Turning Passion Into Practice

Turning Passion Into Practice

Passion Post: My Personal Yoga Journey

Turning Passion Into Practice 
My Yoga Journey: Part Two

Part Two

Hey Hey!

SO, after much longer than I had anticipated, I am back sharing part 2 of my personal yoga journey with you! Upon writing this, I am so excited to share that I AM OFFICIALLY A CERTIFIED YOGA TEACHER! As of September 28th, I received my certificate, making it all ~official official~!

Obviously, I wrote part 1 of this little passion post series waaaaaay back in June, so this has been stretched out for just a bit longer than I had expected. That is part of the reason why I loved the program I was in so much, because it was all move at your own pace. The program is structured to be completed in an 8-week time frame. When I first started, I remember thinking “8 weeks is SUCH a long time, I will be finished in no time,” and…I was slightly mistaken! All in all, it took me about 3+ months to submit all my materials and receive my certificate.

In my part 1 post about my yoga journey, I highlighted how I got started doing yoga and what led me to want to start my teacher training, and I talked a little bit about what I was learning in the program. At the time, I was less than a month into my studies, so it was kind of easy to briefly mention all I was learning. I started out learning about the ancient philosophies of yoga and the Yoga Sutras, and went on to learn about anatomy and physiology, proper sequencing and class structure, and the business of yoga.

As part of my course requirements, I had to watch 48 hours’ worth of additional lecture topics from weekend zoom lectures. This was honestly one of my favorite parts of the training, despite the time commitment. I liked to view these lectures as “yoga elective” because there were a variety of different topics to choose from. There are many sister sciences to yoga and different courses of study within the study of yoga, so there truly is a branch for every person to enjoy and dive into. Before starting my training, I knew nothing about Ayurveda, or “The Science of Life,” and now, I am amazed at how ayurvedic principles really do impact my life! Some other topics that I really enjoyed learning about were prenatal yoga, the chakras, and yin yoga!

Like I mentioned, I also learned the proper way to sequence a yoga class. Now, before I started my training, I will admit, I did not think it was going to be as much of a mental and spiritual journey as it was; I thought the journey would largely be a physical one. The journey absolutely encompassed all of those things, and while the physical aspect of yoga teacher training is demanding there was so much more to it. Although it isn’t everything, proper sequencing one major part of yoga teacher training!

When you start sequencing a yoga class, having a theme to build the class around is really helpful. This usually helps in deciding what kind of poses to incorporate, if you want to do a flow class or a gentler class, and the intensity of the class. I knew the bare bones of a yoga class just from being a student for many years, but I had never thought about how to properly sequence poses to protect the muscles, joints, and bones in the body! It was all extremely fascinating to me. I had to create lots of different groups of poses for potential sequences, and honestly, I loved doing it. To me, it was like piecing together a puzzle and I loved the challenge. I also had to type out entire classes, both the sequence of poses and everything that I would say as though I were actually leading a class. It was incredible to see just how many pages one class could take up, since you’re leading and giving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual cues all in any given class!

I had to teach a few mini classes and one full-length class as part of my training practicum, and I was sooo nervous to teach. I remember thinking when I would take yoga classes “I don’t know how the instructors do the poses themselves, talks through even the toughest of poses, gives positive reinforcement, and looks completely amazing and fit while doing it.” I am by no means the perfect teacher, nor will I ever be, but after I taught my first class, I felt a rush of accomplishment a pride wash over me. I had done something I had questioned whether I could do or not and it had gone smoothly! I still get some butterflies before I teach, only because I get worried I’ll forget something, but for the most part teaching brings me such joy. My experience as a yoga student certainly helped inform me in my training, and now my experience as a teacher will continue to inform me as a student. Even though I am now a teacher, I will always be a student- learning from my students, learning from other teachers, and continuing to broaden my knowledge of the practice.

Right now, I am offering yoga classes via zoom here and there- wherever I can find the time in my schedule! I love having the opportunity to connect through our breath, even if it is on zoom! If you’re interested in taking class with me, feel free to reach out to me via social media/email so I can get your email added to my email list!

I cannot thank my close friends and family enough for encouraging me to take this leap, for their constant support while I completed the program, and for coming to my early classes (for real, you’re so appreciated). Had it not been for Miss. Rona, I never would have been able to slow down and take time to start a training program, let along see myself through to completion. Sometimes good really does come out of the darkest places. I can’t wait to keep practicing, teaching, and sharing my love for yoga with the world however I can!

Sending lots of love and light right to you!

~ Ang

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Hi Everyone!

