Zumba!

Filed Under (fitness) by rinnah on 11-01-2013

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Zumba!

Say what? :P

Zumba is like, the latest, newest fitness craze that’s gaining a fair bit of popularity in Singapore gyms and fitness centers. If asked to describe it, I would say it’s like a mash-up of Latin dancing and hip-hop dance moves done aerobics style.

From the official Zumba website : Zumba is an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.

I gave Zumba a test run of 6 classes together with Beetrice last year through a Groupon deal at Physical ABuse. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it and if you find an instructor that you like who does choreography that you like.

Or maybe that’s just me, because I am rather picky about the classes I attend. Must have good choreography (not too repetitive and boring or aerobics like), must have awesome music I can rock out to and the instructor needs to know how to communicate with the class.

You don’t need any basics to do Zumba, just a willingness to have fun and let go. If you have a bit of Latin dance background you’ll find it easier to get the hang of Zumba. Otherwise just go with the flow. :)

I’ve resumed my broken/dropped resolution of 2012 to get fitter and started with another round of Zumba classes (organized by my company) last Tuesday.

Are you getting fit this year too? Do tell in the comments.

Ballet Revolucion

Filed Under (events) by rinnah on 06-02-2012

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I have always loved dance, and of all the dance genres, ballet was my first love from the days when my mother sent me for baby ballet classes at the tender age of 3. So when I heard that Ballet Revolucion was in town, I jumped at the opportunity to make it the first live performance event on my list for 2012.

Ballet Revolucion

Ballet Revolucion definitely is not your normal ballet performance show. It’s been described online as “Ballet with attitude” and “Ballet unleashed as only the Cubans know how”. Check out the video below :

A chance group deal helped me to get awesome seats at almost half price; we were in the stalls just 2 rows from the stage and right in the center too, which meant that we had a perfect view of the action on stage.

I have to say that I was blown away by the energy of the dancers throughout the 2 hour show – as professionals it was the same from the start to the end, no flagging and there’s really nothing like a live performance to really get you going and totally immersed in whatever is happening on the stage. The touch of having a live band for the music was excellent as well as they kept the beat going.

But as much as I wanted to love Ballet Revolucion, I couldn’t.

I couldn’t help but get distracted by all the niggling, little technicalities that I could see. I wasn’t drawn into the dancer’s world where I was completely swept up in their reality until all the technicalities would fade into the distance and away from my memory. Instead, it was the little, unfinished things that kept pricking my consciousness and detracted from my enjoyment of the show.

Now here’s where I have to nitpick and give my (more than) 2 cents worth. (Feel free to skip this bit if you’re not a dancer.)

For a show with ballet in the title, I would have expected more/better ballet performances. I do understand that the show was created to make ballet more accessible to the general public and probably the general public would have enjoyed the short snippets of ballet interspersed with the rest of the dance styles. (The audience that night certainly did.) But for me, the ballet performances that I saw could have been better. Some lines were lovely, some were not. Sometimes extensions were not finished. One ballerina had a poker face, the other had a smile permanently plastered on. I didn’t feel that they were actually feeling the emotions or the expressions of the song and the choreography. The moves just didn’t feel effortless as ballet is supposed to be. It all felt rather contrived at some point or another.

Another area that was really glaring to me was the partner work. I’m not sure how much/often the dancers in the troupe work closely together in partner work, but the chemistry I expect to see in partner work just wasn’t there sometimes. It was just two people going through the motions of dance. I’m not sure if anyone else in the audience caught it, but I kept on seeing the quick glances and checks in between moves to ensure that the other dancer was where he/she was supposed to be. That really distracts me from the flow of the whole performance. I personally felt that the quick and multiple changes of dancers in this case detracted from what could have been lovely partner work.

I enjoyed the soloists’ work when it was shown but the group choreography left me wanting a bit more after a while. I saw a lot of repeated moves, just in different formations and by different dancers to different songs. Aside from one or two stand-outs, the troupe’s ballet background really showed in the group choreography. Some moves for hip hop were not loose enough, or ‘down and dirty’ enough. The flowing movement was sometimes there for contemporary pieces but that fixed ballerina poise still showed.

For the love of dance, yes you can be a Jack of all trades and dance many genres. But if I’m to watch a performance, I would rather watch one short piece by a master of his/her art that leaves me wanting more rather than a mishmash of a lot of styles that left me feeling as if something was missing. In a nutshell, I prefer quality over quantity.

