Whole Moves Fitness Training!

Sebastian Grubb For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, you ought to check out WHOLE MOVES! It's new a fitness class for dancers and others with embodied professions and hobbies brought to you by Sebastian Grubb.

Details: Wednesdays, 12-1pm in Berkeley at the Finnish Hall. $15-30 sliding.

Whole Moves is not your typical exercise class. Instead of focusing on brute strength or basic cardio, Whole Moves fitness is about learning and practicing complex movement patterns, while training all athletic and functional fitness components: strength, endurance, agility, balance and coordination. Extra attention will be paid to learning proper form, safe joint range of motion and building up mobility and dynamic stability.

In this class we will push, pull, jump, throw, run and balance our way to victory and healthier, more athletic bodies.

Fusion Art - Fusion World

koroni-3 Enforced Arch Mover, Crystal Silmi is an Arab American Belly Dance Fusion artist native to San Francisco, California. She spent years studying and training belly dance with the masters of the industry where she was a member of the prestigious Suhaila Dance Company and Bal Anat. She also directed her own fusion dance company RaksArabi before making the move across the Atlantic to live in Spain.

With dedication and grace, Crystal shows us that a determined dancer can not only succeed in a new and foreign environment, but experience exponential growth as an artist. In less than 3 years, Crystal has gone from being an unknown artist in Europe to an internationally recognized teacher and artist.

Determined to spread the fusion fire from California, Crystal has been igniting passion in the European belly dance community teaching belly dance with modern and world fusion dance techniques. She continues to expand and grow in her repertoire as well studying Flamenco, Jazz and Hip Hop in Spain.

As an active vegan, Crystal was also invited by PETA in 2012 to join as an activist for a cruelty free fashion show in Seoul, Korea to show the world that the cruelty free lifestyle is maintained by healthy, active and creative people.

For information about Crystal and her upcoming workshops, events or whereabouts visit www.CrystalSilmi.com.

We Are Family

Olivia Sparkuhl, James Koroni, CHAMPS Family Bakery

I have grown to understand that having a community is a very important and integral part of a dance. Many of my lifelong friends have come from my past and present dance communities. Olivia Sparkuhl is one of those cherished individuals and she is currently visiting me this week in New York City. Her personality is much like mine in that we seek cozy spaces to indulge ourselves in good company and conversation. Our friendship began in one of these cozy places, on the dance floor in Los Angeles where we both attended Santa Monica College. Although we had our differences, we met them humbly and challenged one anothers' preconceived notions of the world. This helped us evolve artistically, emotionally and physically.

Olivia Sparkuhl, James Koroni, CHAMPS Family Bakery

Now that she lives in San Francisco we have found other ways to inspire one another from afar through skype, the telephone or browsing one another's professional work. Although our friendship has changed, the potential to inspire one another has only grown exponentially. Her experiences influence my own and our knowledge of each others dreams and aspirations have helped keep us focused.

Olivia Sparkuhl, James Koroni, CHAMPS Family Bakery

It may occasionally seem overwhelming to have someone or some community know you intimately but these raw and genuine relationships will only help propel you to achieve your lifelong goals.

All the images took place at CHAMPS Family Bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where you can get some seriously delicious vegan food. I didn't have a chance to eat any of the goodies but I certainly took some photos to give you an idea of what wonders can be had at this Brooklyn joint.

Photography by James Koroni & Rachael Gentner

Scott Wells & Dancers

A Walk In The Parkour

Scott Wells & DancersI first heard about Scott through a friend who basically said, ‘You should work with this guy. He likes using athletic dancers in his pieces.’ At that time I wasn’t living in San Francisco, but I commuted from Santa Cruz every day for a week to take his summer workshop. The workshop was great and afterward I was sure I wanted to work with him. A few months later I moved to San Francisco. We ran into each other again and he invited me to perform in his annual home season. That was three years ago and I’ve been dancing with him ever since.

Scott’s work is known in the Bay Area for its use of contact improv, deft partnering, acrobatics, and humor. To me his performance pieces are refreshing and satisfying, both as a performer and audience member. By the time the curtain goes up, most of the material has been set into repeatable choreography, but there are almost always a couple of sections that are loosely structured with plenty of room for spur-of-the-moment improvisation, inspiration and risk-taking.

This year, his home season features last year’s “Ball-ist-ic” and premieres “A Walk in the Parkour”. Ball-ist-ic creates unique environments and movement possibilities with dozens of balls: physio balls, medium-sized ‘gertie’ balls, and juggling balls. The work places heavy emphasis on ensemble choreography, as with 7 performers and all the equipment bouncing and rolling around the stage, there are many factors to work with in making sure the sequences go according to plan. Or at least mostly according to plan.Scott Wells & DancersA Walk in the Parkour displays a new hybrid form mixing contemporary dance, contact improv, and parkour. Parkour is an athletic discipline based on efficiently traversing an environment with one’s body. The roots of parkour are in the urban landscape and moving through it with high dynamic. In the past 10 years or so, parkour has gained popularity and become well-known enough to be featured in a number of big budget films. Most cities around the world now have parkour crews practicing together.

Our rehearsals for this piece have taken place at The Athletic Playground, where we have been using vaulting equipment and crash mats to create new vocabulary. Some moves are new versions of parkour standards, such as vaulting over an obstacle only to be caught by another dancer and thrown onto a mat or rolled to the ground. The final piece is quite exhilarating and acrobatic, to say the least.

