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.

I will not mourn your death; I will instead celebrate your life!

My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was a strong, confident, self-made man. He lost his father when he was still in school; and lost everything else he had, the house, money etc., during the India-Pakistan partition in 1947. He was forced to move to India, empty-handed, only with the responsibility to take care of his sick mother. And when he passed away, he was a lawyer, had a full family, a house and a lot of fans; including me. He was my coffee buddy, a foodie and my friend.

Over the past few years, he had been fading. He was diagnosed with the Parkinson’s disease, which not only took over his brain, but his entire body. His organs started to shut down one by one and he had multiple tubes in his body to breathe, take in food and take the wastes out. Slowly he had lost the ability to do even his daily tasks and was completely bed-ridden. Among other things, he also lost his speech. We all could see that he was suffering and was in a lot of pain.

On Feb 20th this year, I met him after year and a half and I was in shock to see him like that. But I was overwhelmed that he still recognized me. He looked right in my eyes, held my hand, so tight, and we both teared-up. The night I was leaving, it happened again. Except this time when I looked into his eyes, I had a feeling that this might be the last time I was doing this. I had a feeling that we might never meet again, at least in this lifetime. I took his blessings and said the final goodbye.

I reached home safely, and the very next day I got a call from my mom telling me that my grandfather, my dada, passed away. In that moment, I felt a deep connection with him. I felt that maybe he was hanging in there, dealing with all the pain and suffering just to see me for one last time. I can’t be grateful enough to have a chance to spend the last three weeks of his life with him.

This phone call changed my life; it changed the person I was; and it changed the way I looked at life. My grandfather taught me many things when I was a child, but what he taught me when he died, I will never forget.

He taught me that taking care of your body is important. Because your body is the only thing that you really own. And it decides how happy (or sad) your life will be when you get old.

That living simply gives you more time to focus on things that really matter to you, like family, friends and yourself.

That every action you do or every word you say affects people around you. So why not live a loving life; people will remember you for who you were and how you made them feel.

That you should never give up.

That you should never take anything for granted. Enjoy and be mindful of every little action of yours, breathing, eating, sitting, talking, and be grateful for it, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring with it.

Don’t complain about the difficulties in life, they don’t really matter at all in the big picture.

That if you are alive, your purpose is not over yet.

That death is inevitable; appreciate the people who are here whilst they are here. Spend more time with them. Talk to them more often. Make good memories while you still can.

I miss my grandfather greatly. I remember him when I sip my first coffee every morning. I am very proud of him for his love, for being a great man and for fighting so bravely till his last breath.  And for the same reasons, today I decide that I will not mourn his death; I will instead, celebrate his life!

RIP Grandfather. I love you, always.


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.

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 8 – Corner Office

Today… I am thankful for my corner office at work. I love going to work to sit in my comfy white leather chair and striking things off of my to-do list. The office has double the windows and double the sunlight; which keeps me happy all day. I love it. I was this close to getting an office with no windows and that freaked me out to a point that when I saw that office for the very first time, I almost cried. Almost. But then the universe turned things around and I was moved to this amazing office with lots of windows, lots of lights and really cool office mates. I got nothing to complain about at work 🙂

30 Days of Giving Thanks – Day 7 – Eating Out

Today… I am thankful for the privilege to be able to go out to eat whenever I want. I have taken this for granted for so long. I now realize that it’s a luxury for many. I am so thankful to god that when I don’t want to cook, I can just pick up a meal from any restaurant in town; be it from McDonald’s or Benvenuti’s. I also love to share the great food and ambiance with my friends and loved ones. Flavor of any meal is multi-folded when combined with a good conversation!