Secret Heart- Gratitude Journal- Day 8

Gratitude Journal- Day 8- October 17, 2016.

Secret Heart


☆ Secret Heart- by Ron Sexsmith. Thank you, Rebecca for introducing me to the song a few years back- the original by Sexsmith, but also the Feist cover.

☆ So glad I put the Feist version on my ipod way back then, and that I decided to turn on my ipod and play it on shuffle while Agata was over recently. The song came on, and her eyes lit up. She seemed to really like it. I had totally forgotten about that track. But her loving it reminded me, or allowed me to see, how much I loved it too. And just like that, it became our song! The one we were looking for.

☆ I am so grateful for songs that have come in and out of my life. Like a soundtrack to my experiences, they bring back memories of people, places emotions and perceptions I had at various points in time. And as Madonna says, “Music. Makes the people… Come together. Yeah.” So true. So absolutely true. Oh, the people who you MuSIc have brought me together with. I can never thank you enough. I would never have imagined it.

☆ Grateful for the opportunity to learn to sing. It was a secret that I think my heart was keeping from me- that I wanted to sing- for most of my life. My head (or the voices of equally insecure voices around me?) had convinced me that I was tone deaf, untalented, and that it was ‘not me’. I thought it was only meant for ‘other’ people. You know, ‘the musical, singer types,’ whatever that means. But my heart knew better. It’s like it plotted to get me to my first voice lesson under whatever excuse would motivate me to just show up. I just wanted to improve my speaking voice because I thought I was misusing it I told myself. But that was only part of the truth.

☆ Thank goodness my heart had another plan for me. A secret plan that I didn’t even know about. I am so glad that the rest of me just followed blindly. So what if I started in my thirties? At least I started at all. It was one of the best things I ever did. “Let her in on your secret heart.” I am so grateful I was finally let in on that part of me that I couldn’t see or didn’t acknowledge was there. So grateful for the inspiring teachers that I still can’t believe I get to learn from – Spencer and Rebecca.


☆ I thought that if I ever had a secret to reveal – especially involving matters of the heart- it would be for a romantic love, my dream guy, the ultimate relationship. Turns out that it may have been romantic and dreamy in some sense, and also a relationship. But it wasn’t necessarily going to be with another person. Instead, it would be a journey through the arts, a journey to explore various creative passions, first writing, then dance, then singing. And all in relationship to myself. Each step helping to reveal more of a secret about myself, to myself.


☆ “This very secret, that you’re trying to reveal. Is the very same one, that you’re dying, to reveal. Just tell her how you feel.” In my case, I think the ‘her’ is me in this story. Through each one of those pursuits of various creative passions, I needed to finally tell myself that I wanted to do them, that I was capable of doing them, that I needed to drop the story I had been telling myself for most of my life, that I still tell myself, that ‘they aren’t me’. I need to embrace the fact that I was blessed to have Writing, Dance, Music and Singing come find me even when I was pretending to reject them because maybe I didn’t know if I was good enough for them? Oh, how my mom would be shaking her head at me right now for even writing that statement.

☆ A recent new secret passion ‘crush’ has crossed my path. Something I want to do, can’t see myself doing yet, but can’t let go of the idea that I need to do it. I was so lucky to be inspired by a group of talented, fearless, vulnerable, and open individuals last night who allowed me to share in this passion with them. I got to see them just go for it. And I wanted to be up there doing the same.


☆ Mom, I wish I had asked you what secrets your heart was yearning for. What kinds of dreams and goals and visions you had for yourself if you didn’t have to worry about the hardships of life that got in the way. What would you have wanted to become? Besides the Supermom that you already were 🙂 Where would you have wanted to go? Who would you have wanted to meet? What did you always want to try? Who did you admire and wish you were like?

I know my own answer to that one: I wish to be as authentic, loyal, loving and down to earth as my Mother. She knew how to value the little things. She knew how to imprint an everlasting impression on people’s hearts. I love you Mom, always and forever. It’s time for our Secret Hearts to be given room to be free and to be healed. Let’s do it together. Yes, of course I need your help. I will always need your help, Mom. Nothing will ever change that.

Jessica Lamdon- Why Zouk? Photo Feature

I love how my passion for dance has allowed me to meet people from all over the world-people who, I’m sure, I might not have met otherwise. Some of these individuals are inspiring teachers, others literally take my breath away on the dance floor, and a few have an infectious energy about them that is so uplifting for any who are around them.

Jessica Lamdon happens to be one of those rare souls in the dance world that demonstrates all of these qualities.


Not only is Jessica a beautiful dancer and performer- invited to congresses and dance festivals throughout many different countries, but she is also an encouraging and warm hearted individual. Her personable, welcoming nature motivated me to want to learn Zouk more.  But it also helped me feel connected to something at a time when I was feeling lost and heavy hearted.