The show runs at CounterPULSE May 20-22 and 27-29 at 8pm, with a matinee on the 29th at 2pm. www.counterpulse.orgScott Wells & Dancers

Following this Home Season, Scott’s annual summer workshop takes place June 8-12 in San Francisco. The workshop features a variety of exercises in contact improv, lift vocabulary, acrobatic partnering, etc. Participants are encouraged to work at their own level, so you don’t need a lot of improv or acro experience to participate. I have attended six of Scott’s workshops (summer and winter) and assistant-taught a few of them. Each time I have had a total blast and place high value on having that week to build kinetic community and hone skills. scottwellsdance.com

For more on the Author, Sebastian Grubb, visit his ‘Movers’ page!

Indonesian Interlude

Venyci Yefriadi Venyci Yefriadi

Venyci Yefriadi uses the power of dance to create a safe community at IDAI, Interlude Dance Academy Indonesia. Indonesia is ranked as 4th most populated in the world, the biggest Muslim population, the largest archipelago country, with a mix of democratic & sultanate governments, a home to over 30 different cultures & traditions - this is not an easy project for her. Her powerful warmth and interest inspires a generation faced with unpredictable cultural change and forced adaptation. She offers her students obtainable goals within dance and an eclectic family that is open to their differences.


Venyci Yefriadi

Her mother comes from a traditional Javanese family. Her mothers friends would often come into her home and share dance, music, art & philosophy while playing the gamelan (a traditional Javanese instrument). While her father is Chinese and has a classic respect for Chinese New Year and religious ritual. Her parents are a perfect example of Indonesia's complex cultural diversity. They never quite felt at home so they relocated throughout Indonesia, from Malang to Jakarta and later Singapore before Venyci chose Allentown, PA for college. She resides now, by her words, in 'sunny sometimes foggy' San Francisco!

Interlude Dance Academy Indonesia

Adapting to a new world and a new culture was very hard for me, every time you must face feeling lonely again, search for new friends and a community to call your own. The fear of moving to a new world effected me in my personal relationships, both with partners & friends. With every new "home," in the back of my mind, I knew that I would  be leaving soon. I kept all my relationships on the surface to avoid inevitable pain. Now as an adult I can see that change was my friend, changing is like flipping my hand & waking up in the morning. I have a special button or self alarm to activate my courage. I flow into every space and fit into any container. -Venyci Yefriadi

Interlude Dance Academy IndonesiaHer dancers experience confusion within their culture, the country is split into extreme conservative tradition and open minded liberal thought - there really is nothing in between. They don't understand why the two extremes exist and this often leads to rebellion and getting involved in self destructive activities. After being relocated to another country there is even less to identify with or hold onto. After listening to their struggles and experiencing it first hand she has come to understand what they need from her; guidance. IDAI is an interlude for young minds to be free of confusion and find a stomping ground right here on American soil.

Check them out here: Interlude Dance Academy Indonesia

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Justin Leaf Justin Leaf is shedding light on yet another form of discrimination, "Don't Ask Don't Tell," by transforming it into a riveting contemporary ballet performance. He takes a journey from his uniform of isolation to freedoms which life should certainly provide.

Justin Leaf

In her popular blog LEFTFACE, Brittney (The Army Wife) says of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," "But what about the con’s about repealing DADT? The biggest argument has been to not mess with the military — to do a “social experiment” — in the time of two wars. Isn’t that just an excuse, though? Aren’t we ALWAYS in some sort of conflict? The United States Army is essentially the police of the world, and we are always somewhere, doing something. So if not now, then when? Iraq is in the process of being phased out, and Afghanistan — well, we don’t really know when that is going to be over. There will never be a “good” time. So why not now?"  She is absolutely right. This kind of argument is simply trying to protect bigotry and keep homosexuality taboo, misunderstood and isolated.

Justin Leaf

While some of us may feel strongly opposed to war and military, if we want to have equality we need to address it across the board and not just in places where we feel comfortable. It may be hard to relate to people serving in the military but as a gay man I recall how frightened I was to simply come out in my High School environment for fear that I would be bullied, exiled from my friends and ridiculed by my religious upbringing. So I waited until I lived in San Francisco for over a year and built a community that embraced my personality. This only has made me a better member of society. I am less confused, more informed and confident in what choices are my own. What I have shared with my family is this statement, "Do you think I chose this? A life where my body chemistry is opposed to my family's beliefs, friends' beliefs, and half of the country's beliefs. Who wants to be discharged for being honest! NO, I didn't choose this and I certainly didn't want to live in fear that I would be." I am proud to be a gay man and have no interest in forcing my sexuality on anyone else but until you allow us the right to honesty I will continue to fight. That is the problem here. We don't want to be dishonest, we have tried to change our sexuality, we have had doctors tell you that it isn't a disease, we have proof that it doesn't affect our work ethic, so what do you want? They want me to be dishonest so they can live a lie.

The most heart wrenching issue here is that these government laws are only set to protect bigotry. Might I remind you of other statements that have come in the past:

Justin Leaf


"I don’t want to serve with women. I don’t want to serve with Muslims. I don’t want to serve with blacks. I don’t want to serve with hispanics. I don’t want to serve with Asians. I don’t want to serve with Native Americans. I don’t want to serve with Jews. I don’t want to serve with gays." (source)

There is no difference here.


Justin is being honest and vulnerable in this performance about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In 2009 he was awarded a McKnight Fellowship for Dancers.  As part of the Fellowship program, the Southern Theater commissioned a choreographer of his choice to create a solo expressly for him as part of their SOLO Commissioning Program funded by the McKnight Foundation.  He chose to work with performance artist John Kelly.  The performance is entitled "Cohesion" and was premiered at the Southern Theater in July of 2010 as part of SOLO, which featured six McKnight fellows in new dances. Now catch his performance at FORM + CONTENT Gallery in February, curated by Camille J. Cage.

Justin says, "I prefer to tell a story with dance. It isn’t always a popular direction but by telling this story you offer someone an opportunity to feel something, digest it and develop an opinion."

RM + CONTENT Justin Leaf

Photos by Paul Virtucio