Taking stock of the old year and in with the new!

With impending new year's celebrations, many take stock of successes and trip-ups incurred in the past year, where necessary making amends to welcome a new chapter. Although I am disinclined to share private experiences publicly, some notes on the most significant milestones 2011 seem appropriate.

2011 burst with dance and yoga. Both combined allowed for precious personal growth. Whilst the year was never short of challenges, the hurdles encountered continue to remind me that obstacles are "simply" there to jump or remove altogether (like Ganesh would do). While my current work does not (yet) satisfy my professional aspirations or academic qualifications, my passions never failed to nurture me in 2011. Dance and yoga  provided the vital creative counter force to an underwhelming, busy job. Regular practising both  disciplines keeps me zen, where my professional situation is far from ideal.

Beginning with 
PHYSICADVENTURES teaching dance counts towards one of the best adventures of 2011. While I was toying with the thought of ultimately taking on this major responsibility, I was probably "forced into it more prematurely than I wanted to" because of my teacher Wendy Marlatt leaving Ireland in 2009. Losing my mentor created a blistering limbo and left no excuses for not moving on. Then, the notion of teaching started taking shape. All throughout 2010, I was fortunate to collaborate with and be supported by Ailbhe Large, and Nadia Gativa. This companionship meant a lot to me after a challenging 2009 which screamed for reassessing the role of dance in my life, and breaking away from the old.

At the beginning of 2011, I started teaching two weekly classes in Dublin, and albeit occasional struggles (financial and otherwise)  it has taught me the world of good. My students' progress continues to inspire me and their enthusiasm and support motivates me throughout. While teaching entails immense responsibility, I can safely say that it helped me progress in ways I had not thought possible. It was the piece in the puzzle missing in my dance curriculum. Starting classical dance at the age of 6, moving on to other styles until I discovered Tribal Fusion, and rediscovered Modern Contemporary Dance.

Teaching has taught me that 
"Dance is a way of life, an awareness that we bring to everything we do" (Mira Betz) and that in being faithful to my true, creative nature, I can never be afraid to devote my life and soul to dance. Despite of being obliged to work in a regular job for financial security and still yearning to utilize both my intellect and my artistic forces.

Teaching also entails mundane organisational work, and much of the day can be spent in front of the computer sending mails, updating websites, tweets, informing students of class schedules and events. Also, it is  inevitable to market classes, to inform the public, increasing public awareness of the dance form.

I am so delighted about our Hafla in aid of Bodywhys which took place in the Church Bar Cellar, Dublin 1 on 7 August 2011.  "Celebrating the body in dance" gave both students and dancers from all across the various genres (Modern Contemporary, Traditional Bellydance, ATS, Modern Belly Dance, Tango) the opportunity to share their passion with one another. And all this for a great cause! Although the event was pretty informal we still managed to raise 160 Euro thanks to the generosity of friends and family. According to a mail I received from Bodywhys on 15 November 2011 these funds are likely to go towards the development of two new informational leaflets. One will focus on the correlation between eating disorders and self harm and the second will elaborate on the association of eating disorders with depression, Both are areas that affected individuals have highlighted as concerns.

In terms of performing, Junonia (Modern) Fusion Bellydancemble, short Junonia Bellydancemble, premiered two choreographed pieces, a duet to Beats Antique's "Dope Crunk" and a trio to The Knife's "Heartbeats" at our August edition of "Celebrating the body in dance". In 2012, I am hopeful to organise a sequel event attracting greater numbers of dancers and  members of the public (beyond friends and family) to join into the fun of dance.

Other great opportunities for regular performances of Junonia Bellydancemble have arisen thanks to Goulash Disko events and Lady Windermere's Cafe in the Backloft. In addition, performances at workshops I attended abroad (Brighton) and smaller scale haflas (The Zoryanna) in Dublin have upped the performance portfolio.