Sometimes, the right words at the right time can lead us to places we didn’t even know we would go. And Jessica’s words and compassion have stuck with me so much that they have inspired me to get out to events in Toronto, New York and Los Angeles.  They have shaped some of the personal decisions I have made in my life since I have met her as well.  She has reminded me that it’s not just the dancing that is healing, but also the connections with people we make along the way in this Dance Journey. Sometimes, it’s just a touch, a word, and even just a breath or a moment of silence held together. But each of those moments can make a huge difference.

Jessica made this difference to me. And so I am so honoured to be able to feature her on Dance Me Free.  Photos of her will be gracing our header page for the next few months. And to find out a little more about this dancer, check out this mini interview in which Jessica shares with us what Dance, particularly Zouk, means to her:

Where are you from?Jessica Lamdon4

Jessica: I was born and raised in Brooklyn:)

What is your dance background?

I used to be a competitive 10 dance international ballroom dancer for roughly eight years before falling in love with zouk. I took a break from dancing in the middle of high school and throughout college.  I was pursuing learning about acting for theater and film, and was also working on a degree in psychology.  I LOVED IT!

Yet, there was something missing. Zouk stumbled into my life and I made sure it stayed there. And turned it into my life!

What is it about Zouk that stands out to you compared to other dances?

To me, Zouk has a beautiful and seamless relationship with movement, music, connection, and community.

It’s a social dance that anyone can do– and that everyone is encouraged to participate in! You can dance with multiple partners, you can be celebrated with many people circling around you, you can perform, you can support, you can bring people together, you can find yourself and help find others through this dance.

Who helped encourage and support you as far as getting into this dance more seriously?

Jessica and Henry- Magical Zouk

Jessica Lamdon and Henri Velandia of ZenZouk

I am so grateful that Kim Rottier brought Zouk to NYC and grateful to Hisako for helping to spread Lamba Zouk in NYC.

I am beyond grateful to have found Henri Velandia, my mentor, and to train with him and dance with him. Without him, I wouldn’t have had nearly as rich of an experience with Zouk.  And for this, I am forever loyal to him🙂

What has Zouk taught you?

Zouk has taught me so much about myself and others. And it will continue teaching me. Zouk has created moments for me that I never thought I could experience or feel.  It  gave me a family all over the world. Zouk will never make you feel alone. It is about beautiful energy moving to beautiful music.  It helps us connect to ourselves in order to connect with others. I am so excited to continue this journey.

Videos of Jessica Dancing Zouk:

Fall For Zouk:

Note, the video below is without sound because there was a copyright against the song being used on youtube. But it’s one of my favorites of Jessica and Henri so I thought I would share it.  The song, by the way, is “Frozen”- by Madonna.

Solo Performance:

Note: Jessica is based out of New York, but she travels to many different Zouk Congresses and Festivals throughout the world.

In fact, you can catch her next weekend teaching with Henri of ZenZouk at the L.A. Zouk Congress– April 28th to May 2nd, 2016.


Dance as Therapy for Autism

Excerpt taken directly from the original article-
Making Dance/Movement Therapy the Therapy of Choice for Autism Spectrum Disorder  By Danielle Fraenkel:

“Phillip Martin-Nelson, principal dancer of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who was diagnosed with severe autism, credits ballet with saving his life. Similarly, dance classes have been a driving force for Leon*, a 15 year old, high functioning, home schooled male, diagnosed as a young child, with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Here is the link to see the original article in its entirety from its original source- The American Dance Therapy Association:

How Dancing Changes the Brain

You’ve got to read this in depth article about the power of Dance to ward off certain diseases. This is an excerpt taken directly from

Thinking on Your Feet: Dancing Wards off Neurodegenerative Disease By Rewiring the Brain            by Lizette Boreli 

(Please note that the photo is directly from the original article as well. I have literally copied and pasted the link and photo because it is a must read and I just want to promote the page and message. I am in no way claiming any of this one article or photo to be mine).


“Strengthening Muscle Memory

Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. For one, our muscle memory allows us to learn how to perform a dance without thinking about the steps. According to neuroscientist Daniel Glaser, this happens because “the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing,” he told The New York Times.

In other words, we memorize how to do things so efficiently that they require no conscious effort. In dance, this is done by constantly repeating movements, which are practiced to the point that they can be performed automatically.

Although muscle memory can’t really distinguish a correct movement from a wrong one, some research suggests the endorphins released after performing a successful move cause the brain to store it as the correct way of moving — a process that constantly rewires the brain’s neural pathways.”- by Lizette Boreli

Click here to read this article in full from its original source- The Daily Medical:

Choosing Music Over Meds

One man’s quest to retrain his brain- through movement and dance-to overcome a severe movement disorder. Federico Bitti suffers from dystonia, a disease that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. He is using a new therapy involving neuroplasticity, and specific exercises to retrain the brain, which for Mr. Bitti, includes …DANCE!

