You’ll never believe me, but it’s a true story

What happened to me yesterday is totally crazy.

Would you believe me if I told you that:

I was moving to Paris, but had nowhere to go.
Still looking for accommodation. I packed just one bag with the bare minimum, the time to sort myself out.

I arrived in Paris by bus on Sunday at 11:45am. One suitcase full of dreams.

In a city known to be worst to find property to rent, I found a room at 12:47pm.

And the flat is 22min walk from the school.

Actually let me rewind a little bit…
because it gets even more crazy!

Since I received a spot at the International School of Theatre of Jacques Lecoq, I have been on a mission called abundance! The tuition fee is high and moving country comes at a cost.

Making money, and fast, has been my priority number one over the last 8 weeks.

From reciting positive affirmations to creating a crowdfunding campaign, to taking jobs right, left and centre… I haven’t had much sleep.

Both working hard, and not being physically present in Paris to do any viewings, I had no accommodation planned.

I was performing on Saturday night. Last job before the big day.
I arrived home and it was only around midnight that I sat down searching for a hostel.

My coach to Paris was leaving in a few hours and a dorm would do. Anything would do.

I tried a few websites, and every time I tried to make the payment, internet was crashing. By the time I logged in again, the dorms were full.

I took it as a sign.

I was exhausted. I had not been sleeping much for many days.
I needed rest, space and focus to start the course.
No way a dorm was an option for this new chapter.

A private room through Airbnb, at least for a few days would be much more suitable.
Even though it’d be more expensive, I needed proper sleep for a few days.

Most cheap rooms were already gone at such short notice.
There wasn’t much choice left.
Again, as soon as I tried to make the payment, the internet was crashing.

Time was ticking.
I still needed to pack my bag, and I had to wake up at 4:30am to catch the coach to Paris.

Finally… at 1.29am… the Airbnb website was back on.
I now just needed my request to be accepted.
Fingers crossed.

The lady messaged me straight away… apologising.
My heart sank. She had made a mistake.
The room wasn’t free and she forgot to take the dates off the website.

She also sent me a message offering me to stay on her sofa bed in the living room for half price. She was so kind, she didn’t want me to be stuck.

I accepted. It was better than changing dorm and hostel every day of the week to come.

When I arrived at the flat, we had a bite and a cup of tea.
The landlady was so dynamic, joyful, and so kind. I told her my story.

She promptly said I was welcome to rent the room until January if I wanted to.
She hadn’t advertised it yet, and she was about to travel for family and business purposes.
She didn’t want the stress of having Airbnb guests during that time period.

She took a liking in me. She showed me so much care. I was speechless.

And so… this is how I am starting my new life chapter in Paris!!!

 

Moral of the story: develop trust.

Trust in your purpose, trust in your gut feelings, trust in your intuition.

 

A FEW DAYS LEFT TO DONATE to the crowdfunding campaign

DONATE HERE

 

Accepting International Applications

Groundwork is a one week professional development program for dancers and choreographers.

If you have a background in Hiphop, Dancehall, Krumping, Afrobeats, or House, and you want to learn /improve your skills in the dance theatre sector, this program is for you.

I am excited to be one of the guest teachers on the program, but a whole line up is awaiting for you!

It is a residential program, in other words, you will stay, sleep, eat and create all week in Destelheide, an amazing arts centre.

 

We are opening up a few spots for international artists.

Belgian dancers: applications are closed.

Internationals: apply ASAP or before 28th SEPT.

 

If you get selected, it only costs 120€ to do the program! (And yes that includes accommodation and food 3 meals / day).

Applicants from outside of Belgium, you will just have to travel to Brussels by your own means. The rest is taken care of by the organisation.

 

Full info & applications: https://www.facebook.com/events/2123397871313843/

 

You can also contact the organisers directly: TIMISS

 

Development Grant

I can finally make it official!

FAITH Drama Productions is giving me a £500 Development Grant in support to the training & research I will be doing at the International School of Theatre of Jacques Lecoq in Paris!!!

« We believe it is important to invest in powerful artistes whose talents will make a strong impact on communities around them. »

– Gbemi Ikumelo

 

Thank you  so much for the support, recognition, encouragement and the belief you have in my work!!

