I think my mom enrolled me in my first dance class as soon as I could walk. From that moment forward, dance was a major part of my life. Hours after school were spent in class, weekends were spent at rehearsals, and summers were spent at camps and later full-blown dance intensives. By the end of high school, I was starting to get burnt out with auditions and politics, and I left the company I’d been with for over ten years. I spent my senior year taking classes at various studios in the area in a more low-pressure environment. I left for college unsure how dance would continue to fit into my life, but I quickly found a new dance community at the University of Georgia and at an independent studio in Athens. I’d never known a life without dance, but I graduated from college, moved across the country, and dance slipped out of my life.
When I moved to New York City last year, I vowed I’d start dancing again, but something was still holding me back. I’d lived in the city for eight months without stepping back into a studio. I felt out of practice and intimidated to take a class. Then a friend introduced me to Jess Grippo and her You Can Dance Again (YCDA) Program. After a brief call with Jess, I felt like YCDA was just what I needed – an alternative to the traditional dance scene and a supportive environment to reconnect with my dancer body and dancer identity. After a four-year hiatus, I finally started dancing again.
Jess is a dance reviver and creative coach based in Brooklyn. She created the YCDA Program because she, like me and so many other dancers, experienced a time where she lost dance and, in turn, a part of herself. YCDA is a simple way for dancers to return to their passion. The program is available both online and in-person for those living in the NYC area. During the virtual program, you’ll meet weekly with other dancers over a video hangout to receive guided dance sessions and coaching from Jess as well as other guest instructors. In the NYC-based program, you join the virtual program weekly in addition to meeting in a studio weekly with Jess and the other dancers. Both versions of the YCDA program focus on developing choreography from improvisation, guided prompts, and collaboration, culminating in a virtual showcase for the online program and a performance in NYC for the live program.
If something is holding you back from dancing again or you’ve been hoping for an opportunity to dance again free from comparison or competition, I highly recommend speaking with Jess and exploring the YCDA Program. The next session will begin in 2016, so be sure to join the movement to be the first to learn about what Jess has in store for the New Year! In the meantime, if you’re in the NYC area, get your tickets for the current program’s showcase next Friday, December 11 at 7:30P at the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory in Manhattan.
“Goals take commitment but are much more achievable when handled realistically and from a place of possibility.” – Cyndie Spiegel
Cyndie Spiegel is a business strategy coach for creative entrepreneurs who believes in the profound effects available through integrating meditation into your career. I first discovered her on Periscope and instantly connected with her upbeat personality and creative spirit as well as her background in fashion. I also find Cyndie particularly relatable because she never fails to lighten the mood or emphasize a point with a swear word (or two). I finally had the chance to meet her in person at the Freelancer’s Union popup event, Meditate, Create, and Cultivate.
Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly curious about meditation. I read a couple books (both of which I would highly recommend – a personal narrative by Dan Harris called 10% Happier and a beginner’s guide called 8 Minute Meditation). I started practicing but never consistently. Then, within the past couple weeks, meditation started popping up in various facets of my life – in a yoga class, on Periscope, and in my horoscope. When I saw Cyndie’s workshop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to delve deeper.
Meditation is often thought of as a spiritual practice. However, Cyndie believes in approaching it in a more practical way. She guided us through a basic ten minute meditation followed by a series of activities focused on letting go of limiting beliefs and gaining clarity in goalsetting. First, Cyndie directed us to sit comfortably, close our eyes, and root ourselves in the present moment. Next, she encouraged us to honor the time to connect with ourselves and our inner wisdom. As the minutes went on, Cyndie reminded us to be patient, keep sitting, and focus on our breath. The activities that followed aimed to harness the clarity and openness gained through meditation and apply it to a goal we intend to accomplish in the next three months.
