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As an aging dancer, I started taking yoga at my gym 15 years ago as a way to workout and keep my flexibility.I initially only took “power yoga” because I was at the gym to workout & break a sweat. After closing my dance studio, I moved to NYC and took a studio manager role with YogaWorks. We offered a lot of different styles of yoga and had some fantastic educators and wellness coaches at YogaWorks in Brooklyn. That is where I started to learn more about the origin of yoga, Ayurveda, & holistic medicine. I was skeptical, and thought it was all a little “WOO WOO,” but there was something about these folks that drew me in. They had this way of being, I didn’t understand it, but I wanted to know more. That fall I entered a marketing contest for Pukka Tea at YogaWorks, Brooklyn Heights where I was the manager. My “Tea, Truffles and Tadasana” won the campaign contest, and I was awarded a week long retreat vacation in Costa Rica. The Retreat was in January of 2019, and that experience opened my eyes to a whole new way of practicing yoga. The retreat itself was not “deep” in a profound way, but the experience itself, coupled with exploring new, unfamiliar lands had me hooked and awakened something in me. When I returned to the USA, I was planning on moving to Los Angeles, and the timing could not have been more aligned. California, the land of gurus, hippies, and free spirits, it was the perfect place for me to explore yoga in a new way. I started attending Beach Yoga, because, duh, it’s the beach! I also started going to a very small yoga studio near my apartment in DTLA, and unlike the gym, where I was always trying to “fit in”, this little yoga studio in the basement level of a building in DTLA felt like I belonged. Then…covid
For what seemed like eternity, I was locked in my 26th floor apartment in DTLA. I went through a very difficult and depressing 2 years. My kids went to stay with their dad, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and with my boyfriend forced to travel 90% of the time now, my relationship of 8 years was slipping away.I had been doing a lot of online studying and when our lease was up in DTLA, we moved to Santa Monica. Living by the water does something to you internally. I felt my life was somehow restored, even though nothing really changed except my address. I began to practice yoga regularly and started incorporating Breathwork into my daily routine ( thanks to ClassPass, otherwise would have never known about it). Much like yoga, Breathwork, shifted something for me internally. I was lighter, more calm, and could learn to feel my emotions and release childhood and past trauma without having to recall/open up the old wounds. My personal life, along with the distance of my family became increasingly difficult. A dear friend came to stay with me during a particularly difficult time. She offered to do some energy work on me, and I agreed. That experience was both enlightening and terrifying. She was able to help me feel better, but she also brought to light some deep wounds that I had buried for decades. She also invited me to join a group on zoom for a 40 Kundalini Heart Opening Challenge. I had never done this type of yoga, and to be honest, the first time I tried it, I did not understand the concept or process, and it seemed “too much” spiritually for me. But I’m no quitter, so I stuck to it, and after the 3rd day, I knew I wanted to learn to teach this style of yoga as well. I completed the 40 Day Challenge and continued to practice it daily because of the positive mental, emotional and spiritual shifts. It was around this time that I decided that I wanted to teach yoga as much, if not more, than dance. Dance has always been my first love, my passion, but as life changes, so have I, and the positive benefits I have gained from these practices compel me to share these other movement modalities.
Beach Yoga Classes became a regular thing for me once I moved to Santa Monica. I connected with the owners of Beach Yoga SoCal and inquired about opportunities. The owners are from NJ and I’m a New Yorker, so we hit it off naturally.They were delighted to offer me to be part of their team. Once my “dance season” of judging concluded, I began teaching Beach Yoga. I knew that I wanted to continue to expand my knowledge and registered for a Trauma Informed Yoga Training in Panama. In working with my life coach/therapist, along with these practices of Kundalini & Breathwork, I knew I had some past trauma that I have been working through and felt that this program could not only help me work with special populations, but may also help me on a personal level. My trip to Panama easily makes my top 5 most amazing adventures. I learned so much about myself, other women, and world perspectives. I have since began coursework to obtain certifications in Meditation, Reiki, and Kundalini.I am fascinated by all that I am learning, so much of which is so simple, yet so powerful. Awareness. Bringing conscious, focused, awareness can transform your life. As I continue to learn and grow as an individual, it’s now time for me to start sharing my knowledge, experience and gifts as an experienced teacher to others.
Everyday, I head to Santa Monica Beach for “work”. I am still in disbelief that this is my “office”. Beach Yoga is a very unique practice, not only because of the instability of the sand under your feet, but the natural elements that you are surrounded by during your practice. It is almost a spiritual experience, uniting your breath, being and the elements. I am looking forward to teaching beach yoga and expand it’s reach, not just to locals, but tourists, visitors, children and groups. I also plan to work with private clients who want to refine and expand their yoga practice along with exploring ways to keep evolving to their true potential. This fall I will begin hosting retreats that will allow me to share all of my experiences and passions with women looking for community, connection & clarity. As I start to build a library of yoga, I plan to publish short flows on youtube, until my app is ready to launch in the fall. I am excited to begin this new branch of my movement business and feel grateful for all that has come my way. It is through failures, trauma, and tragedy that we really learn our greatest lessons, and yoga, meditation and Breathwork can allow anyone to turn Trauma into a Triumphant Transformation.
