July 2020 newsletter

By Lara McIntosh | July 1, 2020

This is a copy of what I sent out today:

Hello Beautiful People!

I hope this finds you well and safe.
I have not reached out to you since mid-March. The shelter in place mandate rocked so many parts of my daily life and structures. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take a sustained break and rest from some significant parts of how I operated.

So much has been and is changing in and around us.

Now that we are in Phase II of Covid 19 activities, I have the opportunity to go back into Balance Studio (and can bring one person under 65) to offer online sessions on Zoom. 
This kind of format will be unfamiliar and fairly uncomfortable new terrain for me to learn about and develop into meaningful opportunities for us to share movement, music and community in. And, it is time to try it!
Basically it’s gonna be first draft of a gentle and small space version of Wassa Dance on
ZOOM online
Tuesdays and Thursdays in July

10:30-11:30 am  
7/7 -7/30/2020
(donations welcome)

with a trial run Monday 7/6 
10:30-11:30 am

I’ll send another email in the next day or so with specifics & details after I go into Balance Studio to learn the early ropes.  Big ups to Aileen and Daniel for the powerful ways they have kept their mission with dance and culture going during these challenging times. 

As I step back into teaching it is very important for me to honor and acknowledge how profoundly my creative life has been inspired by music and cultures from Africa and its diaspora. This love has brought me beautiful powerful experiences, teachers, friendships and collaborations. I have visited Brazil and studied in Mali and those experiences continue to be great influences for me. From the start, ihas not my intent to present what I offer as an “African” dance class or to be an authority on cultures outside my own. That’s not possible. There are very good dance teachers here in Seattle that are African, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Cuban and more, who work hard and their wonderful offerings are available to you!
These days, so many great opportunities on the inter web as well. 
A few local teachers I know are teaching online now:
Manimou Camara (Guinea)
Etienne Cakpo (Benin)
Dance with Dora (Brazil)
Bahia in Motion (Brazil)

As a lifelong student and teaching artist in Seattle, I see my role as sharing what I learn and am inspired/challenged by from deep wells of my privileges, inspiration, examination, ongoing dialogue, truth seeking, re-learning history as a citizen of the world, spirit sources and movement studies as a springboard for people to experience a taste of for themselves and offer resources for how to go deeper with the music and movement that speaks to you.

As white person whose life has been so enriched by cultures outside my own, it is important for me to advocate for African and Black arts and artists and social justice. When we dance, we dance.  I will also be putting together more resources to be shared on my website and finding the best way to share the music I use and putting that in the context of where it comes from.
Here are just a few local organizations to support:
Northwest Tap Connection
WaNaWari
CD Forum
Town Hall Seattle
Seattle Public Library

I’ll be back in touch as soon as final details are in place for our online July experiment. 
Thank you for reading and for all that you are.
Here’s to the seeding,
Lara

Black Lives Matter

By Lara McIntosh | June 13, 2020

Wassa Dance lives in solidarity with all who are devoted to the necessary work of creating true social justice in our world.

We look forward to the time when we can safely come together again and dance.

Covid 19 closure

By Lara McIntosh | June 13, 2020
Due to the Covid 19 health and safety concerns and restrictions, as of 3/15/2020, all regularly scheduled classes are temporarily canceled. Thank you for doing your part in helping to minimize the spread of this virus and investing in our future well-being in this very unique way.
We are not able to offer online classes at this time.
Stay tuned as conditions change.
In the mean time, please know how much I appreciate you and the beautiful community that has developed over the past 23 years of moving in the heart of rhythm.
We will dance again!

Musing on live music Sundays

By Lara McIntosh | June 12, 2020

Back in the late 1980’s when I was a student at Physical Culture Fitness Studio, there was a Sunday class taught by Kristi Rudolph with live African percussion. That was the most exciting class of the week to take. And, at the time, it was one of the few places drum students (most of whom were white) could come and play along the great African percussionists who were living here. It got to be quite a scene where sometimes there were almost more drummers than dancers (and the rooms always packed). Congas were slowly being replaced with Djembes as THE chosen drum. Eventually the Senior living center across the street filed a city complaint about the “volume of noise that was disturbing to the residents’ well being”. That was the end of that era. 
Right around that same time, Kristi moved on and I was chosen to take over the class. As a new teacher, I had very big shoes to fill and needed to find ways to make these classes my own. Because of the trouble with our neighbors, I ended up moving the Sunday class to a much smaller studio in the top of the building what was the Ballard Firehouse night club. A core group of dancing friends helped me decide to not make the class be a drum jam session for aspiring players and focus instead of some of the beautiful acoustic instruments I was just learning about.  I had musicians friends who were very happy to experiment with their beloved berimbaus, mbiras and kalimbas, balafon, pandeiro, agogos and smaller hand drums. And our cross-cultural improvisational collaborations began. 

I’m remembering all this as I think about the last live session we had in February of this year at our new home in the Taj Yoga Studio. That turned out to be very special. One of my most beloved teachers and friend Won-Ldy Paye made a surprise visit while in town for an artist residency. Few things could have made me happier than to have him there that day. There were students who are brand new to my work, students who had heard of Won-Ldy and some long timers who had danced with him a project we got to be part of for Seattle Art Museum’s exhibition “Long Steps Never Broke a Back” (more on that another time),  or when he lived here and taught classes.  Some of my favorite  musicians to collaborate with were there too. It was a good good day. One that refueled and inspired me and seems all the more important now that all the studio in town are shuttered indefinitely and it is hard to know how long it will be until anything like that is safe to do again.

