Family

Cultivating Creativity at Home: How to Incorporate Dance at Home

It can be so easy to get sucked into a routine of school, family or work that we sometimes forget to step into the outside world and see the breath of life that stands before us. One of the many beauties of the arts is that it interweaves throughout all aspects of life, and whether or not it’s obvious, it is always there. Creativity is such an important part of being human, it allows us to communicate and express ourselves in a way that is truly authentic.

Aside from engaging in hobbies, sports, tutoring and recreational activities, there should always be time set aside for cultivating creativity. Bringing creativity into the home is great for nurturing young artists and shaping innovative personalities. It also gets us to disconnect from social media, and connect to the people in front of us, bringing life into our humble abodes. We are sharing some of our favourite ways of bringing dance and the arts into your home.

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 It can be hard to juggle textbook subjects while pursuing creative activities and the arts. Even though most school curriculums do incorporate the arts, there’s no reason that we can’t make homework more flavourful. Why not create a dance routine, some doodling illustrations, a beat boxin’ rap, or a song as a study tool. Spend a weekend afternoon personalising a journal or a notebook with some sharpie markers and stickers. Language courses with novels and storybooks provide the perfect scripts for creating an at home theatre play or a living room dance production. For those busy bees studying the day away, there are plenty of ways to work hard, play hard, and create art!

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Every young dancer knows what it takes to achieve their dreams of starring on stage, and it requires them to practice at home. There are plenty of opportunities in which parents can let their children become the teacher. Turn the living room into a dance studio by clearing up some space. One of the best ways to fully understand the physicality and artistry of dance is by allowing your young dancers to teach you what they’ve learned. Whether these young dancers are teaching their siblings, parents, or grandparents, there is so much we can learn from one another simply through our body language.

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 Living in the age of technology and with access to instant communication through our mobile phones, there are so many ways to get creative. The cameras on our mobile phones are a simple and quick way to capture the intersection of life and art. Children can create a storyboard of a music video or a fairytale dance video, and then recruit their friends and siblings as their film crew. Build a team of actors, dancers, videographers, and directors, but don’t forget to pick a location, costumes, and music. There are lots of choices when it comes to easy and accessible film editing software such as iMovie. Once the film is ready for the big screen (or the medium sized at-home screen), roll out the red carpet as these Oscar winners in-the-making premiere their masterpiece. Don’t forget that these creative projects will also build the beginnings of an artist’s most treasured memories.

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Family game night is all about creativity, not to mention it’s a great way to bring the family together and enjoy each other’s company. Drop by your local game shop and pick up a couple of board games. You can also check out our list of fun dance games in our article, Family Game Night: Dance Edition.

Creativity is infinite, and remember that your options for bringing a spark of innovation and artistry into the house are endless.

Photo Credits: Nuno Alberto, Rachel, IIONA VIRGIN, Tanaphong Toochinda, and Robert Collins on Unsplash

Dancers' Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons

Dancers’ Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons: Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with MacaMOONS!


About the Dancers’ Cookbook

From heaps of leaps to bunches of munches, Hong Kong Dance Moms knows that there are plenty of dance foodies out there! That is why we are super excited to add this delectable page to our online dance magazine. The Dancers’ Cookbook is all about enlivening your taste buds and inspiring you to challenge your creativity. Covering mouth watering topics such as recipes, health & wellness, and food & beverage, we’re serving up some fantastic stories right to your screen!

Grab your aprons, because we’ve baked up a delicious story about macarons to kick off the Dancers’ Cookbook series!

Creativity is a bridge between the performing arts and the culinary arts. As dancers we may know how to tap our toes in the studio, but do we also know how to dabble our toes in the kitchen?

Seeking some new creative inspiration for all our dance fanatics out there, we went for a classic MJ moonwalk with macarons! And with the Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, we were introduced to a new spin on traditional Chinese Mooncakes. Something lighter and not too sweet, we found just the right treat to curb our holiday cravings. For all the sweet-tooths out there, Hong Kong Dance Moms sat down with Anita Caswell Ng, the founder of Little Miss Macarons for an an exclusive interview! Sharing her creative process on her mooncake alternative, the MacaMOONS, and giving us some tips on baking and exploring our creativity from the kitchen to the stage! 

