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Studio Zahiya Dancer Profile: Michele Dohse

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Michele dancing with Bala!

Name: Michele Dohse

Profession: Legal Assistant

Volunteer Work: RiverLink, Carolina Mountain Club, Asheville Middle School media center, Asheville City Schools Foundation tutor program

Family: Michele and her husband, Till, have 3 children: daughters Sonja, 23, and Katja, 20, (both dancers) and son Sasha, 17 (who is more into climbing).

Michele Dohse met her husband of 26 years, Till, dancing.

They first clicked at the International Folk Dance group that met on the N.C. State University campus in the 1970’s when Michele was in high school. The duo advanced to more challenging classes, including a series of Hungarian Dance workshops in Quebec. After they survived Hungarian dancing together, they decided it was time to get married.

“We told each other it was never going to get any worse than that, and strangely enough, we were right,” Michele said.

In her 35-year exploration of clogging, jigue (French-Canadian step dancing), swing, contra, belly and bhangra, dancing has enriched Michele’s life in many unexpected ways. She credits the upper body isolations of belly dance with curing her incipient carpal tunnel syndrome.

Belly dancing also came along at just the right moment when her daughters were teenagers. “It provided them with a positive body image and circle of caring women friends at a vulnerable time,” she said. Belly dancing was also a way for them to connect with their mother, as they encouraged Michelle to return to a style of dance that she had last experimented with at age 19.

The main dance genre she practices with Lisa Zahiya is bhangra, a folk dance that originated in the Punjab region of India. Bhangra has grown worldwide popularity in recent years, especially when mixed with hip hop in dance clubs.

“With bhangra I feel I’ve come full circle back to the folk dance I loved in my teens and twenties,” Michele said. “There is something exuberantly earthy about it, and the music and its rhythms are irresistible. It blends a village festival feel with an urban party groove, and all kinds of interesting and exciting things happen at that border.”

“I like the energy and pacing of Lisa’s classes,” Michele continued. “She’s always changing it up, mixing hip-hop, bhangra, and Bollywood, and varying the pace. Lisa does a great job of breaking down complex moves into more ‘digestible’ pieces and also stresses each dancer do what feels right for her or him. We also learn tidbits about other cultures and the context of the dance.”

For about a year, Michele danced with Lisa’s bhangra & Bollywood troupe Bala!, which performs at festivals and club events. “The energy of bhangra is so infectious there is an instant connection with the audience,” she said. It was a great feeling to be part of a very close-knit group.” She stresses to anyone considering joining a performance troupe that it requires a commitment of time, energy and money and should not be undertaken lightly. The troupe members are depending on your participation.

The dance forms that Michele concentrates on may change, fade from her life, or circle back and return later. But the bonds that she has created in class, whether they be with her family, troupe members or an array of talented dance teachers, will remain.

written by Megan Riley, www.wncmretc.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Studio Zahiya Dancer Profile: Jen Ferre

April 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Jen on stage at the Moulin Rouge Benefit

Profession: Grant program administrator

Hobbies/Interests: Gardening, cooking, preserving food, off-the-wall movies

Family: Married to Brett Spivey for 14 years. Their baby is Mellow, a pit bull mix.

Dance changed Jen Ferre’s life.

“When I started Lisa’s classes about two years ago, I was overweight, approaching 40, and my self-esteem was diminishing,” Jen said. “Dance not only helped me lose weight, but it was also the spark that ignited a whole array of life changes. Since I started dancing again, I am happier, healthier and heartier than I have ever been in my life.”

Jen dances in Lisa Zahiya’s bhangra and Bollywood troupe, Bala!, and has taken Lisa’s classes since 2009.

“I have so much fun in every class,” Jen said. “Lisa is very supportive in her teaching. She creates an open and welcoming environment with her joyful spirit and kind heart. She makes me feel good about myself, and I always leave class feeling like I accomplished something important.

“Plus, she’s just so funny!” Jen added. Lisa entertains the class with anecdotes from her life, and her internal monologues periodically spill from her head to her mouth. She’s not afraid to laugh at herself – and that is contagious to the dancers, standing in front of the mirror watching their reflections move up and down to high-energy Indian music. Her students appreciate reminders not to take themselves too seriously.

Jen also values the camaraderie with the other dance students and the interaction with the audience.

Jen as a young dancer!

“The performance troupe has brought me to the next level in my dance journey,” Jen said. “I feel that there is no better way to celebrate dance than to share it with others. That’s the part of being in the troupe that I love the most. Yes, it’s fun to wear pretty costumes and put on jewelry and make-up, but it’s great to see other people enjoying the performances so much. It takes a lot of work and time, but it’s very rewarding.”

Dancing with Lisa also brings back Jen’s fond childhood memories, a time when dance was a key part of her life. Her first ballet recital was at age three.

“I’ve rediscovered the reasons why I love dance in the first place—it’s fun, challenging, a way to express myself and it’s in my blood,” she said. “I got back into dancing thinking it would be a great way to help lose some weight. The weight is gone now, but I’ll keep dancing!”

written by Megan Riley, www.wncmretc.com

Categories: Uncategorized