In October 2020 I got a message on Instagram from a dancer I had never met who was from India. She asked me to me in her fundraising show with the go live date January 17, 2021 and the show concept was all around the 22 Major Arcanum of the tarot.

I was intrigued. I don’t know alot about the tarot and I was unsure of if I could could commit to the show but seeing as it was pre-recorded, I decided it was a good fit PLUS it gave me a reason to start working on new material & get a good video out of it in the process. So I agreed.

This show featured dancers from all over the world with a strong focus on dancers in India – none of which I had ever heard of before. We had a team meeting end of November and I felt immediately that the organizer Shruti (Samai Oriental Dance Company) had done not only her research on the dancers, but that she pulled together a show of likeminded individuals who were fiercely committed to their art.

Shruti drew The Hermit card for me – a card I knew nothing about. When she sent me the description I was absolutely shocked – it was the card that EXACTLY described where I was at currently in my life.

The Hermit card is a compelling card. Just as beacons of light often guide ships to the shore, this sage is ushering in a period of personal growth and exploration. The Hermit represents wisdom earned by seeking the highest truth.

Often, looking for answers within requires time alone with few distractions. It requires introspection and concentrating less on the senses. The Hermit implies it’s time to forget about old emotional attachments, however significant they may have been at the time. The Hermit holds his own lantern: he is lighting his own path. This is a reminder that clear and honest answers must be held to the following questions so that we can light our own path to the future.

I have made some significant changes in my life during Covid. I have let go of certain groups, friendships & associations because when removed I saw that these were not the right people for me. It has been a terribly painful growing & acceptance period and not one that has come easily. I slowly stepped into my own inner wisdom & courageously stand in my own truth. Having the space of Covid has allowed me to open my eyes, grieve, let go & accept.

Sometimes we simply just outgrow ourselves & our surroundings. Sometimes we just realize we deserve better. Sometimes we just need to accept & walk away. Drawing this card hit everything home for me.

I created my Hermit piece coming from a place of strength, inner wisdom & trust. I had a very hard time connecting to it originally and did not find suitable music that spoke to my vision. I ended up reusing a piece of music that I danced to in 2016 after my grandmother died where I essentially grieved her loss. This time round, I felt empowered and strong using this song.

I brainstormed with an old high school friend who shot & edited the piece and we filmed it over the holiday period together working tirelessly to get it done by the submission date. The end result turned out magically and was a great contribution to the show. I am very proud of our work and it truly stands out from the collection of work I have done previously.

The link is here for my performance: Click Here

I invite you to go and catch the Arcanum show in its entirety – it is a stunning 1.5 hour escape from reality!

The link is here: Click Here

Until next time, in movement,

Ashley Rhianne xo

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Finding Your Creative Process

Finding Your Creative Process

Generating ideas for a choreography or performance is hard in the best of times.

This can be even harder when you are asked to dance in a themed show or given a concept to work with. It might be something that you don’t necessarily jive with or you feel restricted by the direction.

It can be all-consuming, stressful or even painful creatively to get started.

Rehearsals can feel wasted or even that you don’t have the drive to start.

I’ve been in this boat MANY times & tbh sometimes my best work comes out of being commissioned. I tend to fight against it a lot but it typically forces me out of my box & to put on a different hat. But even creating choreo for myself can be tough & hard to navigate.

I’ve created a way over the years to help me get on board & reduce the stress around creating performance. It helps me hone into the end result but essentially storyboarding the entire thing from concept to creation.

So you have been asked to dance in a show. Now what?! Lets start from beginning… looking at the overall Theme of your performance.

#1: Choose Your Theme

This part might have been given to you already so now where are you going to go right? Well this is the part where you can take that idea & turn it into your creation.

Say you have been asked to play a certain character in a show. You have the rough sketch or expectation of the character, but you can turn that into something personal that you embody.

Focus on what feelings & emotions do you want to portray. Find your theme by exploring the overall tone & message of your piece. Determine what feelings & emotions you want to showcase both in yourself & your audience…what do you want you audience to feel?

#2: Represent

This is now your chance to take these emotions & feelings and start to embody them. What & how do you want to represent your theme? Start by brainstorming what you want to represent by setting the tone & the message. Write these out so that you have a clear understanding on where to work from & to make connections. You can also cross reference or delete in this step once you start compiling ideas.

#3: Inspiration

What is your inspiration? Where do you seek inspiration from typically? Are you inspired by watching other dancers, reading poetry, watching a film, nature? When starting to create your overall theme, go to where you get inspired keeping in line with your idea for your piece. Keep writing, create wordclouds, doodle. Allow yourself to connect with words and use them to keep setting the theme.

