Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meet Karen!

Radiant Karen!
Many of you know Karen from MaZi Dance Chicago and from being with her in class the past couple of years. She recently joined our instructor team and has taken South Loop by storm! By day she teaches kids about nature love and taking care of mother earth and by night she leads a buoyant Zi-Cardio class that's the ultimate escape! She's welcoming, has one of the best smiles ever and there's a wonderful calm vibe (hey, it's mother nature) about her. When you step foot into her Zi-Cardio classes be prepared to feel like you're dancing with all of your closest friends (your MaZiSistas!)!

How do you relax?
When I get really stressed out, I take a nap. I think the subconscious solves a lot while you sleep. At the very least, I am refreshed and ready to tackle anything and everything. 

How do you rev up?
Music! The song might change, but its always music!

What fashion item can you not live without? 
Shoes. They always make the outfit. 

Go to healthy snack? 
Green smoothies

Fave indulgence?
Facials and chocolate & peanut butter ice cream (I don't mess around)

What do you like about teaching at MaZi!?
I love the idea of people coming to class, checking their "to do list" at the door, having a great time and leaving feeling good about themselves.  

Song that keeps you going?
Shake Everything You Got by Maceo Parker

Fun fact? 
In grad school I studied wolves in the Great Lakes Region. (That's fun if your a nature nerd, like me.)

 #1 Fitness tip?
Make sure you love your workout. You will never have to "force" yourself to do it.

How your experience with MaZi Dance Chicago (our performing group) made a difference?
Joining MDC was a big jump outside of my comfort zone. I absolutely love it and the challenge that each new piece of choreography brings. It has made it much easier for me to step out of my  comfort zone in all aspects of my life.

One of our favorite pics of Karen in Ericka Lashley's "Vo-Chem" during MDC showcase

Don't miss her classes Tuesdays at 5:45 PM and Thursdays at 7:00 PM! 

- XO, Zi

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Kathryn!

Meet Kathryn!

Power Lunch it with Kathryn!

Does your day need a shot of energy and good vibes?! Check out Kathryn's lunchtime and afternoon classes at South Loop! Awesome playlist, check! Fierce energy, check! We are ADDICTED to her classes. Get to know a little about Kathryn here:

How do you relax?
With a good book and a glass of red wine.

How do you rev up?
Put on an awesome playlist and by my own hype girl who spits positive affirmations.

What fashion item can you not live without?
A scarf!

Go to healthy snack?
Dry roasted almonds and dried cranberries

Fave indulgence?
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The whole box.

What do you like about teaching at MaZi?
The positive culture and the dedication of our awesome students! Every day I am amazed at the drive and passion each person brings to the studio.

Song that keeps you going?
500 Miles - The Proclaimers. You can be in the worst possible mood, but once this song comes on you can't help but smile, and jauntily march around while singing along.

Fun fact?
I collect owl knick-knacks. I have mugs, salt & pepper shakers, cookie jars, plates, bowls... I even have an owl tattoo!

#1 fitness tip?
When you feel like you can't do anymore, do one more rep, because you can!

How your ballet background makes a difference!
The discipline from my background in ballet, and all dance, has really contributed to my drive and dedication today. Not only has it given me a strong technique base, it has also shown me that you must find it within yourself to push through any obstacle, be it a really tough workout or a complicated combination. That inner focus and determination will bring you success in any situation.
Kathryn mid-air like she does in Ballerina Fight Club!

See you at the studio!

- XO, Zi

A Homecoming- Returning to Dance

Katie, a MaZi Dance Chicago dancer, generously shares her experience of coming home to the studio, the stage and reconnecting with her passion! This was very touching to read as Marisol and I have both been in the place where dance haunts you like an unfinished love affair until you find a way to do it again! 
Katie comes home!

