Fierce as Equinox

imageI don’t have many pictures from what had been one of the most significant months of my life in recent times. The significance will no doubt continue to unfold beyond the current meaning it holds for me. The few pictures I have gathered from others, mean a whole lot to me. At the end of August, I graduated from the 200 hour yoga teacher training with Karma Teachers. We worked hard physically and emotionally together, under the guidance of two beautiful and skilled teachers. But the end of that month is just the beginning of a new chapter, that begins with planning ways to integrate this training into all aspects of my life. I have a few ideas: first and foremost, my own personal practice went through a major growth spurt this summer. Each day began with 20-30 mins of meditation and about a two hour asana practice. Currently I practice an hour of asana a day, as well as meditation (sitting, chanting, walking, mindfulness, etc.). I had been practicing solo for so many years and starting to practice with others was really quite powerful. It propelled me into discomfort zones both emotionally and physically, and I have come to know this group that ventured on this journey of self-discovery together, as my karma family.

Second, I am currently offering free and by donation yoga classes on request. It can be at a park, a community centre, a livingroom…I dont have a space but I will teach anyone who wants to practice. ESPECIALLY if you think you can’t, we will modify and show you that anyone can practice yoga.

Third, this experience will only enrich my dance, it cant be any other way. When somoene knows how to move with grace, intention and precision, this shows in dance and I strive for this in my movement. I love pushing the bodies limits incrementally and seeing where that leads. Daily consistent practice does amazing things.

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Once September arrived, I was back in action with the troupe, and we had some super fun shows lined up for FanExpo in Rue Morgue’s horror section, the Toronto Veg Food Fair and the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exhibition.  See more pics and follow the adventures of the Serpentina North Ensemble on our instagram page.



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Blindfolded vinyasa practice today!

An overused and misunderstood term. Karma is not inaction, or blind acceptance. It’s so much more than ‘what goes around comes around’. I am coming to understand karma as a beautiful sympbolic concept to help dismantle our understanding of reality, to dissect our reality into conditions so we can create meaningful change. Conditions can be accepted but not agreed with and most certainly many conditions need to be resisted in this world.

Why all this talk of karma, what of it in relation to dance? Well these days, I’m knee deep in yogic practice and philosophy, as a teacher trainee with Karma Teachers. This full time (6 days a week!), month long intensive training is focused on selfless service, community and offering yoga to everyone in the spirit of unconditional love.

It is a diverse group of people, many of which may never have crossed paths were it not for Karma Teachers. And I have so much love for all of them, as well as the fearless and ever curious teachers Emerson and Michael. Find out more about Vancouver-based Karma Teachers here.

I have never studied yoga so intensively before and although I have been practicing on my own for some time and cultivating meditation practices since my teen years, I realize now that I have had only bits and pieces to work with. Yoga has been of interest to me as a wellness tool, a healing modality and a complementary movement to dance. This training has offered me a solid foundation and framework for understanding yoga lineage, practice and philosophies.


With such intense studies happening I have taken August off dance projects and I have to say I am missing my troupemates and dancing each week. I’m asking a lot of my body this month and as much as my mind says dance, after an eight hour day, my body says rest. Oh and I’m on a yogini schedule, wake up at 5:30am to get to the studio for 7:30 and ready to meditate by 8am. Although its messing with my night owl self concept a tad, I am grateful for the opportunity to study pretty much all day, every day for the month of August. Afterward I will continue to study intensively as part of the karma teachers personal practice program. Who knows where this all will lead, there are many ideas brewing as various strands of past and present circumstance, experience and relationship starts to weave together into possibilities.

While visions percolate, I put them aside to continue to study hard as I move into the final stretch of the course with our practicum. My intention is to deepen this practice, share it with others freely in the spirit of unconditional love for the benefit of all. So much more to come…

On a dance note, there are lots of Serpentina shows coming up, so check out the Upcoming Shows section!