Another month, another Passions Piece Feature! This month Beyond the Footlights has the pleasure of featuring my friend and Radio City Rockette herself, Miss Mara Ranson! Here is a little about Mara:

“Mara grew up in Ewing, NJ training in versatile styles of dance before completing a BFA in Jazz Dance Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Directly upon graduating, a semester early, she began rehearsals for her first cruise ship contract as a production dancer. She would eventually travel and perform on two more ship contracts that took her all over the globe and let her have the chance to perform featured roles in Vegas! the Show among others, and that allowed her to learn and perform aerial skills like hammock and lyria (aka hoop). Back on land Mara has performed featured roles in theme parks, on international stages in Tokyo, Japan, and in regional musical theater productions including Crazy for You and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Mara’s proudest accomplishment was making her dream come true, and becoming a Radio City Rockette in the Christmas Spectacular. She performed in over 100 shows this past holiday season and was featured on Dance Spirit Magazine’s web issue.  

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Off the stage, Mara is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and barre certified through Exhale Spa where she teaches barre, cardio, and hiit style classes in NYC.  Mara’s newest venture is pursuing her Physical Therapy Assistant degree.  She is starting classes this September, and is looking forward to this new career path that keeps her moving her body and helping others to move pain free!”

She can just do it all, can’t she?! I met Mara two summers ago (that’s crazy) performing together in Crazy For You at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and we’ve kept in touch online ever since! I remember being in rehearsals with her and not only admiring her for her obvious talents and her killing leggings, but also for her generosity and kindness. She was one of our dance captains, and as a student placed in a company of professionals at the time, it was so reassuring to have someone to go to and look up to in moments where I just needed a little extra help with any choreo!

I also remember the day that Mara shared on social media that she was going to be a Rockette. I had heard her talk briefly on her experience with auditioning various times and the dreams that she had, and it was just so cool to think to myself “I know her! I just shared a stage with her! And now she is going to get to live out her dreams as a Rockette!” It truly was her perfect season, and hearing all about how she had persevered with such grace until her dreams came true gave me hope in my ability to achieve my dreams too.

Since quarantine started, I have taken Mara’s dance cardio classes on Instagram and Zoom and let me tell you- they are NO JOKE. She kicked my booty, in the best way possible! Without probably even knowing it, she has helped give me many a push towards staying happy, active, and gentle with myself since quarantine began! Here is our chat about Mara’s passions, self-care, and exciting adventures- old and new!

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

M: Hi, I’m Mara! I grew up in Ewing, NJ, attended The University of the Arts in Philly, and post college have been living in NYC (whenever I’m not away on contracts!). Now-a-days I am back in my NYC apartment after a few months of staying with my parents in New Jersey. I am back in school for a new degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant (!!), and just started a new job in a Physical Therapy clinic. I also have been teaching dance and fitness classes through zoom off and on throughout the pandemic.

What are you currently doing for work, if anything? 

M: As I just mentioned above, I just recently started a new job at a Physical Therapy clinic where I will be helping to teach exercises to patients and assisting with their treatments! My career has been making a pivot lately which is scary but exciting! 

Tell me a little about your journey as a performer and how it has brought you to where you are today?

M: I have been dancing since I was three, and grew up as a competitive dancer. I knew I wanted to dance professionally but knew I also needed a little more time and guidance to hone my craft, so I got my BFA from UArts where I majored in Jazz Dance. My years at UArts truly shaped me into the performer and dancer I am today. While I was there I got to work with some wonderful choreographers and figured out the path I wanted to pursue; musical theater, showgirl work, and above all else, the Rockettes. Right out of college I started my first cruise ship contract which was an amazing opportunity to keep growing as a person and a performer while traveling the world! I eventually did two other ship contracts over the next four years. In between those I performed in Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, VA as well as in Tokyo, Japan in the Spirit Productions show Broadway Christmas Wonderland. I also have performed in a few regional theater musical productions, my favorite of which, was Crazy for You, where I met Beyond the Footlight’s very own Angela LaRose! Between all of these endeavors I never stopped auditioning for my dream job with the Rockettes, and in 2019 after eight auditions, I finally booked my dream job! It still feels surreal to me that I spent the Christmas season last year performing in my dream show, in my dream theater. Dreams do come true friends! Never stop working, and never give up! All of my experiences in my career lead me to accomplishing my dream.

If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

M: My top five passions, hmm: movement, coffee, helping others feel empowered, planning and organizing my life, and dogs.

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

M: I am overjoyed to say that my new career I am pivoting into does fall into those passions! I chose to go back to school for PT because it is a field that will allow me to keep sharing my love of movement by helping others to move stronger and with less pain and more function. I also am still teaching fitness, and hope I can continue to for a long while.

