Interview with Anya Grace- on Diving Deep, Surrender, and Freedom

When I first heard Anya Grace speak on YouTube, I felt her authenticity and passion come through right away. She was sharing her insights on the dynamics between men and women in a way that really impacted my view of relationships- not just the romantic kind, but also relationships with friends and family, with our surroundings, but especially with ourselves.

I then listened to a series of ten interviews she conducted with coaches and speakers who shared their expertise on various subjects around love, healing, abundance, the power of our beliefs, and manifestation. I was blown away by the profound knowledge and vulnerability imparted in those interviews. I thought “Others need to hear this!”

I couldn’t help but to reach out to ask Anya to share more of her wisdom with the Dance Me Free community. It is an honor to feature Anya Grace, spiritual mentor and feminine energy coach, in this interview below. 

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I was really impressed by the interviews from your Elevated Woman series.  What values do you think all the speakers you chose shared? They seemed have a connection in their messages.

I think what you’re feeling is my intention of diving deeper in the interviews. Part of our power and beauty as women is really in our depth – the deeper feelings, the deeper insights, the deeper wisdom we hold.

We’re living in a culture and society where things are very superficial. The superficial exterior has been what’s valued. But that’s only about ten percent of our power as women. I want women to understand, and tap into, the other ninety percent. Once we start going into that ninety percent, we really unplug from the masculine paradigm that’s draining our power.

Why is this important?

When you have that intention, as an individual, to open to that depth within yourself, and you unapologetically bring that depth into your relationships and conversations, other people will go there. I always say that the Elevated Woman is an activator and initiator for higher potential on the planet. Part of that higher potential is this depth- going deeper, really connecting at a heart level, not just a superficial mental level. And that’s when we really access feminine power.

Beautiful.  I know Surrender is another aspect of feminine power that you hold really high in your life. I shared with you that my name- Tasleem- means surrender. I used to think that surrender was a weakness- a giving up, a giving in. But over the past few years, I’ve been learning how surrender is such a strength.

What does surrender mean to you?

I’m glad you asked about this. I’ve been doing a lot of talks about submission and surrender recently. The difference between the two ultimately comes down to frequency.  There are a lot of women who are resistant to the word surrender because I think they’re really mixing it up with the frequency of submission.

How would you describe submission?

To me, submission doesn’t feel good in my body. Submission feels like I’m giving my power away and I’m not being honoured for the elevated, sacred energy force, goddess power that I am. I am talking more in terms of sex.

Submission in life, in general, is really being in the victim energy. It’s being a victim to money circumstances, not recognizing that our reality is based on our own inner thoughts and feelings. This leads us to not taking responsibility for those thoughts and feelings, and then therefore, not creating the change that is necessary.

How does this compare to surrender?

Surrender is the energy of recognizing that we are human beings and we are not in control. We will never really be in control for as long as we’re alive in this life. It’s about dropping into trust and receptivity. Those are frequencies of the feminine energy.

When we live life with trust and receptivity and surrender, we are letting the universe or source energy, really come down and penetrate us. The idea is that universe and the divine are guiding us every step of the way. And when we drop into the frequency of surrender, magical things can happen. Whereas, if we stay in energies of submission, which is trying to control everything or being disempowered, then we’re not allowing the greatest gifts of the universe to come to us.

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Do you have any examples of how you use surrender in your life and work?

It really is a daily practise for me, on a small and large scale. For example, I’m about to lead a training called Whole Body Beauty, which is all about body image. It is about helping women get out of feeling like they need to be in discipline and control over their body and their exercise routines. Instead, they learn to move more into letting go and going through a longer process to ultimately arrive at their ideal body. But it’s not going to be through control, which is about masculine energy.

What is an example of how you use surrender on a daily basis, or on a smaller scale?

An example of how I practised surrender today was that I slept in a little bit. I don’t love sleeping in because I like to get up and start the day early and do all the things I want to get done in the morning. But I know that I drop into submission when I beat myself up for not getting up early.

