Archive for the ‘dance’ Category

Last November I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book is about a woman who was over-stressed, found herself snapping at her children and husband too much and felt she just wasn’t as happy as she could be. She spent an entire year researching how people found happiness and developing and cultivating her own happiness. Through her research she found that founding father Benjamin Franklin was a patron saint of self-realization. In his Autobiography, he described how he designed his Virtues Chart as part of a “bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection.” He identified thirteen virtues he wanted to cultivate and made a chart with those virtues plotted against the days of the week. Each day, Benjamin Franklin would score himself on whether he practiced those thirteen virtues. I found this chart-keeping approach to monitor behavior very interesting. For several years I’ve been keeping a happiness journal, writing down something from my day that made me smile or feel joy. https://juliepeoplesclark.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/with-gratitude/ When the new year approached I decided to try my own accountability chart and not only focus on virtues but also on behaviors that I wanted to foster in myself.

My chart reads like this:

  • I will have a green smoothie or vegetable juice everyday.
  •  I will walk or dance at least 30 minutes everyday.
  • I will practice Bikram yoga 5 days a week.
  • I will meditate at least 30 minutes everyday.
  • I will consume no white sugar.
  • I will buy no new clothes.
  • No computer after 7 pm.
  • I will keep my accountability chart everyday.
  • I will write down at least one thing that made me happy each day.
  • I will not complain about anything, ever.
  • I will always remain positive.
  • I will write for my blog or work on my book every day.
  • I will speak only the truth.
  • I will let no one steal my peace.

Before I go to bed I get out my journal and write down each of my goals, giving myself a check mark if I have accomplished it and an x if I haven’t. I don’t judge myself if I have more x’s then checks on certain days that just the way some days work out. However, the chart has made me more aware of my goals during the day. I found that I was mindlessly eating white sugar, finding silly excuses not to meditate, buying clothes I didn’t need and telling little white lies to keep people happy. I have yet to have a day full of check marks and to be honest I am not sure that is my goal, I just wanted to be more aware of my behavior and how it effects my happiness.

Side note: My happiness statement still always includes something about Ella each day and I’ve noticed that everyday I’ve practice Bikram yoga I mention something about how the practice makes me happy. Guess I’m headed to the right place (Bikram Teacher Training) in 4 DAYS!


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My husband Dave will be inducted into his college athletic’s Hall of Fame this April. Dave was an outstanding college basketball player holding many of the college’s scoring records to this day. “With 1,833 points, David Clark is the leading scorer in Goucher’s men’s basketball history and led his team to the 1994-95 Capital Athletic Conference championship.” Goucher College Website

I never saw Dave play basketball in college, we met after undergrad when we were struggling modern dancers. Dave took up dance at Goucher to help him with his basketball game, he enjoyed dancing so much that after graduating he decided to try his luck as a professional dancer. We were dancing for The Doug Hamby Dance Company in Baltimore http://www.umbc.edu/dance/fulltime_faculty.html, I was teaching Dave a duet that was in our company’s repertory. During the duet we embraced for several seconds, sparks flew, my pulse race and my cheeks flushed, Dave felt it too. The rest is sweet, sweet history. I never knew how good of a basketball player Dave was, he never talked about it. After we married we attended an alumni game at Goucher and the program for the game had a quiz on it asking: Who held the records for the all-time leading scorer, all-time average points per game, all-time assist average and many more—All of the answers were Dave Clark. I leaned next to my friend who knew Dave in college and asked her about the quiz. She gave me a funny look saying, “Didn’t you know? That’s his retired jersey framed on the wall.”  I was floored and humbled.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the induction ceremony because of the Bikram Teacher Training. I am sad about missing the ceremony, but I know that Dave will feel the love that day from his many former teammates that are attending, his family, my family and of course his # 1 fan Ella. Dave has encouraged and supported me in my decision to attend teacher training since I first mentioned it last summer. I would like to nominate Dave for my own Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame for the most amazing, outstanding husband/partner, father and friend a girl could ask for. With love and gratitude my sweet.

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Last night as I was leading a silent Bikram yoga class at the studio where I practice I had a transformation. This transformation is not a new one for me, it happens almost every time I practice yoga. First of all a silent class is an incredible way to practice the series of 26 postures in a Bikram class. The sequence of the silent class is the same as a traditional Bikram yoga class, but I practice along with the students and tell students what posture comes next and when to come out of it, I say nothing else. The wonderful studio http://www.bikramyogaburlington.com/ where I practice does this every winter and donates the money made from the class to a local charity. This year the money is going to the Vision Strength Action (VSA) http://www.vsavt.org/ program that provides art classes/programs to adults and children with disabilities. I have been teaching dance classes for adults with disabilities for the VSA for the past year. It has been an incredible experience, a highlight of my week. Also leading the silent classes has been a wonderful way for me to prepare for the teacher training coming up in THREE weeks.

