“My goal is
just to make
the whole world
~ Ryan Morisette
I know you first as a musician – specifically as a keyboardist and trumpeter. You have been playing music since you were a child, right?
Yes, I’ve been playing music since I was very young. I grew up on a farm and in our home there, my family had an old upright baby grand piano. When I was a toddler, I would crawl over to the piano and pound on the pedals. This would shake the sound board enough to make some noise. My mom eventually figured out that I was interested in the instrument, so she popped me in my high chair and sat me in front of the keyboard. I would happily plunk away for hours on end.
Wow! That’s amazing. And kind of adorable (smiles).
Yeah, I think I have improved a bit since those days (smiles), but we’re not sure since we can’t find the cassette tapes that contained my recordings that were made on our small Fisher Price recorder.
Aww… haha (smiles).
I love how it seems that you chose the instrument, and your mom saw your interest in it and just encouraged it, rather than you being pushed into it. I think forcing kids to take music lessons can sometimes actually make them lose all enjoyment in it.
Yes, well I did eventually start taking piano lessons in grade 2, and was off and on with them throughout my grade school days. I always enjoyed improvising on the instrument and creating my own music…often much more than practising what was assigned to me by my various teachers. As such, piano, has always been my first love and I can still entertain myself for hours on it. I just love being able to create lush harmonies and lay creative melodies over them. Continue reading
What sparked your interest in bellydance?
I saw my first bellydancer at age 14. It was at a goddess fair in Langley. Being a Bohemian hippy teen, I was super inspired and wanted to learn how to dance like those women. I had studied ballet for several years and then jazz dance, and bellydance was something totally different and up my alley.
I had also been fascinated by Egypt since I was little, and the music seemed to touch a chord deep inside me. I started to look around White Rock, where I grew up, for classes. And I came across a teacher named Nahida who had danced in Egypt. I started taking her classes in 1995, and the rest is history!
Was dance and performance part of your upbringing?
I was a natural performer since pretty much from the time I could walk. My parents and younger sisters don’t dance, but my father loves to perform and be on stage. He was often organizing lip sync contests at his work where he was the lead singer, and was quite addicted to karaoke for a while! My paternal grandmother was a dancer and danced pretty much up to her death at 85. I definitely take after her. She was one of the brightest sparks I ever knew.
“Dance can be very frustrating if you feel that you can’t get a movement.
But we have all been there!
So, as a teacher, I want to try to limit that kind of discouraging experience as much as possible.
The frustration can start to limit our perception of what we can do.
Dance is supposed to make you feel good, at the end of the day. So I want THAT to be the strongest take- home feeling for my students.”
Thank you to my beautiful friend Michelle for connecting me to the Sufi Poets again, particularly Hafiz’s collection- “I Heard God Laughing”.
How fitting that the very first poem focuses on the Freedom to Dance!
Dance Me Free- I’m telling you, the signs are EVERYWHERE!
“You are with a Friend Now
Hafiz describes some of the preparations required for the inner ‘Journey of Love’. He urges us to let go of habitual negative attitudes and unnecessary attachments, which only weigh us down. To make this Journey, we must be light, happy and free to go Dancing!” – by Daniel Ladinsky- translator
I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!
I feel more and more that one of the best ways for us to bring out this light is through dance.
Even the Sufis, from hundreds of years ago, knew the power and magic of Dance to Heal!
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:
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
“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:
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!
“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).