We would be wrong to call her just strong. She is strength. In the purest, beautiful and most authentic way, BRiNA shared her awe-inspiring story of her journey as an artist passionate about dance. The wins. The ups and downs. And how she is not just thriving as an individual, but also building a safe space for other budding dancers to thrive. We are in awe of how she combines everything beautiful, effortlessly and how she rose above one of the most trying phase of her life beyond all odds.
Join us on this special Heart-2-Heart conversation, as BRiNA lets us in on her journey as a Creative, in the most relatable and inspiring way!
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
We would be wrong to call you strong, you are strength. We are in love with the Bright Light that you are. We are in love with not just how you constantly thrive beyond all odds, but also how you uplift, set the pace and clear pathways for others to thrive as well. Can you please share some highlights of how you began your creative journey as a coach, mentor and dancer?
Thank you very much from my side for having me here. Thanks so much for this opportunity. I really love to share my message and my story because my goal and my real purpose, as well as yours, are to inspire people not to give up. You have struggles and difficult circumstances, but the most important thing is not giving up. This is why we’re here, so my journey started when I was a kid. I hope you know Ciara for sure. Ciara, the singer She once said in a song, “The moment I began walking, I began dancing,” so it was actually for me. The moment I began walking, I began dancing, so everything I knew from the start of my life has been dancing in a lot of different styles, really all over the globe. It was solo dances and couple dances, but my heart always beat for hip-hop, dancehall, and afrobeats. That was my heart, so I decided one day to teach that, and this was like, in parallel, a dance journey, and beside that, I had my career, my normal life journey, and I studied art at the university and became a school teacher. My visit to New York for the first time in 2019 had a huge impact on me. This is also why my school is called NYDS, and at that time I lost my day job, and I was searching for something new, something more within, and this is actually the beginning of the story, which is why I put those two things together: my passion for dance and my passion for teaching, and I became a dance teacher.
What does Art mean to you?
It means most of all freedom. freedom for me because you have the opportunity to express yourself. But not only yourself, you have the opportunity to express your feelings. And I think it is the most beautiful way to make feelings visible, because you cannot see feelings unless you look at someone, at the body, at a painting, or listen to music, and that is the only way we can really see feelings. That is one part for me; this is art—freedom. Pure freedom. There are no limits.
We are grateful to have you onboard this special ISSUE in celebration of awe-inspiring dancers around the world. Also in honor of the International Dance Day 2023. We know how unique and special the Art of dancing is to each dancer. As an individual passionate about this Art, what does dance mean to you?
It’s really special because the difference between art and dance is Arts means everything and freedom, but dance means everything to me as well. Like you just said, since I was born, it has been the easiest way for me to change my mood from a bad one to a better one. So whenever I feel stressed, sad, or not very well, I just have to dance, and then I feel better. That’s one thing dance means for me—pure freedom. I mean, that’s one of the most important things, I think. Maybe you saw on my website something that I really love. Then again, it is a mixture between dance and the arts, but what I love about dance is that you’re never done because there’s always something new, and you can always learn something new, so you become better. There’s no limit. That’s something that I teach my students. I say you can learn a step, but you can learn to do that step differently, with another energy, with a different attitude, with another dynamic, so it’s limitless. It’s everything, and that’s something I know might be scary for some people, but to me, it means you have everything, all opportunities here, and you can choose whatever you feel like, so that’s a huge thing for me, and as well, what I’d like to mention is that through dance, I learned so many life lessons, like never give up, that maybe through my normal career I might not have learned all these life lessons. Dance showed me it was one of the biggest lessons in my life—never give up, try again, be you, and not compare yourself—and all those lessons I learned through dance.
How was growing up like?
I grew up here in Switzerland with my parents and my two younger brothers, and maybe beside the fact that people think, “Wow! Switzerland!” and all the opportunities, huge countries, rich people, and everything, I would say that I was a bit bizarre as a kid because I was an artist from birth, so I was a little bit on the side. I had to struggle. It was not so easy to be a dancer as a kid because you were different. With time, I learned to appreciate that difference. And I am even happier to be different from others because it makes me special. So I began to feel special about the love that I had for dance. But yeah it was not always easy as well for my parents. You can imagine that I was young, and my parents, like all parents, just wanted the best thing for me, so they wanted me to go to school, make a career, and have a good job, but I just wanted to dance all day, so I think for my parents it was not so easy to have an artist as a kid.
After your career breaking accident and your comeback just recently (March 2023), you released an awe-inspiring masterpiece titled ‘Bruised-Not Broken.’ Can you please share some highlights of this phase for you and what helped you find a light at the end of the tunnel?
