Teaching Artist Reflection

Being a teaching artist is one of the roles that have in my fitness/movement practice. It has  been a pleasure, honor and privilege of serving children and families in many settings, including in afterschool programs. One of my assignments was to help children with their homework. Early on, I noticed children coming into the program with snacks from the convenience store. Have you ever tried to help a child do homework after school where they have been sitting all day, while doped up on Ring Pops, Doritos, Takis, cookies, etc? Try doing a Common Core math problem with children under those conditions. Times 15-20 students. I had an assistant, but it was still challenging. Anyway, instead of getting mad at the convenience stores and our educational system, I decided to work on some solutions around food, nutrition, math and convenience. Lunchbox season is here. I love snacks too. Too much I admit. We made a “butterfly” creation in one of my classes. It’s really easy and a great way to practice portion control for kids and adults. You can use any snack and it’s an opportunity to bond through art and practice real life math skills. Last thing- I hate the Common Core. I’m sorry if it offends anyone, but I do. I’m looking forward to being a part of a new conversation around health and wellness in our communities.

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What is performance?

I had a conversation with a friend about performance. She said that in regards to my wellness/fitness practice, I’m performing acts of kindness towards myself and others. I was struck dumb for a moment because I didn’t think of being kind to myself as an act of performance. It’s always been about the external projection- whether it be on stage or in some other form of artistic expression. Speaking for myself only, I know that performing on stage and being kind to myself don’t have to occupy the same space. As I’m getting older and seeing more clearly, I’m striving for more unification and truth between what’s happening on the inside and outside.

So taking a walk on a nice day, going to the aquarium, Noguchi museum and eating a healthy meal are all acts of kindness that I’m happy to say “That’s performance too!” And those kinds performance will translate well for me, those around me and those that I seek to help.

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Easy wellness steps

Being at the beginning of any journey can feel scary. Try these suggestions as an easy onramp into your wellness routine.

Create consistency with small steps. Feeling successful with the “little stuff” helps to create desire and willingness to take bigger steps towards your goal.

Here are two tips:

1. Drink more water
2. Take the stairs more often

Remember Push, Pull, Squat, Twist. All movement falls into one or all four of these categories. We practice them whether we drive a truck, dance or practice t’ai chi. I invite you to think about how you can create a cohesive and harmonious understanding of movement as it applies to exercise, weight loss and strength training.

Here are some exercise and movement options:

1. Push ups
2. Upright Rows
3. Squats
4. Abdominal twists in different positions

Nourish your body.
I know you know a lot of what I’m about to say, but you want to make sure that you’re getting enough micro and macro nutrients into your body. It is just as important to consume variety from the food rainbow as well as eat it consistently.

Watch this video about nutrition and exercise.

Please feel free to share how you are staying healthy –

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February is Heart Healthy Month!


According to the Heart Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Here are few strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives.

  • Get regular exercise
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce bad and increase good cholesterol
  • Stop smoking
  • Get enough sleep (6-8 hours)
  • Lose weight

Check out this link for more additional information about how to prevent and reduce your risk for heart disease.

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Don’t Scrooge Your Workouts!

12193582_10153651134748279_6458995873404268332_n The look on her face speaks volumes. “Bah Humbug!”  said my pitbull-turned reindeer, Lucy. The antlers were not tolerated very well. 

Try these 6 tips to stay happy and healthy during the season so you don’t “scrooge” your fitness routine.

  1. Prioritize your time. If you can’t make the gym, give yourself 20-30 min. first thing in the morning. Taking the stairs throughout the day can also be a great way to get exercise in. Every little bit counts!
  2. Shop well. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods and healthy snacks.
  3. Portion Control. Use a small plate and fill up on foods with the most nutrients.
  4. Buddy-Up. Working out with a friend can be fun while creating accountability for each of you.
  5. Stay Hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day.
  6. Rest and Recover. Getting enough sleep and allowing for down time will allow your mind and body to be restored to reduce risk of injury.
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What I learned from teaching children

“ (2)Runaway pom poms, pipe cleaners and jingle bells line the bottom of my gym bag.  I own hula hoops and fitness cones. I’ve been reluctant to fully clean out my bag because they are reminders of what children taught me about how to teach—-Always infuse your lessons joy and passion.

I’ve been a dancer, choreographer and teaching artist for years.  I thought that because I’ve had a lot of training, it meant I didn’t have anything to learn. But when I took the position of teaching artist for a summer camp, I was faced with the challenge of teaching dance to kids who did not sign up for traditional dance training. They were there for dance and other art forms as enrichment or recreation. So what do I do for two hours? Plies, flatbacks and contractions? NOPE.

We played games and more games. Musical chairs with no hands, “Fox- in- the- Hole” and other movement games helped me to help them understand their bodies in personal space and in community with others. We co- created a fun and holistic environment where movement and dance recreation were used as tools to champion other important values: Being helpful, being a good friend, and having respect for yourself and your neighbors. I also incorporated music and visual arts by creating an activity where they made drums and maracas from household items. Our “Krazy Kostume” relay race was a gentle on ramp into costume design.  All in all, they were introduced to the performing arts with more laughter, play and understanding of how to work with others than I had ever experienced while growing up as a young dancer. By the end, I couldn’t believe how much more flexible I had become. Learning became easy. The kids helped me to create more space for joy, passion and play to live in all my classes.



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Women who moved the world


Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham were both pioneering dancers, choreographers teachers and anthropologists who created synergy between dance cultures from Africa, the West Indies and the U.S. as a means to build a greater understanding of the importance relevance, power and intelligence of African dance.

The twists, turns, falls, jumps and reaches in Pearl Primus’s works, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Strange Fruit,” were infused with the truth, sadness, pain and suffering that she witnessed when she worked as a sharecropper in 1944 to study work, family and church life in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Katherine Dunham’s travels to Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad and Haiti allowed her to study the roots of black dance, both sacred and secular. By combining movements from the Caribbean and European classical ballet, she revolutionized dance in America in the creation of the Dunham technique which is taught in many dance schools today.

In addition to increasing their knowledge and understanding of cultures whose work and rhythms they were recreating for the stage, they both understood the need for the unifying fabric of dance, music and visual art in the black community to help renew courage, pride and strength help to fight for democracy.

Carmen De Lavallade, who along with Janet Collins, worked with the Metropolitan Opera, dancing as the prima ballerina in Samson and Delilah and Aida. Ms. De Lavallade has danced with and choreographed for many companies including Lester Horton Dance Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Philadanco and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She and her husband, the late Geoffrey Holder, had a partnership and artistic legacy that lasted over 60 years. Most recently, she toured her show, As I Remember It, throughout the United States.

I was excited to be among the performers who honored these women and other trailblazers in American dance and music on Thursday, March 10 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre in NYC.


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