Denny Stern, Won-Ldy Paye, Lara, Will Matthews,Caxambu

Covid-19 update 3/12/2020

By Lara McIntosh | March 13, 2020
UPDATE for Wassa Dance regarding Covid-19 on 3/12/2020
While we are still on our regular schedule @Balance Studio for now, classes will be limited to ten participants keeping the required social distance and following all directives from Gov. Inslee and the CDC.
PLEASE CONTACT ME IN ADVANCE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND ONE OF OUR CLASSES: larjomc@gmail.com
Balance Studio maintaining all required clean and sanitization to keep our dance environment as safe and healthy as possible.

Amidst the Covid-19 concerns – 3/10/2020

By Lara McIntosh | March 10, 2020

Dear Friends and Students,

Wassa Dance classes are on our regular schedule for now. We are trusting in folks following best practices for both self-care and community well being. Dancing in community is a beautiful thing and we are grateful for every day this happens, especially now. If you are feeling sick or vulnerable, please stay home and take good care.
If we need to deviate from our regular schedule, I will post here, on Wassa’s FaceBook page, and send out an email via Constant Contact. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Please know that Balance Studio is very pro-active in keeping our dance space clean and sanitized. Here is an excerpt from them:

As the spread of COVID-19 continues throughout our area, we are closely monitoring advisories from King County and Washington State Public Health.  At Balance Studio we are taking measures to frequently disinfect doorknobs, light switches, water dispenser, bathroom, studio equipment and all other areas frequently touched by both instructors and students.  We recommend washing hands or using a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entering the studio and before leaving.  Bring a change of clothes to change into after class if you do floor exercise.  Remember to not only prevent contact with the virus but boost your own immune system by eating a well balanced meal (with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables for their immune-enhancing capacities), get plenty of rest and avoid stress as much as possible. Below are a few reminders and links for more resources.  As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.
King County Department of Health:
WA State Department of Health
EPA-Approved Disinfectants:

Look who is teaching for me January 6-13, 2020

By Lara McIntosh | January 2, 2020

My holiday break comes late this year. I’m very pleased to have these wonderful women stepping in to keep you dancing while I am away:

Monday 1/6 – Becci Parsons
Becci brings her beautiful wit, wisdom and love of movement coupled with her many years of Feldenkrais practice.
Wednesday and Friday 1/8 & 1/10 – Janelle Campoverde
Janelle shares her love of Brazilian movement and music along with her great insights in Feldenkrais technique.
Saturday 1/11 – Kine Camara
Kine carries the legacy of her father Ibrahima Camara’s mastery of traditional Senegalese dance and percussion to the next generation along with her studies in Afro-Beats style.

Monday 1/13 – Becci Parsons

Happy 2020!

By Lara McIntosh | January 2, 2020

Wishing you a brilliant new year
full of fulfillment, joy and lots of dancing!

Photos from our 16th Annual Thanks-Giving dance by donation with Village Volunteers

By Lara McIntosh | December 3, 2019
We had a glorious time! Here are just a few shots from this beloved and successful fundraiser. Many thanks to our beautiful musicians, Caxambu, Denny Stern, Thierno Diop, Shemayim Elohim, Jay Braverman and Lance Lu. And to all who participated and contributed to this event.
We’ve raised close to $3,000 so far which translates into business loans for 45 women and their families in rural Kenya.
It’s not too late to donate.

Wassa Dance and Village Volunteers’ 16th annual Thanks-Giving Dance by Donation

By Lara McIntosh | November 14, 2019
This year’s event was a wonderful success! 51 dancers, 7 wonderful musicians and close to $3,000 in that hour and more is coming in!
It’s not too late to donate:

We are thrilled to be offering this beloved community event again this year. Come celebrate with us!

Thursday, November 28, 2019
9:00 -10:15 a.m.
9250 14th Ave. NW Seattle WA 98117 (Ballard)
You are invited to our 16th Annual Thanks-Giving Dance by Donation. This gathering has become a beloved event for many local people who enjoy providing an opportunity for economic freedom for women as part of their holiday traditions.
On Thanksgiving morning, join us as we are led in Afro-Fusion movement with Lara McIntosh of Wassa Dance and accompanied by some of the best percussionists in Seattle to raise funds for Mucharange Village Women to provide start up funding to form micro-lending groups in Kiminini-Trans Nzoia County.
All donations are tax deductible and eligible for company matching funds. If you can’t attend donate online at https://villagevolunteers.org/donate/.
You can also still send a check to Village Volunteers with Wassa Dance on the memo line to
Village Volunteers
5100 South Dawson St. Suite 202
Seattle, WA 98118 Contact Lara for event questions: lara@wassadance.com
Wassa Dance: www.wassadance.com
Contact Shana at Village Volunteers: shana@villagesolunteers.org
www.villagevolunteers.org
http://www.villagevolunteers.org