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Escaping the humidity and rain of Hong Kong’s city streets, Hong Kong Dance Moms visited Little Miss Macarons and their beautifully vibrant kitchen. Anita welcomed us with a warm smile and exuberant energy! Before our interview, Anita surprised us with a macaron baking lesson! Though this may have not been a starring role as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, it came pretty close.

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The basic ingredients to make macarons are almond flour, sugar and egg whites. Don’t be deceived by the minimal amount of ingredients, because macarons take extreme care, practice, trial & error, patience, and steady hands to master. Just as a prima ballerina can make 32 fouettés look easy, Anita made it look easy to bake 32 macarons. As Hong Kong Dance Moms left our jazz hands at the door and put on our baking gloves, we learned just how challenging (but absolutely fun) it was to make macarons! Though our macarons weren’t perfect, they tasted delicious!

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After dabbling into the baking arts, we sat down with Anita to learn more about her love of macarons and her Mid-Autumn Festival MacaMOONS.

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How did you come up with the idea of making MacaMOONS?

A.C.: I was in the UK with my husband’s family, and for one moment I really missed my family in Hong Kong. And I spoke with my friends in the UK who like the idea of mooncakes, but don’t quite like eating it. I thought…well, I make macarons, can I somehow make them look like moons? So I had this idea two years ago, and last year I thought I should really have a go! Actually my son came up with the name. He said to me “macaroon, mooncake, MacaMOONS”!

 

How do MacaMOONS differ from traditional Chinese Mooncakes?

A.C.: It’s the same idea of bringing the family together, because the MacaMOONS are very big so you have to cut and share them. But the difference is that it’s more dynamic! We got a traditional Chinese flavour, we call it “芝麻姜湯圓” or “Ginger & Sesame Tong Yuen (Sweet Dumpling Soup)”.  Which brings the idea of Chinese tradition, as we do have it during Mid-Autumn Festival. We also have some flavours more familiar to the Western world, such as Sea Salt Caramel, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, and Tangy Passionfruit. So it gives people different options during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but it still embraces the idea of creating happy memories with the family together.

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Which MacaMOON flavours would you recommend for those with a lighter taste palette?

A.C.: Definitely Tangy Passionfruit to start with. It’s much lighter and refreshing. The other one is Raspberry Dark Chocolate. And we use real fruit, so you do taste it! We also use less sugar in our fillings compared to most traditional macaron recipes.

 

What was your process in making this dance inspired macaron tower?

A.C.: First of all we had to make the macarons the day before assembling the macaron tower. On the next day we made the cake, and decorated the cake with individually shaped fondant petals to create a tutu-like texture. And then we placed the macarons on the tower. For this particular tower, it took us 6 hours to finish! There is a lot o f love! I love tutus because there are so many details to it. And I wanted to keep it quite simple, as I believe simplicity is beautiful.

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How do you explore your creativity with baking?

A.C.: Just being alert of what is around you! For example, when you go on a holiday, try different types of food to get inspiration. Obviously I was self-taught, so I watched a lot of Youtube videos to see what other people do. Reading a lot of books, and lots of study. Be open minded, sometimes you don’t know until you try it. That’s something I learned over these last few years.

 

How does baking feed into your life as a mother? 

A.C.: The major reason I bake is just because I can do it with my son, as a mom. I would tell all the moms, it doesn’t matter how old their kids are, even if they are 1 or 2 years old you can bake with them. It’s all about the memories. Hopefully I can inspire him, and not necessarily to do baking. As he understands that everything requires hard work.

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How do you balance your passion and your career?

A.C.: Time management. You can always make it work! If you want to do something, you will make it happen.

 

What is your favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory?

A.C.: When I was a kid, I was the eldest of three, and my parents who are local Hong Kong Chinese were great parents but also quite strict. So I was never really allowed to go out on my own. The only day I could take my younger brother and sister to the park and burn some candles and walk around at night, was Mid-Autumn Festival. That was my favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory.

