Meet Lieneke – a life of dance, passion and inspiration


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

What’s your networking style?

LinkedIn is an open networking source. But, it’s not for everybody! Some people like privacy and do not appreciate random connection requests, e-mails, and introduction requests from strangers. I don’t blame them. It sure is a lot of extra work. And when people don’t see an immediate benefit, they are less likely to put in that effort.

I am, however, slightly different. I love open networking, especially because I believe in doing my homework in advance; so that I am ready when the opportunity arises. Through LinkedIn, I might be connected to people who can’t help me today, or may be not even tomorrow. But someone in their network sure can!

Here are a few rules that I follow while networking via on LinkedIn –

  1. This is a professional network – It’s great to be connected to people you already know, but networking is all about meeting new people and making new connections. Hence, I do reach out to people who interest me and also accept add requests from people I don’t really know.
  2. It’s all about quality for me – I like to get in touch with remarkable and successful people. They can be from any domain, any country or any background. Diversity is always good!
  3. I like to pay off the debt – When I graduated from college, I was constantly looking for people to get good career advice and information on job opportunities. Along the way, I made good connections and met some really kind people. I think it’s time for me to pay off the debt. I love answering questions and helping out ambitious and enthusiastic folks to get advice, connections, introductions, sharing best practices, reconnecting with ex-school mates/coworkers.
  4. Great way to be picked up – Having several recruiters in the network helps me be on their radar when they work on target positions. It’s like having a resume online, while still being loyal to your employer. This is great especially for new grads. It gives you an opportunity to flaunt your talents, positions and achievements in a less formal way.

So if you want to get in touch with me on LinkedIn, don’t hesitate. I also don’t mind introduction requests and recommendation requests. Just make sure you include a personal message stating your intent.

Find me on LinkedIn. See you there!

A Minimalist is Born!

Call it an extreme step, but hey, I just became a minimalist (at least for 2012). What is a minimalist you ask. In simple words, a minimalist is a person who lives happily without accumulating useless material goods (aka clutter).

There are extreme theories of minimalism. Some people go gaga and try to live with less than x number of possessions (100 or 50 or 200 or whatever). But I am not planning on going crazy like that. My approach to minimalism is more practical. Basically just removing things that are not needed and giving a ‘home’ to things that I need.

 Why minimalism?

Look at the two pictures below. Which one makes you feel calmer and more peaceful? The minimalist one of course. Do I need to explain more?

Besides the peace of mind, there are a few more reasons that initiated the minimalist in me –

  1. I suck at cleaning and organizing. My roommate can vouch for this one. I just don’t know how to organize things efficiently. May be I’m just bad, or may be I get overwhelmed. But if I have too much stuff, I just don’t know what to do with it. So I figured, if I get rid of things that I don’t need, there is no need for me to organize storage every now and then. And I can use that time to do something I like instead. This sounds great to me.
  2. I use a set of few things over and over again. There are just a few of my favorite things that I use, the rest just sit in storage waiting to see a day when they can serve me. Why not just donate them and let them serve someone else?
  3. Kills the urge of therapy shopping. I love love and absolutely love to shop. And the purchases that sit in the boxes make me look like a hoarder. It’s like there is going to be a war and they are going to blow up all the malls and stores and I would never be able to buy anything. So I just want to buy things, right now! Sometimes when I am low, I go shopping and get some stuff that I really don’t need. It works like therapy.  But now when I shop, I look at the ‘thing’ as responsibility. Chain of thoughts – If I buy this I will have to clean it, organize it, take care of it and waste time on it. Result – I don’t buy it unless I need it or really really like it.
  4. No compromise on quality. This is probably the top reason. When you buy multiple things, you cut down on price and hence on quality. But now, since I know I can only buy a small number of things that are absolutely necessary, I can buy something that I really like, irrespective of the price. Which is great! 🙂
  5. Realization. There is more to life than possessions. I read somewhere ‘The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you’. So true! I can hoard like a collector but what am I going to get out of it? I would end up spending my money on things I somewhat want, and will not care about two days from today and it will end up in storage. Not having a load of clutter makes me feel free, mobile and gives me more time and money to do things I like (like travel, going out, hobbies, just being lazy). Like I once mentioned on The Labyrinth ‘I want to collect experiences, not material’.

No I am not going to sell my car. Or get rid of all my clothes and shoes and bags. I plan on continuing to live a normal lifestyle; without being wasteful. It just means that I am going to buy things in small numbers, but better quality. Also, I will not buy things that I don’t need or will not use. I am still keeping my handbags and shoes and most of my clothes. But I did donate four boxes full of possessions aka clutter from my closet this weekend. And you know what, I feel great!