The Sugar Tour, launching in January, is a day long dance event & ambassador search for dancers 6-12 years old. Along with Sugar Strut Dancewear founder, Emma Feehely, I am producing this national event, giving mini & junior dancers an experience like no other. The day’s schedule includes a master class with a working professional dancer, and a strut & stretch class, which gives dancers the tools and confidence to take their talent to the next level. These workshops are led by national competitive dance judges, dance educators, and those who have worked at one of the biggest dance agencies in Hollywood. The event also includes a professional photo shoot for participants featuring Sugar Strut Dancewear. Every participant will get new headshots and a swag bag filled with tons of dance related goodies. The event concludes with a Pink Carpet Finale! Parents also have the unique opportunity to attend “MOMager” seminar led by our Sam Shen, our Sugar Queen Cha Cha’s awesome “mom manager”.
We are looking for host studios in…
Want to be a Club Sugar Girl?
Join us for a weekend of a little R&R: Relax & Recharge
RESCHEDULED FOR SPRING/SUMMER 2022!
POSTPONED UNTIL SPRING/SUMMER 2022…
I have missed connecting and sharing with other dance educators and studio owners! This pandemic has hit the performing arts industry hard, and even though things are starting to resume, large conventions & teacher summits are not likely to happen anytime soon. I am excited to offer this intimate opportunity to those looking to grow professionally & personally with other like minded professionals so that this summer can be a summer to remember (in a good way!)
Two years ago I went on a 5 day Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica and it was one of the best trips I have ever taken! I loved the mix of structured workshops, free time, and optional excursions. I went alone but never felt lonely, and I was able to explore a new place on my own terms. There was no obligation to anyone except myself and that allowed me to “fill my cup” with what I needed. I want to offer a similar experience for dance teachers so they can have the tools to tackle the coming summer and fall with a renewed energy and spirit.
The Dance Teacher Retreat will be held in Los Angeles, California May 29 & 30. This is Memorial Day Weekend, however, I chose this weekend because most studios close for the holiday. This would allow teachers to travel and attend without missing work or having to get substitutes. This timing gives those that have June recitals time to highlight their new summer plans during peak times and attract new clients.
The Retreat Program will consist of 6-8 hours of classroom seminars covering everything from preschool age programs, to advanced level technique training. Theses seminars will be interactive but will NOT be learning combos to challenge your own skills ( there will be an extra opportunity outside these seminars for that!)
The other 6-8 hours will be Table Talks geared towards the business side of dance studios. Topics will include competition teams, branding & marketing, performing engagements/ opportunities for your students, building relationships (staff, students, parents, peers, etc), education and certifications, and creating revenue streams outside normal studio fees. If you do not own a studio, this information will still be helpful & useful.
In addition to the set workshops and seminars, I will offer several “excursions” for those interested in exploring parts of LA in a small group. Excursion options include: Hike to the Hollywood Sign ( GREAT photo opp, and perfect pic to hang at studio when you return), beach time in Santa Monica (rest and recharge, with option for beach yoga), and a trip to The Fashion District in DTLA ( a great place for costumes, accessories and more!).
With the pandemic still a concern for many, this event will be an extremely limited event. I am currently working with the host hotel to get a great rate and will be able to offer workshops & seminars either outdoors or indoors regardless of the restrictions that could still be in place. I will also have each participant take a covid test before we begin the retreat. All meals will be up to each participant, and I will provide many options for delivery, pre ordered meals restaurant suggestions.
If you are interested in more info, or if you are ready to register, contact me before it’s too late! I cannot wait to meet new friends and create some great memories together!
On again, off again…Zoom class, in person class, social distance class, it can be hard to keep class fun, challenging and engaging for both teachers and students. I have found playing a fun game at the end of class, or giving a homework challenge can keep everyone working and growing.
Creating action boards have been a great tool to use for multiple games and allow students to select the skills on their boards. I have acro boards, flexibility boards, strength/conditioning boards, ballet boards, and turning boards (not the turn boards that teach flat footed pirouettes though…lol). Game boards include: BINGO, Tick Tack Toe, Dice Challenge, and Roll & Win.
Laminating the boards allow them to be reused and creating different level boards are great for classes with multiple levels. If you are interested in getting boards for your class, contact me asap!
Each month in 2021 I am creating a calendar challenge, January was a Back Bending Challenge. February is a Hand Balancing Challenge. Each day depicts a balance challenge for students. You can incorporate this as homework or even use it as a marketing tool for your studio by asking students to post pictures of their challenge pose and tag the studio. You can also create a #hashtag to build visibility for your studio.
Let me help you achieve new goals in 2021! Whether we meet in person or virtually, I will give you the tools you need to succeed! My Movement Biomechanics Conditioning blends many different training modalities including: NeuroKinetic Therapy, PBT, TRX, AcroArts, Yoga and athletic conditioning. With over 25 years of training experience, I can help you be your best!