Overwhelmed with Gratitude for MaZi
By: Katie Lowes

It’s been five long years since I last performed on stage. Five years since “call time” related to an arrival and not a conference. Five years since “warm up” meant stretching and not thawing. Five years since wearing a costume outside of Halloween was both accepted and required. Five years since I felt like a dancer.

Being a dancer has always been part of my identity but I didn’t realize how deeply so until I joined MaZi Dance Chicago (MDC). It had been nearly a decade (ack!) since I’d taken formal classes and I had recently given away all of my dance clothes thinking (dramatically) that I’d never dance again. Adult classes were too easy. Professional classes were too hard. I was too old. Classes were too expensive. The list went on and on. When I found MDC about five months ago, the part of me that had “let go” of my dance dreams performed a grande jeté (couldn’t resist) for joy and the passion for dance I had always had was reignited. It’s one thing to take dance classes. It’s a complete other to learn choreography and perform. I couldn't believe this place existed and I couldn't believe I could be part of it.

After months of preparation, fast forward to the first week in November and not only had I spent an entire week dancing every day (every day!) but I was preparing for a real performance in front of my family, friends and strangers and beside amazingly talented women who were just like me. The choreography was beautiful. Our rehearsals were strong. The shows were sold out. Each of us were “on”. It was the first time my husband had seen me perform and the perma-grin on his face from the back of the audience told me everything I needed to know. It was an amazing night.

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to perform in the MaZi Bold Fearless Beauty show and so thankful to Ziba and Marisol for creating this amazing space and place for “returning to dance” dancers. While age may mean my muscles take longer to warm and I seem to bruise like a peach these days, I’m amazed at the growth I’ve seen in my own abilities and how being older and wiser has made my dancing less inhibited. The creative outlet outside of work has encouraged me to be more expressive and creative within my work and I’m finding the disdain I had for “the gym” has been replaced with excitement for “the studio”. As someone who once called herself a former dancer, I proud to say I have returned. 

Katie, we're so happy you made it back home and look forward to your next accomplishments!
With Love, 
Zi & Ma

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Meet Mallory!

Glowing onstage!
Mallory has been dancing at MaZi for about 3 years and performing in the company, MaZi Dance Chicago, almost just as long! The lovely movement/dance therapist recently joined our instructor team and has begun teaching classes at our South Loop studio. Here, in her own words, she tells us a little about herself and shares some sisterly tips on motivation & fitness!

How do you relax?
Cuddle up on my comfy couch, practice deep breathing, and listen to a record, often accompanied by red wine and or my handsome gentleman. 

How do you rev up? 
Music and positive thinking! A good beat and encouraging thoughts always do the trick for me.

What fashion item can you not live without?
My glasses of course! Even though they are also necessary, they're my go to fashion accessory and help give me my distinctive look. 

Go to healthy snack?
Bananas! I try to eat one every day especially before class. They are my super food power booster. 
Fave indulgence? Oh so many to choose, but I'd probably have to say pizza! Preferably thin crust, NY style with at least 2 veggies! :)

What do you like about teaching at MaZi!?
I LOVE the idea of making both dance and fitness accessible to everyone! Moreover, it is the smiles and transformations that I witness each week, the confidence it brings, and the holistic health benefits it provides to both the body and mind. I love being part of a community where you feel welcomed and encouraged daily both by our instructors and our students! Lastly, it is the radiating energy and drive of our dancers that keeps me addicted!

Song that keeps you going?
I need your love (feat. Ellie Goulding) - Calvin Harris. It may be an oldie at this point but every time it comes on in a class I punch harder, jump higher, and feel that unexplainable burst of energy!

Fun fact?
In high school I was a cheerleading captain and a vocalist for a metal band! 

 #1 Fitness tip?
Always tune into your core throughout the entire class. It helps with so many things: gives you a stronger work out, more stable posture, and truly initiates your inner confidence! Even while your walking down the street, using mindfulness about this on a daily basis will help you feel more connected as a mover and as a person! 
Mallory getting ready to kick bum!

