Kids: They’re Like Little People…


A few months ago, I was approached by two of my wonderful teachers, Ehud and Daynee, to assist one of them in a class.  I had to check what the work schedule was like and everything, but it turned out that I would totally have the time.

Once I got back to them, I was told it was to help teach preschoolers about dance.

Kids?? Oh no!  I am terrible with kids.  I have so many nieces and nephews that I have a poor relationship with, how am I going to be able to do this?

So when Thursday rolled around, I dragged myself out of bed to assist my dance teacher with a class of preschoolers.

Upon arrival at the Head Start Preschool in San Jose, I immediately got the “new kid” syndrome.  I think at one point or another, everyone has had this feeling.  It’s the one where you become apprehensive and anxious because you don’t know anyone or where anything is in the place… Yeah, that feeling.

When I finally found Ehud, I was told that we had to have the class outside because the usual room was being used for testing for the school across the parking lot.  I began setting up per Ehud’s instruction and when I was done, he took me through the classroom and I got to meet this energetic, very loud group of children, who were so cheerful (for the most part) and excitable.  There were two or three shy kids that wouldn’t say hi to me.  Just as I think I’ve seen all the little ones, Ehud tells me that we have to go and meet the others.  When I ask him how many more there were, he said that there were about another 20. “Sure is a big class.” I joke.

Then comes the news that it was three classes.

My mind was trying to figure out how this was going to work.  I thought I would just be volunteering for an hour or so.  But three classes couldn’t only be an hour so this was a puzzle for me.  I still had all my other normal day off errands to run.  Then the anxiety begins to build.

We take the first class outside and begin all the things that Ehud does with them.  My role is basically to demonstrate what Ehud would like for the children to do.  Somehow in the middle of the class, it becomes less like “assisting” Ehud and more like playing with the kids.  I rolled around on the wet ground with them. I jumped like a rabbit and a kangaroo, then watched them do the same.  It was just fun.  By the end of the class, the kids were okay with playing with the “new kid.”  When the first class was over and the teacher rounded them up, they turned and said “Bye, Jery!”

That’s when I realized how important this volunteer gig would be.  The next two classes were just as fun, and flew by.  One of the aides was even dancing her own little style off to the side.  She said it was a great way to exercise for the day.

As the Thursdays came and went, these little people welcomed me into their school shared with me laughs and stories about things like what they dressed up as on Halloween, who their favorite dancer was, which dish was their favorite food at Thanksgiving dinner, and the most important, what they want for Christmas.  All these bright little eyes wide with excitement as they chatter away.  I can’t help but to smile and just enjoy these moments.  It’s so different than my first Thursday with them.

The teachers and their aides were so helpful and willing to help these kids do what Ehud wanted them to do either by translating or speaking to them on a one on one level.  The teachers also had the tough job of keeping the kids focused while the music needed to be changed or as we had to pass out props. They smiled as they watched their students laughing and smiling while dancing around.

Not every day was a good one.  As kids tend to have bad days, I’ve had a chance to witness a few and see the nurturing way the teachers cared for them,  only to see them bounce back by the end of the class where we played a game called “Freeze Dance.”  Freeze Dance is simply when music plays and everyone dances but once it stops we have to as well, just like “a frozen chicken” as Ehud would say.  The kids would all laugh when he said that.

Looking back at the last couple of months, I see how this has changed them.  For example, there is a sweet little boy named Nhat.  He doesn’t speak much english and has a small mobility problem.  When I first started, I noticed that he didn’t really move as much as the others.  He would just move his arms while standing in place.  Watching him now, he slowly runs with the rest of his class screaming with delight.  Somehow, the “Freeze Dance” game seems to become a time for the group to run laps around the room by the end of the song and Nhat now joins in the madness rather than just walking off to the side.  I try to be as respectful to them the exact same way I am with adults and I don’t know if that is why, but at the end of class often times I am surrounded by little arms that are reaching for hugs.

As I write this I feel like I understand children a little better.  At the same time, it makes me feel bad about the relationships I have with the little ones in my family.  It certainly makes me want to be just as willing to play with them as I do with Ehud’s little dancers.

While I have had a blast assisting, I would like to see some things happen over the course of the spring session that just may help the outreach program grow.  I would love to get the kids to learn more of the true dance terminology and steps.  I think it would have a great impact on them learning to focus on the class and help them to learn routines more quickly.  Of course the additional upside to that would be maybe the kids would want to take classes in a studio.  I feel like sometimes the energy that they have would get a little out of control, so maybe start the class off with a short meditation.  I’ve seen the effects of it when Ehud would do it at the end; they were much quieter and calmer after.  Follow that with a little bit of stretching then dancing then a wacky game at the end and that should mellow them out for an hour or so I would imagine.

In any case, I’ve been so lucky to get to meet and hang out with these little people on Thursdays and it reminds me that you are never to old to play.  So to them I say “Thank You.”

