Not Your Average Dancer: Wanida Serce

We’re back at it again with another ‘Not your Average Dancer’. Meet Wanida Serce, your Brisbane therapist, one woman powerhouse and entrepreneur who is out here to change the beauty ideals in Australian media one project at a time.

Wanida’s dance career started like many others. She was put into dance classes by her mum at a very young age. However unlike other dancers, quickly realised her knack for taking charge which kick-started her teaching career. Sparked by a love of hip-hop music, Wanida recalls locking herself in her room and choreographing dances to teach to her (sometimes unwilling) friends at school. “In primary school, I would hire out a speaker from the library and put it in the undercover area and call everyone in to teach them a dance to my fave hip hop track,”  Wanida laughs. This streak of leadership only grew. Throughout high school Wanida took on any opportunity to put her choreographic skills to work. “Anytime we had a dance assignment, I was always the one to put it together.” It goes without saying that Wanida was set on making this her career.

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Wanida grew within the Brisbane dance community both as a performer and choreographer. You’ll find Wanida smashing her teenage dream of teaching at all the major studios in Brisbane all while casually winning battles against the boys in a the typically male-dominated freestyle scene. Despite this, one thing that Wanida says she has always struggled with is the beauty standards in the Australian media which have trickled down into the dance industry. “I don’t fit the mould. I’m short and apparently ‘alternative’ looking because I have brown skin and short hair. I’ve even been told by a choreographer that if I don’t learn to dance in heels I won’t get hired. I can now dance in heels and that still hasn’t changed anything,” Wanida says disheartened. When asked about how this makes her feel, Wanida says “It definitely affects me. It’s really disappointing because I have the skill set so why can’t I get hired?”

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From seeing a lack of opportunities for dancers like herself, Wanida has turned this around for the better. Proudly saying, “this negative situation where I wasn’t feeling satisfied and I wasn’t getting work has pushed me to create my own shows and my own brand, Pink Matter.” Wanida now produces, directs and curates her own shows and practices what she preaches by hiring dancers based on their talent before looks. Through Pink Matter, Wanida has honed in on her passion for supporting and uplifting fellow females. The effects of her work is apparent through the dancers she has hired.“My dancers seem to have had a positive experience which has brought the community closer together. I always get positive feedback from the community who come to support the shows plus people reach out to me on social media about how they’re totally onboard”.

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All in all, Wanida’s request for the dance industry is simple:“Represent what we have here. All the different people and cultures that are within Australia so people like myself can look to the media and can relate to someone. That would be swell!”

We hear ya, sis!

You can take a class in Brisbane with Wanida every Monday in Woolloongabba. No cash at the door, so book here!

Groove Lab Playlist #3

Bored of your current jams list? Don’t worry,  we’ve got you covered with another curated list by our Aussie-living-in-Cali friend, Clarence Kent. This dude practices bedroom grooves harder than anyone we’ve ever met, so it was only fitting that we asked him to put together a list of songs he’s currently bumping.

Low key been practising your bedroom and ready to for the Missy Elliot Comeback Tour? Yeah we thought so. If you’re feeling brave, record yourself and tag us on instagram @groovetherapy_101 with the hashtag #groovelab. We’d love to see it!

Keen to come to class and try a beginner adult dance class? We have classes in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney all waiting for you. Book online because we don’t do door sales!

Muchos love and thanks to ya,

The Groove Fam xx

 

Not Your Average Dancer: Benny ‘Bucho’ Garcia

Amy Zhang, our producer and general manager, has created this new series ‘Not Your Average Dancer’, in which she interviews incredible performance artists who have carved out a career path despite not fitting the typical ‘dancer mould’. Today we have our Gold Coast teacher Benny ‘Bucho’ Garcia on all things breaking, growing up and what it means to be a male dancer.

Step into any Australian party scene and more often than not, the music is loud and place is packed out yet the d-floor is complete empty, as if someone just let a nasty one rip. Once Aussies are sufficiently drunk they’ll start to dance. In our sunny country, there’s a weird stigma, particularly for dudes,  around dancing. If it’s not a masc pastime, it’s not cool.

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Here to prove that ain’t the case, meet the b-boy and your Gold Coast Therapist, Benny ‘Bucho’ Garcia who (we may be biased) is one of the coolest dudes that exists in Australia. If travelling the world and regularly performing and battling with his crews isn’t enough, ask him nicely and he’ll whip out backflips on cue. Need we say more?

