Filmmaker, Yoga Teacher, Director of YOU GOT THIS, GIRL! (YGTG)
This month, we talked to the empowering Mel Mah about how her passion for movement has impacted and transformed her life. She shared her perspectives on the importance of community, gave inspiration to following your passion, and reminded us the great gifts dance instills in all of us - ideas that perfectly illustrate what Danse Bloom is all about.
Why did you choose to pursue dance?
Dance was the first thing that made me feel PASSION. It was the only thing that allowed me to freely express who I was. And with that, getting lost inside my body fueled my soul at a young age. I remember how electrified I would feel every time I'd step onstage. I chose to pursue dance as a career because I honestly couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to move to LA and dance on world tours for the biggest artists! It was a vision that persisted in my mind for years as a teenager, and even though my parents wanted me to continue with a more academic path, I knew that I would regret not pursuing dance professionally.
The fear of knowing how I would feel if I didn’t chase down the scary path that a dance career entails was what made me pursue dance in the end. I was undoubtedly afraid and unsure of whether or not I would be successful… but I believe you need to worry more about never trying and living with that, rather than trying and missing. It's about choosing to use your fears in a way that benefits you and your purpose. Get more scared about NOT trying to accomplish all of your dreams than being scared about starting.
Describe a typical day in your life.
It's hard to describe a typical day because it really depends on what I'm currently working on... and that's just ALWAYS changing ha! Work-wise, I'm either teaching a YGTG workshop, building YGTG as a company, working on set of a film production, writing a script, mentoring women through YGTG, or teaching yoga.
No matter what my schedule may be work-wise, I always strive to maintain a daily morning spiritual practice that keeps me aligned and centered. That remains my daily staple: to wake up and connect with the energy around me and the energy within me. I commit to a meditation practice once a day in order to understand my emotions at a deeper level, and I cherish the time I give to myself to listen to my thoughts. I definitely know my meditation practice is the sole reason why I'm able to spread my energy in so many different industries and live in so many different work titles, while still feeling grounded in who I am. Meditation allows me to understand my purpose and reminds me of my "why" before I even begin my day.
What is the importance of community to you?
Community means everything to me, and it's what I strive to give all women through YOU GOT THIS, GIRL!. One of the things I'm most proud of when thinking about YGTG is building the YGTG army, which is the team of girls who work for the company. They are so passionate about our mission to help all females feel like their most badass selves while they work from Toronto, Utah, and Los Angeles. The incredible bond we've created within the company is what drives our work. It truly sends out the empowered message of encouragement to all other women around the world. I truly believe our company and our work is only as strong as the sense of community we're able to establish within YGTG first.
When we focus on community, we realize we are stronger together and not only that... we can't do it alone. We lift ourselves up by lifting each other up, and we fight for ourselves when we fight for others. There is no separation between any humans. It's my mission to teach others that making a real, positive impact means thinking about the greater good for all and rooting yourself in community.
What is the greatest thing that dance has taught you? Has this lesson translated into other aspects of your life?
Discipline, discipline, discipline. I started ballet when I was 5 years old and telling a hyper, little girl to stand still at the barre and listen to the teacher was the best mental training in the world. I think dancers are some of the most persistent and dedicated artists because we have to ‘be’ to see results. It takes incredible mental strength to accomplish what we do with our bodies and to push through any obstacles to get what we desire. Learning discipline through dance has absolutely translated into every area of my life, and I credit my experience as a dancer for my strong ability to work hard, stay committed, and persist through any roadblocks.
It's interesting how I have been realizing all the fantastic things that dance has taught me after I've stopped dancing professionally and have now moved onto new dreams. Maybe it's being able to separate yourself from it for a second and really reflect on your path from an objective view. The greatest thing I've learned since transitioning into filmmaking, teaching yoga, and owning a company is that even though I don't pursue dance as a career anymore... I will never stop being a dancer. Being a dancer is in my blood, in my heart, in my soul and that will never change. And the things that I've learned as a dancer absolutely come into everything I do. I've just found new containers to shift that artistic energy into instead of dance. All the incredible qualities that result from nurturing yourself as a professional dancer, whether it's creativity, passion, vigor, strength, or fight all stick with me and continue to push me forward in new endeavors.
Would your younger self expect you to be where you are in your dance career and life?
Not at all! My younger self wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps and become a doctor. It was actually my dream to work in medicine from as young as I can remember until I really started committing to dance in my teens! Dance totally crept up on me and took me by surprise, which is why I also felt so much purpose from it. I was never forced to be a dancer, and it always remained a deep-set desire that brought me so much joy. I never really thought I could actually make a career out of it, and I definitely never thought a dance career would lead to my current job titles of directing film, running my own company, and teaching yoga.
I guess that's the fun of this crazy thing called life. We're born into the world to follow our dreams, pursue our passions, produce work that helps yourself and others, but to also enjoy the ride and flow with it. How boring would it be if we could plan everything out and have our expectations met every single time? I could have never planned that wanting to dance on a world tour stage would have lead me to dream of winning an Academy Award for directing next. But it did. I think finding your purpose and leading a love-filled life is all about trusting the visions and intuitions that come to you, and when that little voice inside of you says, "this is it"... you listen. And go for it. No questions asked.
Our community of Bloomies can take Mel’s beautifully authentic insights to heart - take the leap of faith, pursue your passion, and lift each other up! You can find more from Mel and YOU GOT THIS, GIRL! on Instagram at @mellymah @ygtgofficial.