Dear Dance Community…

After 16 years at the Cubberley Community Center, Zohar needs a few repairs. Please help make the studio safer, cleaner, and more dancer-friendly for all!

I think I’ve mentioned many times that I am a student at Zohar School of Dance.  I’ve been there for nearly a year now and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy it.

Since I’ve been attending classes here, I’ve heard about this lengthy ongoing process that’s kept the companies renting space at the Cubberley Community Center unsure if they would continue to have a “home.”  A few times we, the students, have been asked to come to hearings to support the studio maintaining its place.  As I understand it, it was announced a few weeks ago that Zohar will keep its space for at least another 3-5 years!  That’s definitely a cause for celebration.

While all this is fantastic news, the decision has been made that the facility could use some repairs.  As I am sure you all know, funds for non-profit companies have been tougher and tougher to come by.  And Artistic non-profits take the hardest hit of all.  So I have decided to turn to you, my dear, dear friends of Dance and fellow Dancers to ask for your help.

On Labor Day weekend, Zohar would love to kick off its “Facility Facelift” campaign.  There are a few ways to help.

1.  Time – If you happen to be free on either Saturday or Sunday, September 1st or 2nd, we would love to have some extra hands on deck to help with a number of tasks.  It could be anything from framing pictures to clearing chairs to assembling furniture or helping to repair our dance floor.  The fun begins at 1:00 pm on Saturday.  If you are handy with power tools and have some, we would REALLY love to have you come out and help.

2.  Wish List  – In the studios there is a message board that has our instructors on it.  Under their pictures, there is a “wish list” of items that each teach would love to have at the studio.  It ranges from things like CD racks or fans for cooling down the studio.  Simply pull off the tab of the item you would like to “purchase” for the studio (by donating that dollar amount)  place your name and contact information on it and place it in the little black and white box on the check-in window’s counter.  If you’d like to come into the studios to check out the board you can find directions here: Maybe you can squeeze in a class while you are here!

3. Individual Donation –  Zohar accepts donations 24-7 via their website  If you can’t help out with your time or by buying a wish list item, any amount that you can donate will go toward the improvements and will be GREATLY appreciated.

4. Sharing – We know that there must be people out there that are able and maybe if you simply share this page with your friends and families, maybe we can reach enough people that are willing to help.  Zohar offers a number of community programs that are focused on youth and people who may not have the chance to be exposed to dance.  The earned income of the dance studio mainly pays for those programs and leaves just a very very small portion to help with this project.  If  you would like to learn more about the outreach programs Zohar offers you can find that here:

A number of us students are happily rolling up our sleeves to help with this project but it would be such a quick project if we had the help of the community.

Please consider donating or sharing to help us make these improvements.  You will be celebrated as a staunch supporter of Dance by the faculty, students, and Board of Directors on the message boards!  Not only that, your donations are tax deductible!

I truly thank you for your time and leave you with these last few words:

“The next time you look into the mirror,

just look at the way the ears rest next to the head;

look at the way the hairline grows;

think of all the little bones in your wrist.

It is a miracle. And the dance is a 

celebration of that miracle.”

– Martha Graham


”Dancing is a very living art.

It is essentially of the moment, although a very old art.

A dancer’s art is lived while he is dancing.

Nothing is left of his art except the pictures and the memories

-when his dancing days are over.”

– Martha Graham



Hooray for dancin!

This past weekend was filled with lots of dancing and it was ah-MAZ-ing!  I got to play around in some classes.  Then Zohar School of Dance held a free dance concert for the community to not only encourage and promote dance but to celebrate the love of the Art.  There were students from the elementary schools that Zohar works with that were featured as well as a few routines from some of the students of the school.  

Not only was there the dance concert at Zohar, we were invited to Western Ballet to perform a few numbers for their concert too!  Not bad for a Saturday.  It was so much fun to be surrounded by dancers.  To see them stretching and performing a variety of genres, was like sort of stepping into the life that I dream of once upon a time.  

Then on Sunday, for the sjDANCEco event in Santana Row, we got to shake a leg up on that stage too!  While it wasn’t my favorite performance of the weekend, it was still fun to be in the mix with ballerinas and ballroom dancers and to sidestep behind  a couple of belly dancers before heading back to work.  It’s like what I wish the world were like.  So many different acts, but all with one common goal: to share the love of dance.  Of course were this to apply to reality, it would be to share the love of humanity.  But that’s a whole other tangent.  

I have always been a big believer of constantly keeping up with classes for your craft.  If you can’t take a class, read books, watch performances, or research it on the web.  But do something!  Also, I am the first person to say that I am not a dancer.  I can move and do it well, but I always feel like I lack the technique required to be a great dancer or to be called a dancer.  So I have been working with Daynee Lai-Krauss and Ehud Krauss the founders of Zohar to be the best dancer that I can be. I love that the classes are always fun but challenging.  And the other students are so laid back and mellow and fun!  