What has been inspiring you in a time where we are seeing so much change in the world/our industry?

M: It has been crazy inspiring to see how artists have been creating, sharing their art, and coming together remotely! One of my favorite things to come out of COVID is that I can take a dance class with friends/artists all over the country and the world. It’s wild how even through technology we can feel like we are exchanging energy and connected. 

What are some things you like to do in your down time to foster those passions, so they stay just as alive as your work?

M: I love going for walks and runs through the city, or through any area I am at and taking in the scenery and people of an area. One thing I love about NYC, and what makes people watching so much fun, is that we have such a diverse population. I love seeing people from all walks of life living together in our city. I also love my passion planner! It combines organization and planning with a different creative outlet that dance. I used to be a bullet journaler, but this year I have switched over to the passion planner and I am loving it. Like I said, I am a lover of movement, so it is important for me to workout and sweat as well. I take rest days when I need (something I am still working on being ok with), but I always feel so much better when I take the time to sweat and move my body. I love the feeling of getting stronger!

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

M: My be-all, end-all goal for my whole life was to be a Rockette; now that I have accomplished that I feel like I can move on to other goals that are equally exciting and important to me: to find a career outside of performing that feeds my soul and gives me stability, to have a family, and to be a good person (one I already work to accomplish on the daily of course!).

What does your self-care routine look like?

M: Some things that really feed my soul are spending time with my boyfriend, just taking it easy and enjoying tv series and movies, enjoying a fantastic cup of coffee, baking, going for long walks or doing a yoga flow, face masks, and the ultimate treat, a full body deep tissue massage! 

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life? 

M: Buy a passion planner! Start scheduling yourself time for your passions! You can’t pour or create from an empty cup, so at some point you are going to have to start prioritizing yourself! 

What wonderful advice, thank you so much to Mara for her time and her thoughts. That’s something I think we can all take away from this one: You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Nurture yourself, nurture your passions, and the rest will be history!

Lots of love!

~ Ang

Passion Piece

Passion Piece

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Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

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Hi, Passion Peeps!

This week’s post is something new and exciting that I am thrilled to share with you all! Last month, I wrote a personal “Passion Piece” about my passion for yoga, but this week I am excited to share the first of many “Passion Piece” features!

Seeing as how Beyond the Footlights centers on life both on and off the stage, and the passions we all have outside of our careers, I wanted to spotlight friends and colleagues of mine (and hopefully some new faces!) and share their passions with this community! I think it is really interesting and beautiful to get to know people on a deeper level than we may experience in work, school, or via social media. It creates meaningful connection with others, and I can’t wait for that connection to be amplified here!

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.
Gabe and I (back left) with our fellow interns at an opening night champagne toast for PSF

My first Passion Piece Feature is Gabe Moses. I met Gabe in college at DeSales University when he came in as a freshman my sophomore year, and the splash he made onto the college scene was incredible. I have had the honor of sharing the stage with Gabe in various productions both during the school year and at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as inters interns and working with him as a director. To say his talent goes unmatched is quite the understatement. His dedication, professionalism, and heart (both on and off stage) afford him well, and there is no doubt that those attributes propel him forward in and among our peers. Not only is Gabe all those wonderful things, he is also a wonderful friend and just a great human being. Every time I watch him work, watching him with friends, and talk with him myself, I feel like I learn something. Whether in our craft or in everyday life, his maturity and sensibility never cease to teach and inspire me. How lucky am I to know this man?!

Here is my chat with Gabe about all thing’s passion, self-care, and the journey.

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

G: My name is Gabe Moses and I am originally from New Jersey, but I moved to Pennsylvania when I was ten years old. I currently live in Bethlehem and I’ve been home since the Coronavirus hit.

What are you currently doing for work, if anything?

G: I am currently unemployed due to Covid-19, but I recently started a podcast called “Black-tor” which almost feels like a part-time job with the amount of work I put into each episode.

Tell me a little about your journey and how it has brought you to where you are today?