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Benny found himself in his first breakdance class with his younger bro at eight years old but like many typical Aussie kids, did it alongside every other extra curricular activity. Growing up he also played soccer, gymnastics and even did karate for a bit. “We were really sporty” Ben reminisces without a hint of modesty. Overwhelmed for choice, Benny says he never took dancing too seriously, “we were just good at it” he says dismissively shrugging it off.

Dance took centre stage after a pivotal moment in his childhood where Ben recalls the his soccer coach telling him he was too short to make the team at his high school. “So I started breaking.” he says with a hint of indignation. This was a turning point for Ben that fuelled a new-found motivation to really take dance seriously. This is probably why you’ll now see Benny training pretty much every night of the week. “When I’m at training I just focus. If I lose a battle…I just go back to training.” His mentality is paying off though because Ben makes waves in every battle he enters around the world and the dude has an array of world titles to his name already.

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But it’s not all about winning. Take him out of training mode and you’ll also see a completely different side to Bucho. No matter what the class, Ben is all about just having fun. “I want people to feel confident [about] dance so if they go to a party or event they can feel comfortable”. Ben says even the little b-boys and b-girls that he trains sometimes are inspired to take dance out of the classroom. “If there’s a talent contest at school they’ll come back and be like yeah we won it or we were at a disco and we dropped some moves and it was sick! Or, we started a break dance club at school.”

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Ben sees how dancing creates community and he’s big on building confidence in his students in the same way dance built a confidence in him. So, when asked about the stigma against boys and dancing Benny shuts this down pretty quickly “Nah, if anything breaking made me cooler” he laughs.  He even recalls that his mum put him into breakdance classes because she wanted him to be cool. Mumma Bucho was onto something because we’d say Benny is definitely living proof.

I guess what makes him even cooler is, tricks and flips aside, all the awesome things he does to give back to his community. At the bottom of it all he’s just a down to earth dude who loves to have a few beers, a solid boogie and take the piss like the rest of us.

So Gold Coast, what are you waiting for? If you’re lucky enough to be in the area, learn some moves and earn some cool points with the man himself.

You can take a class on the Gold Coast with Benny every Monday on Palm Beach. No cash at the door, so book here!

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Who was Vanessa Marian at Home Growing Up?

Words by Samantha Varghese (Vanessa Marian’s baby sister)

When I sat down to write this article on how and why Groove Therapy is as we know it today, I realised it was something I’d given little prior thought to. I first found out about Groove Therapy over a trending Facebook post when my sister launched the website. From the perfect mix of our mutual flakiness and my sister’s spontaneity, I wasn’t at all surprised. I didn’t ask any questions, just gave my immediate support and excitement. Groove Therapy made perfect sense. It had Vanessa written all over it.

Dance has always played a big part in our lives growing up. Vanessa’s because she grew up dancing, and mine because I had to put up with her deafeningly loud music and floorboard hammering. I have vague memories watching Vanessa learn Indian classical dance, as I’d curl up on the floor next to her teacher. I couldn’t make myself too comfortable though, as it wasn’t long before Vanessa was nudging me to take class. I reluctantly went along, hating it at first, and then found myself knee deep in sequinned rainbow costumes and jazz shoes within a year. I guess even then Vanessa knew I’d grow to love it the way she did.

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Fast-forward a few years and we’re at my first hip hop class. I’m wearing baggy track pants paired with fluoro yellow hightops, an unstoppable mix. Vanessa’s the teacher and as she stands centre front, she tells everyone her little sister’s joining in. I remember feeling so nervous that day. Being taught by your sister is everything you expect it to be. She’d pull me up in warm up, stand in front of me, make me squat lower and hit steps harder. She’d check up on me at home to see if I had been practicing my routine and soon enough she wouldn’t have to ask. I loved it.

Maybe at the time I pinned Vanessa’s persuasiveness as a bossy older sister trait, but once she moved out of home I didn’t stop dancing. I’d lock myself up in my parents’ bedroom as she once did and have a solid bedroom jam until reality pulled me back in by incessant knocking at the door. It was then that Vanessa had moved to Melbourne in pursuit of her Interior Design dreams. She was in that post-graduating phase where, after seven years of Law and Business School, she realised her creativity meant more to her than a side interest. I was on the opposite end of the spectrum, just being introduced to the horrors of teenage life. Ew.

