Liana MacFarlane, owner & Studio Director

Image: Madeline Garland Photography

Image: Madeline Garland Photography


Liana began her training at the age of 11 at Modern Dance Technique (MDT) with Donna Blatt-Ervin in Corvallis, Oregon, where she studied the techniques of Martha Graham, Lester Horton, and Jose Limon. With MDT she performed for 11 years in the Annual Spring Celebration of Dance, the Annual Dance Gallery, performances for the Majestic Theater Education Program, and the Corvallis Community Theater. Liana began teaching at MDT in 2001 and after moving to Portland in 2005 continued a weekly commute to Corvallis as a guest choreographer for 6 years.  Liana taught her first classes at SDA right after moving to Portland.  She immediately fell in love with the studio and knew it would be a second home.  She moved up the ranks and quickly became Assistant Studio Director, then the Studio Director.  In the Fall of 2014, Liana and her husband, Grey, were thrilled to become the new owners of Sherwood Dance Academy.  During her "free time", Liana runs a photography business, Liana Robin Photography and does all the portrait photography for the studio.  Liana and Grey welcomed their first baby boy, Lachlan, in May, 2017.

She teaches: Modern, Ballet, Tap, and Pre-Acro


Get to know Liana better:

When did you start dancing and why did you keep dancing?  My mom signed me up for Modern Dance classes when I was 11 years old and informed me after the fact. At first I was really nervous and I didn't want to go. She told me to just go and try it first, before I made a decision. For a while I felt like I was a horrible dancer, that everyone knew what they were doing except me. But I became attached as soon as we started working on the dance for the recital. All the exercises we did during class began to make more sense as we used the technique we learned to form graceful movements to a beautiful song (it was the theme song from the movie 'The Mission'). I realized then that my mom signed me up for dance classes because I am a dancer. I always have been and I always will be.

Why did you want to become a dance instructor?  When I was 15 years old I became a teaching assistant. The longer I assisted, the better I got at helping lead classes. I found it fulfilling to be a part of these young girls finding their own passion for dance. As soon as I turned 18 my teacher gave me a class of my very own to teach.

Do you still dance or take dance lessons even though you are an instructor?  I think it's important for any instructor to stay inspired by continuing to be a student of dance themselves. I've taken Ballet with Kindal, Lyrical with Brynn, as well as Tap, Bellydancing, Flamenco, HipHop and Jazz. 

What is your favorite style of dance and why?  Modern dance is and always will be my favorite style of dance. It fits me like a glove. I love the bound and rebound, contract and expand, and hold and release. Modern utilizes the floor and gravity rather than resisting it. That grounding makes my body feel integrated and whole when I dance. I believe it's one of the most versatile dance styles out there.

What is the hardest part about dance to you and why?  Dancing is all about using the body. So when my body fails me it frustrates me more than anything.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of the studio or besides teaching dance?  I love photography! I especially love taking candid pictures of people- capturing raw, unfiltered emotions. A true smile is more beautiful and genuine then any posed smile could ever be.  I began my other business, Liana Robin Photography, in the Fall of 2013.  You can see my photographs hanging throughout the studio.

What is your favorite dance quote and why?  "I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing." -Rabbi Hillel.  I will find a way to dance no matter what happens. And dancing is what will keep me going.

Random tidbits:  The tattoo on my back means 'to dance' in Hebrew.