When I sleep in and let my energy stay elevated, by just accepting whatever is happening to me, I allow myself to surrender. I recognize that in the long run, I will have more control over getting up early versus not getting up early this way. But it’s not going to come from me being controlled, disciplined and forcing myself to get out of bed in this masculine energy way. I could do it, but it doesn’t feel good to my body.

I guess we can often let the worry of what we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing take us over.

We all have things that we’re worried about. Right now, there might be something that you’re unsettled about. There might be something that I’m unsettled about. But living a life of surrender is just working with those unsettling feelings and choosing to not let them grab a hold of us. Instead, it’s about replacing the anxiety, worry, tension, control, or contraction with a deep breath and literally choosing trust. We can choose to let go in the very moment we want to grab hold and control. Choosing to let go, to relax, to lean back and to trust is powerful. Because in that energy, the universe brings us exactly what’s meant to happen, not what we WANT to happen. And that can work out way bigger and better than we can ever imagine.

I love that. The idea of trust and letting go reminds me of some words that came up when I looked up the meaning of your name- Anya. Rhythm, melody, and grace were linked to your name, as well as  the word inexhaustible. Do those words resonate with you in terms of what you value and who you are?

I love that you love names. I love them too. It’s part of what contracts us into this physical form. When we have a name, there’s a contraction of energy around our soul. And whatever that form is, it helps to define our soul, really.

I talk about letters as building blocks. Letters are shapes and lines, and those shapes put together in words, is ultimately holding an essence. So the word grace, and the word surrender are created by different letters, different shapes, different lines, different structures, and they hold different essences. The structure is the masculine, the essence is the feminine.

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That’s beautiful. It makes me love words even more. 

Yes, so our names are defining us literally into physical form. It’s one of the first things that happen when we are born. We are given a name.

I didn’t use to like the name Anya because I wanted to be normal and I thought my name wasn’t. But now obviously, I like it, because it’s my essence. I think it’s funny that I’ve heard that Anya means graceful, and my middle name is Grace. But I love inexhaustible. I’ve never heard that. That’s really powerful to hear.

Yeah, that really stood out to me too. I think there is something to be said of the universe almost calling us something to guide us somewhere.

I love how you talk about how other labels that we get- whether it’s being a mom, or being a lawyer, or a brother or an entrepreneur, etc- are amazing roles we take on. But that’s not who we truly are.

I agree. So instead of asking someone What do you do?, I like to as What do you LIKE to do? I want to know who the person really is. But before I ask you that, you’ve mentioned a few times that some of the things you used to do were for a specific outcome.

Yes, and some of those things I used to do, I don’t do anymore.

I used to play guitar because I thought that being able to play a musical instrument would make me somehow more attractive. I thought the skill was hot. It was just the beliefs I had around what these things meant about me. I have a degree in neuroscience. I pursued that path because I felt that from the outside, I’d be more valued by having that degree and career.

Exercise was another huge one too. I used to run. I loved it and it made me feel free and healthy. I still love it for those reasons. But I had also attached the belief that I needed to have a perfect body. I thought that would keep me at this level of attractiveness that I wanted to be at. So in my orientation and my why for exercise, and even the food I was eating, there was an outcome- to have a perfect body.

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How has that changed now? What do you truly like to do now?

I still love to exercise or to move my body. I still love to trail run, I still love to do yoga and dance, but I have one hundred percent removed any expectation of what that is going to create for my body. And when I go running now, I never bring a watch. I don’t care how long I go for. I don’t care how many miles I run. I don’t care if I stop twenty times. I just do it however it feels good in that day.

Some days, I push myself because that feels good to me. And other days, I just go very gentle because it feels good to get outside. But I’m listening to my body. And I’m moving and exercising from the goddess within me, rather than the mental mind, or from the external masculine force telling me I need to arrive at this certain place in order to be valuable and worthy.

I still do all of the things that were part of my identity before, but I don’t need to brag about them. I don’t need to tell people about them. They’re just part of my experience of life, they’re part of my essence, but it’s not my worth.

That is really inspiring how you became aware of this and how you turned it around. You mentioned that you love to dance. Do you have a background or training in dance?

I used to do ballet at quite an intense level when I was younger all the way until seventh or eighth grade. And then I switched over to running. I didn’t really dance for awhile after that.

