Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Boston Voyager Magazine: Today we’d like to introduce you to Eve Costarelli.

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So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a beautiful yellow brick Victorian in Brookline, MA. Our home was an artist’s home, filled with the artwork of my mother Amelia Robin, a paper sculptor, ceramic artist and water-colorist extraordinaire plus our childhood art and countless other pieces of art covered and filled every space. Although not encouraged at first to do so, it felt natural for me to follow my mother into the arts, although it took me years to discover my form of expression. I always loved to dance and mover, yet I never attended dance classes as a child instead I spent every Saturday from 9AM-4PM taking art classes at the Museum of Fine Arts and attending classical music concerts, operas and theater. But I never stopped moving. I filled every waking moment with energy. I learned to dance by watching Soul train on Saturday mornings; was stopped on the dance floor and told I was the best dancer ever; I became the Go-Go dancer for Manray, the alternative nightclub in Central Square, Cambridge, MA but my first foray into dance classes didn’t come until after college when my mother decided I should learn to tap dance. She bought me some tap shoes and paid for classes. My luck to stumble in Leon Collin’s Tap dancers Paradise. I was hooked. Tap dance became my it. My mom then compelled me to go to Harvard Summer Dance Program to study choreography and through a woman I met there, I discovered flamenco. Flamenco became my it. After having my son, I found yoga. And keeping up with my MO, Yoga became my it. This self-focused exploration is truly my passion. Through yoga I was opened to new motivations as a dancer, yogi and educator. I use flamenco and yoga as mindful moment forms from which EveryBody can access their true nature to reveal to them their inner strength, determination and courage.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of the most difficult parts of my career has been maintaining enough students and external projects to make a living. It is hard to make art a profession, because there is no one’s steps you can follow in. No job that is already created for you to step into. No promise that your art will pay your bills. Being an artist has meant for me forging a new path and then creating the opportunities in which I have been able to hone my skills, create my art and learn, learn, learn. I have had the absolute joy of spending over 20 years bring dance to the Boston the community but I have had a lot of sleepless nights stressing over creating the right balance of my art as a career and as a creative expression.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Always Be Dancing: Yoga & Flamenco for Everybody – what should we know?
There are three main aspects to what I do and then a whole lot on the periphery.

Firstly, through my collaboration with Open Spirit Center’s program, Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms, I bring yoga and mindfulness into the Framingham Public Schools My program, Always be Dancing: Yoga & Flamenco for Every/Body, integrates into K-12 classrooms age appropriate mindfulness strategies using breath-work, movements and adapted practices so that even the resistant students have access to the mindfulness education. Through worksheets, small group discussions and other various practices that I have developed, students learn to identity their emotions, feelings and intentions and become aware of the ways in which they conduct themselves, all by becoming more aware of themselves. Not only do I work with students, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, emotionally developing, the Gay Student Alliances, youth with trauma and those who have had limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), but I also bring my classes and workshops to the teachers and staff though various Professional Development Days, after-school programs and retreats,

Secondly, through my collaboration with Hoops and Homework, an after-school program for some of the neediest youth in Framingham. I go to their two sites weekly to bring yoga, mindfulness and the arts to these kids who would not normally have access to them and I have developed a training manual to accompany my programming that I hope to get published soon.

That’s not all. Thirdly is my all-inclusive flamenco dance program ¡Olé Flamenco! which brings flamenco to youth without access or with limited access to the arts, including underprivileged populations, ASD, SPD, Orthopedic Impairment and developmental and Intellectual disabilities. I use flamenco to stimulate the whole child by using movement and expression as access points for a healthy, safe, engaging, supportive, and challenging environment. This type of learning exposes children to the creation of art forms, cultivates self-expression (whether of an individual or a collective) and demonstrates a successful mixing of diverse populations-lesson which are relevant for youth in today’s society.

And one last thing…I am a budding author. I started writing book reviews about 5 years ago to hone my writing skills in preparation to write several children’s books. I hope to make a good query, get an agent and be on my way to become a celebrated author! One must always have dreams and keep on learning. Be your own soul’s light.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Well it is teacher appreciation week 2018, so here goes: my tap dance teachers at Leon Collins: Julia Boynton, Josh Hilberman, Jimmy “Sir Slyde” Mitchell, Diane Walker & Sue Ronson, who believed in my ability and my vision as a dancer. My flamenco teachers: Ramon de los Reyes, Omayra Amaya & more recently, La Lupi, for opening up the secrets to flamenco for me; for my yoga teachers Barbara Benagh, Elizabeth Goranson and Guruatma Ji, in their own special ways, helping me discover me and allowing me to find my true voice. And most recently, Debbie Clark & Rosanne Kates from Open Spirit Center for helping to open doors for me; through them I connected with Herb Chasen & Pam Kaufman of Hoops & Homework and also Cheryl Aglio-Girelli & Mynette Shifman, the teen health nurses at Framingham High School.

