Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Youth Yoga Update for January/February 2014: Chakras, Prana Vayus, Koshas, Mandalas...Colored Markers!

Youth Yoga Update for January/February 2014

Monday night youth yoga, held at Open Spirit, 39 Edwards Street, Framingham, MA has been going strong now for two years. I really enjoy the class because with this group anything goes. We are all really happy to be together on Mondays, whether it is sunny or cold and damp...we all just want to be there.

For the past two months, coloring has been a really big thing for us. There is just something so relaxing and focusing about coloring, and friendship building, that we have found a nice rhythm coming to our mats, practicing our yoga with poses, breath and meditation, and then hunker down for some group coloring time. It started with pictures of bare trees and we wrote affirmations in the roots and branches, to fill our trees up with positive statements and observations. That moved onto focus wheels, with the center circle stating "I AM" and then the external circles embracing our qualities of goodness, trustworthiness, warmth etc. I then came across a nice coloring book of Mandalas and off we went, coloring mandalas. Relaxing in their overall affect.

This past Monday, I came in with a picture I had created that integrated the Chakras, the Prana Vayus, and the Koshas. We started class with an exercise that was inspired by Edna Reinhardt of Yoga Education Resource's marble adventure (I had meant to bring my marbles but forgot them, but luckily I had all my colored markers with me). We started by all taking Baddha Konasana (butterfly pose), I dropped all the markers in the center of our mandala shape and we went to it, sorting the markers and adding them to open spaces that our feet had created. Releasing this pose, we then divvied up the markers in color families: green/grey/black, blue/purple, pink/brown and yellow/orange/red. We each created shapes with our markers, whatever inspired us. This led us to seeing that we each possessed certain colors that lead to a creation of an earth, grass, flower, sun & sky picture. Which then naturally led to the creation of a waterfall, complete with all our socks, which somehow were all greeny/bluey colored, as a water fall at the end of our rainbow.

This was such a nice focusing activity to start class. We then talked about different uses for breath and practiced using Ujjayi breath and also to feel the relaxation of our throats (I had them imagine they were yawning with their mouths closed to give them the effect of an open throat). I was able to then jump right into a series of poses, while at the same time taking about the Chakras and feeling our colors, with a special focus on the throat chakra-which is blue-and again noting that we were all dressed in variations of blue, so it seemed so appropriate to focus on this. In each pose I reminded them to pay attention to their throats, to allow the flow of energy there and to release the tension so as not to be constricted.
Class flowed beautifully, Savasana at the end with lovely lilac filled eye pillows. Soft flamenco music played throughout the class.

¡Ole Namaste!

What is a Mandala?
The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle." Mandalas are geometric designs symbolic of the universe that are used as an aid to meditation.
How to use a Mandala?
1.Set your intention for your practice/life (An intention is a promise you make to yourself and a way of putting logic and beliefs into action. One way to set your intention is to focus on something you are grateful for. You can also set it based on a quality you want: spontaneity, flexibility, peace of mind, inspiration, concentration...)
The design of the mandala is meant to attract the viewer visually, so much so that the mind becomes absorbed by it. The design’s hypnotic effect relaxes the mind. With a relaxed mind, the individual is able to focus his attention inwards rather than focusing on life’s usual distractions. In this state, imagination flows which in turn increases creativity, sympathy, and self respect.
2.Focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the radiance of its designs. Release your mind. Recognize when your mind wanders back to your list of choirs or your concerns and simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Let the mandala absorb your attention. In time, you will begin to feel luminous and fresh and spontaneous thoughts may arise. Relax and allow these thoughts in. If at any time you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or distracted, re-focus your attention back on the mandala. Everyone’s experience will be different but meditating with the mandala can be relaxing and you can come away with a clarity concerning the intention that you set at the beginning of your practice.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Writing The Dance by Richard Kent & Josie Bray

Title: Writing The Dance
Authors: Richard Kent & Josie Bray
Age group: teen+ all students of dance can benefit
Published by: Published in cooperation with the National Writing Project @ Thew University of California/ Berkeley
Theme/Topic: Reflecting on dance; dancers journal
Genre: Non fiction; journal

Opening Synopsis: Writing the Dance provides dancers and dance students of all abilities with an opportunity to immerse, think broadly, and connect deeply to the inner life of the dancer. Within this book you'll find a wide variety of reflective activities that can optimize a dancer's performance, including prompts and analysis pages for classes, rehearsals, and performances. This workbook-journal allows dancers to come to know their work in the studio and on stage in a more intimate and detailed way.

Quick sum up: This book is a dancer's journal into self exploration. It provides a platform for dancers to learn and improve by using their own self reflection. Journals help you to focus, think, explore, address issues and to really see yourself, in your own words. A virtual mirror, not a physical reflection of yourself-seeing yourself from the outside looking inwards, instead a journal allows a view from the inside out. Writing The Dance provokes, clarifies, coaxes, prioritizes and harmonizes your thoughts on your dance. There is no wrong way to express Writing The Dance and it is for your eyes only.

