haeley gjesvold, instructor


An Oregon native, Haeley started dancing at age 15, she was drawn in by her love of music and then fell in love with fusing movement with the music. Shortly after, in a turn of events, her teacher was relocated and Haeley inherited her classes. That started a teaching and choreography career that spanned about 10 years. She was also cheerleading and doing freelance choreography for cheerleading teams and dance teams. Since starting so young she continued her education at other studios and took as many classes as she could get herself to.  About 5 years after that she moved to Portland and joined Portland Dance Project- an adult hip-hop dance collective.

 After teaching for about 10 years in various studios such as Chehalem Valley Dance Academy, Fired Up, and Elite Dance Studio Haeley took a break to in order to focus and pursue a degree in Radiology. As much as she loved Biology she eventually could not see herself in a medical career. From there, she was certified as a holistic wellness coach and Reiki practitioner. Haeley loved helping others improve their lives but there was still that pull in her heart that lead her back to dance.

After becoming certified to teach Zumba she knew there was nothing else. She currently still teaches Zumba at LA Fitness as well as Portland Community College. Haeley finds great joy in teaching all ages and all levels. Her diverse background has helped her navigate teaching and movement as healing and liberation. She could not be happier to connect to her roots in dance.

She teaches: HipHop, Street Jazz

Get to know Haeley better:

When did you start dancing and why did you keep dancing?  I started dancing at 15 and my family was shocked. I was always a bit of a quiet bookish kid that loved more introverted activities (like sorting crayons haha) but somehow dance brought out the extrovert in me and I instantly fell in love. I continue to dance simply because dance bring a joy to my life that nothing else can.

Why did you want to become a dance instructor?  instructor? I actually didn’t know I wanted to be an instructor until the opportunity presented itself! But since that first week I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. I love learning and being a student but to be able to share the freedom I have found within dance is incomparable. I love helping my students and encouraging them to access that special place in our hearts that dance flourishes in.

Do you still dance or take dance lessons even though you are an instructor?  I do! But I am very random, and usually pop in here and there and then try something new the next time. I also really enjoy trying other types of performing art. Some of my “wild hairs” have included flamenco, salsa, hip-hop/street jazz, bellydance, fire dance, tango, and aerial trapeze/silks.

What is your favorite style of dance and why? Hip-Hop…But I am probably a little bias! All styles move me but, I love hip-hop because it can be a little mix of anything. I can throw in a little latin step or something a little more street jazz. Hip-hop can be such a fun mish mash of choreography and I love not feeling constrained.

What is the hardest part about dance to you and why?  The hardest part is when I have a specific feeling or emotion that comes from an experience or song but can’t quite find the perfect expression within the choreography. I find it best to just put it away for a while and come back fresh the next day or so. Usually whatever is meant to come to the surface does when I give it room to breathe.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of the studio or besides teaching dance?  I love being outside; hiking, long walks with podcasts and photography. Being a PNW native I also love indoor activities; books, embroidery and I love cooking. I love trying new Portland restaurants with my love and spending time with our pups; two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes Luna and Baewolf and our Daschund mix, Henry.

What is your favorite dance quote and why?  “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is powerful, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” --Agnes de Mille

I love this quote because it is empowering! It embraces that through dance, we can express things we may not be able to with words or intellect. It also reminds us that we can access that part of ourselves whenever we need and to me that is very powerful and very special.