But now, my favorite dance is called S Factor. It’s pole dancing, but it’s not the pole dancing that most people think of when they think of pole dancing. You close your eyes and go deep within your body. You let the movement arise from being turned on by the music and really dropping into sensations, the rhythms, the twists and turns, pulsations and curves, of your own body.

It’s really about activating sensual, sexual energy through diving deep into yourself. And the pole acts as the stable, secure, rigid, upright masculine presence to play and spin around on. It’s actually quite a safe feeling to find the pole throughout the dance… it grounds me! This is one of the ways we can honor the masculine energy in a man — appreciate the stability and security his presence brings to us amidst our more wild, feminine, free-flowing nature. It’s all quite divine.

Oh wow! I’ve never heard of that dance. I love the way you connect it to the beauty of the masculine and feminine dynamic.  

The essence of it is that the more I drop into what feels good in my body, the more magnetic I am. And that applies to the core teaching of Elevated Woman which is that when you drop into your presence or your essence, inherently, you’re magnetic. It has nothing to do with how you look or what you’re doing on the outside. It’s just going to come naturally.  

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The short video clip of you dancing on your Facebook page was definitely magnetic. I thought you must be a dancer!

That video clip created a lot of tension for a moment. Someone that’s close to me reacted to it in a way that I perceived as full of judgment and criticism. It was really painful to hear their thoughts on it.

And for the feminine to feel shame for her sexual energy is one of the core wounds that we hold. Instantly, in that moment, I felt I was being shamed. That expression of my self in that video is the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest, TINIEST little fraction of my true self-expression. And for that to be too much for someone, to the point that they would want to suppress me and push me down that much, was so intense to feel in my body.

I’m so surprised to hear you got that kind of reaction. It was such an inspiring video to me.

Thank you. Yes, it’s upsetting to get those kinds of negative reactions because I think do we choose to stay quiet, and hide the beauty and sexual energy that is our nature, to make other people comfortable? Or do I choose to just share whatever feels authentic to me, and in that present moment, listen to the goddess within me? Do I say well, if it’s too much for some, it’s too much for some, but it’s not too much for me and follow that?

On a transparent and vulnerable level, it’s scary to share what I really want to share. I’m not fully sharing because it’s a lot. I’m working on that in my own personal life. I found this information wisdom that is my work now, but this work chose me. And it’s scary, to put myself out there. But it ties into what I teach. Because so much of what I teach is supporting women to be set free.

Thank you for having the courage to share what you do and for teaching us how to be courageous ourselves. Your talks have really inspired me towards more freedom and surrender in my life. They have made a huge difference in my life already, reminding me of the depth, connection and truth I want in my own interactions with others, myself and my surroundings.  

To find out more about Anya’s workshops, training, and her Elevated Woman Movement, click here:

Anya Grace

Interview With Kathana- Born to Make Music!

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Your artist name- Kathana- is very unique. Where did it come from?

My mom originally wanted to name me Kathana because she wanted to honor my great-great grandmother Katherine and my grandmother Anna. My dad didn’t like Kathana as a name in everyday life. So I used it as a stage name instead.

That’s beautiful. From what I’ve read, you started music from a young age. Which instruments do you play?

I started singing at a very young age. My mom says I was singing ever since I could talk. I would go around the house singing “do do do do,” making up my own little melodies. I picked up the guitar and piano around the time I was in middle school, and just started playing by ear.

Wow! That’s amazing.  Do you have a favorite instrument?

Aside from my voice, it is hard to choose a favorite instrument. The piano is very calming to me and gives me a lot of creative freedom. It best allows me play what I’m feeling, and it’s therapeutic. With the acoustic guitar, overall, I just love the warm sound of it. I do a lot of my songwriting with the acoustic guitar.

How do songwriting classes help you?

They challenge me to approach songwriting from different ways that I had never previously thought about. I used to get stuck with writing songs when I didn’t have the inspiration first. My habit has always been to write a song in the very moment I found inspiration, which I still do. But now, I am able to write songs more consistently, using the tools I learned through class.

You are a beautiful songwriter.  Do you have a particular way you approach your own writing? For example, do you start with melody or lyrics first?  Or is your process of songwriting always different?

