Interview with Bellydancer Ashley Rhianne

Ashley3What 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.

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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/

Thank you VIS for connecting us even deeper to Celia Cruz and her music!

celia_cruz“You would give up your career if you lost your voice for good, or if the impresarios stopped calling, or the audiences stopped coming. But as long as those things are there, I don’t plan to stop. There is nothing that makes me feel better than to be with my public.”- Celia Cruz

Yesterday, I was running around trying to get too many things done, in what seemed like not enough time. And then I thought, what am thinking, heading downtown from North Vancouver during rush hour traffic to go see… a movie? Really?  The cars were at a standstill and my mind was telling me to turn back and just head home.  So I started slowing down but … I missed the first turn, and then couldn’t get myself to take the second for some reason.  It was as if something kept nudging me to keep going, even though I had no space to move forward to.  But somehow, I actually managed to get over to the Van City Theatre just in time to catch the screening of the Celia Cruz movie that the Vancouver International Salsafestival (VIS) were putting on. And boy, it was so worth the traffic I had to get through to get there.

What an inspiring way to start off the week of the festival.  Not only did the screening begin with an amazing promotional video for VIS- recapping some of the highlights of VIS over the past four years- but, I was blown away by the touching details about Cruz’s life and personality that I didn’t know before. Artists of many genres were commenting on the
legacy that Celia left behind.

Celia was described as “pure breath”, “born of rhythm,” and “possessing an energy that you couldn’t help but to be drawn to” by artists such as Quincy Jones, Eddie Torres, musicians connected to the Fania All Stars, and even modern artists such as Pitbull.  The way Celia captivated her audiences not just by her music, but also by her persona- her connection to people and her songs of happiness and positivity- shown in the movie, was a great reminder of how one person can have a huge influence on millions of people of all generations.

Celia_Cruz1

Thank you VIS for continuing to give Celia an audience long after her life and passing on her legacy not just as an artist but as an inspiring woman in history.  This legendary artist lives on in many hearts all over the world, and I know that after what I learned from the movie last night, her music will carry an even deeper meaning to me and all those who came out to watch it and to dance a little before and after the screening!

Looking forward to more fantastic dancing, learning, and unforgettable memories this weekend at VIS!

Check out the site for tickets and schedules and the amazing line up of instructors and performers from all over the globe!  You don’t want to miss this.  It’s the last one!

Vancouver International Salsafestival

Reminiscing on Carlos Gardel – A Tango Photo Fantasy

I decided to pull out a few of my favourite photos that I took at the Carlos Gardel Show a few years back in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“What makes the dancing different in Argentina, compared to here?” a few people asked me when I got back from my trip. “I mean, tango is tango, right?” they often commented, “Why did you have to go all the way there to dance it?”

The best way I can explain it is to say that yes, tango could be danced anywhere.  But it’s not just about the people and the movements and the dance.  It’s also the atmosphere that surrounds you when you’re there.  I felt as if even the walls in all those high ceilinged, old buildings at the milongas in Buenos Aires whispered secrets built up over so many years and years.  And they invite you to listen-  to become a part of those generations of secrets oozing through the walls as you stand in those very same spaces where it happened.  Dancing, observing others dance, and being intoxicated by the music in the city where it all began, it is hard not to get drawn in.  Even outside, despite the litter and pollution, there is something alive in the music on the streets, and faces of the Portenos who pass by (the people born and brought up in Buenos Aires).  It’s like a silent acknowledgement that they still carry somewhere with them the energy of their ancestors- that it has never really died. And in fact, tango seems to be what has helped it live on.

It was an amazing feeling, that I think only Buenos Aires, with all its history, passion and depth of stories, could stir up inside us and around us. And all of this gets brought back out through the dancing.

These photos from the Carlos Gardel Show help me to hold onto that feeling in my memory- a memory of how a dance- the Tango- drew me to a city that should have been completely foreign to me. But instead, it made me feel so at home, alive, and inspired.  And I still miss it and think of it often, even after all this time.

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“My goal is… just to make the world dance.” -Ryan Morrissette

“Those who say it cannot be done shouldn’t interrupt the people doing it.”

– Chinese Proverb

This is definitely one of my favourite quotes because it continues to remind me of the power of our own inner strength, despite the obstacles we might face.  But what I love the most is meeting people who prove to be amazing examples of this- those individuals who, because of their own will, passion, and courage, manage to go beyond what they might normally be thought capable of doing, and then often inspire others to do the same.

Little did I know that one of these individuals, who I had the pleasure of meeting  recently, Ryan1would be a young teen- Ryan Morrissette.  Ryan, a member of the hip hop crew Freshh,  is a talented, charismatic dancer whose energy is well, … contagious, to say the least.  His hard hits, quick and clean moves, and overall enthusiasm on stage definitely draw the attention of his audiences.   But even off stage, Ryan seems to often be found smiling and sharing a positivity with friends and strangers alike that is truly refreshing.  So when I heard that this young dancer has been dealing with a serious health condition since the age of two, I couldn’t believe it. You’d just never know that Ryan has Cystic Fibrosis if you saw him out there – the way he always seems to be giving it his all- whether on stage dancing, or co-emceeing and event, or just hanging out with his friends.

But that’s what Ryan does- he gives his utmost to this passion he has for dance, and to life in many ways, it seems.  In fact, rather than letting CF stop him from pursuing his love of dance, Ryan uses dance as a way to heal his condition and to reach others out there to remind them to live life to the fullest. “I wasn’t supposed to be able to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise,” says Ryan. But if you saw him out there, training, leaping, doing flips and tricks- well, Ryan has pushed through many physical obstacles that might otherwise cause another person in his shoes to not even attempt any of it.  And that kind of perseverance is extraordinary . Continue reading

The dancer in me…- by Devan Isaac

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Devan2“Ever since I was five, maybe even younger, I guess you could say my parents saw the dancer inside me.  They’d walk into the room and I’d always be trying to do headstands or backflips on their bed.  So they said, “Why not dance?”

They enrolled me in classes, and I took to it and I just fell in love with it.

The dancers I look up to are bboys in general.  Bboys Devanand breakers all have their own style.  They all have their own flow.  It’s the way they dance and express how they feel, and just their moves in general, that is so great.  That’s hard to achieve now, since there’s Youtube and all that.  You have everyone coming up with the same style, the same kind of flow.  But with breakers, they keep it original, and that’s what inspires me.”

-Devan Isaac- age 15

-member of The Freshh Crew

Ananda Shankar Uses Dance to Fight Cancer

Video

http://ted.com/talks/view/id/888

Check out this beautiful video of Ananda sharing her courage and insights into how dance has helped her become a CONQUERER OF CANCER.
Be sure to watch the end of the video to see the images Ananda creates with her feet, LITERALLY! WOW!

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

To be a Bboy…

Quote

“You don’t need to be able to do a backflip or head-spin to be a Bboy or a Bbgirl.  When I teach, I tell my kids, “If you just wanna be an ‘ill top rocker, you go and do that.” Just make sure you have the understanding of the freshness aspect, the cultural aspect, of how to share your dance and your passion with other people, because that’s what it’s truly meant for.  Dance is just to express and to share and to inspire, to bring a balance to yourself and to the community.  So if you just want footwork, do footwork!  It’s all good with me.”

– Bboy Savage Rock

(Note: This quote came from an interview with Bboy Savage and the rest of the guys in the Now or Never Crew. To read the full interview, go to Industry Dance Magazine’s website by clicking here.)