Why I like it + disclaimer: I really enjoyed Writing The Dance. The journal prompts, the dance reflections, performance feedback and dance study sections all opened the way for meditation and are effective exercises for introspection. I found the book to be a very useful tool for my own journey as a flamenco dancer, choreographer and teacher. I believe that Writing The Dance is a valuable addition to all dancer's book shelves (or should I say bedside tables!).

Full Disclosure: Josie Bray provided a copy of Writing The Dance to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Additional resources:,

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter-Spring 2014 Youth Flamenco & Yoga Classes with Eve Costarelli

Winter-Spring 2014 Youth Flamenco & Yoga Classes with Eve Costarelli

Youth Yoga (Ages 8+)
Open Spirit, 39 Edwards St., Framingham, MA 
Youth Flamenco (Ages 5-16)
4:00-5:00PM (Ages 5-10) Level 1
5:00-6:00PM (Ages 11-16) Level 2
Dance Complex, 536 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA 
Youth Yoga (Ages 8-14)
3:00-4:00PM (please call to inquire 617-566-9642)
DownUnder Yoga, 1052 Beacon St., Brookline 
Youth Flamenco (ages 4-12)
4:30-5:15PM (Ages 4-7)
5:15-6:15PM (Ages 8-12)
*Brookline Location TBD; please call or email to inquire: 617-5216-1643;

  • Bring The Birth of Flamenco to your school or community event. Discover the fiery art of Flamenco, a creation of the Roma (or Gypsies) who fused dance from Spaniards, music from the Moors and song from Sephardic Jews. Through movement, music and words, Eve Costarelli traces the origins of this emotive form from India to Andalusia. In addition to Flamenco’s rich history, students will learn about compás (rhythm) tacaneo (footwork) and the communication between dancer and guitarist. They’ll join in the performance using palmas (clapping rhythms) and jaleo (calls) and volunteers will be called upon to learn a few moves!

    Please contact Jason Rabin at Young Audiences of Massachusetts for more information and scheduling questions. Workshops available. or call 617-629-9262 
  • Eve is available for private/semi private/ family lessons, birthday parties for all ages, performances.

Contact Eve Costarelli 617-216-1643 or;

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Thelma's Tap Notes. A Step-by-Step Guide To Teaching Tap: Children's Edition

Title: Thelma's Tap Notes. A Step-by-Step Guide To Teaching Tap: Children's Edition
Author: Thelma Goldberg
Publisher: Thelma Goldberg 2013
Theme: Non-Fiction. Instructional Manual for teaching tap dance to children ages 6-12.
Guiding Principles: Release, Relax, Rhythmic Progressions and Full Bodied Rhythm-Making (TM)

Review by Eve Costarelli

This is my first official book review! My dear friend, Thelma Goldberg, sent me a copy of her newly self-published book Thelma's Tap Notes. A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Tap: Children's Edition. This is a beautifully laid out manual and I love the catchy and useful sticky note style highlights throughout the book (I also received an accompanying sticky “Tap Notes” pad-which made it very easy for me to jot down my own notes as I went along the book.) Right from the very beginning, Thelma lays out exactly what her approach is to teaching tap to children ages 6-12 and she methodically breaks down her methods level-by-level.

I appreciate how Thelma refers to herself as a student as well as a teacher. I have had the pleasure of taking classes with Thelma, so I know first hand what a dedicated and enthusiastic student she is. I also have seen a number of her studios productions over the years and can equally say she is a committed, passionate teacher, choreographer and leader. Because of this, I can say that Thelma is deeply rooted and she never stops growing!

Thelma's Tap Notes is guided by four principles: Release, Relax, Rhythmic Progressions and Full Bodied Rhythm-Making (TM). In the first part of the book, Levels, each age group: 6 & 7, 7 & 8, 8 & 9, 9-11, 10-12 is broken down into goals, review, musical rhythms, class outline, next step, combos, choreography ideas and improvisation activities. The second part of the book, Series, brings in more tap series needed for the growing dancer: Rudiment Series (courtesy of the Condos Brothers)-basically the ABC's of tap dance; Double Heel Series-to execute clear and specific single sound movements; Shuffle Series-to get loose and increase crispness of sound; Slap and Flap Series-do I hear a challenge??; Paddle and Roll Series-a very advanced series needed for really good technique; Spank Series-to embody the principle of release; and Time Step Series-a series that spans classical steps through present day creations. Thelma gets into the nitty-gritty needed to develop dancers feet, musicality and expression.

The closing of the manual brings in various tap dancers biographies, tying the deep seated tradition of jazz tap to its modernity. Thelma has created not only a clear, accessible teacher's guide but a great reference manual for avid students and seasoned teachers. To note, I too am a children's dance teacher (flamenco, tap and yoga), and I found that this guide will be a great addition to my practices of teaching-especially in helping me to lay down my own step-by-step approach. Bravo Thelma! Encore!

Thelma adds: I invite you and others to send me questions and comments so that I can continue to clarify my method in a way that helps other teachers understand my suggestions. Video support will be coming slowly to the website to demonstrate the 'series' exercises that are at the core of my approach.