While teaching has taught me about myself, it has given me a great insight into different learning methods/speeds. Individuals often act the same ways in their every day life as they do in their dance (or yoga) practice. This is probably true for most disciplines. Some tackle challenges head on, some resign themselves at hurdles and complain, some are timid at first but show tremendous commitment go all the way with the greatest discipline. It is exciting to see so many variations and learn from them!

My own dance has suffered a bit in 2011 as I invested most of my efforts into students, letting procrastination rule with regards to my own performances/progress. This needs to be addressed  urgently in the new year. On a more positive note, I have rediscovered Modern Contemporary Dance as my chosen (liberating) form of self expression. 2012 will be dedicated to this dance form with renewed energy and devotion. There is never an end to learning, and I cannot wait to learn more about Contemporary and to dance more next year.

Moving on to yoga, as my second physical adventure.Years ago I fell in love with yoga, to be more precise, Asthanga Yoga. However, this year, I practised it with much greater devotion. Also, I am grateful to have meet Gillian Mooney, who is now my chosen Asthanga yoga mentor and roams between Ireland and India/Mysore to teach and train. Alongside with a heightened awareness, I have toyed with thoughts of turning to veganism and travelling to Mysore. The stories Gillian and others tell are inspiring, to say the least and it would humble me greatly to study at the Asthanga Yoga Institute in Mysore.

Other than that, in 2011 I redicovered my enormous passion for languages. I started reading newspaper articles in the Norwegian newspaper, even made small attempts of child-like Norwegian conversations. It's been a major liberation to take a more chilled approach to language learning, still respecting the grammar but at the same time trying to converse at an early stage rather than waiting for the "perfect" moment.

Unfortunately, my 
INTELLEXPLORATION abruptly ended at Norwegian language learning. My First Class honours B.A and M.A are of no great use in the office environment I feel so stuck in, and except for using my language skills I am underwhelmed on a daily basis.

As a result my PROFESSIONADVANCEMENT has left wanting in 2011, and screams for improvement in the new year. I have already had thoughts of travelling more both for dance and music, even to the extent of moving elsewhere to try my luck with a respectable career.

More personal lessons learnt from 2011 are:

Item I

Some individuals appeal to affection/emotions for personal gain and are wolves in sheep skin, self centred and  unsympathetic to anyone else's needs but their own. No matter how much you care or you yearn for them to understand your point of view, they will never give "a fiddler's fart" because they are self absorbed beyond repair.

Conclusion: Turn away from those bloodsuckers and forget any sense of affection you may feel. Move on.
This is easier said than done when you are the caring type and inclined to always believe in the best of people.

Item II

"Life is too short to waste it with tears"

My friend Kelly (31) was killed in a car crash in Western Australia at the peak of her life, leaving her family and all her friends heartbroken. The way she lived her life, to the full, simply enjoying life and using what it threw at her will continue to inspire me in 2012. It sounds cliche but it is SO vital to live every day as if it was your last. And to make sure that you would be happy with the way you lived your life and treated others at any given moment you may go, be it at a young or old age. To assure that those who you love know you do, and that you show them every day how much they mean to you.

Item III

"Do, or do not. There is not try".

Yoda's wisdom is pretty much self explanatory. Those who are not full of words and talk (i.e fluff)) but just do, warrant my respect over loud mouths any day. No need to go on and on and on about what you want to achieve and how unhappy you are about this and that, thinking everyone else is actually interested.
You simply need to stand up for yourself and actually have the "balls" (rather than empty words) to change things and "just" do without all the unnecessary waffle that will stall progress.

This is all for now, my musings over 2011 and my more personal blabber is reserved for the good old fashioned diary!

Looking back at 2011, and appreciating how busy I was creatively (regardless of work annoyance), it is definitely true what they say that time flies when you are having fun!

I absolutely cannot wait for 2012,  which will be a year filled with creativity, joy, love and great endeavors, professionally, personally and artistically.

"Rock on" as Kelly would say.

JVS/Junonia Bellydancemble

For information on weekly classes and workshops/events 2012 please consult www.jasbellyfusion.com