My husband, Rob Costarelli, IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, has been behind me 100% since day one-we are truly a power couple! My son, Anthony, my brothers Andrew & William and countless of families who have entrusted me with their children over the years. My “girls”…I have never lacked form cheerleaders and believers.

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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Today, I read Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (Candlewick) in my kids yoga classes today. The children range from age 2 1/2-almost 6 and one of their favorite activities is the Calming Rock meditation time. Each child gets a pile of colored glass rocks: some large and flat, some chunky, some blue, some green, some clear, some red, orange and yellow. They know that once the quiet music goes on, it is time to settle down and take on quiet bodies, mouths and minds. It is time to let their imaginations free and make designs or pictures or just enjoy the beautiful colors and textures of their rocks. After a full class practicing the skills of movement and stillness, I brought the rocks out, turned on some quiet music and the kids settled into the routine. I told them that I would be reading them a story and that some of the pages had words and pictures and some of the pages were only pictures. I explained that I would hold the book up and they had the choice to just listen, or they could look up and see the pictures as I would quietly alert them if the page had no words so they could see the pictures as I moved them slowly by.

I told them it was a story about mermaids and we immediately got into a discussion of other things that live in the sea and about the water and the waves. We decided our rocks reminded us of the ocean and we imagined a wave rolling in and messing up the sand beneath and then calming so the water becomes clear again. I started reading the beautiful simple prose and loved the peppering of a few Spanish words such as abuela grandmother mijo my dear; this is very endearing and has a feeling of love and safety. The children calmly listened to me and played with their rocks, and most eyes lifted as I passed the book by. I would watch their eyes take in the sequences of pictures and the special look that would come into their eyes when they got the story. To say I love this book is not enough. The message is one of hope, acceptance and authenticity and is accessible to the very young as well as the old. I am meeting with a local GSA today at a middle school and this book will be part of their yoga/mindfulness class as well. I cannot recommend this book enough. It should be in every school, every library, every home. It is a beautifully crafted message of love and the illustrations are fantastically expressive. This is a home run for this debut author-illustrator.

Even with young children as young as this, discussions happened around accepting other languages styles, choices, ways of being; accepting ourselves and that each individual person is really the only one who knows themselves and for them to nurture and love their inner self (of course I used a fun analogy of a tiny them inside themselves driving around them around like a giant ship.) I explained that even when that ship goes to school or is at home or is with friends, that the inner core them was always the same and they could feel safe, strong and grounded in that knowledge of who they really are. I was able to tell them that their really is a Mermaid Parade that happens in New York where everyone dresses like mermaids and parades together to the sea. https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/mermaid-parade

This book is about:

#acceptance #consciousness #diversity #character #love #courage #compassion #pride #empathy #support #lovingkindness #freetobeyou #freetobeme #freetobe #instalove #inclusion #strength #culture #community #comunidad #equality #mermaid #mermaidparade #coneyisland #Iam #satnam #authenticity #individuality


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: The Dance of Interaction: An Embodied Approach to Nonverbal Communication Training for Caregivers of People with Dementia (Training Manual) by Donna Newman-Bluestein with Meg H. Chang

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I know the author, Donna Newman-Bluestein, through the dance and movement world in Boston, MA and was excited to have a chance to read and learn from her new training manual. Through her Dance For Connection work Donna brings joy, vitality and a sense of interconnectedness to people with dementia through playful, expressive movement and dance via direct programming and training caregivers.

This manual sets out to change the culture of care surrounding people with dementia within nursing home care by using mindfulness, movement and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions. This manual strives to support caregivers, to help them to awaken their mindful selves, to guide them to trust their intuitions, and to enable them to go forth and shine. Embodied learning is mindfulness in-action and it empowers you to be authentically you so that you can see that every interaction with a person with dementia is an opportunity to build a relationship.

