Meet Lieneke – a life of dance, passion and inspiration

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“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.

2012 Report Card

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There are two kinds of people in this world: Pro-resolution and Anti-resolution. To be honest, I couldn’t care less what category you fall into. All I know is that I am pro-resolution. Here is the list of my 2012 resolutions (and 2011 resolutions if you’re interested). Like I mentioned before, 2012 was a tough year for me. Let’s look at how I did overall…

#1 Travel more often – Check

2012 was year of traveling for me. I worked as a training consultant for a few months, which in simple terms means traveling four days a week for work. However, I don’t count that as traveling really. Traveling has a lot deeper meaning for me. But hey, my trip to Spain counts… Yes it does. Along with other trips within the country (e.g. San Francisco, cross country drive from Oklahoma to New York, New Orleans etc).

BONUS: My all new and improved travel blog is alive!

#2 Learn a new skill – In progress

Do conversational skills count? Estoy aprendiendo a hablar español. And I still need to work a lot on this!

#3 Make a difference in someone’s life – Check

Raised money for CRY-America on my birthday. Like a bawz! Insert ultra cool smiley here.

#4 Spend more time with Mother Nature – In progress

I don’t know what to say about this one. I try, but I could try harder.

#5 Try vegetarianism for one month – Check

See this.

#6 Meditate (more) – Check

I planned on getting Ekam. But guess what, I got Kriya and Fourth initiation as well. Yes that’s how awesome I am! Thank you. 🙂

#7 Read more often – Check

Finished reading twenty books in 2012! Feel free to browse through my reading list on Good Reads (on the right) if you’d like.

#8 Create an inspirational thinking space – In progress

There shall be a whole separate post about the challenges I am facing with this one.

#9 Start living a healthier and happier life – Check

I don’t think anyone can ever check this off of their list. Cz no matter how much I do to be healthier and happier, there is always going to be more potential 🙂 I marked checked it because I am definitely healthier and way happier than I was in 2011+early 2012.

#10 Do something impossible – Check

I think this was not a SMART goal to be put on my resolution list. But if I had to pick one thing that was uber-difficult for me to change, it’d be to quit impulse spending in the name of luxury. I think I did pretty good on this one actually. I became a minimalist. Although I still need to perfect the skill. It’s a process. A really long one.

So looks like I did great! Ima try not to break my arm patting my own back.

How was 2012 for you? What are your goals for 2013?

P.S. Next post will be a brand new list of resolutions for 2013. Yes.

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 11 – Laughter

Today… I am thankful for the laughter in my life. I want to thank every person, thing and situation that brought me happiness and laughter. The ability to laugh at trivial things is truly a gift; it makes life more content and enjoyable. Laughter shakes stress off and gets all the negativity out of the human system, at least for the moment.

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 10 – Silence

Due to the fast pace of our lives these days, most of us have forgotten the gifts of silence. Or may be we are just too afraid of the silence. Silence is the moment of self-reflection, introspection; this is when all our hidden truths are surfaced.

Today… I am grateful for the silent moments. Everyday, I love cutting myself off from the world and spending some time in silence. This is my time; time away from people, responsibilities, thoughts and life; time to reconnect with myself! 

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 9 – Today

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Today… I am thankful for TODAY. All we really have is today, this moment. Thank you lord for giving us this day. May we all make the best of this day and do something worth remembering!