Live Music Sundays Fabulous Winter Crew

By Lara McIntosh | July 17, 2014

Maketa, Alexandra, Bill and Blake were an awesome house band for our Dec.-April 2014 Live Music Sundays.

Maketa, Alexandra, Bill and Blake were an awesome house band for our Dec.-April 2014 Live Music Sundays.

What people are saying

By Lara McIntosh | July 10, 2014

“I believe that Lara a marvelous leader, visionary for African dance in America, and powerful instructor.  I was thrilled to see that our dance group was “my” age group. I have enthusiastically shared my wonderful Wassa Dance experience with many family and friends.”
Bettina M- Alaska
Participant in “Spring Tuning” at Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center,  2014.

Samato Dance Class and Party with Ousmane Sylla June 14, 2014

By Lara McIntosh | May 12, 2014

Saturday June 14, 2014  Ousmane Sylla - Master Party Starter
5 – 8 p.m.
Balance Studio
418 N.35th St
Seattle WA 98103
advance registration – $20
at the door, if there’s room – $35

Wassa Dance is hosting a dance class and party with Ousmane Sylla, Samato Contemporary African Dancer and Get the Party Started Master.

We’ll begin the fun with a Samato Dance class. Then we’ll show off our moves with Ousmane spinning the Samato
tunes to get our groove on!  It’s going to be so much fun.

Space is limited for this very special event. Early registration is strongly encouraged.
SIGN UP WITH LARAMore about Ousmane and Samato Dance.








Internal and External Orientation Workshop 5/31/2014

By Lara McIntosh | May 12, 2014

INTERNAL & EXTERNAL ORIENTATION with Janelle Campoverde and Lara McIntosh SATURDAY MAY 31, 2014
2:30-4:30 P.M.
BALANCE STUDIO 418 North 35th St. Seattle, WA 98103

Gyro Silhouette






The intricacy of our human design hard-wires our brains to be continually learning throughout our lives.

Orientation involves awareness of three dimensions: time, place and being. We learn orientation through movement.
In this workshop, Lara and Janelle will introduce ways to hone your ability to orient where you are while you are dancing. Lara will bring the movement patterns you that you both enjoy and are challenged by in dance classes. Janelle will offer exploratory movements that heighten your ability to feel yourself and your surroundings while moving – clarifying how to direct your movement intentionally and spontaneously.

To register, please contact Lara McIntoshMore about Janelle Campoverde

Wassa Dance Savory Autumn Retreat – Oct. 10-12, 2014

By Lara McIntosh | May 12, 2014

mini autumn bowl



with Lara McIntosh
Madrona MindBody Institute
Fort Warden in Port Townsend, WA.
Friday Oct. 10 – Sunday Oct. 12th, 2013

LARA WITH FADED EDGES IN HATJoin us for a delicious autumn weekend of inspiration and concentrated experiences of Wassa Dance’s joyful African-infused offerings at one of the Puget Sound’s most beautiful resources for movement studies.
Inspired by the elemental roots of music and moves from Africa and the Americas, this retreat is designed for people who love to move in a nourishing, structured environment. Our sessions will include image-rich movement meditations, floor work and stretching, along with spirited dancing in Wassa’s unique style.

Prices include five intensive Wassa Dance sessions, lodging, 2 breakfasts and lunches, all fees and taxes.
Single rooms : $475
Couples/Shared room : $800

Limited enrollment for one or two day movement sessions Saturday and Sunday and scholarships, available by request.

To register for this workshop or for additional information contact Lara McIntosh:

More about Madrona MindBody Institute.

Wassa Dance and Village Volunteers’ 10th annual Thanks-Giving Fundraiser

By Lara McIntosh | November 13, 2013

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Village Volunteers and contribute to a woman’s opportunity for economic freedom and independence.

Wassa Dance’s 10th Annual Thanks-Giving Dance by Donation
featuring some Seattle’s finest percussionists and Lara’s joyful moves
(please plan to dance barefoot at this event!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.
ARC School of Ballet – 9250 14th Ave. NW Seattle WA 98117 (Ballard)

This year we will be dancing for the “Ndori Banana Women’s Fund” which helps women access micro loans to start businesses or enhance their small enterprises in a small village in Western Kenya. Our goal is to sponsor as many women as we can with $100 seed loans.
All loan recipients receive training and assistance with becoming economically stable. The loans are administered locally and when the funds are paid back, they are reinvested with more local women’s projects.
This kind of fundraising alliance has touched many people’s lives through the amplifier effect of resources and expertise being passed hand to hand. On the women’s meeting days, their camaraderie is palpable when they dance and sing greetings to one another. Let’s join that spirit this Thanksgiving!