January Back Bending Challenge…
New day, new posture! Give it a try…
Get safe & effective training with private coaching sessions
Your home, or at public outdoor space
Single Sessions ( up to 3 people) $150 /hr
Small Group Sessions ( 4-6people) $40 each /hr
Acrobatic Arts Certified Instructor with over 20 years of teaching experience
Progression based learning allows for each participant to work at their level
Weekday & weekend sessions available
Instructor Covid Tested every 3 weeks, Masks worn & mats social distanced
Check out some of the fun we have in the video below…
Spot free acro classes are ESSENTIAL right now! I have produced 3 workshops (Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced) for acro teachers to help create a safe & effective acro training program for the upcoming season. Using the wall, mats, yoga blocks, & towel, teachers can help dancers build the strength & flexibility to master tricks without having a spot. Based on my 25years of teaching, Acro Arts, YogaFit Kids, DancemED Pro, & TRX certifications, I am confident that these workshops can provide insight and clarity when teaching from a far. Contact me for registration information!
Dance Conditioning classes are not usually the first thing dancers choose to do. And while they may not have the artistry of a dance class, dance conditioning, when done correctly and consistently, can dramatically improve your dance performance. During this time of “stay at home” orders, dancers have the opportunity to improve their technique and help prevent injury through dance conditioning.
During my 20 years as a studio owner, conditioning was always part of our program for our serious dancers and it wasn’t until I started teaching dancers outside of my own program that I realized how important dance conditioning was, and how it contributed to solid technique and injury prevention. For the last 6 months I have focused my continuing education as a dance professional specifically on conditioning and the science behind movement. I recently obtained DancemED specialist certification under the mentorship of Dr. Alexis Sams and attended the Neurokinetic Therapy Training Course in preparation for certification NKT.
Why is dance conditioning so important? Many times, dancers that are seriously focused students want to take as many classes as they can. In most cases, ballet technique is where they build their foundation of movement and take ballet several times a week. And while ballet builds a solid foundation of technique for dancers, it’s primarily done turned out. Over time, if you are focusing on building muscle and brain/body connection in a turned out position, you’re not working opposing muscle groups and overuse injury becomes an issue. The dancer is then usually sent to physical therapy and ordered to rest. The problem is that when your brain sends a signal to your body to “perform” a movement, the neurokinetic chain will go to the most familiar path. It takes 700 repetitions to correct a dysfunctional movement pattern. So even though the dancer is going to PT and doing the exercises, when they are dancing, the new pattern has not been reprogramed and hinders rapid improvement. A great example of this is a dancer who does a backbend. A backbend done correctly should maintain a parallel position the entire time. Most dancers know this, and despite “trying” to maintain the parallel position, many end up turned out by the time their hands touch the ground. As dancers, we stretch in both turned out and parallel positions, but often dancers do not strengthen these opposing muscle groups and so the body reverts back to the path of least resistance (ending up turned out). In a backbend, when your feet are turned out, alignment is compromised, knees pronate and can cause knee, ankle, and hip issues.
How do you go about creating an effective conditioning program?
I encourage dancers to focus on the trunk, hip/pelvis, knee and foot/ankle muscle groups since they all play vital roles in dance technique of any genre. A conditioning program is different than a stretch class. Agility, balance, speed, coordination, power, and reaction time are skills that should be considered when creating a dance conditioning program to optimize performance in dance. Make sure that the person that is creating the conditioning program is trained in both functional movement and dance so that the program is safe & effective. Consulting an athletic trainer or Physical Therapist with a dance background may be beneficial.
- Find exercises that are simple, yet effective, in targeting a specific muscle groups.
- Some simple props can help activate muscle groups and provide stability. Resistance bands, tennis balls, yoga blocks, ropes, sliders are some examples.
- Proper form overrides EVERYTHING! As dancers, we naturally want to do everything bigger, better, and higher which often leads to compromised form. Remind dancers that sometimes the smaller, refined, visual movement will yield better results. Props can also be used to help maintain form.
- Consistency is key. Like anything else, you get better and stronger with practice. Set up a conditioning schedule and track it!
- Rotate skills and drills! While conditioning is key, it is also important that you vary the exercise to ensure complete training and muscle shock, maximizing stimulation and training benefits. Change it up every 6-8 weeks.
- Slow & Steady wins every time. Do not overdo conditioning. While you may be a little sore, if your conditioning program is interfering with your dance performance due to tight, fatigued muscles, it will be counterproductive.
- Self care: Roll & Recover. Perform myofascial release, so your body works at optimum levels. Self massage and lymphatic drainage helps dancers perform and feel their best.
Most dance conditioning programs can be done in a small space & once you have a program in place, it does not require a teacher at every session. I do advise an instructor to check in/evaluate students to ensure proper form and execution, but well trained dancers that are committed to their craft can condition on their own. So in this pandemic, while at home, one of the best ways a dancer can improve their dance skills is with consistent dance conditioning. I will be hosting a Dance Conditioning classes online and I am always available for private sessions with dancers, teachers, and studio owners who want Acceler8 Training. During this time at home, I have also created some teacher workshops that are easily accessible for dance educators. If you would like help with content for your classes for the summer and fall, contact me and I can provide fast, effective teaching material for dancers of all ages and abilities.