Recently, I have noticed that it has been a good while since I have updated the blog. Whoops! My only excuse is that 2015 has been a massive year for Dance Masala, and I can barely keep up. Plenty of positive stuff has been going on, but I have had little time to reflect upon it as it has been so constant *breathes into a paper bag*
Last year, I was discussing what I wanted Dance Masala and myself to achieve with my mentor, and the list looked a little like this:
1. I wanted to do a whole school concert, and use this as a tool to raise money and awareness for the Asylum Seekers
2. I wanted to do a team bonding retreat for my Professional Company
3. I wanted to offer my Professional Company more opportunities to learn from other people
4. I wanted a passionate group of teachers working for and with Dance Masala
Our first ever School Concert was a tremendous success. This is due in no small part to the teachers who worked tirelessly on their routines; the students who made the routines shine; Julian Mok and the Multicultural Community Centre who essentially donated their fantastic venue and supported the show; and my own mother, Juana Bernardo of Remax Profile Bardon who financially supported the show, and emotionally supported myself. Not only was it a tremendous achievement in terms of how well the students performed, but we also raised over $2000 for MDA’s Donate a Ride program, a program that gives GoCards to Asylum Seeker volunteers, to give them the ability to continue to volunteer. For a small business, raising that amount was massive, and I lost a lot of sleep making the concert (with 100+ student performers, an audience of 500, and a team of 15 volunteers) run smoothly.
Our retreat was brilliant. It was inspiring, restorative, and a wonderful opportunity for our Performance Company to continue bonding. We danced, did yoga on the beach, ate loads of food, cooked for each other, and played a lot of games… We found out some of us were VERY into games, and may have overwhelmed others with playful enthusiasm (ahem, sorry).
Our Professional Company continues to go from strength to strength with the talented Chris Beckey appearing every now and again to train the dancers in Viewpoints, a technique employed in modern dance. We had an amazing Professional Development week where the dancers learnt Bharatanatyam, Kathak, K-Pop, Afro Cuban Samba and more; and it’s so exciting having a group of dancers who are excited to learn and experiment.
I am surrounded by teachers who are talented and passionate, and that’s a really wonderful, inspiring feeling. Finding people who are invested in your business is not an everyday thing, so I feel really quite blessed. Nisha, even though you are my assistant teacher with the Juniors, you are the Yang to my Yin. Both the students and I love you, and all of us (parents included, I’m sure), refer to you as ‘the nice one’. It’s wonderful co-teaching with you, and watching all our little dancers and mini-me’s develop their confidence and technique. Erika, you help out behind the scenes and people may not realize that the classes, curriculum and choreography would not be what it is without your input. Your assistance in the Dance Masala office is incredibly valuable and sorely missed when you are absent (be it gallivanting on a yacht in Indonesia, or captaining your own massive international arts project). Thank-you also for taking the time to analyse the gaps in Performance Company, and develop training that will take the dancers to the next level. And also for going with me (even at the busiest time of your year) with the YONCÉ classes, and making one of my dreams happen. Divya, you are an amazing teacher and a massive asset to Dance Masala. Teaching is vocational, either you are born to do it or it’s struggle city, and you need to learn a lot to be successful at it. You have a natural ease with people, that brings out the best in beginners; and your ability to create choreography that is full of fun, develops people’s dance skills, and has challenges achievable even if you have never danced before, is truly amazing! Lastly, Aditya. You are an amazing guy. I have never met anyone so passionate about dance, and selfless in their passion. Your choreography is amazing, you are the smoothest dancer I have ever met and your expressions are hilarious! You are also so humble, and I love that about you. As much as it sucks that you can’t be a teacher for us here in Brisbane and a regular face in our Performance Company, I am so excited for you to start Dance Masala in Toowoomba and bring our awesome Dance Masala style to the folks out west J
As I sit here, slightly fatigued, looking at this list of goals; I am incredibly satisfied as I have kicked a bunch of them. I have a lot of difficulty slowing down sometimes, and come from a family of workaholics. It helps to remind myself that Dance Masala only launched in 2013, and we are only in the 3rd year of business. With this in mind, I’m floored by what the group has achieved as a group. My dad says “a closed fist is more powerful than an open palm”, in this slightly violent sounding metaphor, what he means is that a group that is united is far stronger than a bunch of individuals. This is certainly the case with Dance Masala this year. 2015 will continue being massive, with a whole bunch of weddings booked for Performance Company; the Queensland Symphony Orchestra Bollywood Gala; the Brisbane Festival; Diwali and much, much more; I’m excited to finish this year full-steam ahead!
I am a bit of a loser when it comes to expressing love well. I tend to be more ‘tough love’ than anything else. It makes me emotional, uncomfortable and gives me knee jerk reactions. It’s nice for me to step away from the gut instinct of ‘duh, I love you, now do the thing and get over it’, and express myself through writing. I am grateful to each and every person who connects with Dance Masala, you’re all amazing and thank-you for helping make my dreams and goals come true.