You know, there’s only so many dance movies that have already been made about ballet/other genre crossovers that this production just feels like the live version of it.

Read other reviews on the Internet here :
The Sydney Morning Herald
The West Australian

Lark : The Spa Atelier

Filed Under (beauty, services) by rinnah on 22-09-2011

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Recently, I was feeling sorely in need of a massage session. I had aches and kinks in my head, neck and back that insisted on making itself known to me in various stages of ache-y discomfort. Not being on home turf, I looked around for a decent spa in Singapore that wouldn’t cost me a bomb. Enter Lark : The Spa Atelier.

Lark Spa
Image credit to Lark : The Spa Atelier

What really sold me on choosing Lark Spa was their cutesy website, with all their literary references. There’s even a monthly literary inspired beauty treat – how cute is that? So I booked my appointment for the weekend and off I went.

It’s actually quite easy to get to Lark Spa (another reason why I chose it) from the Novena MRT. Just take Exit B which will take you to the underpass and get you on the right side of the road. From there, it’s just a short 10 minute walk to Hotel Royal, which is where Lark Spa is located.

I have to note that Hotel Royal is not exactly the poshest hotel ever. At the most I would give it a three star rating and even that is really pushing it, based on the ‘old’ feel of the hotel and the lobby/reception area. It reminds me a bit of the Federal Hotel back home in Kuala Lumpur. Also, in the short time I was there, I only saw Chinese nationals staying there, so I would reckon the mainstay of the hotel’s business depends on group tour package bookings.

Hotel atmosphere aside, Lark Spa is located in a teeny nook just off the lobby. Look for the stairs that leads up to the first floor and you’ll find Lark Spa next to it. Lark Spa is essentially a one-therapist operation as they only have one treatment room and a shower room for the hydrotherapy treatment (no toilet though – you’ll have to go outside if you need to use the facilities). So, in other words, it’s tiny and just a little bit cramped for my liking.

Check-in is quick and there’s a simple questionnaire to fill up on the usual – your skin condition and any current products you’re using. If you’re opting for the hydrotherapy treatment, the therapist will discuss with you which types of essential oils will be added to the bath for you. In my case, I was looking for relaxation so I had a blend of lavender, juniper and camomile.

You’re then taken to the treatment room so you can shed your clothes and don a bathrobe before shuffling across the narrow corridor to the shower room. I spent some of my hydrotherapy time wondering how on earth did they manage to get the bathtub in there – it’s that tiny and cramped.

The hydrotherapy basically consists of a shower heater contraption looking thingy that pumps air into the bathtub, forming bubbles that ‘massage’ your body as you sit/lie in the bathtub. There’s a chart hanging on the wall too that shows you the six optimum positions you might want to attempt in order to get the best returns from your hydrotherapy treatment. I personally found that lying on my side and alternating sides seemed to provide the best overall ‘reach’ to allow the bubbles to do its work. The closest description I can think of to describe how this hydrotherapy feels is to imagine yourself in a river with a fairly strong current flowing all around, buffeting your body. Or imagine having a dozen kids surround you and punching you with their tiny fists – you can feel the punch, but it won’t leave a mark.

After 25 minutes of hydrotherapy, I was ready for my full body massage. The therapist used lavender oil for me again, and I pretty much liked her touch. It was firm without being painful and I thoroughly enjoyed my 90 minutes of bliss. The treatment bed is heated for your comfort and I would have fallen asleep if not to the ambient noise – I could hear traffic passing by from the road outside and also whenever my therapist moved around (although bless her, she did try her very best to minimise the disturbances). I also like that the therapist will use hot towels to rub you down each time she finishes off a particular body part or area – I then have less of that oily feeling to deal with later.

Finally, I had a nice cup of tea to finish off my Lark Spa experience, which is apparently part of their Tea Atelier experience. Like the monthly beauty treats, they have limited edition teas to promote each month.

So, the big money question is, will I return to Lark Spa? I might return for the hydrotherapy and have definitely earmarked the massage as a favorite. I may not make it my regular place though and if you’re not comfortable with the ambience/surroundings you might want to give it a pass. A final thing to note – if you don’t speak Mandarin or are not fluent in it like I am, you may encounter some difficulty in communicating with the therapist.

Lark : The Spa Atelier
36 Newton Road
#01-03 Hotel Royal
Singapore 307964

Tel : +65-6356 8750

Website : http://lark-spa.com/

Note : My visit to Lark Spa was using a Groupon deal for 25 minutes of Hydrotherapy and 90 minutes of full body massage.

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