To me, goalsetting can be intimidating and overwhelming. The simple act of stating a goal can make you feel vulnerable or anxious as the pressure to achieve it amounts. Detailing the steps, checkpoints, and barriers to accomplishing a goal can be equally staggering. You may begin to realize that the path to your goal is long or that there may be a number of roadblocks along the way. These feelings and beliefs are the exact limitations that can prevent you from realizing your goal. After using Cyndie’s meditation method, I felt the negativity dissipate, and I was able to approach the goalsetting process with more confidence. I left the event feeling incredibly energized and excited to expand my meditation practice into my career and my current and future goals.
Nothing in New York City ever starts on time. At least that’s what I thought until I discovered the Yogasmoga popup events at the South Street Seaport. When I arrived at the free class with Erika Bloom Pilates, I was ten minutes late, embarrassed, and flustered. I signed in, threw down a mat, and quickly tried to regain some Zen as I began my Pilates practice. At first, I’d been skeptical of doing Pilates in the midst of the concrete jungle, but there was one particular moment during the mat work that changed my mind. We were on our backs doing some bridges, the breeze off the river was washing over us, and as I gazed up between the high-rises at a perfect blue sky, I felt bliss. Needless to say, by the end of the class I was on a high and wanted more than ever to learn about the brand behind the event. I struck up a conversation with a couple of the girls representing Yogasmoga, and the next week, I found myself in their NYC Headquarters.
Katherine Bacino, Yogasmoga’s New York Community Coordinator & Editor of Rangoli, the brand’s community platform, served as my leader and guide throughout the HQ. There, I met members of the Yogasmoga team, previewed the upcoming fall collection, and got a taste of what’s in the works for the brand in 2016, all while experiencing just who Yogasmoga is.
Katherine started with the basics and explained the story behind the brand’s name. Yogasmoga comes from a Hindi colloquialism that combines a base word (like yoga) and a rhyming word (like smoga). The meaning is “yoga and the things that go with it.” Yogasmoga is not just a brand for yogis. It’s a brand for those who embrace the principles that go with it: joy, energy, and balance.
Next we moved on to the upcoming fall collection, which embraces the theme “unrestricted movement.” The motif reflects the brand’s belief that activewear should hug and support the body without compressing or constricting it. This idea immediately hit home. I recently got into a discussion with my dance group about how uncomfortable and unhealthy activewear can be that promises to slim your stomach or slenderize your thighs, leaving lines and indentations on your skin. Instead, Yogasmoga aims to celebrate the natural shape and curves of the body with the mindful design of their fit and fabrics. I’m particularly excited for one of the prints in the upcoming fall line called “Topography.” To create this design, Yogasmoga used a technique called bodymap printing. Typically, patterned fabrics are cut for the desired garment at random, which means the print appears on each article of clothing in a different way. With bodymap printing, the pattern on the fabric is specifically designed to suit the garment and the part of the body on which it’s worn. So, Yogasmoga’s Topography print leggings highlight the line of your waist, curve of your thighs, and muscles in your calves.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. It was time to actually test out the clothes! The minute I slipped on the first pair of leggings, I experienced just how awesome this apparel is. The fabric is rich, mobile, weightless, and just feels good on your body as you move. I’m also completely smitten with the Topography print in the upcoming fall line. It’s a feminine and flattering work of art. I can’t wait to get my hands on a style from the new collection! If you’re having trouble deciding which piece of Yogasmoga apparel to try first, check out the company favorites or some of my own:
- Katherine, NYC Community Coordinator & Editor of Rangoli: Tippy Toe Twist Legging & Oh La La Bra (great for busty girls!)
- Katie, Marketing Analyst: Tippy Toe Legging
- Tom, Director of E-Commerce: Nirvana Short (yes, they have a men’s line too!)