Now, while I’ve been known to shy away from religion, I can’t think of a better word to call Daynee and Ehud, but angels.  In the few months that I have been working with them, I have not only found a great studio that I am comfortable in, but they are a constant source of knowledge and support.  And it’s not just them.  All the teachers that I’ve taken classes from have been to great.  I feel like I could be a dancer one day.  Maybe sooner than I expected.  :-)!  With my mindset that I want to be good at everything, I still get frustrated when I don’t understand something very quickly, like a combination that quickly switches direction.  But the important thing, as I was telling one of the new people in the class, is that with every thing that you really love to do, especially if it’s a challenge, is to keep on trying.  Sometimes, when I get frustrated, I leave it alone and come back to it.  That’s all fine and good if it’s knitting or a paper you have to write.  But in a dance class, you have not only your teacher, but fellow students who will be happy to break down the steps for you.  Your job is to be calm and open enough to accept the help and guidance.  I used to have a problem with that, but it’s not as bad now.

Tonight’s class was especially needed after a trying day at the nursery.  The combinations across the floor were a little trickier that usual, but it was the most amazing release of tension and stress once I got into the zone.  So the moral of the story, kids, is once you find your passion, whatever it may be, make an effort to constantly stay in touch with it. It will be a great source of happiness when the rest of the world is making you weary. 

P.S. Zohar is being honored with the Unity in Diversity Award because of their IndepenDANCE programs.  The party is being held at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose from 10-2:30 on May 1.  Congrats to Zohar and Daynee and Ehud!  It’s a well deserved award.


Let’s dance!

My good friend and hyper-happy gal Valerie (she’s just fabulous!)  is organizing a flash mob for National Dance Day.  I am definitely ready to “Shake It.”  The video above is the selected routine for the event on July 30 at 1:00.  You can find all the details including rehearsal time for tomorrow by clicking HERE. You can also click that you WILL be attending the fun!!  C’mon.  50 seconds of your life isn’t going to kill you is it?  Maybe the rehearsing will, but not the performance.

I would like to invite all of you wonderful people to please join us for some fun and to celebrate dancing regardless of what “level” you are.  Do it to have fun.  Do it because you know you love to dance.

I am doing it because of those reasons and because I’ve gotta put my money where my mouth is, right?  You don’t wanna dance?  Fine.  Get outside and cheer us on!

Even if it’s only me and Val, we are gonna tear it UP!!!

If you are nervous about jumping into a NappyTabs routine, there are other choices that I have down below.  Val chose the routine because the ballroom was a little too easy and the “intermediate” one was too girly.  Personally, I don’t think many people are into ballroom, and the other one is just some recycled Pussycat Dolls moves.  It’s pretty boring.  So I would have chosen the same routine.

Let’s say you can’t make it to our little shin dig because you live on the East Coast, send me a link to your dance, I would LOVE to see it.  I’ll even share it if you’d like.  It doesn’t even have to be a big group.  If you wanna do a number in your living room, more power to ya!  I’ll share that too.  Just dance!

Gotta comment, don’t be shy! Let me know what you think and if you are going to dance at all on July 30!

Can’t wait to dance…

I am super stoked for rehearsals to begin for White Christmas. Only  8 more days.  In order to get inspired and to ready myself for all the hard work that goes into a show, especially one as big as this, I wanted to see some dancing.  Of course I have to start with something Bob Fosse from My Sister Eileen…

And then play you something from what would be a dream role for me!  Enjoy…”Glory” from Pippin starring Ben Vereen

This next one is just plain fun!!! “With You” by William Katt (Or as I like to call it, The Garden Dance) also from Pippin.

If you really want to get inspired, check out a few of the clips I added to the Dance page!!! “Hand to Hand” will melt you!!

I love these!

I wish that I could do one! But I can’t think of a reason at the moment, so this will have to do.  When you watch these, look at the faces of the people watching.  After the moment of confusion, there are smiles all over the place.  How could you not love a Flash Mob.

This was on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution a few weeks back.  I am just catching up on all my DVR stuff, so I think I am like 3 weeks back.

Michael Jackson Dance Tribute in Stockholm

BouncE Flash Mob at Grona Lund

Pinball Wizard Flash Mob in SF!!

It’s not as seemingly organized as some of the others. But still fun.

Speaking of fun, how’s about a little Hamma!

While this one isn’t dancey, it’s definately fun and creative.

Bollywood Hero Flash in New York!

What better place for an incredible dance form to do this than in the great NYC

In York, PA  these folks aren’t pro dancers, but it’s a great lesson to what life is all about.

Don’t take yourself too seriously, and help make the world a happier place.

Aside from the “Sound of Music” dances in the train station, I think this is my other favorite.

A costume change? That’s awesome!

This one is also on the fave list.

Sometimes, they are just madness! Like this one at UC Berkley

Have to admit that this one was cool.  Even though I HATE this song.  It would have been awesome if just some random man jumped in!

And if you haven’t seen the Sound of Music one, here you go!  It’s the first one that I had ever seen and while I am not a fan of the show or movie, this was Epic!