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What advice do you have for our dancing bakers?

A.C.: If you’ve never baked before and you want to do it, the first thing to try baking is scones! This is how I started my journey in baking. Because it is very easy to bake and easy to make very nicely! I think it is a great thing to start with!

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Baking macarons may very well be the pointe shoes of dance, glamorous on the outside, yet filled with passion, time, patience and practice on the inside. Plus, they are both extremely difficult to master. Whether exploring your creativity in dance or in baking, take some time to try something new! And most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself with a little treat and something sweet!

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The Mid-Autumn Festival is almost here, and to celebrate HKDM has teamed up with Little Miss Macarons to give our readers a chance to WIN a box of the scrumptious locally made macaron set, Macamoons! What’s your most memorable Mid-Autumn Festival memory? Let us know in the comments section of our social media posts on Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win these delicious holiday treats! Click here for more information!



Dance Away the Summer Slump

Keeping Up Your Dance Training Over the Summer Holidays

  

The school year can build up a lot of stress, so it’s only natural that we use our summer holiday to relax and recharge. But beware of the summer slump! As dancers, the skills we trained so hard for during the year can deteriorate if we don’t do any supplementary body training over the summer.

It is possible to take a break from dancing while still exercising the mind and body to maintain your skills. Here, we’ve worked up a list of ideas to help incorporate some basic training to target your body coordination, endurance, balance, flexibility and last but not least, your creativity and artistry.

 

Body Coordination

Firstly, raise your right hand, and now your left. You still got it! Jokes aside, here are a couple of ways to incorporate some body coordination exercises into your summer holiday.

  • The Classic Catch: Whether you have a dog, or happen to be outdoors with your family, there’s always time for a classic throw and catch with a ball. If this is too easy, challenge yourself by training your non-dominant hand. The classic catch doesn’t always have to be with a ball, you can always spice up your beach outings with a frisbee!

  • Hula-Hoop: Bring a little island breeze of Hawaii into your summer by picking up the hula-hoop! This childhood pastime is truly beneficial for all ages. What may have seemed “easy” as a child, is actually harder than you think! The hula-hoop involves the entire body, and there is a lot of micromanaging that goes on to keep that hula-hoop circling around. Plus, you can experiment with all the ways of playing with a hula-hoop; around your ankle, your wrist, the possibilities are endless!

 

Endurance

The portion of training that most of us dread is endurance, because it implies time, sweat and effort. Endurance is important for dancers, as it allows us to perform our best over long periods of time. Check out these ways of keeping the blood flowing, and the lungs happy!

  • Splash!: Who doesn’t love to jump into the pool, ocean or lake during the summer? Have a pool party, and swim with your friends. Of course, it may require a couple of races or playing games like water frisbee or badminton to really get your heart rate up.

  • Skipping Rope: Work on your double dutch skills by skipping rope. Not only is this good for your coordination and balance, it is also great for your endurance.

  • Trampoline: Feeling weightless for a millisecond is indescribably fun. Plus nowadays, you can go to an indoor trampoline gym that offers dodgeball amongst many other activities.

 

Balance

We all love to prove that we have good balance. I’m not talking about work-life balance, though that’s important too. We’re talking about working on ankle stability, the core and proprioception.

  • What’s SUP?: Stand-up paddle boarding is a summertime favourite. And the ultimate reward for your good balance is not getting your hair wet! Paddle your way to new views, whilst working on your core, legs, arms, and of course your balance.

  • Standing in Sand: Find your way to the beach, and try out some balancing Yoga poses on the sand. The uneven and soft surface is a great way to work on your ankle stability. And if that’s too easy, try closing your eyes while you balance and enjoy the sounds of the waves!

 

Flexibility

There are some obvious contenders for working on your flexibility over the summer, like yoga, or well…yoga. But here are some other ways to incorporate a little stretch into your routine!