Its August and between the sunshine and endorphins of physical activity, I have been feeling the summertime love. In my attempts to resist the glorification of ‘busy-ness’ that plagues city life, I’ve been experimenting with regaining that feeling of summer as a kid — when days drag on and months are but one long moment in time. Doing this adult thing, it ain’t so easy, but I’ve found some little ways: riding to work each day, not having a mercilessly packed schedule, growing food being outside as much as possible. And music, always music. What is the soundtrack to YOUR summertime?

In June, the Sugar Shakers performed at the annual Great Gatsby Garden Party and although it was a grey, rainy day, it was a sold out event with overwhelming response, drawing out a pretty awesome and superbly -dressed crowd.


Getting our charleston on. Love all the smiles in this photo!

House of Shimmy did a last minute show with Random Order at Pride. It was right after the Gatsby event, so I booked it to the village, and got ready for a show that was so close to being stopped by the pouring rain. Random Order has fabulous synnergy and their music is so fun to dance to –makes me feel like Im in a Tarantino movie dancing to their soundtrack.

A couple of shots from after the show…a little sweaty, a little soggy, but always ready to move!


House of Shimmy


Rain or shine


In late July, I had the absolute pleasure of teaching my Flapper School workshop at Dragonfly Bellydance. It was sold out and in the middle of a heatwave but we jumped right into the charleston and other boisterous flapper footwork. Musically we delved into vintage jazz, mostly Bix Beiderbecke and brought the tempo up with some electroswing. It was like flapper aerobics up in there, and it was so much fun to see the group smiling and dancing…the two hours just flew by. Apparently some gams were feeling it, in the aftermath of Flapper School.

Speaking of flappers, Sugar Shakers is preparing for a hiatus after our next show this Saturday at a speakeasy event at the Spadina Museum. We  have dwindled in numbers and are re-grouping and revisioning, to create the next incarnation of Sugar Shakers. I will still be doing solo flapper performances and classes on request, and if you are looking for group performance, there are plenty of amazing vintage dancers in Toronto so please message me if you need a connection to other performers.

Serpentina North Ensemble is going strong, we’ve been working hard and have a few shows coming up. I have had to skip out on a few shows to focus on another project (stay tuned, next entry!), but I did get to perform with the whole troupe at a very sentimental event…the wedding of Jim (aka JMBZ) and Craig. It was a lovely and elegant backyard ceremony, and we were so so honoured to dance for them! Upcoming is the one year anniversary of Hip Hip Hooray Cabaret, Fan Expo and the Steampunk Expo in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (See upcoming shows section for details).

I am deeply submerged in a fulltime month long intensive at the moment and at one week in, I will wait until the halfway mark to write a blog about it. But what I will say is that I am so grateful for this opportunity, for this experience so far and the people I have crossed paths with. I have a feeling our paths won’t uncross for a long while after this time together.


Welcome to the Freak Show.

In April, the Sugar Shakers added some flapper love to the festivities at the Circus Side Show edition of the Bazaar of the Bizarre. Checking out the handmade goods in between our sets, there are so many strange and wonderful makers of things at this bazaar.

In May, I had the pleasure of performing to a DJ set by Adham Shaikh at the Royal Ontario Museum for the Rock the Caravan edition of their regular Friday Night Live events. I wish I would have had time to check out some of the exhibits afterward, but by the time I finished they were herding people away from exhibits. It was a great concept, with international market place food, several floors of live music, drinks and access to some exhibits. My first time dancing with the dinosaurs was a blast and the crowd was atttentive and enthusiastic. I shared the stage with another Toronto-based dancer Ananda Franco, and considering we met only that night, I think we had some good chemistry on stage together. The show was truly a mulit-sensory experience, with live visuals mixed by Jax-a-Muse.



In the charming coach house Om Laila studio, my studies with Roula continue. This term we have been working on big drama/intention/character with refined moves, intricate travelling hip work with layers of upper body movement. Jack and the bean stock spirals and ovary muscles, for those who speak the language of Roula Said. Digging deep into the foundational architecture of the movements that are bellydance. Lifetimes of material to learn, soaking in as much as I can…

A couple of events coming up, mostly of the flapper variety! Including a workshop at Dragonfly studio in July. I’m pretty excited to bring charleston to even more bellydancers…check the Upcoming Shows section for details.