I can’t wait to share my new knowledge & skills with the Faith Drama team / members in the very near future.  So so grateful.

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My crowdfunding campaign is still ON.

20 days left for those who would like to contribute and make a difference:

Link:

bit.ly/crowdfundingforcindy

That nasty little inner voice

Wanna know what my nasty little voice was saying?
 

It was not “I am not good enough”….

 
—-
 
Mine was “I am not important anyway, and nobody cares”.
 
When I say it “was”… don’t take me wrong.
It still appears like a gremlins and pops up like firework by surprise.
 
This evil sentence especially likes to catch me when I am playing bigger, aiming bigger, dreaming bigger.
 
I had to learn the art of wrestling with it, as well embracing it and loving it for what it is.
 
—-
 
So when I started a crowdfunding campaign for my tuition fee to study at Jacques Lecoq in Paris… guess who knocked at the door?
 

“I am not important anyway, and nobody cares”.

 
Damn… it was having a full on party, bottles popping, inside my brain and my veins.
 
I had to put the unwanted guest outside, thank him for sharing its thoughts, but party was over. Camp in a tent outside, mate!
 
—-
 
One month later…
 
73 people donated
 
73 people told me THEY CARED, and they are encouraging me on the journey
 
Donations came from:
Belgium, UK, San Francisco, NYC, Sweden, New Oreans, Jamaica and Paris
 
—-
 
THANK YOU <3
 
Every day I am freaking out a little more thinking…

wow… I got 73 people waiting for me to succeed…

 
No pressure.
 
—-
 
I am sharing this story because this crowdfunding campaign has been the FIRST TIME I ever put myself vulnerably on the line so much.
 
People could have ignored me.
 
People could have swiped away and scroll further.
 
But they didn’t.
 
Instead… LOVE POURED IN from all corners of the world:
With donations when people were able to, and, with a message / favour / text when they couldn’t donate.
 
Did I ever imagine this could happen?
 
NO WAY.
 

I thought “I wasn’t important anyway”, that I was gonna walk down the aisle of shame cause nobody would even pay attention to my posts.

 
—-
 
The BIGGEST life lesson today is to be OPEN.
OPEN to receive encouragements.
OPEN to receive love.
 
I played it tough for many years.
Often felt like I was a lonely warrior, fighting… fighting what?
 
What I really needed to fight/love/accept was that inner voice.
 
—-
 
Today I wanna share this with you all:
 
I am important and people care.
 

YOU are important and people care.

May we all be OPEN to receive this abundant caring energy that exists all around us.
May your nasty gremlins little voice camp outside.
LIFE is YOUR party, not his.

And remember we need more artists like you partying in this world.

 
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Picture by Wei Wang 🙂

Take a leap of faith, of purpose, of freedom

May you all have the confidence, trust & power, to make YOUR leap of faith
.
I’ll share my story cause some of you are going through something similar
.
I was a dance teacher for +/- 20 years (I started young). While I liked teaching, and while I was good at it, my heart kept saying that my true path was elsewhere
.
During the last few years, I kept teaching dance in the hope that some day – one day, the big creative vision will come true and I’ll be able to – finally – follow my true purpose & STOP teaching
.
Yes I liked it. Every class. But I knew it wasn’t my calling, it was not the WHY I was on earth for
.
Yes I was good at it but I’m good at many things. And I learned that being good at something doesn’t mean you should do it
.
Jan 2018: I was living in HOPE, hope for a life change and a business REFOCUS
.
Dance Theatre, Dance Storytelling, creating shows, and teaching THIS to students: that’s what makes my heart beat, and that’s what I wanted to do full time – not half the time
.
May 2018: I stopped teaching dance, only taught a tiny bit since
.
In the words of Lisa Nichols – my vision went from OPTIONAL to NON NEGOTIABLE
.
I had no back up plan though
.
While it felt liberating, it came with financial pressure
.
Big part of my business was based on it. But it felt RIGHT
.
I trusted SOMETHING would come up in my energetic field
.
I was literally telling the Universe / God / my Guardian Angels / Green Tara: I am READY, tell me, what’s next
.
Two months of chaotic uncertainty later, I received a place at the International School of Theatre of Jacques Lecoq in Paris
.
A dream come true
.
I landed… I am safe… until my next leap of faith
.
As a choreographer / theatre director / comedy specialist – I’m taking things to a next level. Time to play EXTRA BIG
.
Wishing you to play big, trust, and make YOUR own personal leap… and you’ll land safely
.

