Meet the Wellness Professional: Amity Alize
Owner, Raq-On Dance Studio, White River Junction, VT
Every week I will be highlighting someone in the Upper Valley who falls under the title of "Wellness Professional" - trainers, nutritionists, therapists of all kinds (physical, psychological, massage), and creators of healthy products, to name just a few. I'll give them a list of the same 20 questions and they can choose to answer as many of them however they'd like.
This week I'd like to introduce you to Amity Alize, Owner, Raq-On Dance Studio, White River Junction, VT
Bio: Amity Alize has studied Middle Eastern Folkloric and Oriental Dance since 2001. Focusing on tying the folkloric and modern styles together through her own research, she travels internationally studying dance on an ongoing basis. She is the founder of Raq-On Dance Studio, Director of the Annual Shimmyathon Festival in the Northeast, and manages her Student Troupe, the Raq-ettes. Her dance studio, Raq-On Dance, has won multiple arts and educational awards for programming in the Northeast. She has written three e-books on business for dancers and entertainers. Amity Alize has performed internationally and recently taught and performed at Camp Negum in Cairo, Egypt. She performs at weddings, celebrations, in theatre shows, and with Middle Eastern Bands.
What is your fitness/wellness philosophy?
Do activities and things that make you happy. If you hate gyms, go hiking. If you hate hiking, go to the gym. Being healthy mentally is just as important as being healthy physically.
How did you get to where you are now?
I am a child of the 90's, I love dancing. I used to record MTV music videos and learn every dance step. When I was in high school, I played field hockey mainly. It was so competitive. At one point, the school didn't order a skirt my size, so I had to try to sew two pleated skirts together for my uniform. It looked ridiculous and I was bullied. My mother and I looked for dance classes, and we saw a flyer for Belly Dance with Alia Thabit, at the old Fountain of Youth in WRJ. I thought it was, "close enough" to hip hop and joined. I loved the older women in my class, and they became who I looked up to. There was no competition; only women of all shapes, sizes, and life lines dancing and enjoying their time together. I quit sports and never looked back. We need more things for young girls that aren't a competition.
Did you ever have any setbacks and how did you get past them?
So many! Being a "Belly Dancer "comes with so many negative connotations that just aren't real. We're supposedly sexy, double-jointed, have to wear two-piece costumes, and look like every orientalistic fantasy per the general public. (Thanks photoshop!) Every newspaper tries to use the word, "undulating" or "sensual" to the point that they have to promise me that they won't before I'll talk to them. When people actually see "real" belly dancers they realize we come in all shapes and sizes, we're generally comedic onstage, and we don't always show our bellies. Belly Dancers are good luck charms, and that's why we perform at so many weddings and baby showers. We train just as hard as other dance styles, but we have to work harder at being represented as a creative art form.
What makes you unique in your field?
I have absolutely no connection to the Middle East! I am as New Englander as they come.
What's your favorite:
- Breakfast: Green smoothies
- Snacks/sweets: Nutella
- Lunch: Caesar salad with Craisins
- Dinner: Anything Bison, my favorite is Bison Tacos.
- Beverage: Whiskey!
What's you favorite place to eat out in the Upper Valley? What do you usually get?
This won't come to a surprise, but the Tuckerbox! I love the Mezze platter.
You're trapped on 12A in West Lebanon starving and you only have $8. What do you buy to get your through your errands?
Panera smoothie (ok, and sometimes a brownie)
What's your guilty pleasure (food or otherwise)?
What's something health and wellness related that you wish you'd known years ago?
I wish I had learned food balancing better, as in the fact that balancing proteins with carbs will help you feel fuller longer and you won't have those crashes where you grab for bad foods to get you by.
What's the best health/wellness/fitness advice you've ever received?
Make time to just sit and breathe. We are all too busy for our own good. Go go go, isn't always good for us.
What's your favorite quote or mantra?
My favorite quote is by a NYC Dancer, Aszmara, "Don't move when the music starts, start when the music moves you."
Who or what gives you inspiration?
My students. I love watching them grow, overcome challenges, and shine onstage.
What's something you wish your clients/class participants knew? Or did? Or didn't do?
I wish women and girls wouldn't tear themselves down so much. For my beginners, the first 7 week session is usually them allowing themselves to open up enough to move their body. They often think they are "too fat," "uncoordinated," or "old," before they even start. It just breaks my heart that before we even allow ourselves to move, to just dance, or to just have fun, we have to tear ourselves down. It's why I am always on the mission for the Raq-ettes (our students who perform) to dance in public areas. They range from ages 20-70, and from petite to plus size frames, short to tall. None of us fit a mold, and we're perfectly fine with that because we have been given the opportunity to dance.
If you could only have one piece of fitness/wellness equipment what would it be?
Pilates rings. You can do so much with those little magical beings; from stretching to complete hardcore training torture.
What's your favorite non-gym physical activity?
Outside of dance, kayaking.
What are your passions outside of your field?
I love helping people start up small businesses.
What's your least favorite exercise? Your favorite?
I despise running. My favorite is a toss up between Pilates or hiking.
What are one or two tips you can give to help people be successful in their wellness journey?
- Be kind to yourself.
- Don't compare your journey with others.
What question have I not asked that you wish I had?
Hmmmm. I think, "How do you make fitness accessible for your groups?" We know everyone is busy and has lives and other things pulling at them, so I've been working on making dance accessible. We have a scholarship fund, online classes, weekend and weekday classes, intensives, and we even have people Skype in from all over the world. I think we tear ourselves down and then don't feel like committing to a routine if things aren't accessible in a few different ways.
Where can people learn more about you?
I have a website and blog at Raq-On.net. Our studio is located underneath the Main St. Museum in White River Junction, VT.
Would you or your business like to be featured in "Meet the Wellness Professional"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com
Enjoyed this interview? You might also enjoy:
Last Week's Interview - Mark Mamuszka - Licensed Accupuncturist/Herbalist
Next Week's Interview - Ben Dearman - Co-Owner of KDR Fitness
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