I would visit Vanessa at intervals, taking a trip once with my parents in time for her grad show. You could sense her excitement bouncing off the walls, although that doesn’t sound far off her natural state. Two years later, that momentum had fizzled out. A neglected fair trade furniture business, a brand management job and a series of art directed pieces. Nothing seemed to stick, and as she’d try to morph herself into each role it would be more apparent that things weren’t working out. My sister’s never been the cookie-cutter type.

I think it took a moment of real awakening for Groove Therapy to surface the way it did. Dance had always been in the background, a kind of old friend you’d turn to for comfort. It only took a closed door and a couple of carpet burns to revisit, and in Vanessa’s moment of anxiety that’s what she did. So when she finally came to my parents and I with news of her pursuit in dance, we didn’t question it.

From then on it was a kind of snowball effect, gig after gig and teaching back to back classes. My sister’s natural coffee-high state returned to her and I saw her sink into her dance lifestyle like melting into an IKEA beanbag. It was a perfect fit and within months we find ourselves where we began- with me sitting behind a screen, scrolling through Groove Therapy for the first time.

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Want to try out a beginner adult hip hop class near you? Check out what we have on offer and book yourself in for a class!

Five Reasons Why Dance can Change your Life this Week.

Get on it. Stat.
Have you been meaning to get to class but find something always comes up? Or are you an already converted faithful regular? Either way, it’s Vanessa Marian – founder of Groove Therapy here, and I’m going to list five of the fundamental reasons on why I decided to start this company. Welcome to the fam.
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1. I mean, we all know exercise is good for you…right?
We hate telling you this. Not because it’s obvious but because we’re genuinely scared that if we tell people how much of a sweat they work up Groove Therapy might become a fitness trend with scenes of people being posers. But let’s not think about it from a weight loss perspective here but from more of a mental wellness perspective. Exercise = endorphin hits which is one of the biggest and most commonly cited preventers of mental illness. So if you’re feeling stressed, sluggish or lethargic, our beginner adult dance classes are a WAY more fun solution than hitting the gym against your will.
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2. It’s a body – mind connection
If you’ve heard us constantly say ‘GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR BODY’ then here’s your context. When you dance, you’re concentrating on learning a move, then executing it to the beat of a song. Don’t worry though, anyone who has been to a Groove Therapy class knows that if you think it’s about nailing choreography, then you’ve missed the point. It doesn’t matter if you think you have two left feet, just come and have a go. Having a solid boogie for an hour is an incredible way to clear the head and help you connect with your body again. What deadline?
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3. It gives you the tools to express yourself
Having a shit week? Psychologists and Gov Orgs will tell you to talk it out and tell your friends and family. We encourage this too, but perhaps you also want to sort of stew in the shittyness of your day/week/life chapter for a bit by yourself and just boogie it out. Dance is cited as an expressive art form and an incredible healing bridge for people who want to express themselves without sitting with a shrink and deconstructing that time they saw Santa’s beard fall off in a shopping centre. We STILL encourage you to talk it out, but if you’re not quite ready, then a Groove Therapy beginner adult dance class is a good first step homeslice.
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4. It’s a community, not a scene.
Does the thought of walking into a dance studio with hot fit bods and peeps warming up in the splits looking you up and down scare you? Same. We know what a shitty dance experience can be like. We also know how amazing dance can make you feel. So we’ve carefully tailored class structures and codes of conduct to try and create a vibe in class that doesn’t leave you feeling shit about yourself. Seeing a few regular faces over the weeks and slowly getting accustomed to lesson structures and the class space all serves to build a community, not a scene. We want you to become part of our Groove Therapy community!
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5. It’s DANCING. Why are we still trying to convince you? 
Honestly WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS LIKE YOU NEED CONVINCING? Groove Therapy was created once upon a time when we realised that people admired dancers but were way too intimidated to walk into a dance studio. We think it’s totally bullshit and wanky to think that dance is reserved only for ‘dancers’. That’s how we created the ‘no mirrors, dim lights, judgement-free space for you to get out of your head and into your body’.If you’ve had a bit of an off week, then this is your absolute best and most most important chance to try class. So check out our schedule and book yourself in for some Groove Therapy.