 

New Podcast

Yes yes, you can now listen to my Podcast on Spotify, Anchor and Google Podcast!

I am sharing short snippets of TOP TIPS for dancers as well as lessons learned during this crazy life journey of creativity.

 

Listen now:

SPOTIFY

GOOGLE PODCAST

ANCHOR

Enjoy the listening, and feel free to send me topics / questions you’d like to talk about!

 

PS: did you know one of my big dreams is to be a TV presenter?

Oprah Winfrey being an icon that has impacted me in many ways… I’ll start with a Podcast Radio for the now 😀

 

 

Smashing that glass ceiling into pieces

It makes me boil, boil to the bone
All my efforts were in vain – I wish I had known
It didn’t matter whether or not – artistically – I had grown
That glass ceiling wanted me away from the throne

Initially, I saw myself rise and rise and rise
During the ascension – I thought it was all lies
Women were flying high – as much as the guys
Little did I know it was sneering in the background – in disguise

Let me introduce you: The Glass Ceiling
Ladies and Gents: Gender Inequality
Drum rolls… OFF BEAT please!

It hit me hard, and by surprise.

– by Cindy Claes

================

It feels a little bit like…

Walking straight into a glass door.
Whether your nose is bleeding or your eye is bruised, nobody even noticed you missed the entrance.

It feels a little bit like…

Running with sweat and tears after a train who has already departed.
But your waving ain’t catching nobody’s attention.

================

FACT: 
The arts industry is poisoned by gender inequality.

FACT: 
Female choreographers / theatre directors are not receiving the same commissions, support and opportunities.

FACT: 
I don’t have all the answers on how to make a deep long lasting difference.

I can only share with you the way it made me feel:
Frustrated, sad, angry, helpless AND…

FLIPPING POWERFUL!!

Lisa Nichols says:

“Some motivation will come wrapped in sandpaper.”

 

That which was initially rage, has fueled an un-negotiable hunger for growth.

I am making a radical life-changing decision:
studying at Jacques Lecoq in Paris for 1-2 years.

I am leaving everything behind.
Current network, reputation, gigs, home, friends, etc.
Scary? YES!

================

I am going to invest time and energy into become the best artist I can ever be.

I am gonna raise my game, learn a world-widely renown technique approaching theatre, comedy and dance in the most magnificent way.

This is the way I will contribute in smashing this glass ceiling into pieces.
With skills, by skills, and through skillful creations.
(Wait for it, when I am back…)

Opening the door, for the next generation of girls and women.
And making the flipping train WAIT for them before departing without them.

================

SUPPORT FEMALE LEADERSHIP

DONATE TOWARDS MY TUITION FEE to study at Jacques Lecoq:

CLICK HERE

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Picture & necklace Wei Wang

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To anyone who ever found excuses not to live their wildest dreams

To anyone who ever found excuses not to live their wildest dreams:

===

I thought I was pretty good at catching myself when making excuses until…

Until I hit a wall.
The wall of unhappiness.
I felt unfulfilled, stuck.

I was “busy”.
I had 2 business coaches, tried a whole bunch of new things.

I was still MISERABLE.

Why?
My creative self wasn’t expressing itself to its highest potential.
Professionally, I was stagnating*
(*more in another post)

===

But there was one place where I still felt home, at peace, alive, and creative: Jacques Lecoq.

Yet, I gave myself 5001 excuses NOT to study at Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Moving there for 1-2 years?!?!

I talked myself out of this dream for a LONG TIME.

===

My EXCUSES were:

“I am too old.”
“It’s too expensive I can’t afford it.”
“I can’t put my career on hold now. Stop the non sense.”
“Tell theaters you’ll be gone for 1-2 years… and all the hard work you done so far will go to the bin.”
“Everybody will forget about your existence if you leave.”
“Leave the dance scene for a year and you’ll be back to square one. Forget it.”
“Euh… what you gonna do in Paris?”
“People will laugh at you. They ain’t gonna understand the concept of professional development. They gonna think you were an imposture for all those years.”
“It’s too late.”
“You wanna become a better theatre director, choreographer and blahablahblah… who the F&^$$K cares?”

