting for a dance team coach at South Eugene High School.”

Putting a dance team together after eight years without one at SEHS was right up her alley. “I hadn’t done any dance myself since we moved here, so it was a nice challenge,” Dockendorf said. “There was no program to start from — no organization, no funding, no costumes — so it was really starting from scratch. But we’ve just completed our first year, and it was very rewarding.”

As in “when it rains, it pours,” other opportunities started presenting themselves at the same time.

“I met Roshny Martuscelli, who owns the Dance Factory, and she mentioned that she and her family were moving to Arizona,” Dockendorf said. “She said she wanted to sell her studio, so I talked to my husband about it, and he said that was my big chance to do something I’d always wanted to do, so I will take that over in July.”

That studio will be located at 18th and Willamette streets and will accommodate students from ages 2 to 19 years, she said. Adult classes will move downtown to the The Space in the Eugene Yoga location.

“Everything seems to be coming together perfectly, with one space for the adults and one with opportunities for all kids, including foster kids, unhoused kids, and disabled kids,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it all, but I’m also a little bit petrified.”

Always moving

Dockendorf started dancing when she was 2 years old, largely because she was born with seriously pigeontoed feet, “and my (adoptive) mother took me to the doctor, who recommended some kind of active physical exertion like soccer or gymnastics or dance.”

Dance definitely was the right choice for her, Dockendorf  said, because movement and music “were always the things that made me happiest.”

Even so, until she was a sophomore in high school back in Maryland, “I always said I was going to be a lawyer,” she recalled. “But that was the year I knew I wanted to be a dancer.”

When she graduated, she enrolled at Arizona State University, because “it was the the farthest away where I got in that my parents would pay for,” she laughed. “I also got into Hawaii Pacific, but they said that was too far.”

She stayed in Arizona for a year and a half, then returned to Maryland where she attended a local community college and earned an associate’s degree in dance. She also got a job as a recruiter for government contractors, which she did for 13 years, during which she finished a bachelor’s degree in organizational development through Arizona State’s online degree program.

Dockendorf describes herself as Cuban and Spanish and believes that music and dance definitely reside in her DNA.

“My birth mom apparently told her social worker that I was Mexican,” she said, “but then I kept going places and having people tell me I look like I am from Cadiz,” in Spain. She later learned from a DNA website that she is Cuban and Spanish.

Besides all of her activities dancing, teaching, choreographing, mothering, recruiting, and starting new businesses, Dockendorf also serves on the Lane County Cultural Coalition.

The Space Movement Studio

Where: 245 E. Broadway, Eugene

Telephone: 541-214-7086


Website: thespacedf.com


Correction: June 5, 2019

This article has been revised to make the following correction: Chrissa Dockendorf learned of her Cuban and Spanish ancestry via the results of a DNA test kit; her birth mother had told a social worker that the baby was Mexican, not Cuban and Mexican.