2015.

Hat's off to you 2015...you rocked.

Thank you for a wonderful year of dance, work, shows, friendship, travel + so much more. This pin-up is off the grid until 2016. Stay tuned for fresh things a'coming!

Here are a few of my favourite moments.



chosen.

What's the happiest place on Earth? 

Disneyland? In your lover's arms? Home? 

These past few weeks - between Kelowna, Toronto, New York City and Vancouver, I found home in each place. I found home in my chosen families. My friends who've ventured far and wide, and those who've stayed close to their roots. 

I've struggled with where to call "home" after moving every few years growing up and as an adult. Travelling around has made me realize Vancouver is now where I call home...but only geographically. 

This weekend, I remembered where home was. 

On stage. 

Flanked by dancers. Lights. An audience. I don't even have to move big, far or wide. I can just relax and be. 

Welcome to my home. 

PS thank you to my incredible friend, Meaghan Hewitt McDonald, (who you might remember as Freddie in the last Icon Series) for this blog post. Sharing my home with you on stage was an honour last year. 

 

tricks.

It's no secret, I eat, breathe, sleep and process dance daily. 

When I'm not in the studio, you'll often find me bopping along the sidewalk with my headphones in. Since I was a child, I would choreograph music videos and dances to every song I heard. I still do. 

I've had the pleasure of working with so students from various walks of life of the past year - children, adults, women, men, seniors, those with disabilities, pre-professionals, and more. 

I've been thinking a lot about tips of the trade - by no means to have the right answers for do's and don't as a dancer (I'm still figuring it out!) but I do get asked quite often for advice on a few things. 

Bingo! Blog post inspiration. 



TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS 

1. Cross-training. 

I can't stress this enough, especially for my developing dancers. I struggled with repetitive injuries, body image, etc. for years when I was dancing 20-plus hours a week. It just didn't make sense - I was doing everything right from ballet class to stretching to resting. 

Everything changed when I started swimming. Two days in the pool completely changed the overall tone of my body and worked those muscles in a non-weight bearing medium. When I started doing yoga, I found all the strength to ground and secure my balances, turns, and more in my leg movements. 

Every body is different. I've had colleagues find spinning, Pilate's, hiking, running and many other activities also beneficial. I strongly encourage cross-training outside of a dance studio or gym to build up cardio and endurance strength. 

2. Watch, watch, watch. 

Go to shows. Any show. All the shows. 

Dance is a visual art. We learn by watching, copying, interpreting and adjusting. Watching other professional artists in our medium - and outside of it - opens up your mind to so much more. Some of the phrases I've loved most have come from watching how bands play music live. I love watching the arm and fingers move on a guitar, and have integrated that movement into my choreography. You never know where that inspiration can come from. 

3. Find your niche. 

This is way easier said than done. But the dancers, choreographers and artists who are not only enjoying success, but also enjoying being successful in the arts are just being themselves. 

Heels dancing is "cool" right now. I prefer to dance in a 2.5 inch heel character shoe compared to a 6-inch shoe. It's just comfort level. 

From that, I found that I identifying with more cabaret and contemporary movement as my centre of gravity is lower to the ground in those shoes. Then I met a few real life pin-ups, and knew that's what I wanted to be do. I refuse to conform to what society and the dance industry thinks a "heels dancer" should be. 

4. Take a class way outside your comfort zone. Then do it again. 

My first Sass Class was like that! I almost didn't go in the room because I was so scared. 

Thank goodness I went in. I got hooked, made the best friends of my life and started a new career. 

My other colleague made me go with her to an ecstatic dance class about six months ago, and I was completely weirded out and scared to go in the room. It was a freestyle class for 2 hours with a bunch of strangers...on Sunday morning. 

But we kept going back. Every week brought up something new. I'm still terrified every time I take that class. But it brings me back to a very "human" place, and I learn a lot of the dancers around me (most whom are retired contemporary and modern dancers in their 50's). 


Just a few thoughts. Dancers - what are your tips and tricks of the trade? 

kitsilano.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I really felt the need to rebuild my "people" - not just friends, but those around you in local businesses to help you get beautified, inside and out. 

I'm very lucky to have found home in Kitsilano, a beach neighbourhood near the University of British Columbia, located close to West 4th Avenue.

When I moved in, I didn't realize how much my life would take me around the city, but there's something about crossing the bridge and coming home that brings a huge sense of relaxation. 

That...and a few of these businesses also help: 

Best Wine Store: Broadway Wine Shop: (2752 West Broadway) 

Not only is there a diverse collection of interesting wines, they hold the BEST tastings each week on Sunday afternoon. 

Marty, who runs the front of house, knows everyone by face and/or name, and I've often run into him around the neighbourhood with the biggest smile on his face. He's never steered me wrong on a wine choice. 

Plus, the cork wall art is the coolest thing, ever. 

Best Salon: Bare Wax Bar (Two locations: 1828 West 1st + 101-2065 West 4th) 

I stumbled on Bare Wax Bar while exploring my neighbourhood and walked in for a brow appointment. I've never been to another salon since. Kimmy the owner is divine and very personable, and has created a beautiful, clean, and welcoming environment with wonderful staff. 

