Meet Lieneke – a life of dance, passion and inspiration

lieneke_1

“Who are you?” I asked. Her reply was “In this life, I primarily go by Lieneke Mous.” At that moment, I knew this interview was going to be an interesting one; full of good advice, love and spirituality.

You know sometimes you come across people and don’t get to spend a lot of time with them; but you feel this bond, a deep connection with them for some unknown reason… that’s what I felt when I met Lieneke for the first time in Norman, Oklahoma. She is an amazing, passionate person and just being around her will lift your spirits a little higher. For a long time I had wanted to know more about her. I couldn’t keep up with her nomadic pursuits, so I decided to do an interview with her (my opportunity to ask her questions I can’t in a normal conversation!). And I feel it’s about time I shared it with the world…

Lieneke is a choreographer, dance teacher, and performer based out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In her own words, she is also an aerial yogini, curator, columnist, partner, friend, sister, daughter, meditator, sun gazer, tree-hugger, cyclist, and life lover.

She is a passionate dancer! “The first time I was exposed to it was when I was four years old, I vaguely recall watching ballet on television, and then I knew I wanted to dance. I started dance training when I was 5 and I never quit.” says Lieneke.

Travel

Q. You mentioned that you love to travel. What will be your next destination?

Many and any because I love to travel and I also work internationally so that gets me to travel abroad. I’m returning to Brazil to teach the next Changing Lives Through Dance (CLTD) p
roject in the summer of 2014.

Q. How have you made traveling a part of your life?

I always knew I wanted to do something with dance and theater, and I was looking for my path for a long time until I realized I was walking it already.

In my sophomore year in college, I conducted my first non-profit education project – I taught theater to girls living in a refugee center in the Netherlands. I felt a strong pull toward the ones less privileged than I, and of course the (inter)cultural aspects were fascinating to me. People from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia… all together. Little girls, born and raised in a refugee center.

In my senior year I set up the first dance project in Aimorés, Minas Gerais – Brazil. And the rest is history.

In 2007, I moved to the United States to attend graduate school for dance at the University of Oklahoma and worked there for some time. After that, I traveled to Brazil and India to teach dance to youths for my CLTD education projects. I am grateful that I have been able to turn my hobby into my work.


Charity

Q. Tell us more about Changing Lives Through Dance (CLTD). How do you think this will bring about change in society?

Changing Lives Through Dance (CLTD) includes dance projects for underserved youths in developing nations, such as Brazil and India. Artistic expression proves over and over that people become happier because they have an outlet to express themselves. Through creative expressions they become more in touch with whom they are (or want to be). It is rewarding to me to see others becoming happy because of what I am offering. I see that my students gain self-esteem and confidence from dancing and, in turn, they develop hope for a better, happier future.

Q. Why did you pick Brazil and India as CLTD destinations?

Brazil –

I was 17 when I first traveled to Brazil for a family vacation. I instantly fell in love with the country, the people, and their culture. I got in touch with a family friend in Brazil, who welcomed my dance and theater project for the youth of his rural city of Aimorés in the state of Minas Gerais. There, youths have little to no opportunity for artistic expression. The first time I developed a project there was in 2006, I returned in 2012, which ignited Changing Lives Through Dance.

India –

I had a dream to travel to India for many years. As I have grown older, I prefer traveling to places where I can contribute something to society

In 2012, discovered the Rescue Foundation through its Dutch partner organization Free A Girl and proposed my CLTD project. I then launched a fundraising campaign to meet the needs to travel to India and work with the girls and young women living in the shelter home.

Q. What next after the Brazil-India CLTD Project?

I am looking to further develop CLTD and start an official Changing Lives Through Dance foundation. I am launching a new fundraising campaign and am slowly, but surely establishing a board of directors and am expanding the teaching team. Of course we are open to receive donations 🙂 Additionally, I moved back to my home country the Netherlands and am currently living in Amsterdam. I work as a dance teacher, choreographer, and performer. Last summer I founded the Young Makers Platform, bringing together various performance disciplines in alternative locations for young, talented makers. The harsh economic situation is challenging especially for artists, so I am trying to stay inspired and continue to inspire others, so together we can create a happier world.

Inspirationlieneke_yoga

Q. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I attempt to remove separations of work, living, etc., so the question could also be “Where do you find inspiration?” Easily answered: inspiration can be found anywhere as long as you’re open to it. A story someone shares about their personal victory after struggle. A dance. Hand-holding. A song. The morning sun. Each morning. A painting. Dripping paint on canvas and seeing the art unfold. Sitting with someone whose language I don’t speak. Being. Pina Bausch. Living. Ash. Love.

Message

Q. If you could say one thing to the world, what would it be?

I feel I’m bringing peace by finding peace within myself, by sending healing love to myself, by helping an animal cross the street, by carrying an older person’s bags… Living in the moment, for I’d be wasting time pondering over the past and contemplating the future. I try to eat healthy, raise my awareness, live from my center, and share love. And dance a cosmic dance.

Find Lieneke at her website or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Life update and some fun things about moving to a new city

Moving to a new city, changing jobs, changing local social network are some of the most stressful life events. What makes it worse is bidding goodbye to your friends and your comfort zone. It’s like starting your life over. It can be overwhelming. Scary.