The chapters are carefully laid out and are broken down into easy to follow sections. One page, titled “If You Do Nothing Else…(pg. 77) that I found immensely helpful is a list of go-to strategies to try before approaching a person with dementia. This is a list of lifelines for the caregiver, because we all know “you have to put your air-mask on first before you can help anyone else…” In other words, this is a list of mindful mini’s to increase confidence, joy, and vitality so that caregivers can be at their best, fully aware, present and with self-control.

I highly recommend this work and trainings by Donna Newman-Bluestein. An embodied learning approach can be used caregivers, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, anyone who works with patients with dementia and really any specialty group. This approach will make you curious, compassionate and above all authentic, vibrant and empowered to be the best you and the best caregiver. I love this beautiful, compassionate life line!


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Bouncing: what to do about hyperactivity in children including those with ADHA, SPD and ASD by K.I. Al-Ghani and Joy Beaney

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Another great book from author K.I Al-Ghani (this time with Joy Beaney) and illustrated by Haitham Al-Ghani. Right off the bat, I was taken with the boldly outlined cartoon-like images that are presented in a frame-by-frame format. This is so effective and the drawings are so expressive that words are not even needed. Also, I think it is really fun that the main character is a wallaby!

The overlying message of this book is that it is OK to be you and that inclusion is cool. The book makes what many people think of as not the norm, the norm, and that acceptance is the way to go. I love that. There are so many effective, adaptive ideas offered in the book to help those with ADHD/SPD/ASD find peace, a way to express themselves that others can hear and for others to be open-eared, compassionate and friendly. This is a great book. Everyone should read it and share it. Above all our differences, we are all the same, humans,  with a right to live our lives as we are. Be caring! Be kind! Be creative! That’s cool!


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: If It Does Not Grow Say No Eatable Activities for Kids by Kerry Alison Wekelo

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This is a fun healthy-eating workbook that pairs beautifully when teaching youth about healthy living and mindful eating. A classroom could incorporate the activities (easily adapted for various age groups) during healthy eating month. March is National Nutrition Month and September is National Breakfast month, but I found that there are a large variety of food related “holidays” every month. I am enamored with helping kids receive the information they need to make healthy choices and this is a great book to make the learning fun and meaningful.

I was really inspired by this book and found a couple of websites that would really fill in the information. I look forward to creating a great class to include in my youth yoga program. It is recommended for preschool and school-aged children but I can adapt all this information through teens. This book is great!

Here is a website dedicated to the book http://www.doesnotgrowsayno.com. It is absolutely chock-full of very useful information!

For even more information, check out eat right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Nutrition Month® Celebration Toolkit https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month-celebration-toolkit


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: It’s Always There; A children’s meditation book for mindfulness, calm and happiness by Lou Lou Rose

It’s Always There A children’s meditation book for mindfulness, calm and happiness by Lou Lou Rose (including Magic Word cards)

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This is truly one of the best children’s mindfulness books that I have come across. The book is full of thoughts that pique the interest and understanding the art of mindfulness is easily accessible for children and is written into lovely, flowing rhyming sequences. The artwork is adorable. I love the textured painting juxtaposed onto photographic backgrounds and sprinkled with computer-generated flowers. It’s completely endearing! The additional Magic Word cards are beautiful affirmations for calm, clear thinking, positive feelings of self love and are perfect addition to this wonderful book. I really enjoyed this book and I know I will use it in my kids classes. It is fun, educational and practical. I highly recommend it! 

Please check out https://www.louiseshanagher.com/loulourose : Lou Lou Rose is the creative partnership of children’s therapist Louise Shanagher and visual artist Rose Finerty. Lou Lou Rose aim to nurture and promote positive mental health for children through a series of books, videos, affirmation cards and by holding creative workshops in preschools, schools, festivals and community groups.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress and Reduce Anxiety in Children by Lori Lite

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Ahead of receiving this book, I had the awesome chance to talk to Lori and found her to be a kind-hearted, open-minded person. This book is absolutely chock full of wonderful, creative and easy to use ideas, techniques, and strategies to reduce stress in your life and in that of your any children you come in contact with. That is for sure her main point: you have to put on your air mask first in order to help those around you. Relaxation is a skill that you need to practice in order to master and by sharing personal stories, answering parent generated questions and other varied techniques, such as affirmations and meditation, this book will empower you on your journey to a stress-free life. I was especially inspired by her chapter on bringing these techniques into schools and know that I will use many of her tips to help the sites that I work with. This is an excellent book for parents and teachers, anyone who works with kids.