I really admire you for your strength and agility as a kickboxer, but also for being in a field that traditionally might have been thought more ‘suitable’ for men.
Did you find it hard to work your way up in kickboxing, especially as a female, in terms of having support and being taken seriously?
Staying at Champions Martial Arts Academy for all the years that I did- from being a novice student to becoming an instructor and employee- had its challenges. I would say it made it easier having female role models around me- such as Master Ingrid Katzberg and Sensei Anita Katzberg. These two sisters own and run the school (along with Master Farid Dordar). Their strength was so inspiring and motivating for me and thousands of other female students in the city.
Yes. I remember them being highly regarded throughout the school and community.
Yes, and Master Ingrid and Master Farid welcomed all genders to train and compete. I never felt any judgement from either one of them. The only challenges I encountered were from a minority of younger males who felt uncomfortable around me. I competed early on in my training years in eight tournaments and in five ring-fights and I was always the oldest female among the fight team. So that was tough in terms of judgment. And I later faced another challenge when I began instructing. Once again, some males found it difficult to be instructed by a female. This led me to train harder and to show them I am not as limited as they think. Of course now, after fifteen years of instructing, one builds a reputation and I have not had any issues with this in a long time.
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 →
In Part 1 of this interview- “Why Tango?” Gabriel El Huracán discusses what it was about Tango that drew him into the dance so deeply. I have begun this second half of the interview with some of the words Gabriel left us off with at the end of Part 1. They just seemed so fitting to the theme of Part 2 of this interview: celebrating the beauty of differences, the strength of diversity.
Gabriel: In tango, you’ll have a kid who is twenty years old who is still in college or university and he’s beginning his life. And in the same room, you will have this older tanguero who might be eighty years old, dancing right next to him.
And you might meet a lawyer and a plumber and a stay at home mom all in the same room doing the same dance, sharing the same passion. You have people from all social classes in the same space. You have people from all ages, and people of all different cultures connecting through this common passion.
Tango allows me to make these unlikely encounters that I never would have made in my daily life otherwise.Continue reading →
I am really impressed at how quickly it seems you have picked up tango and to such a high level. Do you feel that there is something about your life before tango which contributed to this?
For as long as I can remember, I was always more of a physical person. I was into basketball and into movement in general. I think if you’re an active person and just more physical in your life in general, you’re used to telling your body to move in certain ways. You’re used to isolating certain parts of your body and just having more body awareness. And this is really important, especially in tango. So perhaps that gave me an ‘advantage’ in terms of learning tango quicker.
And you used to be a bartender before, right? I think bartending is an art in itself. A bartender friend of mine even described her job as a dance on some nights. Do you see any parallels between your life as a bartender and the way you teach or dance now?
I never thought about it before, but probably the social skills I developed while being a bartender helped me with my teaching in some ways. I mean, I was already used to expressing myself around many people, through bartending. I was already dealing with so many different types of personalities on a daily basis and in a very busy environment. And I was used to keeping people entertained with humor and stories, and learning how to read what people wanted. It also got me into the habit of navigating around a room full of people. Continue reading →
“Dancing with the heart” is a phrase that has been so overused that I think it had lost the depth of its meaning for me over time, until… people like Charles Ogar came along. Charles not only reminded me of the true meaning and feeling behind those words, by the connection he creates in his dancing, but he also put a whole other twist to it as he opens up about matters of the heart in this interview. After learning about some of the journey Charles’ heart has been taken on, – from having faith in his passions, to leaving his old career behind, to enduring heart surgery, and following a new path by trusting in where the universe is taking him- I have a whole new appreciation for the power of the heart. Thank you Charles Ogar for opening up with such honesty and authenticity in this interview and allowing us to know a little more about the heart that lies within you as a dancer and teacher.
Lights, Camera, DAUDI! That’s how I think the saying should go sometimes. If you’ve ever worked with this extraordinary photographer featured here, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It seems only natural to think about Daudi, the creator of Daudi X Photography, when talking about camera and light. Daudi is extremely creative with both. For him, photography is not just a job. It is his art, it his passion. He not only expresses the way he sees the world through this art, but he also brings pieces of it to us, capturing special moments and bringing out what is unique in each of his subjects. Daudi covers a range of photo types but his greatest fascination is with people. He is probably best known for his work in the dance community. His professionalism and attention to detail in his work is impressive, as is his friendly, charismatic nature. While Daudi has spent much of his time showcasing the talent and beauty of the artists that he photographs, it is my pleasure to finally celebrate Daudi’s talent and inspiring story with all of you. Thank you Daudi for your enthusiastic and thoughtful responses.
Over a year ago, I had participated in a master class blues workshop in which each of us were critiqued individually about our dancing by both the instructors and the other participants. We were then given tips on what improvements we could make and then were to dance in front of the audience again, this time keeping in mind these suggestions in order to see and feel how they could transform our dancing.
I learned so much from that workshop, but unexpectedly, one of the most memorable components of it was a dance by two student participants I had never met before- Patrick and Linda. They didn’t do anything particularly fancy or flashy in their dance, but their connection to each other and the music was so sweet and heartfelt. Continue reading →
… And sometimes, that healing comes in the form of something that lifts your spirit, something that makes you feel alive, something you are passionate about. Sometimes, that healing is comes in the form of Dance.
“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.