dance

“You Must Believe In Spring”

“You Must Believe in Spring” is a piece that stemmed from a concept Mario Spinetti (the musical genius on vocals and keyboard here…) brought to me to bring to life with movement. It expresses what it’s like to feel alone and depressed, like there’s no way out, and then the complete opposite side of that coin – what it’s like to be around others who help you see the light. It’s amazing how being close to others and feeling supported can make all the difference in the world in terms of perspective.

 

There’s always a way out of darkness, but sometimes we just can’t see.

 

I’m so very grateful also to Rocco Contini who brought this vision to life with his videography talents. Collaboration is a beautiful thing! Thank you!!

“High Hopes”

This fun dance to Mario Spinetti’s “High Hopes” kicked off “Reveal Realign Rejoice,” hosted at Athleta.

When it comes to your body and movement goals, you have to have “high hopes and big dreams” that yes, you can achieve what it is you are after, and yes, you can actually love your body. Sounds cheesy and potentially juvenile, but that is simply step one in the journey, without a doubt. I can’t even tell you how many journals I have with my hopes and dreams written all over them; and that’s always the start of putting a big fat check mark signifying a “nailed it” right along side of it. Allow yourself to picture your happiest, healthiest body being yours.

Enjoy this ditty! Let me know what you think!

Choose Your Motivation Wisely, Or Else…

What motivates you?  Why do you get up and go to class and work out?  If you go to class to look good and get skinny, odds are you will 1.) be more unhappy and 2.) be less successful at achieving your desired thinness.  Damn.  And I thought the vanity angle had some potential to steer me away from dark chocolate truffles and late-night pizza.  The problem with vanity, beyond the fact that basking in your own physical appearance is a rather shallow and continuously transient perception of beauty, is that it is solely an instrumental motive.  A motive that has`everything to do with exterior, personal gain – say notoriety, financial prosperity, getting a job, and in this case, looking thin and implicitly attractive to others.  When we workout to merely look good or senselessly earn the stamp of approval from friends and family, we are doing ourselves a disservice.  It has been proven (don’t just take my word, here are two fabulous and engaging articles vouch for this claim…see below) that people with internal motive – motive that brings forth true connection with the activity at hand devoid of instrumental motive – say, to gain a closer bond with friends, to enhance your mood, to free your mind for an hour-long practice – are more motivated, happier, and more likely to achieve results.  By not focusing on external results, but focusing on the crust of the work and the glory it holds, we truly win.  Also very worth noting, to engage an an activity with both internal and instrumental motives, you also lessen your chance of obtaining your desired results and reaching happiness.  Sorry ladies.  More means of motivation doesn’t bring you more of what you want here!

Alright. So crap.  Now how do we reverse the years of just wanting to look hot in the mirror or in that new evening dress, and start to not only pretend, but truly believe we want to work out to enhance our inner souls (duh!)?  And possibly harder yet, how do we start to love working out – which brings us torture and physical challenges in the heat of the moment?

Enter the life of a dancer.

As dancers, we have to love our job; and it is our job to find freedom and lightness in the lieu of complicated and physically challenging feats.  Let’s be honest, financial prosperity as motivation is off the table.  Notoriety on the other hand, could sabotage the few who want to be known as prima ballerina, genius choreographer, or lead soloist for decades to come, but dancers – particularly the brilliant ones – are very down to earth and simply love the grittiness of the craft.

Yes, dancers are idolized for their sleek figures, but using the motivation of thinness, the pettiest of reasons for attending class, almost always results in a lousy hour and a half and short-changed results.  Every time I gripped on the need to be skinny for a gig or for a director who was demanding a particular aesthetic, I would inevitably leave rehearsal craving, and then caving, for a $9 sundae from 16 handles.  Not to mention over-thinking the need to be in better shape resulted in utter crankiness.  The only way I achieved supreme shape for an important performance, was when I focused instead on the important performance and experiences I needed to deepen to achieve it – when the fluid mastery the steps became my motivation, when my interest laid in my connection with my partner as the music oscillated through chords, or when my intention was to get lost and completely transported in the studio and on stage.  Yes, those things don’t directly correlate to shedded pounds, but my head was on a more successful trek and I wasn’t motivating myself with shallowness.  I worked harder in the studio, and precious moments were not wasted on the mental distraction of how I could look physically better and sadly, possibly gain more approval from a director.  And oddly enough, the tip-top shape would come as result of going deeper with the movement.  Any time instrumental motive was thieving my moments, I felt completely unsatisfied with the rehearsal process and subsequently the culminating performance.  Cue the moments of motivating myself with: trying to get a role, attempting to land a job at any and every audition, proving myself to someone watching, or competing internally with another dancer.  It has only been when I had complete dedication to a work and all the delicate parts of it, that I looked back and claimed I mastered it, conquered it, and performed it to my upmost.

And beautifully enough, everything can be a dance.  The next class you take can be driven by the music, the muscles that are firing, the art of perfecting your form, and the energy of your instructor and the strong women alongside you.  Or better yet, just pick one of those motivators and see if it shifts how you work or how you feel afterwards.  Yes, there are points of class that will be hard and perhaps your go-to mental motivation is the last glance you got of your less-than-perky behind.  Your ass isn’t going to save you here.  Switch your motivation to something locked into the essence of the movement.  Relish in the release of endorphins and fatigue in your muscles.  Encourage yourself with the joy of moving your body, and geez, stop incentivizing with the so-over-rated, socially-obsessed, airbrush-only-obtainable skinny!

This post is thanks to two provoking articles found in the NYTimes Sunday Review, albeit 2014; a thank you for the thoughts of Arthur C. Brooks for his “Love People, Not Pleasure” (July 20th, 2014) and Amy Wrzesniewski’s “The Secret of Effective Motivation.” (July 6th, 2014).