It’s stories like these that keep Dance Me Free growing and remind me why the site was born in the first place. There is proof, all over the globe, of how Dance and Music really do heal. You’ve got to watch this one! Incredible! What an inspiration.

And Dance, you’ve done it again!

Showing Me the Way… Through Dance

“Good Lord, show me the way.”

Thank you for choosing Dance as one of those ways…

This video is beautiful. It truly embodies what I think Dance Me Free’s Message.

(Please note, Dance Me Free is not claiming any rights to the video. We just want to share it to thank the creators, choreographers, and artists behind it. Thank you for inspiring more writing, more dancing, and more magic with this breathtaking piece).

La Época Interview- Part 2

Part 2- Josué Joseph- On Family, Freedom and Inspiration

(Click here to read La Época Interview Part 1- Josué Joseph- On Faith, Music and Talent)


In Part 1 of this interview, you talked about growing up with the influence of your father- the great bassist Alfonso Panamá. You mentioned how he was always practising and surrounding you with music, making it just a part of your everyday life.   But did you ever go through that stage of NOT wanting to be a musician BECAUSE your father was one?  Often, kids try to purposely get away from doing what their parents did.  Did you ever go through that or was it always just something that you wanted to do?

I feel like I’m in that movie Slumdog Millionaire, because every answer that I give you comes from a story (laughs).  So here’s another one:

When I was growing up, my parents did not force any of us to study music.  But when I was four years old, we moved to a new house. And in this new house, there was a piano already there.  So music just came to us.  Taking piano lessons was just normal. My brother did it, my other brother did it, and it passed down to me. It became something that I thought was just something you do.

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La Época Interview- Part 1

Josué JosephOn Faith, Music and Talent

Dance Me Free is all about the power of Dance- and the Arts – to move, inspire and heal. What an honour it is to feature an individual who understands and embodies this concept through a variety of artistic disciplines. Josué Joseph is an award- winning musician, composer, film producer, dancer and international instructor. He is an all around inspiration.  It has been a pleasure to get to know more about what drives this artist, and I am thrilled to be able to share his insights and passion for the arts in this in-depth, two-part interview.

Thank you, Josué, for your openness and authenticity. I am grateful to have met you and I know you will continue to inspire people wherever you go.  

(Click here to view the full Interview Introduction)


Why the name La Época?

The idea came to me immediately after the death of Tito Puente.  I was talking to my father- Alfonso Panamá –who is a legendary bassist of the Palladium. After talking to him, and to Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Cachao (another famous bassist), and to some other well-known musicians and dancers, I noticed that no one else had created a film which put all of these legends together,  to document their legacies.  And my concept was different from other films that were done about the Palladium.  I didn’t want my film to be about the Palladium.  I wanted it to be about “the time” of the Palladium, and to allow people to see the musicians that supported the major orchestras.  For example, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz were in other films about the Palladium.  But Tito Puente and Celia Cruz were individuals, they weren’t an entire orchestra.  So who were the musicians who made these individuals?  That’s what I wanted to focus on.

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New Photo Feature- Marilou and Alessandra Quaglia!


“When I dance, I forget the bad times and I feel free.“- Marilou

Dance Me Free has been on a bit of a hiatus over the past few months. But we are so happy to be back, not just with some new and exciting interviews, videos and events, but also with an outstanding young dancer as our new photo feature for this season!

All the way from Provence, France, the beautiful Marilou caught my attention with her stunning features, her passionate poses and the way she makes dancing look so effortless and freeing. Continue reading

Intro to Interview with Josué Joseph, La Época- Of the Time,… But Also Transcending Time

IMG_8595-2No hay que llorar; el tiempo pasará, tú verás.

(There’s no reason to cry; the time will pass, you’ll see.)

Podrás abrasarme de nuevo, tú veras.

(You’ll be able to hug me again, you’ll see.)

Que no hay que llorar! Que conmigo estarás de nuevo!

(That there’s no reason to cry! That you’ll be with me, again!)

Que podrás adorarme de nuevo! Yo se que no me olvidarás!

(That you’ll be able to adore me, again! I know that you won’t forget me!)

Each of these lines is written in aqua blue across my bathroom, hallway and closet mirrors. The words are the lyrics to the song Verás, which I was introduced to in a live performance at the 1st Vancouver Mini Congress this fall. I don’t remember ever making it to the early parts of any dance congresses before. I usually like to save my energy for hanging out with friends and then social dancing later. Yet, something that weekend compelled me to skip out on a good friend’s pre-party and show up early for a film being shown at the congress instead.

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