Kathana4.JPGMy songwriting method varies. Sometimes, I’ll hear a melody in my head, so I’ll record it on my phone and put words to it later. Other times, I’ll just think of, or say, a phrase and realize it would work well as a lyric so I’ll write it down. I’ve also stumbled across great sounding chord progressions when just freely playing on the piano, and decided to find lyrics to fit to them. Sometimes I’ll journal how I’m feeling, especially in very emotional situations, and then I’ll pick apart my journal entry to find lyrical content.

That’s a good reminder- that going through journals can be a great source of ideas.  I need to do that more often.

Some singer songwriters learn by trial and error, just going out there and doing shows and learning from gigs and other musicians around them. What do you think are the benefits of actually taking a full degree program in music as you are? How does this compare to what you learn from gigging?

I have definitely learned through trial and error and through gigging experience. Learning new cover songs for the different bands I’ve been in has taught me how to really listen to and analyze popular songs. Now I can quickly learn a new song and pick up on song structure patterns. Performing live has made me much more comfortable in front of an audience. I started out very shy on stage, and now, being on stage is where I feel the most comfortable.

In comparison, taking a full degree program has given me structure to actually do my musical work. Classes and assignments always give me deadlines to work within, so I’ve had to learn to prioritize and not be lazy. The information and feedback I receive from my teachers has become incredibly valuable. These are people who have been in the music business for a long time and have become very successful musicians themselves.

What are some of your favorite classes?

My favorite classes have been all of my songwriting classes and music therapy class. I’ve always been interested in how music heals and how the mind and body respond to music. So music therapy was a very exciting course.

Oh, that’s great to know that music therapy classes are offered as part of the program too. This sounds very in line with the healing aspect behind Dance Me Free.

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You have some great new music coming out. Where did some of the inspiration for the songs and their messages come from?

I’m so excited to finally have new music out that feels true to my style. A lot of inspiration came from my past experiences with relationships that were THE WORST. Haha. Yeah, they weren’t healthy.  But inspiration came from learning about myself in the process of it all too. They are really personal experiences to me, but my goal is to make them something that others who have gone through similar experiences can resonate with.

Of course it’s not all about negative topics, and I have some cutesy summer songs in the works as well.

Oh, I can’t wait to hear them!

What are some challenges you go through with songwriting that people might not realize is part of the process?

Since a lot of my songs are based on similar ideas, one of the difficulties I’ve noticed is making each one unique to itself. It takes a lot of energy to put myself back in those situations when I’m recording my vocal tracks, but it really helps to come across genuinely and convey my true emotions in the recordings. The entire process of putting these songs together feels like a journey for each song. Sometimes Chris Gruchacz- my producer- and I are in the studio all day and all night just working on tiny details. We’ve even started over from scratch on mixes of songs a few times. Other times it goes really fast because we start with a lot of ideas and are able to implement them right away.

You mentioned that Kathana is a collaboration between you and your producer Chris.  What do you think makes a good collaborative partner?

A big thing I’ve noticed about collaborating is that it’s important to be willing to listen to the other person’s ideas and not be so attached to your own so much sometimes.

I feel so lucky to work with Chris, who is very patient. I tend to be more hyper during the process, so I think we balance each other out.

Also, it’s pretty crucial to have the same taste in music. Chris and I have a few differences in our music preference, but they aren’t so different that we can’t learn from one another and come up with interesting idea combinations that complement each other.

What are the benefits of collaborating?

To me, in our situation, it feels easier to work with another artist because it takes some of the responsibility off of both of us. This is because we each have our own strengths and can help each other out.

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What advice would you give to those who are new to collaboration and aren’t sure what to expect?

Our advice for those who are new to collaboration is to be very open minded to new perspectives and suggestions. It is also important to understand that creativity can take a long time and a lot of revision.

Dance Me Free is about the power of Dance, Music and other Arts to inspire, free and heal.  How do you think music and the making of music has benefited your life? 

Music has always helped me cope with stressful situations and anxiety, whether listening to it or writing it. Dancing is also a huge passion of mine and it goes hand in hand with music. Dancing allows me to be in the moment and not overthink things. Music has benefited me by connecting me with a lot of different people.