Now about my transformation…In Bikram classes you wear very little clothing, the room is heated to 105-115 with about 50% humidity. You learn pretty fast, the less clothes the better off you are. There is a large mirror in each Bikram studio that you stand in front of and look your body the whole class. Last night as class started I began with a self-deprecating attitude–criticizing my thighs and belly, disappointed in myself for having 2 chocolate milkshakes this week and noticing the recent breakouts in my skin. By the time we got through the first series of postures that criticizing voice was silenced and an appreciation for my strong, incredible and capable body took over. My strong legs that act as Ella’s legs each day, my strong arms that lift Ella’s slippery body out of the bath tub, my strong and flexible spine that will allow me to care for Ella as she gets older, heavier and taller and the bulldog determination that I have developed to get me through the sweaty 90 minute class and Ella’s IEP meetings at school. This is why I love my body and Bikram yoga. Bring it Teacher Training, I’m ready!

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Julie in Doug Hamby’s Quintet

I’m pretty physically active, however, my talents don’t lie in sports that involve a ball or any flying object. My face is a ball magnet. Balls, frisbees and boom-a-rangs will hit me in the face at one point during the game. On my second date with Dave we went to the batting cages in Fells Point (Baltimore), I hit the ball it flew straight up in the air, I looked up and on its way back down the ball hit me in the lip. I had a fat lip for the rest of the date and for two days afterwards. Even as a spectator flying objects will find my face–During one of Dave’s soccer games a few years ago I was sitting on the bleachers and the game ball was kicked off the field and right into my face. Growing up my sister was very athletic and cool and I always wanted to be like her, but that is just not me–I’m not very cool and when I try to be I get hit in the face with a ball. I am ok with the phenomenon that my face is a ball magnet, competitive sports have never really been my thing and I have always used the hits as a sign that I am not living true to my Self.

I have been a dancer most of my life, I started when I was a child and danced professionally until I had Ella. When Ella was born I stopped dancing to care for her and never thought I would dance again. However, like a nagging relative, dance kept trying to come back into my life. I ignored all signs, thinking “how can I dance when my child will never be able to walk?” Finally, after I devoured three seasons of  the TV show “So you think you can dance…” Dave convinced me to take a dance class at the theatre (http://www.flynncenter.org/) in downtown Burlington. The class was great, the teacher and I became fast friends and we have collaborated on a few projects over the past two years since we met. By allowing dance back into my life many doors of opportunity have opened for me. I have been asked to perform, teach, collaborate and train with many of the great artists here in Vermont. Everyone is supportive of my family and understands that Ella is a huge part of my process as an artist. And to bring it all full circle I have been asked to teach the class that got me back into dance at the theatre this fall. (There will be no flying objects used in the class only flying bodies.)

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Last Sunday I performed a modern dance piece at an art gallery in Middlebury, Vermont. It was a lovely space with a small but very supportive, enthusiastic audience. Ella and Dave were in the audience, not in the front row, but off to the side. All of the people involved in the show and most of the audience know Ella and our family. Ella makes noise, especially now as she is getting over yet another cold. Her breathing is loud and at times, she snorts as she is taking a deep breath. I have struggled in the past getting comfortable with her noisy breathing in public, as people always stare. However as with all the other stares in our lives I have gotten over it to ensure that Ella gets all of the experiences and opportunities she deserves. I always speak to the choreographers/directors of the shows before I bring Ella to make sure it is ok (not that I have to, but I do.) Most times they are super supportive and love having Ella and our family involved. Ella brings such a wonderful positive energy to every room and in my opinion she brings a reality sometimes lacking in the art scene. AND she loves it, she was so engaged during the show, her focus was amazing following every movement, dancer, word and beat of the music—a wonderful experience for her.

…And for me I noticed my one-pointed attention. When I am performing, teaching pilates or yoga, feeding Ella, doing Ella’s therapies, cooking, doing the dishes or looking into Ella’s eyes I am fully focused on the task at hand. This one-pointed attention has developed in me over the past 7 years, it is the only way for me to continue to work and function each day. My mind can very easily drift to Ella, what she needs, where she is, how she is doing, what the future will bring and …well, you get the point. My wandering mind can very easily take over and consume my life, making work and everything else impossible.  This weekend as I danced, my full attention was on my task, performing the choreography to the best of my ability. After the piece was over I was able to detach from the performance and focus on Ella. I was so far removed from my performance that when it was over I was thrown off when I received several compliments on my dancing. Funny, ten years ago that was all I looked for after I performed, accolades from collages and what the dance critics said in the papers the following day. I found this experience very liberating, my dancing not involving the ego so much.  Just dancing as wonderful, positive experience.

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