Sati has been my main girl since that first walk-in, and she now greets me with a hug. Some days, you really need it! I also highly recommend getting a pedicure at their beautiful new West 4th location. 

Best Boutique: beautybar (2142 West 4th Ave) 

There was once a point in my life when I wanted to be a visual merchandiser, and I've always LOVED looking at boutique windows. beautybar kills their display every, single, time. 

beautybar has everything fit for a girly-girl like me - local and unique bath products, jewelry. makeup, cards, candles, etc. Although you might think a boutique must have clothes, I beg to differ. Plus, if you're looking for the perfect "little something" as a gift, you're covered here. 

(PS I'm currently lusting after that purple skull in the bottom left corner of the photo - it's a candle) *hint hint* 

Best Float: Halsa (2028 West 4th Ave) 

It's no secret, I love to float. Over the past year, I've found it the most effective method to

a) relax and b) help all my injuries 

Halsa is a beautiful, open space, and a the Genesis Float Pods has both a option for complete sensory deprivation or with gentle light and calming music. 

I dare you to try a float. You'll be hooked.

Best Restaurant: Maenam (1938 West 8th Ave) 

I feel like giving the title "Best Restaurant" in Vancouver is the equivalent of winning an Oscar. In my humble opinion, Maenam is one of the best places you'll eat, ever. 

I had my birthday party there last year and was floored by the diverse takes they had on Thai cuisine, interesting cocktails and service for myself and my friends. I'm seriously thinking about ordering pickup right now...

There we go! What are your favourite small or local businesses in your neighbourhood? 

araxi.

Happy Labour Day weekend friends! I hope you've been enjoying it with friends and family soaking up the last bits of summer. 

I just got back from a quick getaway to Whistler, where I have NEVER been before. A good friend of mine asked if I wanted to accompany her to the Araxi Long Table Dinner, and I couldn't say no. 

At the Araxi Long Table Dinner in Pemberton, B.C. 

At the Araxi Long Table Dinner in Pemberton, B.C. 

First things first, we stayed at the stunning Nita Lake Lodge, which reminded me of the lodge from Dirty Dancing - we were only missing Patrick Swayze. After a quick refresh and drink on the Cure Lounge patio, we were off to Pemberton, B.C. to dine with 270 fellow patrons.

We were a bit skeptical about the weather, but as soon as we arrived for cocktail hour, the sunshine broke through the clouds, right on queue. 

North Arm Farm in Pemberton, B.C., host of the Araxi Long Table Dinner 2015. 

North Arm Farm in Pemberton, B.C., host of the Araxi Long Table Dinner 2015. 

Divine doesn't even begin to describe Executive Chef James Walt's dishes. Served family-style, his attention to detail and true farm to table message did not go unnoticed. He took a few minutes to chat with my colleague and I before dinner, and I was very impressed by his calm demeanour when he was only 15 minutes away from serving a huge feast. 

My favourite nugget? Hearing him chat about serving and interacting with a couple major music artists during the first Pemberton Music Festival a couple years ago. We also had a moment chatting about of my favourite artists, Bif Naked. In my books, you're both the rock stars of B.C.

The standout dish for me was the dungeness crab stuffed squash blossoms - I've never had a squash blossom before, and I'm very intrigued to try them again. My table couldn't stop raving about the fresh tomatoes, which were literally picked from the farm that morning and were on our plates hours later. 

I couldn't think of a lovelier way to end the summer, and I think I might have a new crush on Whistler...another trip this Fall is definitely needed. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the snow. 

Here are a few more snaps from this weekend. Enjoy the holiday Monday! 


amy.

Yesterday afternoon was fairly ordinary. I'd finished work early and  was spending the afternoon in the sun, ready for the weekend.

My friend called me and asked if I wanted to head to see a matinee movie. Without second thought, I suggested seeing "Amy", the documentary about Amy Winehouse.

I've always been a big fan of her music, and if it's possible, I'm even more engulfed by Winehouse's sound, lyrics and story after the film. I loved that the documentary truly focused on her artistry and wasn't afraid to go into the dark side of her life.

From working on documentaries and other news stories, it's always an interesting moment when you get into those interviews with profound characters in your story.

More often than not, you'll have fairly average experience chatting with them. But every once in awhile, you'll find a nugget that changes the entire direction of what you thought you were making.

Something else interesting that came up for me...Amy's look.

I remember my mother purchasing her first album, "Frank" and also "Back to Black" - we used to listen to them both on our drives to school, dance class, etc. My father also got Rolling Stone magazine, and I remember those couple of covers Amy graced sitting on our living room table. 

As I look back at the timeline of my personal style, and why I'm drawn to a retro look, I think it started with Amy. I can see in photos that I started playing with flowers in my hair, experimenting with cat eyes, pin-up clothing... I abandoned it for a couple years when I went to university, but now it's back with full vengeance.

I used to think Bettie Page was my biggest influence, but I'm realizing this runs much deeper. The things were are drawn to early in life are certainly a calling - I always loved old jazz music and a vintage vibes in my younger years. I think Amy really modernized and brought that to the forefront for my generation.

I'll likely never have enough hair for a beehive like hers, but you never know.

Just a thought. Have a good weekend.