  • Massage: Summer is for relaxing, so rejuvenate those muscle fibres by treating yourself to a massage. Whether visiting a registered massage therapist, or investing in some at-home massage equipment (foam rollers, foot massagers, etc.), a massage allows the body to open up, creating space so that we can start stretching and moving more effectively.

  • Aqua Stretch: Stretching in the pool can be a lot of fun, as we take away the strain of gravity on our joints. The ledge makes for a wonderful ballet barre or wall to help you create resistance in your stretches.

Creativity and Artistry

There’s plenty of summertime activities that can boost your creative eye. Here’s just a few suggestions.

  • Snap that!: We live in a society obsessed with photography, so why not snap some fun summer shots? Underwater cameras like the GoPro are great for capturing some captivating photos of sea creatures, or even your friends doing fun and fancy poses under the sea! Work towards creating a summer album, of all your most memorable adventures.

  • Outdoor Doodles: Whether you are going to the beach, forest, or park bring along a sketchbook and some pencils, or watercolour paints. Let nature inspire you, and start creating your masterpiece! If this sounds like too much work, then find a nice tarmac or sidewalk and start creating some chalk art.

 

There’s no excuse now to fall into a summer slump, because we are always surrounded by plenty of options and things to do! By experiencing new forms of physical activity and summer adventures, we are enhancing both our versatility in dance as well as our artistic thinking. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and don’t forget to add a little spark!

Photo Credit: Dancewear Centre Canada

Family Game Night: Dance Edition

Fun Dance Games for Everyone!

The dice have been rolled, and nothing but anticipation and suspense fills the air, and… woohoo! You win!

Some of our favourite childhood memories are stowed away in a storage unit, closet or attic. Those were the days, when the whole family sat around the dining room table or on the living room rug and played boardgames.

Spice up your next Family Game Night with these dance inspired games!

 

Get Silly with Strictly Come Dancing: The Board Game!

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Because being serious, is seriously overrated, get ready to giggle and groove with this Cha Chamazing boardgame. Based on the hit Ballroom and Latin Dance Competition TV series, Strictly Come Dancing, this game combines trivia, dance moves, and pure family fun! Get up on your feet and start shaking those Habanera hips, because Strictly Come Dancing will get you performing dance-offs and taking on histarically hilarious challenges.

 

Can you remember…? Test your Memory with Top Dance! Just Dance

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Lost your keys again? Train your memory with Top Dance! Just DanceJust Dance is known for its fancy choreography, pumped up moves, and catchy tunes! Top Dance! Just Dance takes elements of our favourite dance video game and brings it to the board. This game is basically a series of flash cards, except that instead of flashing words or math equations, these cards have dance moves on them. While a key player performs different movement combinations from the cards they’ve drawn, other players must test their ability to recognize and observe, as they try to match the movement cards to the key player’s dance combo. Who doesn’t love a game that’s fun and trains the brain. Dancers are known to have impeccable memorization skills. So start studying those dance moves!

 

Take a Throwback Thursday with Twister

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Getting tangled between other people’s hands and feet, and holding shapes for long periods of time may not sound like dancing, but Twister is a great way of moving the body and training your balance, problem solving… and even a bit of flexibility. Though this game is for both young and old, it is fantastic way of teaching little ones about the body and colours. The ultimate icebreaker to any party, Twister will have everybody smiling and laughing in no time!

 

Bump to the beat with Bop it! Game

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All the millennials out there can remember this game, as it was a 90’s sensation. Hasbro has bopped out the old, and bopped in the new with Bop it! Game! Adding a couple of new moves, such as “selfie it”, “golf it” and “comb it”, Bop it! Game now uses motion technology to test out whether these youngsters can keep up with the original Bop it! masters. Make your next family game night a Bop it! dance battle, and have loads of fun with this multigenerational game!

 

Start creating those memories that will last a lifetime! The ones that get us away from the television screen, or our mobile phones and allow us to see the laughter and smiles on our loved ones’ faces. Stir up that competitive spirit, and start your next family game night with a little shake, twist, or bop!



Photo Credits: Dancewear Centre, John Adams Leisure LTD, Buzzy Games, and Hasbro