And last but not least, the annual Great Gatsby Garden Party at the Spadina Museum, is less than two weeks away. This event has gained in popularity each summer and this year its exploded. The people demanded advance tickets and after an initial online scramble for the pocket-friendly admission fee, the event is SOLD OUT. In response, there will be another Gatsby themed event, guerilla styles, for those who didn’t get a ticket but still want to get down with a 20’s garden jam.

As summer solstice approaches Toronto is in full summertime mode. The city is vibrant this time of year, see you around town.


Although I intended to post each day from Cues & Tattoos, the days were super full, not so much downtime at all. And now its my last night here, and I left the air bnb we stayed in and moved along to City Hostel in Belltown. Laura and I went to the Highline Pub, as tradition dictates, and ate vegan pubfare (luckily there was a very special night called VHS Uber Alles and we watched terrible 1980’s infomercials and a budget horror movie). Laura left for the airport and as I stay another night, ruminating on all the new movements and combos. I’m sure a few new neural pathways were forged in the past five days.

This (!) was my schedule from Wed to Sun

Zoe Jakes Tribal Fusion Intensive – Framework for a Beautiful Spine (Wed & Thurs)

Zoe Jakes – Fleet Foxes: Strange Layers and Sleek Extension

Sam Riggs – Portico Style Bollywood Fusion

Rachel Brice – Datura Vocabulary (Stellar Alchemy, intermediate)

Carouselle – Juice Joint Improv

Rachel Brice – How to be a Zillionaire

Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman of Fat Chance Bellydance – Trick to Turns and Spins. (Here’s some video)

Between the workshops, the Serpents Muse stage, the instructors showcase, the afterparty, the vending area and sleep, the days flew by. I meant to take more pics but here’s what I’ve got so far between what I took and what I’ve found on the festival facebook page.


Zoe Jakes intensive


Space needle through the trees at sunset? Or giant sky bunny staring down sky mushroom? You decide.



Zoe Jakes workshop


My new septum jewellery from Aprils Blissed –maker of beautiful things. I’m in love with the geometric pieces!


I’m happier than I look in this photo, to be around flowers in full bloom.

I have left the festival with a lot of new material to explore, its always such a whirlwind of information and tonight I will spend some time organizing the material so I can go over it on the trip home. I’m already looking forward to next year and Serpentina North plans to apply to perform at the Serpents Muse stage –it was nice to be remembered from our performance last year! So bellydancer friends, who’s in for the Toronto contingent next year?


Here we are in sunny Seattle for Cues and Tattoos 2015. That’s right, I said sunny. It was a balmy 19 degrees here today and Laura and I practically skipped along the hilly streets, giddy at the sight of every  piece of greenery. Its our 4th year at Cues and Tattoos, and this year we came a couple days earlier for the Zoe Jakes intensive, which we just finished today.

Two half day sessions of ‘Framework for a Beautiful Spine’, gave us an intro to Zoe Jakes format, the foundation of what imagemakes her style of movement distinct and unique. I had only every taken a workshop with Zoe once, in San Francisco in 2009 or 10. At that time I did not have enough tribal fusion repertoire to really get into it, but spent most of my time contorting my body into new positions and stumbling over my own feet…but had a blast in the process. Fast forward to this intensive: I enjoyed the challenges, understood the language and was able to move through it with a degree of confidence and engagement that  I left with an understanding both that my body can do cool things and I need to focus on strengthening other areas of my body for new patterning.


Vitamin D party up in here.

Before class today we sat outside in the Seattle Centre, around this big metallic water fountain that plays downtempo beats and funk. Why don’t we have something like this in Toronto? There were people and dogs everywhere, sun beaming down as we savoured the feel of the grass beneath us.

We did some pretty intense arm work, layering hip shimmies and omis over diagnonal walking patterns, cross turns and pivoting turns. We did hand and arm conditioning, psoas stretches, cobra arms and Balinese hands. By the end of today we all learned the combo and drilled the hell out of it. My takehome from this: I need to practice omi’s my ‘wrong’ (left) way…once I start moving with them on my weaker side, it all goes to shit. Also to continue to explore that little place between my shoulders that needs to strengthen, have more shoulder mobility and arm fluidity. And last but not least, travelling quickly with a hip shimmy without defaulting to thigh shimmy of 3/4 shimmy.

