Spring into Health Teachers BY Michelle 03/06/2013


These folks really care about getting people well and happy! M. Soledad asked them about what they do and why they’re so passionate about it.

Article by M. Soledad Sklate.

This March and April, Cumbe introduces Spring into Health, a series of 7 innovative workshops that are designed to help you take care of your body, mind, and spirit, and welcome spring with overall good health and well-being. M. Soledad Sklate spoke to several teachers to get a deeper look into what they do, and here’s what she found…

*   *   *   *   *

FELA! dancer Iris Wilson kicks off the series with a 4-week-long AfroBeat Body Boot Camp (March 9-30), which she calls a “high-energy dance aerobic workout designed to feel less like a workout and more like a dance party.” Iris recounts that, while performing the hit Broadway musical, many women would approach her after seeing the sculptured and sexy bodies of the Fela Queens dancing on stage. They all had the same request:“Teach me to move like that!” and “Your body looks amazing.  When is the workout video coming out?” It wasn’t too long, she says, until “a light bulb went off in my head to start a dance workout, inspired by the movement in the show. This became the birth of what I call AfroBeat Body.” The idea behind this original class (open to women and men) is simple: enjoy great Afro beats, get a great cardio workout, feel sexy, submit to movement, have fun, and live!

*   *   *   *   *

Jeanine T. Abrahambrings us JourneyDance™ on April 7, which blends yoga,improvisational theater, freestyle dance, and building cardiovascular strength with a process of healing, releasing negativity, and celebrating what we already have in life. Jeanine discovered this “conscious dance form,” created by Toni Bergins, at Kripalu retreat center in the Berkshires when she was heartbroken after a relationship breakup in 2007.  She remembers looking through the Kripalu retreat center listing of workshops and seeing something described as “funky” and “divine.” “It sounded exactly like what I needed!” she says. “That 4-day workshop changed the course of my life. Instead of dealing with the trauma of my relationship ending, I danced it! I was introduced to a whole new way of dealing with challenges and celebrating my life.” Since becoming a Facilitator, Teacher Mentor, and Core teaching staff member for JourneyDance™, Jeanine has been creating a safe space for people of all types, sizes, colors, sexual orientations, and genders to empower themselves, strengthen their community, break down their barriers, and open their hearts to live life from a place of love.

*   *   *   *   *

Lisa Lopez was teaching a stretching class at a gym when a regular student approached her and told her about the MELT Method® (April 7). Lisa did some research and was fascinated by what she found out about this self-care method that, as Lisa explains, focuses on “helping people to have a pain-free life by allowing them to take an active role in the treatment process.” Sue Hitzmann, who created the scientifically proven method about 10 years ago, was a manual physical therapist who noticed that the same clients came to her office all the time – so she thought of teaching them the treatment techniques so they could do it themselves at home. Lisa enthusiastically says that she loves MELT because “it works! The gratification is instant. You have to wait 6-8 weeks to lose weight or build strength, but you don’t have to wait to feel better once you increase the fluidity of your body tissues using the MELT techniques.” She adds, “At 41, my body is stronger, I have no pain, and I feel better than I was in my 20’s!” She can’t wait to “MELT” with people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders who want to live pain-free.

*   *   *   *   *

“Whether you are old or young, a novice dancer or a professional dancer, you will find FIT 4 YOU NYC DANCE (April 14)a fun way to make exercise and staying fit not just a task or a chore, but a lifestyle,” says Sean A. Thomas, DPT, the creator of this hour-long aerobic workout full of fun dance moves from various styles such as Afro-Caribbean, Latin, Bhangra, Hip Hop, and House. Sean points out that “Zumba is one style of dance. FIT 4 YOU NYC DANCE is the full diaspora and I believe that’s what makes it so special.” Combining his experience as an athlete, professional dancer in national and international dance companies, and physical therapist, Sean’s classes “are challenging but sensitive to the various needs of the participants.”  His motivation and the premise of his classes, he says, is “to encourage people who are too apprehensive, nervous, or uneducated about how to work out to discover fun and easy ways to stay, as my motto says, “Always on the Move”.

*   *   *   *   *

Richard Symister, who leads a workshop on Injury Prevention for Dancers on April 14, became interested in preventing dance injuries through his wife. Soon after graduating from the physical therapy program at Simmons College in 1997, he met her –  she was a professional dancer with many dancer friends who performed various styles from Soukous, to Sene-Gambian, to Samba. “I reveled in them all, paying particular attention to individualized movements and what could possibly go awry with those movements. I caught on very quickly, discovering – just as there are sports- specific injuries, there are also injuries common to each dance style,” Richard says. From then on, Richard has continued to ask dancers questions to better understand the nature of their injuries and ways to prevent them. “My workshop at Cumbe will be unique because I will be using live models and asking for total class participation while demonstrating assessment and injury screening tools. We will also investigate and perform Qi Gong and Yoga postures that can be applied to any routine immediately. Participants will leave feeling empowered, possessing a better sense of how to promote healing and avoid becoming injured in their respective disciplines.”

Read more about all 7 ways to get into a healthy new groove here. They’ll inspire you to change out of your winter blues, put on some comfortable clothes, and Spring into Health at Cumbe!


About the writer: M. Soledad Sklate is a PhD student in the French Department at New York University, doing academic research on the intersection of literature and embodied cultural practices and manifestations rooted in African diasporic influences. She is an avid practitioner of Latin and African dances, and is working at Cumbe as a Media and Communications intern.

* Shop and Support Cumbe *