Tagged: Women

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Narragansett studio offers mind, body workout to ‘older dancers’

NARRAGANSETT—It’s Thursday, 9:30 a.m., and most of the businesses at Mariner Square Plaza in Narragansett are not yet open. One, however, is already filled with life: The Studio. Behind its signature red door and handcrafted wooden sign on the window, several middle-age women have gathered for their ballet class. They are not destined to dance at the Bolshoi, nor are they practicing for a recital. But they are devoted and ready for class every week—motivated by their love of ballet and inspired by the passion of their teacher, Marilyn Smayda, owner and artistic director.

“Let’s go, let’s go,” Smayda beckons the women in the dressing room, who are eager to chat and catch up with each other’s lives. “Leave five minutes earlier next time,” she warns them with the smile of a good friend and the discipline of a drill sergeant. 

Dressed in everything from shrugs to leggings, each dancer dutifully rushes across the large wooden dance floor to her spot on the barre. Melodic strains of a waltz by Shostakovich fill the room and immediately the plié warm-up begins. “Motivational arms,” Smayda calls out. “Shoulders down, elbows up, follow your hands.” Ballet class has started, and Smayda is right where she belongs—at the helm.

Owning a studio with a niche for older dancers was not what Smayda had envisioned when she embarked on her ballet career at the tender age of nine. “I never wanted to teach,” she said. “I wanted to dance.”

In fact, Marilyn Miller of Snug Harbor wanted so desperately to be a professional dancer, that she dropped out of South Kingstown High School in 1959 to join the fledgling ballet company ‘American Festival Ballet’ (the seedling for Festival Ballet in Providence). My father was not happy, but my mother thought it might be good life experience,” recalled Smayda, whose exceptional talent had caught the attention of the company’s director. Sixteen-year-old Smayda boarded a plane for a 15-hour flight to Germany, her first time away from home. But Smayda soon realized that the chaos of performing throughout Europe left little time for her to develop her own skills as a dancer. The company was ill-prepared to nourish its dancers artistically, despite its talented corps de ballet and accomplished prima ballerina Sonia Arova, who had danced with Rudolf Nureyev. “The reality was awful,” said Smayda who, with the wisdom of a 74-year-old, believes that she should have gone to New York City to study ballet. 

One year later, Smayda came home disheartened. “I returned to Lydia Pettine’s [the Providence studio where Smayda had trained]. I went to the barre and said ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ ”

For 17 years, Smayda turned her back on dance. She finished high school, worked as a flight attendant, married and had a son. She earned her degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Rhode Island and settled in Jamestown, where she still resides. Although she had stopped dancing, she never stopped moving. 

While taking an aerobics class, Smayda met jazz dancer Erja Fischer, who noticed Smayda’s dancing skills and urged her to teach at her studio. After much coaxing, Smayda said, “I was dancing again and it felt great!”

Smayda took ballet seminars in New York City and completed the prestigious Vaganova course on the Russian style of ballet at Bryn Mawr College. 

With four women she had met with Fischer, Smayda formed a dance ensemble which performed in Rhode Island. But when Fischer closed her studio, Smayda knew she couldn’t stop again. She and her fellow dancers pooled their resources and incorporated a new business; The Studio was born in 1994.

Converting an old furniture store in Mariner Square was a concerted effort. “We all used our skills to re-furbish it,” said Smayda. The dance studio flourished, with each woman teaching her own specialty. Smayda focused on ballet and pointe, while her business partners each taught jazz, modern and tap. From children to adults, The Studio trained many aspiring dancers and coordinated dozens of recitals.

Eventually Smayda’s colleagues decided to pursue other interests, but Smayda retained full ownership. “I wanted to keep it going,” she said. By 2000, Smayda recognized a gradual shift in her student population. Children’s enrollment declined, but adults were steady. Ballet and special tap and jazz workshops all attracted diverse, mature dancers. From 20-somethings who wanted to continue their training…to middle-age women who had left dancing to start families…to older dancers who had always wanted to learn but had not had the chance—Smayda’s studio fits the bill.

“I think it fulfills a need for all of them that is hard to find elsewhere,” Smayda said. 

For 53-year-old mother of five, Connie Lind of North Kingstown, that need is both physical and mental. After a ballet class I am a new woman. I walk into class tired, harried and physically tense and when I leave I am relaxed and free,” said Lind.   

Lind, who started dancing at The Studio 10 years ago, has found that ballet in her middle age has been therapeutic for her problematic hips—affording her a “deep stretch” that other exercise could not achieve. “Ballet is a wonderful complement to my weekly exercise,” she said.

Lind has seen firsthand the all-encompassing benefits of dance in her life. “Ballet is good for my posture, my strength, my flexibility my focus and my peace of mind. It keeps my feeling younger and happier. And I love the camaraderie with my fellow dancers,” she said. “My life often seems too busy for ballet, and then I remind myself, I cannot imagine my life without ballet. So I pack my ballet bag and head out the door.”