#4: Communicate

This is where you want to start to further enforce your message. What message do you want to send to the viewer? To the performance? Do you want to take the audience on a journey with you? Do you want them to experience visceral emotion? Do you want them to interact with you or silently observe? Do you want this piece to be purely authentic in its style or abstract? Do you want clear symbolism or leave it up to the audience to decide what it was about?

Having a clear direction about this message means that you will be able work from here equally clearly as you can start to draft the experiences from this place.

#5: Dive In

Get to work! Now that you have determined the overall theme & tone of your piece, it is time to dive in and start working.

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Ashley Rhianne xo

Why Dancers Should Cross-Train

My personal philosophy of why dancers should cross-train

As someone who has danced all her life, movement has always held a huge part of interest, investment & therapy. It’s been the place where I always could meet people and make friends, channel my energy & also learn and grow. Here I also learned discipline and the feeling of hard physical work. I was never into sports (still to this day!) but dance was this equivalent.

I went to my first step aerobics class at 11 years old and loved the athletic flow of the class. The combos and sequences were like dance and just made sense to my body. I added fitness to my life from then onwards. The further I went into dance and fitness I started to make the connection of how these two activities were very complimentary to each other. I gained a good understanding of how to shift my weight, where my body was in space (proprioception) and basically how my body worked. This awareness has allowed me to train with higher level performance trainers and keep pushing myself.

Incorporating Pilates into my life has taught me a deeper connection of recruiting muscles + dancing/teaching more anatomically correct.

Cross training also allows our brains to get smarter (really!) by forging new neural pathways that through repetition become engrained in muscle memory. And because our body is very smart & wants to always conserve energy, cross training constantly challenges our body to keep learning and growing. This body growth contributes to our dance in so many ways. Not to mention the strength and stamina we get from training & also the perky bum (ALWAYS a bonus).

As we age through dance, we want to keep our bodies as active as possible so that we can continue to do the things we love to do now. Cross training also decreases the chances of repetitive injuries & aids in recovery.

My Weekly Routine:

I aim for 5 days of exercise a week. I attend 2 HIIT classes a week (usually Tuesdays & Thursdays) at 6am – even though its hard to wake up I am always SO GLAD to have my workout done. I then aim to hit the gym 2 other days in the week to lift weights, get a bit of varied cardio in. I teach a pilates class Wednesdays online and in studio Mondays. I try to get into the studio early so I can get a reformer workout in.

I also teach dance so I get in some practice time and set up my class through training.

On top of this, I aim to walk 10k steps a day and take stairs whenever I can. During the pandemic I was working from home and sitting at my table working so I was only taking between 1500-2k steps a day!! Research has shown time & time again that low impact, steady state exercise like walking is an excellent stress reliever, helps strengthen & tone your legs and boosts mood. I have really enjoyed committing to these walks and it helps break up my work day or is a great way to wind down for sleep.

We only have this body now – treat it like a temple

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I am PERFECT & I am ENOUGH Campaign

I am PERFECT & I am ENOUGH! In the world of social media, it’s easy to caught up in the carefully curated and crafted images and text we see. As a performer / I’m guilty of it too. But the rabbit hole happens more often then not and I get swallowed in by the things I’m not doing, the looks I don’t have and the adventures I’m not on. Life always seems better and more exciting online lol but I’m starting to realize maybe it isn’t? We all have struggles, problems, issues. And that’s ok. And it’s ok to be vulnerable and honest about it because if we don’t talk about it, what we resist persists.

As a woman, I feel the weight of media expectations and beauty norms all the time. This is something that I have struggled with as long as I remember. I did not feel good in my body until these last few years (and even then I can still find things to complain about!) and I see my little cousins who are teenagers struggling with self-acceptance in a time where they should be enjoying life and being free. This conditioning happens at a very young age – I won’t even go into the gender norms here as I may be here all day! But trust me – I wear a weight on my shoulders alot of the time around self-acceptance and even though I am working on it, it is hard to remove my own personal history not to mention the history of my ancestors before me. Epigenetics is a thing and we can carry trauma, thoughts, feelings and emotions from our lineage.

So when Joharah of BellyUP Bellydance Studio asked me to take part in this “I am PERFECT & I am ENOUGH” campaign, I agreed because I need this reminder everyday, and so does my people.

We are perfect and we are enough.

Say it to yourself, write it on your hand, put it on your fridge, sing it in the car. Let’s rise up and remember that what we see online is not the whole picture or story

“I am Perfect & I am Enough”!