They’re back!

By Lara McIntosh | April 8, 2024

Wassa’s live music Sundays
are back!

Come dance with a cross-culturally rich mix
of some of Seattle’s finest percussion musicians and Wassa’s joyful moves.

 May 5, 2024

10:00 – 11:30 am
Balance Studio
418 N 35th St
Seattle WA 98103

$25
Cash, checks and Zelle accepted.
Contributions for musicians always appreciated.

Stay tuned for future dates in the summer and autumn  of 2024.

Revisiting “Keep on…………….”

By Lara McIntosh | April 8, 2024

One of the great things about being entirely back in-person at the studio for classes is the chance to go back through 20+ years of playlists and experience some anew for the first time in 3 years or more.

During quarantine and the Zoom era, I felt the conditions called for particular types of music that carried well through the platforms we were using and suited folks dancing alone in whatever part of their homes they’d managed to make work while watching a screen.

Now I can pick a mix from a much wider pool. This is one I made at least 12 years ago. (I really wish I had thought to mark create dates on all 100 and some playlists including the ones on cassette!!). I can remember dancers who have moved away dancing to certain songs from this one. Dancing with it Tuesday, one of the songs that came up was shared by a really cool Kalani staff person I bonded with over music the two years he was there early in our 17 year annual residencies.
Anyway, this was fun for me on Tuesday and wow did the Isley brothers sound fresh.

Keep on………

 

Wassa’s Savory Dances for Autumn 2024!!

By Lara McIntosh | April 8, 2024

I’m thrilled to have this annual tradition back in our mix of possibilities.

Wassa’s Savory Dances for Autumn 
October 11-13, 2024
Madrona MindBody Institute
at Fort Worden
Port Townsend, WA

                                                                                   

 

Join us for a weekend immersion in movement and music dedicated to the richness of our individual and collective experiences. Each of the three daily sessions invite you to come as you are and go deeper into what calls to you through embodied listening, guided contemplative and lively movement with some of the best music the world has to offer.

All levels of fitness and experience are welcome.
$250 for the weekend$100 minimum deposit with balance due by September 30, 2024
Spaces are limited and first come first served
Single sessions available by request
Email Lara at lara@wassadance.com for registration, payment options, cancellation policy, any questions or requests.

Our preliminary schedule is:
Friday 10/13: 4-6 pm
Saturday 10/14: 1-4 pm
Sunday 10/15: Noon – 3

Participants are responsible for their own lodging and transportation.
Monday 10/14/24 is a national holiday – Indigenous People’s Day here in Washington.
I strongly suggest booking accommodations early.

We had so much fun last year. I can’t wait til we do it again.

An ephemeral soundtrack with cowhide, wood, iron, gourds, and a wire from a tire

By Lara McIntosh | January 28, 2024

I’m basking in the glow of this morning’s rare two hour session with live percussion at Balance Studio.
It’s been three years and eleven months since the last time that Caxambu, Denny Stern and Will Matthews have been able to join me for such a unique collaboration. I’ve missed them so.

Since this is not exactly an RSVP event and winter illnesses are definitely a thing, I didn’t know who all would be able to show up and dance. Today was extra special with some folks coming from far, some in for the first time in years, one brand new today. So much love and generosity in that space.
I had thought I might weep when we started as I have missed this kind of offering so much. Instead, I put on my ankle bells and listened for where we would start. Having such a long history with these wonderful musicians, it felt like a fine conversation we simply picked up in the here and now. Hearing the acoustic tones of instruments I love being played by people I love and respect so deeply was a revelation in responsive listening.

It’s always fascinating to watch a room full of beautiful individuals find some kind of communion in movement and rhythm.
This is something that deserves much more reflection and its own writings.

In one of the breaks, I asked the musicians to introduce some of the instruments. Will, the natural teacher, described the origins  and composition of bougarabou and dun-duns he had and how all the drums we had today are specific woods with origins in West African, Afro-Cuban and Haitian traditions and have cow hide heads which makes for the deeper warmer tones that are so suited to melodic percussion. Denny then took up the theme describing the pentatonic marimba (wood), the congas (wood/hide), the iron in the bells, his handmade shakers made from candy and food tins, Caxambu carried the theme describing the gourd resonator on the berimbau and how the wire that attached the two ends of the wooden bow was from one of his tires. The bongos (wood hide. metal) belonged our beloved Mohammed Shaibu who passed.