Narragansett resident and Lind’s classmate Ann Zarrella did not begin dancing until she was 62, but like Lind, she has come to love the mind-body connection that dance enhances. 

“I had taken a yoga class, but it was not the right fit,” said Zarrella. “I called The Studio and told Marilyn I had absolutely no ballet experience. She encouraged me to try the class. I was hooked.”

Zarrella, who will turn 80 next month, believes that ballet gives her a complete workout. “We all know how important movement is to help slow the aging process,” she said.

“The Studio has provided a wonderful outlet for expressing my love of classical music,” said Zarrella. “The experience of meeting wonderful people is frosting on the cake. Marilyn is an outstanding dancer, teacher and an inspiration to those of us who are relatively new to the art form.”

Smayda is humble about her studio’s appeal. “We have wonderful teachers and the students work hard,” said Smayda. She is proud that her studio still promotes classical ballet in an era where many facilities have turned solely to competitive dance. “We take dance seriously. I think adults are drawn to teachers who have a passion and respect for what they’re teaching,” said Smayda, who jumps, pirouettes and stretches with the agility and flexibility of someone half her age.

Although The Studio still offers a handful of classes to young children, its mainstay is the older student. “It’s technique, music, conditioning for the whole body, mental therapy, a support group…it’s tough and it’s fun,” said Smayda. “Ballet has everything. I love all parts of it. And I don’t plan to stop now. I need this.”

The Studio offers ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and fitness classes for dancers of all levels. Visit thestudioatmarinersquare.com[1] or call 789-3029 for schedule and registration information. 

 

References

  1. ^ thestudioatmarinersquare.com (thestudioatmarinersquare.com)
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Iranian bodybuilder jailed over ‘nude’ selfies

Shirin Nobahari’s Instagram account, which has 68,000 followers, features a series of photos and videos of her lifting weights and performing various exercise routines. Picture: Instagram

IRAN’S social media police have struck again.

The Islamic Republic arrested and jailed a female bodybuilder after she published revealing photos of herself online, Iranian media reported Wednesday.

“One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested,” the Mizanonline news agency reported.

But in Iran, “nude” can refer to women who are not wearing headscarves or are showing parts of their arms and legs, according to AFP.

The AFP also reported that she had previously been warned about posting selfies that were considered “unIslamic”.

The bodybuilder was sent to prison because she wasn’t able to post bail of 2 million rials ($82).

Her current status is unclear.

While the woman hasn’t been officially identified, it is widely believed to be Iranian bodybuilding champion Shirin Nobahari.

With 68,000 Instagram followers, Nobahari (who uses the Instagram moniker Shirin Muscleking[1]) is considered a social media star in the conservative republic.

[embedded content]

She is thought to be one of two Iranian women reported in September to have taken part in an international bodybuilding competition.

The New York Times[2] reports that while women in Iran are permitted to compete in sporting events internationally, they are compelled to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code at all times.

Female swimmers have to wear full bodysuits and headscarves and women footballers and athletes have to wear tracksuits and long sleeves.

There have also been incidents where female sports fans were arrested for watching male sports events.

In 2014 a British woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, was arrested and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin jail after attempting to watch a men’s volleyball match between Iran and Italy[3].

Iranian women are routinely banned from watching football matches, including the national team’s games.

— With Fox News

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Iranian bodybuilder jailed for posting revealing photos of herself online

Iran’s social media police have struck again.

The Islamic Republic arrested and jailed a female bodybuilder after she published revealing photos of herself online, Iranian media reported Wednesday.

ISRAEL: NEW DEFENSE SYSTEM CAN HIT TARGETS OUTSIDE THE ATMOSPHERE[1]

“One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested,” the Mizanonline news agency reported.

But in Iran, “nude” can refer to women who are not wearing headscarves or showing parts of their arms and legs, according to AFP[2].

The bodybuilder – who hasn’t been named – was sent to prison because she wasn’t able to post a $50,000 bail.

Her current status is unclear.

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Fitness gym formally opens in Humble

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

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The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area. (Contributed photo)

Fitness gym formally opens in Humble

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Fitness Connection on Saturday will mark the grand opening of its Humble location.

The gym, at 9669 FM 1960 Bypass Road West, is Fitness Connection’s 13th in the Houston area.

The 52,000-square-foot facility features 100 pieces of cardio equipment, a kids’ area with a movie theater and a women’s only workout area.

RELATED: Workplace wellness programs keep employees fit while cutting health costs[1]

The Houston Texans cheerleaders and Debbie the Texan along with city and community leaders will attend Saturday’s grand opening.

Fitness Connection has grown to more than 30 locations across Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.