It is so inspiring that you are one of those rare individuals who actually has the courage to pursue your passion for music.  

It makes me feel really good that I can inspire you. I also admire your passion for art and writing. So I’m honored as well to be featured on your blog. I definitely can’t imagine life without music. It’s the one thing I’ve always known I wanted to do, and I couldn’t see myself pursuing any other career.

It seems like something you were just meant to do, and I can’t wait to share your music with others. Where can people hear your music and find out more about you?

I post a lot of sneak peeks of my upcoming songs on my Insta story, so let’s be friends on Instagram and Facebook where you can keep up with my projects!

(Please click on the links below)

Instagram: @kathana.music
Facebook: Kathana
Spotify: Kathana
SoundCloud: Kathana
YouTube: Kathana

 

12 Lessons Learned From House Class

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Most people know me as a partner dancer. But from time to time, I’ve been sneaking away from the partner dance world to attend classes that I would have to do on my own.  I wanted a class in which I wouldn’t be able to cheat by relying on my partner for balance, energy or to just initiate the movements.  I wanted to improve my ability to find the feeling in my own body first, and to develop myself as an individual dancer. This was not to get away from the partner dancing world, but to help strengthen myself as a dancer, and bring this back into the dances I was already doing.  I was thrilled to be able to find all this, plus a great cardio workout, through House Dance classes!  And I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learned from them.

Of course, the concepts below can and should be learned throughout other dance styles, including the ones I was already doing. However, there was something about my taking myself out of the style and space I was used to that helped ingrain these lessons in me on a deeper and more conscious level.  The House Dance classes made the concepts I should already “know” clearer.  And this awareness has given me more confidence to understand them and apply them more intentionally to my other dances.  Thank you, to my instructor Kyle Vicente and iDance Vancouver Studios, for these great lessons!  Continue reading

Faith, Freedom and Truth- Interview With Andra Carmina

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Which styles of dance are you into?  Do you have a favorite?

​I started dancing in 2009 after taking some salsa and bachata lessons at McGill. My dancing journey eventually followed me to Toronto, where I got introduced to zouk, and from there on, no other dance has had my heart quite like zouk does. I’ve dabbled into other dances like bellyDancing, kizomba, and dancehall.  While they do bring out certain parts of me, zouk allows me to express myself in ways I almost can’t explain. Continue reading

Following Your Heart- An Interview with Madan Kumar

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Where do you live and what styles of dance do you dance?

I live in Mumbai and I dance Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba

What got you into dance?

Dancing was my hobby since childhood, but I never knew I would end up as a full time dancer, teacher and performer.

I remember being asked why, if I’m Indian, I dance Latin dances instead of Indian dance. I I love Indian dance, but it just wasn’t what I gravitated to. And I thought it was a bit of an ignorant question at the time. Haha. But now, here I am, asking you the same question (laughs). Since you are in India and Indian, what made you choose Latin dances instead of Indian dances?  Continue reading

Interview with Kyryl Dudchenko: Paying Attention to the Details

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You started dance at a young age. Was dance something you chose yourself?

It was definitely not my choice.  It was my parents’ decision, but at that time already, lots of kids were ballroom dancing. Since then, I think the interest of kids participating in ballroom dancing has grown even more so. I think the number of kids participating in ballroom dancing in the Ukraine, where I am from, is booming now.

Do you have a favorite dance?

I love Rumba- to teach, to dance, to live it.

Beautiful.

I love it when I see male dancers who are great role models for young boys.  It’s sad that there seems to still be somewhat of a stigma around boys dancing.  Did you ever have to deal with any friends or family having any sort of negative attitudes towards you dancing because you are a guy?

Not at all.  I cannot recall even one instance when somebody showed a negative attitude towards me dancing. Even though most of my non-dancing male friends are very macho, they still have always respected and appreciated my dancing career. I do believe though, that in our life we attract people that would match us. Those that do not match us do not stay for too long. However, over the years that I’ve been dancing and teaching, I have seen numerous cases in which the idea of boys dancing has been regarded as being sissy or just not taken seriously.  Continue reading

Interview With Nipa Rassam- Dance= Connection. Conversation. And it’s Contagious!