We invite you to also keep it local by contributing part or all of your donation to the operational expenses of Village Volunteers, the organization that keeps all of these programs going throughout the year. If you’d like to support both Ndori Banana Fund in Kenya and Village Volunteers in Seattle, you can designate the amount you’d like to go to each on the memo line of your check or a note with cash donations. We are very grateful for your support!

All donations are tax-deductible and eligible for company matching funds. If you can’t attend and want to contribute, send a check with Wassa Dance on the memo line to:
Village Volunteers

5100 South Dawson Street, Suite 202,
Seattle, WA 98118


For more event information contact Lara at:
For more information about Wassa Dance:
For more about Village Volunteers’ great work: or contact or call 206-683-6681

Big Island Dance Retreat for 2014

By Lara McIntosh | May 17, 2013


Bringing their collective years of movement and music explorations together, collaborators Lara McIntosh and Marla Simms invite you to

March 9-15, 2014
Big Island, Hawaii
Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center

Shake out your winter bones and seed a new season of your body’s potential for ease and joyful vitality through dance and movement exploration. Come as you are and let the rhythms take you deeper!

Included in this six day sweet island style retreat are daily sessions of image rich movement meditations, floor work and stretching along with spirited dance segments in Wassa’s unique style. Spontaneous offerings for group or individual sessions TBA throughout the week. Portions of each day are purposefully left open for participants to enjoy their own experience of Kalani’s offerings along with the many other delights and resources of Kalani and its neighborhood. Delicious daily buffet style meals, accommodations and use of Kalaniʼs grounds, pool and spa are also included.

We will

  • Cultivate fresh vibrancy in our physical wit and wisdom.
  • Establish healthy practices designed to take and grow at home to nourish an active longevity.
  • Free our bones with Afro-infused dance inspired by some of the best music the world has to offer.
  • Engage our senses with the complex natural and cultural beauty that IS the Big Island where ocean meets lava, mongoose, wild pigs, tree frogs, bird song, hula, solar power, compost, and not so far away strip malls all exist with the newest earth and cleanest air in the world.

To register contact Lara McIntosh:
Registration requires a  $250 nonrefundable deposit

RETREAT FEES (per person) Single Occupancy Double Occupancy
Lodge Room (shared bath) $995 $1240
Lodge Room (private bath) $1225 $1475
Tree House Room $1350 $1675
Bungalow Room $1350 $1675

Lara McIntosh has studied dance all her life and is an active member of Seattle dance, music and public art communities.
Lara is the originator of Wassa Dance which is inspired by dances and music from the African diaspora. She has been teaching independently in this Afro-fusion style since 1997. Travels to Brazil and Mali, West Africa and ongoing study with locally based teachers are great influences in her work. “Wassa” is the Bambara name Lara received during her first visit to Mali. It translates as “one who acts for joy and fulfillment.”
Lara’s curiosity about movement and cultures are combined with a deep love for music and community building. She has a long history of collaboration for performance, event production and movement education which include ten years with THREAD DANCE, multiple collaborations with artist Cameron Anne Mason and the Fremont Arts Council for parade and pageant presentations. During her six years on the Board of Directors of the
Seattle World Percussion Society (SWPS), she helped oversee the production of the World Rhythm Festival at Seattle Center, which is one of the largest free percussion festivals in the country.
Lara is an adjunct faculty member of the ARC School of Ballet. She also offers school residencies and conducts annual intensive workshops in Washington State and Hawaii.

Marla Simms started her love affair with the human body and its magic from the inside out. She experienced the boldness and explosive energy of a gymnast in her youth. Later, she studied modern dance and performed in the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest (Pat Graney & Co. and THREAD DANCE). She then turned to focus on the exploration of other’s bodies through the study and practice of massage. She has been a massage practitioner and massage educator for 20 years. She teaches continuing education classes for massage practitioners in the greater Puget Sound area. As an educator, she pursues a better understanding of the soft tissues of the human body and how they react, however subtly, to the stresses and challenges of life and living. For Marla, the body continues to be a venue of art, joy, and discovery.,

Wassa’s Wednesday 6:15 p.m. class ends June 5

By Lara McIntosh | May 2, 2013

The time has come for me to discontinue our current Wednesday evening classes at SHIFT, sigh.  I love dancing at night, especially in the warm summer months where we open the big garage door and let the light pour in. And, I’m very grateful to the devoted folks who have been supporting this “after work” option for so long.

