This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stretch and Strengthen - the evolution of a dance class

I took my first dance class at a very young age. I'm southern, so of course, that meant tap class. I don't actually remember it, but my parents have a fabulous picture of me in a sequined pink tutu and tap shoes from my recital performance. I must have been all of 4 years old. In high school that tutu got a new lease on life as my best friend's head piece when we drove around the back country streets of our hometown singing loudly and off key (I wore a basket weave flower pot on my head, but that's a whole other story). Tap lead to ballet and gymnastics, and off course, musical theatre and voice lessons, which I loved....and over time, dance became less of a force in my life.

Dance made a serious comeback when I took my first bellydance class at the Y in Lexington, SC in the early 2000s (2002 or 3, I don't remember exactly) and I fell madly in love with the art form. I became a dancer again, and wondered why I ever quit. I love to dance. I love to move. I love expressing myself through dance, the release that movement gives, the rush of performing, and so many other things about dance. Yet, I quickly discovered that though bellydance is certainly my passion, it wasn't enough.

Emotionally and mentally, bellydance does fill a void that I need filled, but physically, it quickly became clear to me that bellydance alone wasn't giving me what I needed. In part, I discovered through bellydance that I needed more than bellydance. For example; floorwork - one of my very first troupe performances involved a significant amount of floorwork, and in order to do this safely I had to add regular strengthening exercises to my work out. Just to get to the floor safely and gracefully from a standing position required strength that I hadn't built through bellydance alone.

I began varying my workout. I would begin with a goal from bellydance (for example: great belly-rolls) and then break down what I needed to have in order to reach that goal (super killa abs and the ability to control and relax those abs) and finally, create a workout to meet that goal (straight crunches, leg crunches, scissor kicks, twist crunches, pilates inspired balance arm wavy things, core strengthening, twists, stretches, breathing exercises, etc).

I'm nowhere near where I want to be as far as dance ability or strength and flexibility, but I am worlds away from where I was when I did that first troupe performance at Tasty World in Athens, GA in 2006! More importantly, I've learned a lot about movement and my body, created some great workouts, and become extremely comfortable in my own skin...and I discovered a love for sharing this dance form with others as both a performer and a teacher.

I've wanted to teach a class on my workout concepts for years! Finally, I have the chance. I didn't know what to call it - but luckily, my long time dance partner and great friend Christy Fricks (owner of floorspace dance studio and director of Sulukule Dance Troupe), came up with the name, Stretch and Strengthen, and offered me the time slot to teach my class. So now I have the amazing opportunity to refine and define the way I work out into a class format. I have a chance to bring my crazy workout techniques to life and teach them to others...I'm so excited, I could dance!

Here is the class description
Stretch and strengthen

If you're looking for a way to lose that holiday weight, tone those hard to find abs, condition your body for advanced dance training, or just a unique and fun workout, this is the class for you.
Drawing from her experience as a dancer, as well as from yoga, pilates, and strength training, Jaidra is bringing you her own personal workout. Designed to increase strength, flexibility, and balance, this class is appropriate for all levels and body types. We'll workout, but have fun doing it!

Wear pants that provide freedom of movement, and bring a yoga mat. Water bottles are also encouraged!

Wednesdays 5:30 @ Floorspace Dance Studio in Athens, GA beginning March 2 2011.

I really hope to see a lot of folks there - you'll get a chance to learn some of my personal workout techniques. And if you've never raced a group of women across the floor using nothing but your glutes to power you, then you're in for a super treat!

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