downtown dance factory brings down the house!

If you happened to be in lower Manhattan on June 9 and 10th, specifically Tribeca, you may have noticed the streets were conspicuously free of children between the ages of about 2 to 14. That’s because nearly the entire neighborhood and parts north, south, east and west were all busy shakin’ what their mamas gave ‘em at the Third Annual Downtown Dance Factory Recital at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (TPAC).

The hottest ticket in town for the third year in a row took place over two days with 4 shows for a whopping 81 dances. There were bumblebees and b-boys, supermodels and street tappers, footballers, a Snow White and a dozen Dorothys. A bevy Bonds, James Bonds, and a myriad of Michael Jacksons and Madonnas were on hand making it difficult to determine if we were still in Tribeca or had landed in Vegas!

The BMCC TPAC big stage was a universe unto itself showcasing the very best talent among the small set, with just about every dance genre across all ages presented to the audience’s delight. From the tiniest dancer who said “hi mommy,” as the lights went up, and the one who nearly exited stage front, to the more experienced dancers leaping and backflipping across the stage with such speed and accuracy, they elicited gasps from the audience—to call it spectacular, would be an understatement.

With so many kids of varying ages (the smallest of them being held and cuddled by teachers during intermission), one would think, and almost expect there would be meltdowns and chaos all around. Instead, from rehearsals to the big day(s), this show ticked like a Broadway production. Each dance flowed like water into the next. The emcee’s soothing voice prepared us for each transport to a different time and place, from Midnight in Paris, to a 1969 livingroom Rubberneckin’ with Elvis, we were entertained beyond expectation. The costumes were expertly chosen and suited each performance to a tee. The lighting enhanced every step and every facial expression. The music and energy had the audience stomping, clapping and grooving in their seats. We even caught one parent taking the lyrics “Teach Me How to Dougie” literally, as she hit up DDF co-founder Hanne Larsen’s extremely gifted son Atticus, for a quick lesson between shows!

This season’s recital was truly an extravaganza, with a finale for the ages. Nothing gets New Yorkers more excited than a song about their town and when it’s a medley from Alicia Keys to the Beastie Boys to Sinatra…and our kids are singing and dancing their little hearts out in the aisles and on stage…fuhgeddaboutit! Not a dry eye in the house! Well done DDF. Well done.


Laurie's Lungs on Lockdown

Quiet Riot

Some of us don’t turn up every Wednesday as “warriors.” We want to, but life gets in the way. Bad things, good things. Things. So we have to muster the drive and the spirit to “bring it.” Last Tuesday, I had a really rough day (that’s kind of an understatement). It was the worse #$%ing day on record and I wasn’t sure how I would welcome Wednesday! But somehow on Wednesday, in an unexpected turn of events, everything changed. And not to (continue to) overdramatize, but what I thought was an insurmountable challenge, was eliminated in an instant, making everything better. I had been through every conceivable emotion in 24 hours and by the time I arrived at class on Wednesday night, I had settled on grateful. I planned to get on my bike and use the hour to count my blessings, and remind myself that it is the warrior in me that can affect great change.

I had completely forgotten that class on this night, would be taught silently.

“Take a half day to be silent, I highly recommend,” read the sign she held above her head as we kicked it into double-time during the first song of the night. This was Laurie Cole’s Rx for the two classes she taught in silence on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Laurie had just had a procedure on her vocal chords that rendered her voiceless, so as she reminded us with another sign, she’d always been there for us, it was now our opportunity to be there for her. She couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate group in which to call to action. This was Soul Warrior.

We all turned up with “things.” There were those of us fueled by gratitude, those fueled by worry, some by pure joy, some by loss, some just by things. Just your average Wednesday. But as a group, we knew what was being asked of us. We read the sign, checked all the bad stuff at the door and we spread only the good stuff evenly about the room, so all of us were left simply fueled. Our fearless, voiceless leader started the music and held up sign after sign encouraging us to take risks and to push beyond our limits. There would be no stern reminders to “check your form,” or “your baggage”, “to tighten your glutes,” “relax your shoulders,” “see if your abs are taut to the touch” or “eliminate the bounce.” The “mouth that roared” was on lockdown! It was all on us. But she taught us well and she knew it. We knew it. Though Laurie did not speak, each of us could hear her voice. We counted in unison, and we were so synchronized in rhythmn and breath, even our spontaneous outbursts seemed perfectly timed! And it was a beautiful and powerful ride. The kind you’d bottle if you could.

I had been looking all day for a way to way to show my gratitude

for my recent blessings, so I was downright elated when Laurie held up another sign that read: “ADD GENEROSITY TO YOUR RIDE,” and then let me know I was up next to ride her bike. Here was my opportunity to pay it forward. As I pedaled and pumped my fists to Moves Like Jagger, I gave back and it felt amazing. And I got as good as I gave, as the last sign reminded us to “GIVE LOVE TO GET LOVE.” Oh, we did.

Kathy Gordon, Laurie Cole, Nathan Urquhart

Kathy Gordon, Laurie Cole, Nathan Urquhart

I was extremely grateful for the tribe I ride with every week and thrilled I could be such a benevolent rider thanks to my fellow warriors and an instructor who, even in silence, has a most powerful voice.


Hearting Soul.

A year ago today, I took my first SoulCycle class. I was prepared to like it.