While June 5th will be our last of the this round, I’m looking forward to discovering what comes next.  I’d be very happy to co-invent the next version, so stay tuned!  I’m open to suggestions and requests.

Meanwhile, let’s dance into the evenings, May 8, 15, 22,29 and June 5!!




April’s Live Music Sunday and benefit for MARY’S PLACE

By Lara McIntosh | April 18, 2013

This was a wonderful event!  Our musical all star musical team was Denny Stern, Mark Lilly, Thierno Diop, Caxambu, Mohammed Shaibu, Larry Swanson and Makeda Wilborn. Twenty dancers strong and beautiful!  We raised $230 for Mary’s Place. It was a good day indeed.


Our next live music session is April 21, 2013. I’ll be donating 25% of the door from this event to MARY’S PLACE: a day center in Seattle for homeless women and children.  I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to support this vital local organization.

This benefit is in partnership with a 3 day event at Casita International.  This great little shop on Capital Hill is bringing in fair trade accessories made by women in Malawi and India. April 19-21, 25% of the sale of these goods will be donated to MARY’S PLACE.

Casita and Wassa’s benefit for Mary’s Place

Shop, dance and give locally-with a global twist.

A Sweet Article about Wassa by Irene Hopkins

By Lara McIntosh | April 18, 2013

This piece appeared in BALANCE STUDIO: BAHIA IN MOTION’S Spring 2013 newsletter.  I love the insight Irene brought to my work. Here’s the piece:

Instructor Spotlight on:

Lara McIntosh, WASSA Dance

Lara McIntosh is Wassa.

On Lara’s first trip to Mali, her Bambara hosts gave her the name, Wassa Sangare. Translated, Wassa means “one who acts for joy and fulfillment.” Lara believes this name is a symbol of endearment from her Malian hosts as well as of their trust in her as a source of inspiration for cross-cultural connections through movement and music.

“Wassa Dance is an afro-infused style of movement that I developed and have evolved with on my unexpected path of becoming a movement and cultural educator,” explained Lara. Rather than teach set choreography for her students to follow, Lara provides basic steps rooted in traditional movement. Dancers are then invited to infuse the steps with their own style of expression. Students dance together while enjoying their individual experiences.

Lara, with an extensive dance background, began teaching a popular class called Positive Sweat in the late 1980’s. “I changed the name [to Wassa Dance] to indicate a dance class with a fitness component rather than a fitness class with some moves thrown in,” said Lara.

Lara, a lover of African and diaspora cultures, makes it clear that she does not teach traditional West African dance. “There are so many other people born to or with vast experience of specific West African cannons,” she stated. “My focus is inclusion, universality, accessibility; the pure joy of basic physical forms and the vast realm of music.”

Babatunde Olatunji inspired the beginnings of Lara’s involvement with African dance and music. “His credo of the power and healing of the drum and his appeal to act beyond borders as cultural ambassadors has lain at the heart of my work ever since,” she said

Lara began teaching at Balance Studio (then Planet Earth Yoga) after a long walk with Balance co-owner, Aileen Panke, in the depth of winter. “I was struggling with my then studio situation, trying to cover costs and make a basic living in an economy that calls for wise choices from each of us,” she said. “There was an opening at Planet Earth that Aileen knew about and she encouraged me to take it. It was a perfect little window to jump into. I’m very grateful.”

“I’ve been renting space for my work on and off since 1989 and full time since 1996,” reflected Lara. “I am impressed and delighted with the depth of care and insight Aileen and Daniel bring to the management and program development of Balance. I’m thrilled to be part of a community of educators, artists and healers dedicated to well-being and integrity through their work.”

Much like the free-flowing dance style Lara has created, her path to now has been a one-step-at-a-time surprise. “If anyone had asked me at any point before I was 30 (or maybe even 50), what I would be doing with my life, I couldn’t have imagined this,” she said. “ I am wildly blessed by the opportunity to work with deeply dedicated students, to touch others in less known ways and to do something I really love. Every day.”