 

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Fear Less. Live More. Show the World your Bedroom Grooves.

We’re All Going To Die Festival is approaching and we think you need to jump on board.

What are you afraid of? Not being able to keep up with the choreography? Being the wrong body shape for a dance class? Looking like Bambi on ice? All of the above?

Well it turns out you’re not alone, and we want to change this perspective. On Nov 17, Groove Therapy X Retrosweat are joining forces to create the ultimate safe space performance piece ‘Bedroom Grooves’ as part of We’re All Going To Die Festival.

Intrigued? Watch the full video below:

The We’re All Going To Die Festival – presented by COMMUNE follows a RAD ethos:

FEAR LESS. LIVE MORE…because we’re all going to die anyway right?

Over 100 artists, psychologists and event guns, including the women of Groove Therapy (Sydney) and Shannon Dooley from Retrosweat are putting on art installations, panel discussions, film screenings and death meditations on November 17, 2017 in Sydney.

We just launched a Kickstarter to help us raise $30 000 to pay for the whole dang thing and we think you NEED to watch this video and get inspired.

Help join the movement and donate to Kickstarter here.

What Makes Groove Therapy So Different?

I’m Samantha Varghese. I grew up dancing, not just in dance classes but also in my room. I guess it runs in the family since I’m the smarter and better looking sister of Groove Therapy’s founder Vanessa Marian. I think it’s safe to say that I know all about Groove Therapy and why Vanessa started it. Here’s my perspective on my sister’s rad company.

No mirrors. Dim lights. We could be talking about the start of a horror scene or a Groove Therapy dance class. To some beginner dancers both scenarios seem pretty similar. I get it, that internal monologue – vibing a song and letting it take over your body, one limb at a time as you obliviously smile…until you open your eyes to a crowd of people pointing and laughing at you. Okay, I’ll stop.

The truth is, we’re all guided by this torturing self-consciousness. The kind that makes you want to throw your phone to the other side of the room after posting a selfie. The thought of putting yourself out there, on display for all to see and judge, is enough to get your palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy (self-five for Eminem reference). That’s where no mirrors and dim lights come in. It’s essentially a security blanket so you can think less and feel more. It’s oddly comforting, and as I try to convince my beginner dance friends to come to class with me, I find myself constantly repeating it-

“There’s no mirrors, you can’t even see yourself!”

“The lights are so dark trust me, no one will notice if you screw up.”

It’s basically setting you up to embrace your inner professional bedroom dancer, minus the hairbrush in hand. The pointed difference is that bedroom dancing is typically done in a bedroom. But let me ask you to imagine having another space to show off that time you almost did the splits in your room. Yes you pulled something in your leg, but you still felt pretty cool about it. Enter Groove Therapy- the dance class for people who are scared of dance class, a safe space for the bedroom groover whose confidence instantly plummets the second they step outside the confines of their bedroom.

When my friends shriek in an excited horror at the thought of trying class, I get it, I truly do understand. But I also want to tell them respectfully that this class isn’t really about them, that if they choose to be fixated on whether they can nail some flashy choreography then they’ve missed the whole point of why my sister started Groove Therapy.

Here’s the thing. Dancing is something that comes naturally to us. It’s a global language that’s communicated a little differently from person to person, but fundamentally, it just feels good. Whether it be in our bedrooms or after the third round of drinks all we really want to do is dance, move and bathe in all that glory, irrespective of whether it looks awkward or not.

I’ve done it guys. I spent my entire childhood dancing in my bedroom with my sister Vanessa Marian, and when she started Groove Therapy it made sense. She’s a pro at it, and she’s really uncool, so you don’t have to be intimidated by her. I’m calling all closeted bedroom dancers to cut yourself some slack, step outside your comfort zone, and dish out those moves you’ve been depriving the world of.

Groove Therapy is ready when you are.

You can practise your own bedroom grooves by coming to class too. Check our schedule.

*Groove Therapy is debuting their performance work ‘Bedroom Grooves at the ‘We’re All Going To Die Festival’ on November 17.

QLD Intro Offer. Get around it bebe.

Ok so in case you’ve been living under a rock, we’ve launched our beginner adult dance classes on the Gold Coast AND Brisbane and we need you to help us spread the word whilst it’s still a baby. Tell a friend to come and help convince them with our intro offer: $10 passes yo.