Tomorrow I have another workshop with Zoe in the morning and some bollywood fusion with Sam Riggs of Portico in the afternoon. Its an early start so its an early night here at our airbnb home-for-now. Wish the rest of Serpentina North Ensemble was here with us!

Since we last met…


Oh yes March is upon us, and summertime can’t get here fast enough –this winter is relentless and merciless. I have had a few shows to focus on here and there throughout the dreariest months. Turns out, this city knows a few things about winter survival:  music, movement and celebration are just what we need to pull through.

Jan and Feb have been mostly spent planning and practicing. Being back in class at Om Laila and learning advanced technique has been wonderful. Working on new moves with Serpentina and continuing to build our repertoire alongside the original electronic music of Jim Boz continues to be fun and rewarding.

I have also been preparing for this!


This day of specialty workshops, on Sat March 14th, is hosted by myself and Orkideh of Serpentina North. I will be bringing back the flapper fusion workshop for those  interested in vintage fusion. Many people are intrigued by this fusion and ask me a lot of questions about it…while its not common, there are other people doing it. Not so much here in Toronto but worldwide, yes, its a thing! So here’s a little background on how I got into this unique fusion.  Some years back, maybe 2009 or 2010, I was inspired by videos I saw of Rosanna McGuire, a local bellydancer also known as Cleoflaptra (wicked name!) in her flapper fusion persona and was instantly drawn to Unfortunately for me, by the time I found out about her she had moved to San Fransisco. Yet I randomly ran into her in a lineup for a show when I was visiting for SF Mecca Immersion and we discovered many mutual friends and some subcultural connections.

Here she is at Funkabelly in 2010:

When she returned to Toronto, I took some of her workshops and felt serious about this fusion business so began taking the ‘Shake that Sugar Flapper’ classes with Sugar Shakers, to get some charleston and vintage solo jazz under my dance belt. I worked my ass off in those classes, determined to join the Sugar Shakers and that I did. It was different posture, new footwork, and completely unique energy and esthetic from bellydance, but I had already seen the possibilites for fusion…where the two worlds meet. And I was hungry for more.

The flapper stuff in Toronto grew out of the lindy hop community and most of the other women who do vintage jazz and charleston also do lindy hop. Then there was me, always the one who doesn’t quite fit. I tend to come into my interests from places off the beaten path. So a bellydancer walks into a lindy hop jam…

Many of the Sugar Shakers shows were at lindy hop events, where typically there’s a lindy hop dancefloor after the performances. Its super fun — Only thing was I couldn’t…um…partner dance. So I stepped on toes, gave disclaimers when being asked to dance and eventually took some classes. After performing a while with Sugar Shakers, I usually felt a bit silly explaining my lack of lindy hop skills. But what the hell, they were all beginners once, I told myself. And I had fun.

Now that I am venturing into teaching bellydance here and there, I am further exploring my interest in flapper fusion to share with others of the vintage curious or conneseur variety.  My upcoming workshop will explore the fusion of flapper and bellydance, with attention to technique as well as fun moves to bust out on a jazz or  electroswing dance floor. Toronto has a booming electroswing community and with this a resurgence of fancy footwork from the bygone speakeasy era.  And there is so many interesting ways to fuse with bellydance. Thanks Rosanna, to introducing me to this fusion and inspiring me to delve deeper into the crossroads of these dances!

Shaila and I backstage after dancing with Zephyr live at the Free Times cafe in January. Did you know this lovely creature teaches bellydance classes at Om Laila on Saturdays?



House of Shimmy performed at Hip Hip Hooray, Cabaret this past Saturday, and busted out a new number merging improv and choreography. We work dilligently in the shadows, dreaming and scheming. And though are shows are few and far between, when we dance, you remember. Stay tuned for more. (photos by PDV Photography)



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