Artist Interview: Stephanie Mas

When I first met Stephanie Mas, I was blown away by her humble, sweet, and gentle spirit. She is full of peace, but also outrageously fun and exuberant. Steph studied dance at Florida State University, and has since worked with many incredible artists and choreographers, such as Paloma McGregor, Millicent Johnnie, Megan Kendzior, BODYART, and Kirstin Kapustik. She currently lives and works in NYC dancing professionally with Urban Bush Women under the direction of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Megan Bascom and Dancers. Steph is also an amazing yoga teacher and practitioner. Because of the physicality involved in her work and play, she is harmoniously in touch with her body, mind, and intuition. I know you will benefit from the radiance and wisdom within Steph, just as I have! So without further ado, Stephanie Mas:

Okay, introduce yourself:

Hi, my name is Stephanie Mas and I am a working dancer/artist in NYC. I have resided in the NY area for almost 6 years this coming August. I am currently a dancer with Urban Bush Women and Megan Bascom and Dancers.

How do you stay spiritually focused while living in a city like NYC and pursuing a dancing career?

There is nothing more important while living in NYC than to sit with yourself and practice self care and healing. NYC is a wonderful environment that provides so many opportunities every second of the day, and at times when I get caught up in trying to do everything, I find myself truly spent. If you have a spare minute sit somewhere and close your eyes, even on the subway, and breath about 5-10 deep breaths. I find it so helpful to clear the mind before moving on to the next venture so that you are truly focused.  

Beautiful. How do you balance all the the aspects of life: work, family, play, exercise, etc.?

It is really easy to find yourself off balance in all aspects of life here. Most times I feel creating a personal schedule helps me keep track of my life and allows me to enjoy all the aspects. However, it is also really easy to feel restricted, and obligated to fulfill what you have planned for yourself. Life is full of twists and turns, and I feel I really share a service with myself if I can give myself 5 minutes to scan and realize what I really need at that moment and throw my to do list aside. Most of the time guilt sits within me if I don't make it to a dance class or to yoga because of this need to "stay in shape", and then I often feel disconnected with myself and the world around me. It's important to spend time with our loved ones, play Frisbee in the park, soak up the sun on one of New York's beautiful beaches. It's important to remember that those moments are just as valid and provide the energy that you truly needed for the moment.

What is your favorite go-to healthy meal?

Now that we are getting into the warmer and lighter eating months, I love grabbing a table at Le Pain Quotidien and ordering the Organic French Lentil Salad. The salad is filled with arugula, lentils, avocado, mixed vegetables, flax seeds, chickpeas, and pesto. It's absolutely delicious and I find myself radiating from the inside out! I'm also into roasting vegetables. I'm serious, anything you have sitting in your fridge. Cut the veggies up, throw some olive oil and salt on them, and then roast them for about a 1/2 hr at 400. You won't be disappointed!

Is there an unhealthy food or unproductive habit you find difficult to resist, and if so how do you work to resist it? 

Negativity. It's the greatest enemy! Also, insecurity in yourself. Many times I feel pretty insecure in what I have to share artistically, emotionally, or even physically, but it's usually because I worry what others will think after I share. I work to resist this by sitting with myself and validating that what I have to share has resided in me longer than this particular life I'm living was even created. Through experience and Truth I break that veil of insecurity and say YES!

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring creatives, what would it be?

This is coming straight down from the great Amma (mother) mentor Dana Trixie Flynn: "If you want to live an interesting life, be interested in yourself." Fall in love with yourself! Live the life YOU want to live and be grateful for every lesson along the way, even if it doesn't present itself as a lesson in the beginning. If you want to live a creative life be open, but also be honest and trust in your creative, interesting, and unique self.

What does it mean to you to live in the moment and how do you do that day to day?

My good friend Megan Kendzior always says that so many times throughout the day she finds herself taking a pause, looking around and asking herself if this is really her life. I have tried to adopt this into my practice. It's a great way to calm your mind and realize where you are, what matters, and to also take notice and witness the beauty that is within our world. 
 
What does happiness look like for you?

Happiness is what you make it. I know that sounds pretty cliche but it's totally true. It's taking a moment to realize there is more to life than the material aspects of life. Not to say that having a job and finding that ideal apartment isn't important for our happiness as well, but if we can realize that these things are on a miniscule level compared to our relationships with ourselves and others, then we will be able to spread that joy to the world. It's having compassion for yourself and others, and appreciating the little things.

Connect with Steph through her facebook page!