I did all of the above recently. I said goodbye to my friends, coworkers and the life I knew in Oklahoma; sold almost everything I owned; packed the rest; and moved to Dallas. Distance wise, I wouldn’t consider this a painful move; but lifestyle wise, it’s a 180 degrees shift. I am still settling down and it’s not fun to run errands and go furniture shopping over the weekends.

I am totally outside my comfort zone here.

And I love it!

If you are happy where you are – Great! But if you hate being where you are and want to pack your bags and leave; but are too scared to do that – I want to list out some fun and exciting things that have happened with me after this move. Get ready!

new and different

Every day is an adventure

Why? Because you don’t know where anything is and you keep getting lost. I think getting lost in a new city has a charm of its own. You find places you wouldn’t otherwise think of, or find out about.

You will find a new best friend – A map

When was the last time you looked at a map? I know I didn’t until recently. I was so sure that Siri can take me anywhere in the new city. But very soon I realized that I needed to look at the map to figure out where everything was. Once I did that, I felt so independent! I didn’t have to depend on Siri to take me to work every day; or to the grocery store; or Chipotle. I found freedom!

You will meet new people

I’ll be honest – this is a tough one for me. I am not a big fan of meeting strangers. But you know what; these strangers can end up being great friends. Meet friends you have lost touch with. Meet friends of friends. Meet neighbors. Meet strangers.

Your brain will gain super powers and work better, faster, longer hours!

I don’t know how that happened, but my brain has been working like a super hero since I moved. Yes, it gets stressed out working overtime, but then I take some downtime and it’s recharged again. And BAM we’re back in the game.

Opportunity to hit the reset button

If there is anything you wanted to change about yourself or improve on; this is the time. Want to shake off that image you had built among friends? Go for it. Want to start a few healthier, newer habits? No problem.

Hobbies

When you find yourself sitting at home alone on a Friday night, you’ll realize that you can use this time to work on your hobbies or little weekend projects. Paint, read, write, watch a movie, make music or anything else you wanted to do and had no time for.

You may be pretty nervous about moving to a new city where you don’t know anybody and don’t know what to expect. That is completely natural. Hopefully, I have given you some reasons to look forward to it.

P.S. Enjoy being new in the city while you can. You’ll not stay new forever. 

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 12 – Travel

Today… I’m thankful for the means to travel. I am so blessed to be able to take some time off and travel, meet interesting people from different walks of life, see new places, gather memories and learn lessons of life; basically live my dream life for a few days. Thank you lord.

Child Rights and You!

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

— Edward Everett Hale

 The comfort of knowing that your little gesture touched someone’s life is invaluable – like that dinner at Olive Garden that you skip can actually feed a child somewhere for one entire month, provide drinking water to a community, or support a child’s education for almost one year.

In India,

  • 10,000 children die every single day from totally preventable causes
  • There are about 2 million child commercial sex workers between the age of 5 and 15 years
  • One in every ten children is disabled
  • 17 million children work as laborers… and the list goes on.

Note that this is not just the children in India who need help. Even in a developed country like the US, children are suffering. There are two major issues faced by the children in the US — Health and Abuse & Neglect.

  • In 2006, 905,000 children were maltreated/neglected/abused
  • 6.9 million children (10%) had no health insurance coverage
  • 13% of these children have families with incomes less than $20,000/year

Here are some shocking statistics:

1. About children in India

2. About children in the US

For millions, life is deprived of simple joys; like a fresh meal, clean drinking water, home, school, health; all in all they don’t get a chance to live a normal childhood. If you have an internet connection and are reading this in your free time, YOU ARE BLESSED! Thank god for everything you have in your life and extend a hand to help out the less fortunate.

 

What am I doing to help? I am working with CRY America to start an action center in Oklahoma. As Oklahoma Action Center (OKAC) leader, I need YOUR support! There are two types of positions open at OKAC:

1. OKAC Core Team Member:

This position requires your commitment and time. Core team members will be responsible for:

  • Planning and organizing fund-raising events
  • Spreading awareness about CRY America’s cause
  • Recruiting OKAC volunteers for each event
  • Reaching out to people to get more social involvement and presence
  • Attending OKAC meetings

2. OKAC Volunteer

This position gives you more flexibility in the amount of time and skills you want to invest into OKAC activities. These positions open on event-basis and will be posted as they become available.

If you are interested to be contacted for the upcoming OKAC events, please send me an e-mail at bhardwaj.sowmyatta@gmail.com with the following details:

  • Name
  • Age/Profession
  • Skills
  • Position interested in (OKAC Core Team or OKAC Volunteer)
  • Availability (How many hours would you like to devote volunteering?)
  • Best way to contact you –
    • E-mail
    • Phone
    • Facebook/Twitter
If you would like to be added to the mailing list to stay up-to-date with CRY-OKAC events, shoot me an e-mail with subject ‘CRY – subscribe to mailing list’. Also, tell your family and friends in Oklahoma about the new action center by sharing this.
Know that a little bit of your time can change someone’s life!

My awkward acting gig

So here is the link to the second short film. When I say short film, I mean a really short film: 5 minutes 45 seconds. And I think my role is 5 seconds or so; of an annoying girl friend who throws question bombs at the guy in the five seconds she gets to talk to him LOL. But in case you want to watch it, here it is 😛 I will update it when I find something with sub titles. Till then, yenjoi!!!

And for the ones who missed the first one. Here it is —