Bringing in wood, hide, iron, gourd, seeds, all these essences are the physical elementals that resonate so deeply in sonic action and in spirit.

The one thing we all forgot was to take any pictures. As with many of the best things, it was real and now it’s in the ethers.

It was a very good day.

I am in awe.

This is my basket of handheld instruments.

Why live music – it all started with a berimbau, mbira, bongos and a surdo

By Lara McIntosh | January 20, 2024

When I first started teaching in the style I’ve evolved with over the past several decades, I inherited a class from Kristi Rudolph at Physical Culture that featured live drumming every Sunday. As this beloved class slowly became my own, I was discovering instruments from all over the diaspora of African percussion and was curious about creating something more cross-cultural and improvisational in lieu of interpreting traditional rhythms and songs. It was an amazingly foundational, bountiful time for me in terms of exposure to music from Africa both on the radio (KCMU with John Kertzer and WonLdy Paye) and in local bye gone clubs.  I was studying dance with wonderful teachers from Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and Brazil. It was the late 1980’s early 1990’s in Seattle.  I wanted to honor them and do something different in what I could contribute to Seattle’s percussion and dance communities.

Every Sunday for many years, musicians and I collaborated for these dance classes. Who all has come to play deserves its own story as some of the best in Seattle are a part of it.

While I dearly love curating recorded music mixes and broadening folks’ exposure to some of the depth and breadth and wide ranging expressions of Africa and the diaspora, I’ve always felt the live music collaborations to be the keystone of my dance work. I set the space and musicians ahead of time. From there, based on who comes to dance and which directions the enegies of the sound and movement go, the rest of my movement guidance and where the musicians go is all improvised. It’s hard to describe how edifying it is to be in a room of willing participants making that magic happen in real time.

Our last live music session was in February 2020. Covid closures hit hard. After things started to open up, available spaces that meet the basic needs of accommodating the sound volume of live percussion, a large enough space with a good enough floor at desirable times have been much harder to find. And, frankly I’ve been working weekends at the job that supports my teaching life because that’s how I have guaranteed income.

I’ve been waiting for some kind of ground swell or sign to start back up in whatever iteration might be conjured now.

Recently I was presented with a really rare opportunity to have two hours on a Saturday at Balance Studio, where I’ve been happily teaching for almost ten years with my schedules set around the days and times the owners themselves need. I jumped on it and then realized MAYBE the musicians who had been the rock steady base before Covid might be available?
They said yes. And we’re on.
I can’t wait to be with them and the dancers who show up to contribute their beautiful attunement to the mix. Click here for joining us January 27, 2024

 

A song for December 27, 2023

By Lara McIntosh | December 27, 2023

Often in my Wassa Dance newsletters I include a link to a song that has resonance for me.
Right now with all in the world and the end of this year, this is one of them.
Everything is Recorded – Mountains Gold – featuring Kamasi Washington, Ibeyi, Wiki, Sampha and a brief appearance from Quincy Jones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWCh1qlNth4

 

We’re getting the band back together Saturday Janunary 27, 2024

By Lara McIntosh | December 27, 2023

1/27/24 3:45 pm. Postscript:  What an amazing time we had this morning! Thank you all who were able to attend. It was a feast of love and powerful vibrations.

After way too long, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to offer a special live music dance session with beloved musicians  Caxambu, Will Matthews and Denny Stern featuring cross-cultural percussion and our unique collaborative vibe.
Saturday January 27, 2024
9:00-11:00 a.m.
Balance Studio
418 N 35th St
Seattle WA 98103
$25 – Cash, checks and Zelle
Day of contributions to musicians appreciated!
No one turned away for lack of funds.

 

 

All in-studio again

By Lara McIntosh | December 14, 2023

I was working with my web guy David at Real Basics today and mentioning how we just started being completely in studio without Zoom options for the first time since the pandemic closures in August (2023). And how great it is to have folks gathering again to dance together. This is a very powerful thing.  David said, “That’s a big deal! You need to share that!” He’s right.

I am so grateful to owners Aileen and Daniel of Balance Studio for the tremendous dedication and efforts they put into keeping dance offerings available through the pandemic closures and beyond. And to my students who hung in there on Zoom and in the many iterations of cautious in studio options. It’s stunning to realize it has been less than 4 or so months where all the activities of Wassa Dance are in person.

Here’s to it!

Watch for Autumn retreat Oct. 2024

By Lara McIntosh | December 13, 2023

We had a glorious time at Madrona MindBody Institute  and plan to do it again!
Stay tuned!

