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.

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.

Dear teacher, may I have my dream back?

“Learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.” ~ Seth Godin

Education makes an individual a better human being. I think it should be mandatory for everyone to go to grade school at the least. Besides the basic know how of the world, school also inculcate in us various invaluable traits; like discipline, team work, curiosity, analytical skills and many more. Being surrounded by teachers and fellow students makes us inquisitive about life and instill a desire to learn and grow. The experience is supposed to create the foundation of our life and make us who we become later in life. Schools are great.

Having said that let me clarify that what I want to talk about in this post is not how awesome schools are, but how ridiculous our education system is! Instead of doing what schools are supposed to, this is what’s happening – Schools are preparing students to be a future employee at an organization. In the process, they are helping build the students some important characteristics that their future employers would want them to have – obedience to rules, not questioning the authority, following instructions, following a defined pace, being easily trainable and such. So technically at the end of each school year, the result is not smart passionate young adults, it’s more like a batch of trainable zombies.

In the process of learning the employer-desired traits, what do we lose? The traits society needs to grow and become stronger, intellectually and culturally. Traits like awareness, commitment, honestly, independence, innovation, creativity, originality and many more on the same lines.

Schools are not doing a very good job of developing students’ minds. The exam patterns are based on the lower learned minds. The study material is the same for every student in the class. Money is wasted teaching geometry to students who will either quit school (because they were never taught commitment) or end up become a philosophy major (because that’s what they like to do). There is no way to customize curriculum per student’s interest and taking into consideration what he/she wants to do in future. Dreams are destroyed in the process of mass-production of future factory employees.   

Everyone in school is taught to play safe; because taking risks is scary. If 100% of us had followed that rule, innovation would have been long dead. Google, Apple, Facebook, Enterprise etc would have never been created. If every one of us had taken the ‘safe’ path of graduating college and taking up a nine to five job, there would be no start-ups, no self employment and we would all have given our future in the hands of our employers. 

I am not saying, don’t send your child to school. You definitely should. All I am trying to say is – that yes, in the long run we need a revolution to change the education system, but right now we can try to help the kids to analyze the options, tell them the truth and give them a chance to chase their passion. Take just one moment to think – what are you teaching your kid? To be a superstar trainable machine or… a passionate dreamer. The future is in your hands!

Further reading: Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

Other side of the world

When the world around me turns into a whirlwind

I like to curl up in my cocoon,

Cut all strings; shut my brain off

And close my eyes.

Then I step into the other side of the world

Where there is no judgment,

There’s only love; the unconditional kind.

Beings there are nice.

And they seem to like me too.

The voices tell me, that everything will be alright

Sometimes the brain tries to speak up

It says that the voices are lying

But the brain is what the world made of it.

And these voices are mine!

So I shut it back off and talk to the voices again

They show me a different picture –

Beautiful and insane.

They tell me crazy is good

And ask me to hang in there

The world will take care of itself,

Even when I don’t despair.

Only if I could live like this

Every day of my life,

This world would be a better place.

For me, for you and for all,

The joy of just being is what I’m looking for…

Dancing in the moon light

I met you in my dream last night,

You smiled at me, and held my hand,

pulled me close, 

so close that I buried my face in your chest,

closed my eyes

and all my worries just melted away,

I felt divine love in the moment,

And then,

we danced all night in bright silver moonlight…