As I progressed from two days to three days a week, I realized it was a little more than “like.” And as I sit here writing this post, one year later and FORTY SIX pounds lighter, knowing I will book six classes this week, I can tell you, it is most definitely LOVE. Deep and abiding love. Walk through fire kind of love.
Losing weight has been just a by-product of this journey. Life changing, is what you are SoulCycle. You taught me how to go inside to change my outside. I have had people ask, what is it about spinning, that’s different from any other exercise? And still others who ask, what is it about Soul that’s different from any other spinning? My answer to both? EVERYTHING. The only way to articulate it is in the form of a collective roar with your Soul Sisters and Brothers, or a knowing nod when that particular song begins and that phat beat lays down and reminds you that while your heart is indeed beating outside your chest, you’ve got two more songs in you and you’re about to “crush it!” It’s that feeling when legs talk to glutes, glutes talk to core and head and heart jump on board and your body and mind become one fierce animal on that bike. You are in charge. You have the power. It’s your journey. You may be in a room with 59 other people and your favorite badass instructor (Word. Laurie Cole is one master badass!), but it’s your ride. That’s when you can’t help but smile, catch your reflection in the mirror and take a snapshot of that rush–and picture the endorphin, serotonin, adrenaline cocktail, straight up! It’s different, because it IS.

In this year, I have learned a few things about myself. It took pushing my physical endurance past my comfort zone, to reveal my emotional endurance. I am all about this journey. A little Soul in my life has helped me build and strengthen relationships based on a mutual desire for personal strength. Soul Sisters, I know you hear me. I live for you. I am humbled by the gifts I have taken for granted, like a heart and lungs and legs that move–fast. A week ago, master badass Laurie put me on her bike. If you had told me a year ago that I would be in the front row, I would have laughed in your face, let alone the throne!? What?! Those of you who witnessed it, know I was a nervous wreck–but you supported me nonetheless, like the good family that you are–and that’s when, as the master badass told me later, I “surrendered to the magic and received all the power and strength I already possessed.” (Well said)
SoulCycle you are one very special place. I heart you and all your addictive properties. I heart all the addicts in all of my classes. I heart every one of you badass instructors who believe in us, lead the pack and show us how to push ourselves past our limits. Turns out going around in circles is taking me farther than I’ve even been.

Mad love for you Soul–just thought you should know (on Valentine’s Day no less).


I Know You Got Soul

This summer over Fourth of July, my husband and children and I were visiting my college roommate, “The Planner.” The kids were down and we were lounging on the deck in front of the fire pit, glasses of chilled rosé in hand and watching the most spectacular amateur fireworks display, and out of nowhere, “The Planner” asks, “do you blog?” I tell her no and ask, “what-the-bleep would I blog about, and who-the-bleep cares?” The Planner tells me that I know interesting people who do interesting things and I that I am interesting and do interesting things. And most importantly, if I like something and it’s credible, I should tell people. She seems sincere. And God knows I’m not doing anything else.

Moments later, I start singing Train’s Hey Soul Sister, at an octave just above tolerable for my hosts. Mid tune, I ask, “you know why I loooove Soul Cycle?” as if to begin to answer a question that has NOT been asked, “I’ll tell you why,” I continue. Then, I launch into what I was later told was quite an intelligible expression of my devotion to “Church of Soul.” So here goes my first blog post about a little something I hope you find interesting, that has changed my life.

Blame it on the Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Church of Soul
I began spinning many years ago, first at Sports Club LA, then at the Printing House Gym. I have always loved the workout. But Soul Cycle is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Call it Church, call it Temple, there is a respect and commitment among the riders that is real and true and like the ride itself, united. I’ve decided it is a combination of a few key things that make up the zeitgeist that is Soul Cycle:

Kickass instructors—the person on the instructor bike must elicit fear and command respect, equally. Kind of like a drill-sergeant with rhythm.

Aesthetics—a clean space, with gorgeous décor and a yummy smell – the only funk should be on the playlist.

Like-mindedness—fellow cyclists have an air about them that says, I am committed to the ride. Everyone needs to show up ready to get down.

Playlist—Must be tight. Must be loud. Again, we came to get down.

Cadence and synchronicity—Don’t blow the flow. Same speed, same side when we’re “side-to-side.” No exceptions.

Euphoria—all of the above produce a sick amount of endorphins – it’s the very best high.

Results—the mantra is Mind. Body. Cardio. If you don’t experience a positive change in all these areas, it ain’t soul.

I have been enjoying this mind-blowing workout, three to four times a week since February. I went in with no expectations, except not to die during or after the ride. My expectations have been exceeded over and over again. Not only am I very much not dead, I am so alive! I feel fantastic. I’ve lost 23 pounds as of publishing this. My skin looks better. I am way more focused. I have grown neither tired nor bored. I am challenged every single time I climb on a bike. My favorite instructor has gotten inside my head and is now known as my “shrink” because my head is cleaner and my body leaner and meaner. My day is infinitely better when I have cycled. Often, mid-ride, and definitely when the ride is over, I’m craving my next ride! It’s completely addictive. I have never felt that way about anything. Seriously. Who gets on a treadmill and says, OMG, I can’t wait to get off, so I can get back on? My fellow disciples know what I’m talking about. Can I get an “Amen?”

Now, I realize that professing my love for Soul-Cycling and citing my positive results makes me accountable. So this post is my way of kicking it to the next level. Can’t stop now that I’ve exposed myself! It’s easy to become complacent when you start to get positive results and feedback—so just in case, I was about to get cocky, this keeps me honest.

Have you found that thing that winds you up? I invite you to comment here. And if you haven’t, I invite you to book a bike at Soul Cycle–just don’t book mine. Hallelujah. Praise the Soul. Amen.

Regards from TriBurbia.

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