How your ballet background makes a difference?
Growing up in a very traditional studio since I was 3, ballet was always required - it is the backbone to form, strength, and posture that bleeds into all other styles of dance including exercise. Even though as an adult I gravitate toward other dance forms more intently, ballet will always be in my bones. It taught me about discipline, passion, and increased my work ethic, all of which have helped mold me into who I am today as an instructor, dance/movement therapist, and overall person.  

Don't miss her bold and fearless classes at South Loop 5:30 PM on Fridays with Ballerina Fight Club, perfect way to start the weekend!

- XO, Zi

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lessons from an Icon- Wendy Whelan

Wendy in rehearsal
Photo: Erin Biano
The One and Only Wendy

Last night Wendy Whelan (think the Michael Jordan of ballet), retired from the New York City Ballet after 3 decades of dancing at the age of 47.  Marisol and I grew up watching videos of her dancing on repeat and I think it was watching her that I realized how athletic ballet is. She encompassed the very first post-Balanchine era at the NYCB, where she helped define what it was to forge ahead  after the death of the founder, George Balanchine.

I got to meet her the first time I took class at Steps on Broadway, where I now usually take a ballet class when I'm visiting NYC. As we started our plies Wendy rushed in late with her hair down, dressed in all black, and took a corner spot at the barre.  I could hardly believe she was there and it actually ruined my class as I was too distracted to focus on what I was doing. Since then, when I take class there I know to just take barre and then sit down and watch her for centre work. After class I somehow mustered the courage to go up to her and ask her for an autograph (2004, pre-selfies) for my friend, Sarah. Sarah was my ballet BFF and she loved Wendy since they both had significant scoliosis that required wearing a back brace nightly. I will never forget how gracious she was to me and while I have never approached her again (playing it cool like any other New Yorker would), this encounter along with following her career for 20 years have made an impact on me. These are the lessons:

Wendy in Wheeldon's After the Rain, a role created for her and performed last night
.Photo: Unknown source

1. Humility-
When I stopped her that day after class I can't imagine she had time in the middle of her busy day, but she sat there and looked at me with her huge, wise eyes and gave me time. She was kind and listened to me talk about my sister, my friend Sarah,  my own ballet career and even the banking interview I was headed to. She was world famous, and I was clearly just a star-struck fan but she found the time to make me feel special.

2. No Ego-
Biggest thing that struck me while I observed her in class is how hard she was working. Probably harder than anyone. When the teacher went up to her to correct her, she applied the correction immediately, would bow her head in respect and was clearly trying to learn as much as possible. Oftentimes, when we feel we've "made it", we stop listening, stop taking feedback, stop growing. Not Wendy!

3. Mind over Matter- 
She could have let her scoliosis stop her dancing dreams as a child, and most recently, a labrum tear injury, but she didn't! These were setbacks that she worked through with notable humor (ref. Instagram posts) and you could literally see her focusing on small improvements. Some improvements which arguably may have just been in her head.

4. Finding YOUR Beauty-
Early in her career she declined the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker because she didn't feel pretty enough. Yup, you read that right; SHE DIDN'T FEEL PRETTY ENOUGH. It wasn't until she was cast in roles that highlighted her strengths that she started to feel beautiful. The lesson here is that your beauty looks different than others' beauty, but we all have it!

5. Passing it On-
Another striking quality that I have taken away in following her career, is that almost every NYCB company dancer that is interviewed brings up Wendy as an unofficial mentor. From showing new apprentices where to stand in their first company class, to passing on a role of hers, to how to fit pointe shoes, she has helped new ballerinas feel at home in an intimidating place. One would think that you wouldn't want to help competition that's younger and a potential threat to your spotlight........but not her, not an icon.