====

I CARE!

I wanna grow. I wanna fullfill my highest potential as an artist. I wanna stop playing mediocre and raise my game.

====

I had to remember that it is MY LIFE, and I CARE.

And that’s not a bad start if you wanna be happy. 

====

Inner voice: “So… what you gonna do about it Cindy?”

====

I got tired of my own inner talk.

I hated the wall of unhappiness I had hit.

I spoke to a 55 years old woman living her theatre dream and felt soooo silly. My excuses crumbled.

I applied – extremely last minute.

Got onto the waiting list.

(Just getting on the waiting list was high in emotions, I cried. It was as if my soul said “YES GIRL! IT WAS ABOUT TIME!”)

Three days later, I got an email saying I go a place to start in October.

The next day I created a crowdfunding campaign for my tuition fee.

Now I am planning the move, following the path to happiness.

I trust that all the resources I need are already on its way to me. Blessings come as a full package. 

====

So, too anyone who ever found excuses NOT to live their big dream… look the wall in the eye, and say “you are about to crumble down my friend” 😉

====

I am currently fundraising.

To support and make a donation towards my tuition fee to study at Jacques Lecoq:

 

 

Jacques Lecoq, the big deal!

Ladies and gents… drum rolls please…

I have been offered a place at the International School of Theatre of Jacques Lecoq (a pioneer in physical theatre, physical comedy, and more). This is… insane, a big deal, a rare opportunity, a true blessing!!!

I will be temporarily relocating to Paris for this incredible opportunity.

I am asking for your HELP TO COVER THE COSTS OF MY TUITION FEE.

REWARDS for those making a contributions!

Full info – click here

Compassion and Creativity

I was on a meditation course this weekend with my favourite teacher (a Buddhist monk called Gelong Thubten).
We talked in-depth about the importance of integrating compassion and kindness to our practice of mindfulness.

For example:

During the meditation practice, our mind will inevitably wonder and thoughts will pop up, all in the name of distraction.
If people tell themselves things like “common’ you, can’t you focus!” it raises their stress levels.
If on the other hand, we kindly, gently bring ourselves back to focussing on the breath, without judgement, oxytocin is being released, which makes us feel safe and calm.

How compassionate are we with OUR creativity?

I am guilty.
I have definitely attended dance classes where I thought: “Common’ Cindy! You aren’t getting the groove right!”
Looked at my poetry thinking: “This isn’t good enough. You are not sharing that with the world.”
Preparing a show: “Girl, you better hurry up. Doesn’t look like ideas come quickly to you, or is it?”

Meditation combined with the practice of compassion brought me on a different journey.
Being kind to myself when ideas popped up transformed my relationship with my creative juices, but also with how I share it with the world.

 

Creativity and making this world a better world

As an artist, I always reflected how my creativity could make this world a better world. Whether I am creating a show, teach a class or perform, I want it to benefit society in some way, shape or form.

In Buddhism, we dedicate our practice to the benefit of others. Meditation is not a selfish act to improve our own lives, it is also a practice to benefit others, making all lives more peaceful and joyful.

I believe that when we tap into our most profound creative potential, we have the ability to impact our communities, relationships and environment. I want to see everyone feel confident in their creative approach to life.

When I talk about creativity, I mean ALL creative ventures:

– finding solutions to business problems
– being creative in our public speaking
– putting ideas on the table during a meeting at work
– etc.

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It is because I believe in the compassionate power of creativity, that I set up the:

DYNAMIC CREATIVITY RETREATS

A full weekend of dance, theatre, storytelling, creative writing… and compassion!

No previous experience necessary. All welcome.

SAT 25th & 26th AUG in London

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The benefits of engaging in fun and mindful creative tasks impacts all areas of our lives (personal and professional).
Join us to tickle your funny bone and learn to think on your feet!
The objective of this Retreat Weekend is to:

  • cultivate a creative approach to life
  • a solution-orientated mindset

 

BOOK TICKETS  CLICK HERE

Cindy

PS: we have early offers on at the moment, book your spot now 🙂