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Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.
Gabe as Lopakhin in DeSales University’s production of The Cherry Orchard

G: Ever since I was three or four years old, I have been singing and dancing around the house. Although I believe I was born to perform, I definitely picked up these gifts from watching children’s shows like Barney and Hip Hop Harry. These shows included song and dance to tell their stories which reeled me in. So, my family saw me picking up these skills and wanted to put me in programs where I could learn more. As a child growing up, I’ve spent many years in performing arts camps/academies learning and honing my skills in theatre, song, and dance. It didn’t take much for me to realize that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Early on, I had visions and dreams of seeing myself on Broadway and television. This led me to attending The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and majoring in theatre for four years. I, then, went on to attend DeSales University as a theatre major and I’ll be starting my senior year in the Fall. I have had the privilege of taking part in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as an intern in several of their productions. Over the years, I have come to realize what my purpose is as a black performer and just as a person. I always want to represent my people and shine positive lights on black culture through my art. My goals are not only to entertain the world with my gifts, but to change lives and provide new lenses for people to look through and understand.

If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

G: Theatre, Music, Interpretive Dance/Movement, Directing, Podcasting.

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

G: Thankfully, yes! 100%. I am blessed to have been active in the arts, throughout this pandemic. I didn’t think that would be the case when PSF, and so many other theatres, canceled their summer season. I thought this would be the worst summer ever, but somehow it has been very rewarding. I have learned so much about myself and what I want to give to this world while directing and acting in online readings/plays and podcasting.

What are some things you do in your spare/down time to foster/hone those passions so that they stay just as alive as your work?

G: I love watching interviews and listening to podcasts of actors, directors,
musicians, or pretty much anyone involved with the arts. Unfortunately, I can’t go see a show every single day especially as a performer and a college student who’s broke all the time. When I learn from professional artists through these interviews. I always try to find the actors who inspire me and who look like me to hear about their experiences. This lets me know what I’m getting myself into which is very valuable and informative as a young black actor.

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

G: It’s difficult for me to pick three legit goals. I have so many long term and short term goals I would like to achieve in life. If anything, I would love to be on Broadway. That has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. To be able to follow in the footsteps of so many black actors and directors would be amazing. With the black lives matter movement afloat, I have hope I will be able to be a part of the change that is needed due to systemic racism and discrimination in the arts. So, there’s another goal: to share my voice with the world in hopes to end racism. I believe I have two voices: my performer voice and my personal voice. My performer voice is not necessarily a facade, but an extension of myself when I am performing and acting in a show. It’s the voice I put forth when my face is seen on a stage. My personal voice is the one I use when I do not have a platform to communicate through. It’s the microphone I make for myself when I’m
not given one. If I were to pick a third goal, I would say to be authentically me 24/7. I grew up as a quiet child, which surprised many people when they saw me onstage. Even into my college years, I still hold back who I am sometimes. So, the person I am and the person I am becoming is still taking shape. But I am able to stay humble while still being myself. I’ve grown so much in the past few months, on a personal level, to the point where I am excited to get back to daily routines when this pandemic is over. I’m ready to jump into my next chapter.

What does your self-care routine look like?

G: To be honest, I really need to come up with one that I can commit to on a daily or weekly basis. I tend to keep up with my well-being sporadically, but I feel as though scheduled check-ins will do me justice. I will give myself a pat on the back for knowing when to separate myself from situations I know I do not belong in. I am good at taking time to be alone and think about choices I may have made that were not right or either didn’t go as planned. So, time is a big part of self-care and being able to take a step back before I take two steps forward.

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life?

G: Make the time! Even if it’s out of the way from the priorities in your life. Or if you have to make a sacrifice that is doable, do it! You will feel so much better. It’s important to do what you love and not what other people want you to do. As an actor, I know there will be times when that isn’t possible immediately after graduation. But little things go a long way. It could be as simple as taking five minutes in your day to do something you love. Stay in touch with the things and people that mean everything to you. Then, hopefully, there will be an opportunity where you can do it every single day, and maybe even make a living out of it.

Huge thanks to Gabe for sharing his time and his words with me!

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Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

He’s got one more year of school left, and you will not want to miss a moment of his journey! You can follow Gabe on Facebook (Gabe Moses), Instagram @gabejmoses, and Twitter @GabeMoses. You can listen to his podcast, “Black-tor,” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Overcast, RadioPublic, and PocketCasts!

Lots of love!

~ Ang

Turning Passion Into Practice

Turning Passion Into Practice

Passion Post: My Yoga Journey

Part One

Hi, beautiful friends!

Since Beyond the Footlights was born out of me wanting to have an outlet to share and explore my own passions, as well as inspire others to foster their own passions, I thought I would start to take some time and really share my passions with you! I wanted to take this opportunity to share little stories about my journey towards finding out what I love most in my life outside my work and what I went to school for! I hope that these posts will come to inspire you to carve out time for your own passions and make them an important part of your life!

Plus, I think this will be a great way for you all to get to know me a little better on a deeper level, and I hope we can start to further connect with one another!