Saturday December 30 is a fundraiser for Facing Homelessness

By Lara McIntosh | December 9, 2023

Happy update! We are over $1,500 now. Thank you to all.

We had a wonderful session this morning with more dancers than I expected in this season of holiday plans, travel and sickness. And best of all, we’ve raised $1,440 so far! 

 

Our last session of 2023 on
Saturday December 30, 2023
9:00-10:00 am
will be a thank you for donating to

 Wassa Dance’s fundraising event 
for
Facing Homelessness
one of the local organizations doing important advocacy for our unsheltered neighbors.

While donations are welcome through the end of the year at least, please donate prior to the event on Saturday if possible so we can acknowledge how we’ve done that morning. You don’t have to attend to donate, and though I hope you do,  you don’t have to donate to attend.

The folks at Facing Homelessness have made this very easy for us and when you donate to their 501-c3, you can choose which of their projects you’d like your money to go to.

Here again  the link to donate to Wassa Dance’s fundraising event.

 

I’m very grateful to have the living situation I do. And know the care and support of family, friends and our beautiful extended  dance community. Thank you for joining me in contributing to material kindness in our city with this project.

I hope to see you on this celebratory dance floor!

Wassa Accelerated Sessions

By Lara McIntosh | September 3, 2014

Night time is the right time.
Come dance on Thursdays!

Saturday's Beauties

 

 

 

 

 

February 19,26 March 5, 12,19, 2o15.
6:15-7:15 p.m.
Balance Studio
418 North 35th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
$50 for the series*
Drop-ins are welcome: $15 at the door.

The Thursday night series is designed for those who want to go deeper into the intensity, technique and choreography of Wassa Dance. The lively hour features focused energy and choreography along with deeper skills and technique. And, it’s FUN FOR ALL!
Series spaces are limited. Please contact Lara to sign up.
Drop-ins are welcome: $15 at the door.
*no refunds or extensions on individual series purchases

A beautiful testimonial

By Lara McIntosh | August 13, 2014

It’s rare that I get this sort of thing but today I received this really lovely piece from one of my beloved long time students. Darryl is a wonderful human being with a large heart and a wicked fun sense of playful adventure.  I am honored by what he has to say here:

darryl at MMI

About Wassa Dance

I’m a runner and 63 years old. I had never taken a dance class, except for square dancing in my entire life. Then, more years ago then I dare to count, I decided to take a risk and walk through the door to an African dance class taught by Lara on the second floor of the Physical Culture dance studio. My wife was taking Lara’s class and said I would love the music. She was right. I loved the music and did my best to imitate Lara’s moves. The music pulled me in and to my amazement I believed I was learning the movement and the dance. At least I was moving in the right direction most of the time and even my feet occasionally seemed to follow Lara’s pattern and rhythm. But when I took a moment to observe amidst the excitement of of a new experience, I seemed to be moving in dancing in a dimension different than the one Lara and the other dancers were dancing in. During classes Lara described bowls of light, johnny jump-ups, lava flows, internal rubberbands, sugar cane harvesting, star fish and Bamako club dancing. Lara kept describing the experience of moving from the center and letting the movement begin internally and flow, shimmy, warble and wisp out to the fingers, toes and crown of the head and beyond to the sky and earth and then loop back for another go. I loved the class and just wanted it to go on for hours. Somehow over the years the watching, imitating and listening seemed to sink into this runner and I would begin to experience brief moments of pure joy and ecstasy when somehow I would sync in with Lara’s moves, the spirit and beat of the music and the moves of the other dancers. I just wanted that fleeting moment to last forever.   I am still running long distances and have now gotten bit by the trail running bug. When I’ve consumed my initial burst of energy in the first couple of miles and have many more to go, I find that center for running and try to relax and settle into it with legs, arms, body and energy moving from the center, connecting and reconnecting to the earth and moving through space.  Thanks Lara!

Darryl Eastin

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
$50

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

 

 

WASSA DANCE’S SAVORY AUTUMN INTENSIVE
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: lara@wassadance.com

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

ASANTE SANA!!

For more event information contact Lara at: lara@wassadance.com
For more information about Wassa Dance: www.wassadance.com
For more about Village Volunteers’ great work: www.villagevolunteers.org or contact shana@villagevolunteers.org 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

WASSA DANCE – SPRING TUNING
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: lara@wassadance.com
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. marlasimms.massagetherapy.com,

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!!