- Emily, Social Media Manager: Tippy Toe Legging
- Faith, Director of Marketing: Vivacity Legging
- Trish, Wholesale Specialist: The entire Vivacity Collection
- “Super” Alex, Customer Service Specialist & Project Manager: Run Jump’N Twist Crop
- Cait, Yogasmoga Enthusiast: Run Jump’N Twist Crop & Yantra Tank
For those in the NYC area, check out the full list of free popup events that Yogasmoga is hosting at the South Street Seaport now through September. Then, follow Yogasmoga on social media, and stay tuned this fall for a series of live panel discussions with the brand. Finally, hold your breath! There’s rumor of a brick and mortar Yogasmoga store opening in NYC next year!
My mom grew up with short hair and knew little to nothing about styling long hair. So, for my tenth birthday I asked for a lesson on braiding. At the time I still went to my original hairstylist Tracy, who had given me my very first haircut. She was more than happy to grant my birthday wish.
Mastering basic braids – French braid, Dutch braid, fishtail braid – served me well at numerous slumber parties and school dances throughout my youth. I enjoyed the big, chunky braids of my friends with full, thick hair. I was even more fascinated with the braids of my friends whose moms had let them get blonde highlights. But my hair is fine, brown, and somewhat boring. I never loved braids on me.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago… I partnered with Salon Dm3 in Athens, GA and my friend and stylist of six years, Catie McWhirter, to undergo a summer hair transformation. I lost some length and bulk and got some fun, warm-weather highlights. Lastly, I learned three of the easiest hairstyles for summer – no braiding required!
Wish you could achieve those effortless beach waves?
Simply want a style to get your hair off your face on those hot summer days?
Need an amazing up-do to rock at summer weddings, parties, events, and festivals?
Looking for an alternative to the ever-popular braid trend?
If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, then you need to watch my latest YouTube video!
Photography and Videography by Sonali Prabhu of So Narly
Athens, GA, 2008
ME: That’s an awesome leather bag. Where’d you get it?
JULIE: Thanks! Actually, my friend Elke made it.
It’s hard to forget a name like Elke. So, when my friend Julie shared that By Elke had recently launched a new site, I had to check out the latest designs from the maker of the bag I’d coveted seven years prior. Within a few clicks, I fell in love all over again.
NYC, Upper West Side Trunk Show
One of a Kind Summer Bags, Accessories, and Jewelry
By Elke & Kim Clary Designs
Please contact me for details as this is a private event
It was a beautiful spring day on the evening of the trunk show. When I arrived at the Upper West Side high-rise, I was greeted by a doorman who directed me to the elevator. I entered the third floor apartment warily and walked toward the buzz of chatter and laughter. The spacious living area was lined wall to wall with handbags, satchels, totes, and cross-bodies galore. In the center were tables decorated with clutches, wallets, and other small accessories. The smell of fresh, supple leather permeated the room. Some women were holding up the bags, inspecting their insides, and discussing the various colors and styles. Others were modeling prospective purchases in front of a large wall-mounted mirror.
I kept walking, through a threshold and into another open space with tables of beaded baubles. In this room, women were piling on stacks of bracelets and layering varying lengths of necklaces, contemplating the perfect combinations.
At first, I was overwhelmed. I was standing in the midst of a trunk show in a home on the UWS with a porch larger than my entire East River-adjacent apartment. I was wearing jeans and my comfortable city shoes because I’d walked across town nearly three miles since “the weather was nice” but really to save on cab fare. I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful handmade leather bags and beaded jewelry I’d ever seen, and dozens of well-dressed uptown women were whirling around me, modeling bags and jewelry in the midst of their own personal fashion shows. I needed a drink to diffuse my insecurities.
After hitting up the spread of refreshments in the kitchen, I was ready to shop. First, I composed a bohemian arm party by pairing beaded bracelets by Kim Clary Designs with By Elke’s leather bangle. Then, it was onto the handbags! Once I spotted this woven clutch (similar here) with tassel detail, I was smitten. After I made my purchases, I took one final moment to bask in the beauty of the spacious UWS home before heading back across five avenues, twenty blocks, and through Central Park to my humble East River-adjacent apartment.
Photography by Sonali Prabhu of So Narly