Get Your Mind Blown And Stretch

Here are two tips that will blow your mind about stretching and teach you about what is actually happening in your body. These tips will allow for you to finally find your fullest elongation of any muscle. Then, I’ll take you through a series of stretches for you to put these tips into physical practice!

“You Must Believe In Spring”

I am collaborating with dear friend and vocalist extraordinaire, Mario Spinetti. He came to me with a concept for a dance film and here’s my work-in-progress that starts to bring his vision to life with movement.

I’m feeling a bit vulnerable and scared to share something that isn’t a finished product or performance, but alas, choosing to do as I preach and go towards my scary place rather than shy away from it!

Check out more gems from Mario here on Facebook. And I must mention, he is an extraordinary vocal coach – which is how I was blessed enough to meet him in the first place!

Tone Your Arms with Passion and Shania


When you dance, and not just merely “workout,” you move with your passion and spirit. This helps shift your muscle, create better results, and elevate your mood. There is simply no other way!! You’ll need a pair of 2 or 3 pound weights for this “dance.”  Let it rip!!

Toned Thighs with Shania

Here’s a “thigh dance” that will distract you from that fact that you are working out. It’s a choreographed dance to tone and burn your thighs without heavy lifting, running, or the treadmill…or any other single-move exercise. (Not to mention moving your muscles in a multitude of ways, helps for results and more evenly developped, balanced muscles. And more balanced muscles mean less injury).

 

Any questions about the best ways to tone your thighs? Or simply on how to survive a grueling thigh workout (they are always one of the hardest for me!)? Send me a message!

Step Small and Dream Big…and Dance!

You have to dream big, and then dream bigger yet again, if you crave that ideal juicy life, bod, job, lover, what-have-you! Yet simultaneously, fight overwhelm with one small step a day. And celebrate those small wins – because they are magnificent!

Here’s a small clip of original choreography, choreographed with the help my dear friend Whitney G-Bowley. Check out the debut, in real time, on Dec 10th at 4:30pm at Pure Yoga on the Upper West Side. It’s FREE!

Enjoy listening to Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra jam out “My Pretty Girl.”

This is my small step to a much larger production I’m dreaming up in full 1920s glamour and fanfare! : )

What’s the baby step you’re taking?? Leave a message below and let me know!

Dance Fearlessly

You can’t step trepidatiously in dance. If you do, that step will be sure to fail you. The only way to be successful in your dance (aka life) is to step confidently and boldly – despite whether you feel dumb. And you can’t wait for someone to tell you exactly how to move. You need to take the initiative yourself, trust your instincts, and know that only you can move the best way for you.

Here’s a easy-to-follow dance-cardio combination to “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke for you to do just that!

I break it down for you first and then I dance it out wholeheartedly. : )

What scares you? What are you on the fence about? Let me know below!

And more importantly let’s kick those fears to the curb and conquer!

 

When are you grateful?

Is it just at Thanksgiving dinner? When you earn that promotion? When you land that dance gig? What about being grateful for the crap in your life? What about being grateful for the parts of your body that you wish were leaner, thinner, or simply not there? What about being grateful for that argument you had with your director or boss? What about being grateful for when your dancing or life doesn’t quite go as planned? What about being grateful when you are struggling with a physical injury?

All of the things that come into our lives – good, bad, and even ugly – are gifts for us. Whether they appear to be gifts that are welcomed (yay promotion!) or are completely undesirable (yay injury!) we have attracted them into our lives and they have found us. (Yes, I absolutely believe in the laws of attraction and the power they hold within this beautiful and crazy universe).

However difficult it may be when something unfortunate comes up to bat, we navigate it with infinitely more grace if we swing some gratitude on it first and foremost. And why not? There is always something to learn. Adversity has its way of blessing us with lessons a hell of a lot more bluntly than Success.

This past week I had a “comeback” performance with Parsons Dance at the Brown Theatre in the Wortham Center in Houston, Texas. The company was double booked (a beautiful gift for a dance company – too many shows!).  There was an afternoon performance for autistic children that the current company couldn’t be present for – in came the retired Parsons-back-up-crew to the rescue! Those autistic children and their families have been dealt a different hand – one that will provide them unique, beautiful gifts and advancements all the same. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel immense gratitude for the state of my body and mind and how it has supported me through my life and career.

How quickly those of us who are in “good” health forget how lucky we are. How quickly we forget how amazing our bodies are – how resilient, how capable. I haven’t always treated my body with love and respect, yet it has never failed me.

Heck, I’ve starved it at times; I’ve hated on parts of it that didn’t meet the ridiculously perfect and unobtainable bar I’ve set for it; I’ve danced the hell out with it and didn’t stretch it; I’ve neglected it of the TLC of massages and baths when it was screaming at me; I’ve trash-talked to it.

Amazingly enough, it has always healed itself miraculously. It continues to stick with me after all the abuse I’ve given it.

If your body is so capable despite neglect and abuse, what is it (and are you) capable of when you are grateful for it?

Don’t let yourself suffer through poor health before you appreciate the glory of your body right now. Hardship and physical set-backs aren’t needed to be grateful for what you have right now (However sometimes they sure can speed up the process for some who can spin the positive despite them).

The more you are grateful for what you have – body and life – the more beauty, prosperity, and abundance flow right back to you.

So, before you dance, be grateful. Before you workout, be grateful. Before you create, be grateful. Before you eat, be grateful. Before you pay for something, be grateful. Before you move from your bed, be grateful. Before you rest your eyes at night, be grateful. Say it aloud to yourself. Dance your entire next class or performance with gratitude.

Share with me. What are you grateful for? How has throwing gratitude on your body and life helped you?

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