Vanessa Marian on Democratising Dance

In Get Glowing With..., we talk to the women catching our eye about what they’re doing and loving right now. 

“When we think of self-care, we’re quick to join a gym, download a meditation app or go on a diet. Dance classes never seem to be on the radar because people think they’ve missed the boat on learning and the idea of stepping into a studio is terrifying,” says Vanessa Marian, founder of Groove Therapy. “But if we can get past that mental block, we realise dance is artistic expression, exercise and community all rolled into one!” 

With weekly beginner dance classes across Byron Bay, Melbourne and Sydney, plus online courses, Groove Therapy is “for people who are convinced they can’t dance.” We visited Vanessa in Byron to talk self-care and managing stress by “getting out of your head and into your body.”

I created Groove Therapy because... people always projected a weird coolness onto me when they found out I’m a choreographer and movement director. I can’t dance at a party without people stopping and creating a “WOO” circle around me. People drunkenly harass me to ‘teach them a move!’ Or jump in a circle and have dance-offs. It’s not flattering, it’s harassment and it makes me uncomfortable. In truth, I’m just a dork who enjoys dancing, and I want people to join me, so I decided we need to kill this non-dance, self-loathing, tall-poppy culture in Australia.

My morning routine... involves tea, showers, brushing teeth, brekkie, writing lists, a coffee run, an email scan and, finally, a deep dive into painting, drawing, writing, dancing, sewing, cooking or reading. It sounds dreamy but almost all of it centres around my politics and it can get quite angsty in actuality. Still not complaining.

The meal that makes me feel most nourished is… rasam or anything homemade from Kerala, the South Indian state that I am from. It’s all rooted in Ayurveda so it’s just ingrained in us to eat that way. It’s cool to see the West coming on board.

In my fridge, you’ll always find… eggs, because I make the best scramble and I’m lazy, which we can paraphrase to mean busy. 

I manage stress... with dance and by touching base with lots of legends in my life. It’s such a normal part of my day-to-day existence that I don’t realise how much of a preventative coping mechanism it is until I’m being a stroppy shit. I almost always realise after a rude outburst that maybe I haven’t danced or called a loved one in a while. 

My favourite workout is… heels and/or vogue class with legendary choreographer Danielle Polanco in New York. Danni has worked with every big pop star you love—from Janet Jackson to Beyonce—but her in-class choreography is iconic, genius and timeless. She understands music, culture history and the roots of everything she does, so when you learn from her, you feel like you are downloading New York’s history into your body.

I feel most glowy... when I see other women glowing because I bask in their light. 

When it comes to skincare... I recently started using Mukti Organics and I’m into it. I also love The Beauty Chef FLORA FIX BALM for my lips and I’ve even used it on my feet when they’re feeling a little dry after dancing a little too hard. It’s a great balm to rub on just before bed.

The secret to a good night’s sleep is to... swap the scroll for a book. Make sure it’s nothing too heavy or overly cerebral before bed. I love the classics but when I try to read Shakespeare before bed my brain melts from the old school English. Partying is also great for exhausting you into a great night's sleep. I just don’t recommend this on the reg.

Beauty is… a construct baby. Jiggle them thighs.

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