Nipa4What got you into dance?

I was always interested in dancing in general. And partner dancing came along for me about fifteen years ago.  A friend asked me to go to a salsa night. I had no idea what to expect.  We took the lesson. I thought it was pretty intense. I didn’t know what to do.  And after that, the floor opened up for social dancing.  I saw people were dancing together in a way that looked as if they already knew each other, like they were actually couples.  But then when they finished the dance, they said thank you and then went their separate ways.  And I thought how did that happen? How do they know how to dance with each other, without knowing each other? How do they know when to turn and what to do?  That was my first exposure to partner dancing. And so I wanted to learn. Continue reading

Interview With Vladimir Shmitsman- Part 2: Letting your energy be free

(To read Part 1 of the Interview, click here: Homeopathy recognizes the individual)

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What do you think makes some people believe in natural medicine and homeopathy, while others just would never even want to try it?

It’s hard to tell.  Some people already find it easy to accept new concepts.  In the beginning, I thought maybe that comes from their level of education.  But I realized that that’s not the case.

For example, a couple of years ago, I had a patient.  She asked me to see her husband.  He’s a professor.

He had some insomnia case and lots of stress at work.  So she convinced him, after many years of bugging him, to come here and to give me a chance (smiles).

He came in and he asked me, “So, Vladmir, how does this work?”

And I tried to explain it to him. But what do you say?  Meridians? Chakras? How can someone believe in meridians and chakras if they are very scientific in their thinking?  He wanted scientific proof that he could see, but it doesn’t work that way.

That must have been hard.

Well, for him it was hard. And for me, it was very hard, because we don’t have scientific proof. So I understood why he wouldn’t believe it.  I tried my best to explain it to him.  And eventually, he told me “Vlad, I am sorry, if you don’t have proof, I can’t accept that. It must not exist.”  So, we just shook hands, and I never saw him again (smiles).

But a couple of months later, I get a janitor from the same university come in to my clinic.

She never heard about homeopathy.  But she said, I really don’t even care how it works (smiles).  My sister got better with it so I want to try it.

Haha! That’s brilliant! (laughs)   Continue reading

Interview With Vladimir Shmitsman- Part 1: Homeopathy recognizes the individual

“In homeopathy, the personality of the individual determines their prescription,.. because Homeopathy understands that every person is different.

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Dr Shmitsman

I think some people might be surprised that you began your medical career with more conventional medicine.  

Yes.  In the beginning, I was a nurse.

I like that your grandma was one of the first to plant a seed for you very early on in terms of natural medicine.  

Yes.  She used to take me with her when she would pick plants and berries in the forest.  She was around me until I was 16 or 17 years old.  So it was a fair amount of time that I spent with her. (For more details about this story, please visit Dina’s Homeopathic)

And you had other people along the way who opened your eyes up to homeopathy?

Yes. It wasn’t just my grandmother’s influence that made me make my change from conventional medicine to homeopathy.

I finished nursing school, and then I went to the military for two years. The doctor who I worked with there was Russian Japanese.  That was a third generation of people who used to practise acupuncture.

For the first time in my life, I saw someone using acupuncture.  This man was a doctor in a hospital, but almost every day, I saw him treating different guys in the military using acupuncture.  He practised acupuncture as he felt he needed. Continue reading

Dancing’s Appeal to the Senses- Interview With Danielle Felices

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I know you dance a few different styles of dance, but … is Zouk your favorite (smiles)? 

Oooh that is a loaded question! Currently, yes, Zouk is my favourite. I guess that is pretty clear to people who have met me. (smiles)

 What it is about Zouk that draws you to it?

When I think about what draws me to Zouk, I think first about what draws me to dance in general, and a few things come to mind. To me, dance is about passion, connection, emotion and technique. I was drawn to Zouk because it really resonated with me in those three areas which are important to me. I have found a new level of passion in myself and my dance through my journey so far in Zouk. I am passionate about the music, my personal development, the growth of the Zouk community, and I love learning more about myself and others through this dance. Continue reading