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Iranian woman bodybuilder locked up over ‘nude’ selfies

  •  A woman bodybuilder is locked up in Iran for posing selfies showing off biceps
  •  Iranian judiciary said she had been arrested for publishing ‘nude’ photographs
  •  The woman has not been named but could be Instagram[1] queen Shirin Nobahari 
  •  Her Instagram account shirin_muscleking has 208 posts and 67,000 followers
  •  She was one of two women taking part in an international contest in September 
  •  In Iran the term ‘nude’ refers to women showing any flesh above wrists, ankles  and a ‘morality police’ also insist ladies do not wearing tight-fitting clothes 

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An Iranian[3] bodybuilder has been arrested after publishing selfie of her muscles on social media which were deemed to be ‘nude’.

The woman, who is accused of breaking the Islamic Republic’s strict rules on nudity, has been locked up in prison because she was unable to post bail of two million rials (£50), according to the Mizanonline news agency.

She has not been identified but it is thought she may be Shirin Nobahari, one of two women who took part in an international competition and were reported in September to have been warned about selfies which they posted afterwards.

Shirin Nobahari (pictured) posts numerous pictures on her Instagram account of her showing off her biceps. Her clothing, including bear arms, would be deemed 'unIslamic' in Iran

Shirin Nobahari (pictured) posts numerous pictures on her Instagram account of her showing off her biceps. Her clothing, including bear arms, would be deemed 'unIslamic' in Iran

Shirin Nobahari (pictured) posts numerous pictures on her Instagram account of her showing off her biceps. Her clothing, including bear arms, would be deemed ‘unIslamic’ in Iran

Ms Nobahari, who has 67,000 followers on Instagram, posts images and writes in Farsi

Ms Nobahari, who has 67,000 followers on Instagram, posts images and writes in Farsi

Ms Nobahari, who has 67,000 followers on Instagram, posts images and writes in Farsi

Ms Nobahari’s Instagram[4] account, which users the moniker Shirin Muscleking, contains a number of photographs and videos of her showing off her biceps and lifting weights. 

The Iranian judiciary’s own news agency said today: ‘One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested.’

In Iran ‘nude’ can refer to any woman who is not wearing a headscarf or revealing parts of her body such as arms and legs, that must be covered in public.

The identity of the arrested woman is not known but it is thought it may be Ms Nobahari (pictured), whose selfies on Instagram are certainly in breach of Iranian clothes rules

The identity of the arrested woman is not known but it is thought it may be Ms Nobahari (pictured), whose selfies on Instagram are certainly in breach of Iranian clothes rules

The identity of the arrested woman is not known but it is thought it may be Ms Nobahari (pictured), whose selfies on Instagram are certainly in breach of Iranian clothes rules

Bodybuilding is popular in Iran but few of those taking part are women

Bodybuilding is popular in Iran but few of those taking part are women

Bodybuilding is popular in Iran but few of those taking part are women

Iranian women are allowed to take part in international sporting events, but must respect strict Islamic rules on clothing at all times.

Female swimmers have to wear full bodysuits and headscarves and women footballers and athletes have to wear tracksuits and long sleeves.

There have also been incidents where female sports fans were arrested for watching male sports events.

In 2014 a British woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, was arrested and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin jail after attempting to watch a men’s volleyball match between Iran and Italy. 

Iranian women are routinely banned from watching football matches, including the national team’s games. 

The woman who was arrested was reportedly held in prison because she could not make bail

The woman who was arrested was reportedly held in prison because she could not make bail

The woman who was arrested was reportedly held in prison because she could not make bail

Iran is a rigidly regimented country where women in particular must conform to the rules

Iran is a rigidly regimented country where women in particular must conform to the rules

Iran is a rigidly regimented country where women in particular must conform to the rules

He can lift more than 180kg, which is reportedly more than he weighs

He can lift more than 180kg, which is reportedly more than he weighs

He writes in Persian but uses English hashtags such as #strongman #strongbody #big #mucsles and #powerful

He writes in Persian but uses English hashtags such as #strongman #strongbody #big #mucsles and #powerful

Bodybuilding and wrestling are popular sports in Iran. One of the country’s biggest bodybuilding stars is Sajad Gharibi (pictured), who weighs 24 stone. But rules for men showing off their bodies are different to the rules applying to women

Bodybuilding is a popular sport across the Middle East but in most Islamic countries women who take part must remain covered up at all times STOCK PHOTO

Bodybuilding is a popular sport across the Middle East but in most Islamic countries women who take part must remain covered up at all times STOCK PHOTO

Bodybuilding is a popular sport across the Middle East but in most Islamic countries women who take part must remain covered up at all times STOCK PHOTO

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References

  1. ^ Instagram (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  3. ^ Iranian (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  4. ^ Instagram (www.dailymail.co.uk)