One of the things I am extremely passionate about is YOGA! So much so that I just recently started my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training to become a certified yoga instructor! The reason why this is only Part One of my yoga journey is because I will be in training for the next 8 weeks, and I hope to continue to share that journey with you as well!

So where did my yoga journey begin?

I was first exposed to yoga at my dance studio! One of my dance teachers taught yoga classes at the studio as well, and every so often I would pop into a class, hoping to work on things like balance and flexibility. Some of the best nights at dance would be when my teacher would decide to dedicate our regular class to yoga, or if she covered another teacher’s class and did some yoga with us! But growing up and going through high school, yoga was only something I did here and there. It wasn’t until I got to college that it became a larger part of my life.

I started going to some yoga classes that were held once a week on my college campus, but the crowded space and lack of connection with the teacher and the group of students left me feeling a little more frazzled than relaxed.

I believe it was my friend Abby who might have introduced me to Yoga With Adriene my freshman year. Let me tell you, this may sound silly, but Adriene was a game changer for me! This is no ad and I am not affiliated with Yoga With Adriene in any way, but I highly recommend taking a look at her videos on YouTube if you are at all interested in starting a yoga journey of your own and don’t know where to start! Adriene’s videos really shifted the way that I had always looked at yoga. She has so many different videos and playlists that are tailored to a variety of feelings, mental states, physical states, and beyond. Feeling stressed? There’s a video for that. Feeling bloated? There’s a video for that. Are you an equestrian or a runner or an actor? There are videos for you. I loved how accessible her channel was, and how just about anyone could find a little piece of yoga goodness for themselves!

Passion Post: My Yoga Journey Part One

The summer after my freshman year was when I got my first professional theatre gig on my college campus, and because I was dancing so much and staying active (or trying to outside of my rehearsal schedule) I tried to incorporate more yoga into my routine. After that gig had ended, I came back home for two months before my sophomore year, and that was when I started to take yoga more seriously.

On her channel at the start of every New Year, Adriene does a 30 Day Yoga Challenge. It is exactly what it sounds like- yoga every day for 30 days. The best part about them is, they are ALWAYS up on her channel! So, when I came home, I completed my first 30 Day Yoga Challenge, and I knew yoga was something I needed to have in my life. First of all, I noticed a substantial change in my body. I was toning and strengthening and lengthening parts of my body that I never had consistently exercised probably ever, and I felt so strong and confident in my body! And I was learning a lot about yoga and how I could use its tools in my everyday life. I did a lot of breath work, and learned the basics of how to regulate the breath on and off the mat (this also proved to be helpful in my life in my next semester of school, working on training my speaking voice!). But I also started to feel a shift in my mental state as well. I felt calm and centered, and my mat really started to become a place of joy and safety for me.

I decided then that I would eventually like to teach yoga. I figured that I liked it a lot, wanted to keep learning, AND I figured it could be a great gig to have on the side as a performing since it would (hopefully) be a little extra bit of income and it would help me keep my mind and body in tip top shape. But of course, this would all continue to be talk for another three years…

Most of the story from then on is pretty simple; I continued to get into studio classes when I had the time, I practiced on my own, completed a few more 30 Day Challenges, took a Hatha yoga class my senior year, and finished the semester thinking I had work for the summer and would have to continue to put off teacher training until I had the time and money to dedicate to it.

But of course, nothing in 2020 has gone as planned!

My summer contract was cancelled, and now I am back at home. Ever since I’ve been here, I talked about looking into teacher training since I had the time, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it for a long time since studios aren’t open. But I will say, one great thing that has come out of the great disaster of 2020 is the massive digital shift. Because of this, I was able (through a great friend) to find a teaching program that was completely online and affordable! I signed up about two weeks later!

Passion Post: My Yoga Journey Part One

So here I am, in the wake of a pandemic, studying to become a yoga teacher! And I must say, I am loving every minute of it!

One of the goals I set for myself this month (before I decided to dive into teacher training) was to do yoga every day and so far, I have done just that! I have continued to use the Yoga With Adriene channel for videos (she curates a monthly calendar or videos too!) as well as some yoga sculpt classes online and classes through my training studio. Along with my daily practice, I am doing all of my required reading/video watching/reflection for my program. Right now, I am learning a lot about the Yoga Sutras, the history and philosophy of yoga, and the ethics of teaching! There is so much more behind the practice of yoga than I had ever anticipated, and I can’t wait to incorporate these new principles in my life!

I am excited to continue to share my experience with you and eventually share my practices with you too! Stay tuned for some more yogi updates and in the mean time, I encourage you to get out there and live in your passions!

~Ang