Simply book online and pick the intro offer option. Easy. Want more deets? Scroll on.


BRISBANE BEGINNER ADULT DANCE CLASS
Mondays
6:30pm
The Latvian Hall
Bank Ln, Woolloongabba

BOOK


Beginner Adult Dance Classes on the Gold Coast
Mondays

6:30pm
The Craft Parlour
1059 Gold Coast Hwy
Palm Beach

BOOK


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Scared? Turns out you’re not alone, check out a little intro on why we started beginner hip hop dance classes or scroll through some of our ‘Common Questions (and Fears) for the First Timer)’

 

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FRIDAYS 6PM – 7PM. Pencil it in Byron Baes.

Groove Therapy is the hip hop dance class space that takes the scene out the dance world and focuses back on community. We are a no mirrors, dim lights, loud beats kinda vibe.

Groove Therapy was born out of one too many conversations with people who wished they could dance but were convinced that they had missed the boat on taking a dance class. People found dance studios intimidating. They didn’t need another social situation to make them feel awkward about their rhythm.

Groove Therapy Beginner classes are judgement free. It’s a community not a scene. There’s no mirror, we dim the lights. We don’t make you perform for anyone. It’s completely unpretentious.

Get around it babies.


Beginner Adult Dance Classes Byron Bay
Fridays

6:00pm – 7:00pm
Encounter Byron
1 Acacia St, Byron
$20 for a casual pass (no door sales, book online)

BOOK


 

Feature image by Emma Daniels

Common Questions (and Fears) for the First Timer

“Just a warning: I’m going to be the most uncoordinated dancer you’ve ever taught” – Every first timer that walks through our doors.

Ok so y’all tell us time and time (and time and time) again that our dance classes will meet their match with you, a self-professed hopeless first timer. The truth is, if you think you’re going to be too uncoordinated to try a class you’re kind of missing the point. Dance class at Groove Therapy isn’t about winning at some slick choreography. It’s about not taking yourself so seriously and learning how to actually have fun whilst you dance. Yes some people have forgotten this fundamental rule about dancing.

Here are all the common questions we get asked:

I have ZERO dance experience and two left feet. Am I doomed?

Yep. KIDDING. stop stressing. Everyone we meet tells us that they are set to be the worst dancer we have ever taught. It’s not really about dance abilities, it’s about learning how to have fun and beef up your bedroom dance move vocabulary. Chill homie.

What do I WEAR?

Baby, whatever you like really. We personally like our street gear, baggy tees, trackies and kicks. You might just prefer some sneakers and activewear. It’s not a fashion show. Think comfortable exercise gear and any sort of sneaker or sport shoe.

What kind of dance is it?

Street dance. This means street styles originating from USA, Jamaica, Africa, Latin America and every other place in between. Think hip hop, house, dancehall, baile funk and afrobeats. Your teachers have traveled the world training under the OGs, founders and leading figures of these street styles so you are not subscribing to some gimmick dance class. This is legit knowledge on global street dance.
Basically we are arming you with skills to slay on your next d-floor encounter. 

How long is class?

One hour beb.

Do you accept cash?

No. We are a tiny business operating over several locations with freelance dance teachers. We keep everything electronic so that teachers can focus on simply turning up, marking off the roll and teaching you some moves.

Well now what? Easy, book online HERE
BOOK

I missed class. Can I have a refund or credit note for a future class?

Unfortunately no. Groove Therapy is a popular class, sometimes with waitlists. Not turning up means that someone didn’t get your spot and missed out. We can’t afford to credit or refund people who missed class without letting us know at least 60 minutes prior.

I booked a class but need to cancel with 60 minutes or more of notice. Can I get a refund or credit note?

YES! If you cancel with more than 60 mins spare, you can simply keep that pass as credit note for a future class. Go online to the booking page and simply cancel. You can re-book a future class with that pass. 

How can I keep up-to-date on all things Groove Therapy?

Instagram: @groovetherapy_101

Facebook: facebook.com/groovetherapy101

Or join our mailing list (scroll to the bottom)

I love what you do and I think my workplace/business should collab with you on a project or event. Who do I contact?

HOLLA! Hit us up at hello@vanessamarian.com with all the deets and we will make some magic together.

Photography: Kurt Davies