Dance as a Way to Share With the World Who You Really Are- Interview with Val Wang

I know you through Zouk, but did you start out in Salsa like many of the Zouk dancers? What is your dance background?

Bellydance is my first dance. Before any social dances, I used to train and perform with “Leilan”, a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Troupe at Stanford University. I was first introduced to Zouk by some Bachata friends. I couldn’t get it out of my mind after a glimpse of it.

Oh wow! I didn’t know you started with Bellydance. Now it makes sense why your hip movements look so fluid and effortless.

What is it about Zouk, and/or Lambazouk, that draws you to it?

In the beginning it was the connection, the music, the free-flowing movement and the seemingly infinite possibilities of things you can do in Zouk that drew me to it. Later, as I went on to perform and teach Zouk, I liked that it makes me reflect upon body awareness, breathing, mindfulness and spirituality. It’s like an area in life where I can observe my own growth and my blind spots.

Lambazouk is similar but it has more of a wild, happy and uplifting energy that I really enjoy.

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Interview With Amyn Sunderji- On Food, Music, and Memories

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Where were you born?

Tororo, Uganda

And when did you come to Vancouver?

I landed in Vancouver on the 13th of February, 1974. The sun was shining and crocuses were in bloom.

Aww,… beautiful. How long after that did you open up your restaurant- Kilimanjaro?

I opened the restaurant in November of 1978.

What made you decide on a restaurant?

When I was in the States at university, after years’ worth of cafeteria food, (laughs) I got tired of it.

Oh, I didn’t know that (laughs).

Yes, so I wrote to my mom, and asked her for recipes. She sent me some, as well as spices. And I started cooking at home. So I was always interested in cooking while I was going to university.

And that continued here in Canada?

Well, over here, I first got an insurance business- a mutual funds business.  I was selling insurance, I was selling mutual funds. But I would always take the clients out for lunch.

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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.

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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. Continue reading

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:
http://blog.adta.org/2015/04/20/making-dancemovement-therapy-the-therapy-of-choice-for-autism-spectrum-disorder/

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).

benefits-dancing

“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:
http://www.medicaldaily.com/benefits-dancing-neurodegenerative-disease-human-brain-380835

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!

Dance Is Life

Dance is everywhere for me
In the way I walk, In the boys playing in the streets,
In my home, in any place.
Dance is everything that you are, and is [all] around you.
It’s that. Dance is life.”-
Andy Manuel Gonzalo Varona

What an absolutely amazing short film to wake up to! – “Dance is Life.”

Watch this moving video in which a passionate professional Cuban dancer talks about what dance means to him.

Props to the Pioneers – by Cezar Tantoko

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Cezar Tantoco“I started dancing, as a bboy first.  Back then, in 1984, there was no Youtube, nothing like that.  We would just see something on commercials or on TV – some breakdancing moves- and dancing looked like a positive way for us to channel our energy.

That’s how we got started, and maybe also because we thought it would help us get the girls at first (laughs).  But later, you realize there is so much more to it.  And when you get into dancing so deep, it becomes your passion.

I love dance, but it is the pioneers of Hip Hop who really inspire me.  Crazy Legs, The Rock Steady Crew,  and all the others who, despite the criticism they faced from everyone that didn’t believe in hip hop and breakdancing at the time, just kept going with it.

If it wasn’t for those guys who paved the way for us, those artists who constructed the highway for us, we wouldn’t be enjoying what we enjoy right now.”

-Cezar Tantoko- dancer, coach and choreographer

Creator of Fresh Groove Productions

The Art of Dance- by Gabriel Galedo

Gabe 5“I got inspired to dance because of my brother.  Him and his friends- they had a dance group and they didn’t really have a place to practise, so they practised in our garage.  I’d sit down and just watch them and thought it was really cool. And then I’d find myself in the mirror, trying to bust a move or two myself (smiles).

But yeah, why dance? As you mature, as you grow up in this environment, what people don’t really understand is that Dance is an art.  Like in a painting, people paint how they feel, right? Well, in dance, your choreography, or just how you freestyle, could depend on your emotions, how you feel inside too.  Dance also builds your self- confidence.  You become more confident in what you do, in dance, and in other parts of your life too.

And even if we can inspire just one person to take a dance class or something, well, that’s all we ever really wanted to do as a team, I think.  It’s not always really about winning competitions or being high class dancers.   It’s just about showing that we do honestly care about a lot of people out there.  And we hope that what we do can help them in the future.”

– Gabriel Galedo – Age 14- member of The Freshh Crew

Life’s intricate connection… in reference to Kizomba

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“Chaotic, kizomba may seem to the spectator, just like the Chaos Theory is to those who don’t understand life’s intricate connection. Chaos is the domain where instability is the rule, the absence of predictable patterns and connections. But the elements of existence, things that some people view as chaos actually follow the inconspicuous laws of the universe…the function of music, in this case kizomba is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought, to release the self, the seemingly isolated solid individual into the connective vibration of the heart.  Dancing kizomba with the feet might be magnificent, but dancing with the heart is an enlightening spiritual experience.

Nietzsche couldn’t have said it better, ‘You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.’ “
-Antonio Vega