I only watched her perform live 3 times and each time she went onstage you could feel the thickness in the auditorium air. It was almost as if no one wanted to breathe as to not disrupt the magic she was creating. Wendy has influenced the energy and movement integrity that I seek for MaZi Dance Fitness, along with the supportive community that Marisol and I wish to foster as these lessons all play a role. I can't wait to see what she does next! Cheers to a wonderful human, dancer and career!

- XO, Zi

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MaZi Dance Chicago*: Spotlight on Karen!

MaZi Dance Chicago*: Spotlight on Karen!

Karen really CAN fly! We've seen it. :)

Karen is a complete tour de force! I first noticed her when she would take my Zi-Cardio class and would be in the back of the room dancing SOOO BIG that she could've been performing at Madison Square Garden and been seen by all. She dances the way people do when they not only love to move, but NEED to move. One of my favorite dance quotes is from New York City Ballet founder, George Balanchine, "What are you saving yourself for? There is only today." This quote reminds me of her approach to classes and the choreography we do in MDC, she does it with ALL of her being and doesn't hold anything back. Marisol and I's dance teacher growing up, would tell us that great dancers never mark (marking is a half-assed way of dancing to save energy but still go through the motions and is very common, ahem). Karen never marks, even when I ask her to. She doesn't want to waste a moment! A little clip of her dancing here

Aside from her joyous dancing, she is a joyful person and has a wonderful quiet confidence to her in the studio. Outside of the studio she is a walking party, we look forward to taking her classes as she is currently training to be a MaZi instructor staring with Zi-Cardio!  Karen is also an environmental educator and works on a nature preserve teaching people (mostly kids) about ecology and helping them foster a lifelong meaningful connection to nature! How cool is she?! 
Why I Dance
I love to dance because I love the escape that dancing offers. It requires all of your physical and mental energy. It forces you to be in the moment. You literally can not dance and think or worry about anything else. For me dancing is pure joy!

What MaZi Means To Me 
 MaZi is such a unique place. It is such a welcoming environment and a community of people encouraging and cheering each other on – in and out of the studio. It has allowed me to meet so many people and make so many friends that I never would have met otherwise. I am so grateful that I discovered MaZi!

Mother Earth meets Water Dancer! 

Watch for her in tomorrow at the Anniversary Party! She will bring a smile to your face. :)


*MaZi Dance Chicago is a performing group made up MaZi Dance Fitness students that wish to learn & perform choreography. Their strong commitment and passionate work ethic makes them a joy to work with and a treat to watch. They represent MaZi's core values of: INSPIRE DANCE ACHIEVE & LOVE DANCE LIVE!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

#Studio2Street LookBook Fall 2014

#Studio2Street Fall 2014

Dancer chic!

We designed key items to take you seamlessly from the studio to wherever the day will take you! We've tested these items for the ultimate comfort, cuteness and practicality that will make a statement. We're excited to share the following items with you:

Ballerina Fight Club Muscle Tank - $32 
 Grab this muscle tank that is perfect with jeans, leggings and always a conversation starter!
Available in S, M, L
Heather Gray or Black

Bold.Fearless.Beauty. Headband 
Pull your hair back and look put together in an instant!

Gray, Red Bandana print

Boyfriend Sweatpants
Baggy Dancer Fit for the coolness factor, super cozy for Fall!
Available in S, M, L, runs big
Black/White & Gray/White

It Girl Dance Cardio Jersey Dress
Perfect Fall layer to and from the studio and a surefire way to STOP TRAFFIC!
Gray, Black
S, M, L, XL
V-neck, back view shown

Limited Edition- EST. 2009 Anniversary Flowy Cut-Out Back

Cool, flowy top with an extra breezy, flattering feel thanks to a cut-out in the back!
Black, Marbled Black Berry

The Classics:
MaZi Sexy Tank  (pictured above on Shelley)
Black, Coral, Red, Gray, Hot Pink

Flashdance Top 
Black, Red, Gray, Hot Pink (not pictured)
Order 2 items or more and get 10% off!