Wow. That’s a huge question. It has been two years now, and maybe we just separated a little bit. Let’s first talk about the highlights. I think the highlights for me are all the lessons that I was able to learn through the hardship. For example, I truly lost my identity because when people ask me, “Who are you?” or “What are you doing?” well, I’m a dancer. I defined myself through dance, and if you’re not able to dance any more, then who am I? So it was a loss of my identity, and at the same time, I was able to see that dance was just one thing that I was good at. So it made me connect with myself even deeper. That’s one lesson I learned for sure, as well as what I said at the beginning: never give up. This was always something that people said to me, “You’re a warrior,” “You’re so strong,” but this happened—the accident and the two surgeries. I mean, this is like the real proof that yes, I’m here to never give up because, honestly, I thought at that moment that I had to close my school and that my life was over. So I was like lost. I was really lost, and I thought that this was the only thing that would keep me from getting up again. So some of those highlights are that I learned to listen more to my body as well. That was something. Because as a dancer, you depend so much on your body, It’s not like a painter, but we really depend on our bodies, so you have to take care of them. So sometimes I put all the pain that I had in one knee aside because I had class. I had to teach. So I took some pills and I taught because I was forced to teach, so I think I overstepped the limits of my body several times, so the body one day had no other choice but to just break me down and say, “Stop, take me out of this.” So this was something that I learned the hard way: to listen more to my body.
So these were the highlights. So what helped me overcome—I wouldn’t call it depression because I really had a crisis in my life—was that I thought that I had found what I was here for. I really thought this was my purpose, and I was always so happy to say that I had a purpose, because there are so many people in the world searching for purpose, and I found it, and I was even able to live it. So I felt like, “What’s going on? Why does this have to happen to me?” The most important thing is the people around me. The people that love me and the people that lift me up still believed in my dreams, and this was the biggest support. As well as the strong why that I have—why am I doing what I’m doing—the vision is a huge vision. This kept me going to keep doing what I’m doing, to work on my body and mind, and to work on my soul.
What’s your dream life as an Artist?
My vision with NYDS and as an artist is to create the NYDS Academy as a place where not only dancers but other creatives have a second home. I would like to build a place for people who are mind-like, and maybe you had the same struggle that I had when I was a kid. I really want to give that second home where there’s no judgement, there’s no guilt, and everyone will just be like they are and feel welcomed. Furthermore, I always want to keep my arms open like that and just come in. If you want to dance, sing, or write like you, come in because I need you to maybe make a text for my website. So I think if creatives were to work a little bit more together, that would be amazing. And I would love to make a place like that for you.
As founder of New York Dance Studio, please share the
vision behind your impactful platform.
Actually, it’s really simple. I would like to give dancers access to the opportunities that I didn’t have as a kid. There’s a really beautiful quote that I love because it inspires me. It says, “Be who you needed when you were younger.” And that’s my vision. I want to be that support person in the life of another child who is suffering the same things that I was challenged by as a child because I was special. I was different, and I want to make them feel special in a good way. You’re not a bizarre kid. You’re an artist, and you’re perfect the way you are, and I would like to welcome those people. So this is actually NYDS.
What would you consider most fulfilling on your journey as a dancer?
I would respond in two parts. I have a mantra that I tell myself. This is maybe a vision of my future life, but this is also the thing that I want to live, which is, “I would like to do every day what I love, making a lot of money with it, with people that I enjoy, and growing as a person.” So this is, in one sentence, what I would really like to do. And within this part, what I most enjoy as a dancer and as a dance teacher is teaching because I see my students evolve and grow, becoming stronger, more versatile, or more confident about their bodies and their movements. Honestly, this is the biggest salary that I can have because I can really see them grow, and when I know that my work, my effort, my pain, and everything else gives them the power to empower themselves, oh, that’s amazing. That’s everything. That’s the best part of it.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
That’s a hard one. First, I would have said yes, and finally, I would say yes and no. I think because I have the proof of not only dancers who are asked to realize their dreams, no matter the country they are born in, where they reside, the language they speak, the nationality that they have, or whatever. I saw so many people who were really successful and started from zero. So for me, it was more about the mindset because, like we said at the beginning of the interview, everybody thinks, “Oh, Switzerland! Rich country, and so on,” but I don’t know if you know that dancing is still not a recognised and accepted profession in Switzerland. This is always a hobby, and it’s not even an accepted sport. So can you imagine that in a really developed country like Switzerland, a dancer is nothing? Dancing is just a decoration somewhere, so it just depends on your mindset. If I believe I can do something here in Switzerland with my conditions, someone in his country can do something in his country with their conditions. It is really about whether you want to change something.
Balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time, rest time and family time?
Maybe what a lot of people don’t know about me is that I actually work four days a week as an executive assistant. So I have almost a full-time job. And I just use three days a week to do my business and my dreams. And besides that, I’m currently studying to be a human design coach. So this means I’m doing studies, I’m working, and I’m trying to build up my business, so I’m doing three things at the same time. And sometimes people say, “How do you do this?” You have 24 hours, but I don’t have the time like you. And I also said, “It’s just mindset,” because, for example, I work on the train when I’m travelling to work. I work on Convoy; I just prepare posts to share on social media or something. Yesterday I had an appointment and I had to wait, so I made some notes to jot down some ideas. So you can always use your time wisely. So yes, I have 24 hours like everyone else, but I use them differently, and now the balancing thing: over the years, I learned three life hacks. The first life hack is that I work on focus days. This means, for example, that on Monday, I work, and then I concentrate on my mind. For example, I read a book, I study, I do research, or I nourish my mind. And then maybe Tuesday is working at the office, and then at night I do something for my body. I go for a walk, or I stretch, or whatever it is. And so I have focus days, and this helps me to always do things for my mind, my body, and my soul. And so I’m not overwhelmed because I think I should do my body, mind, soul, and whatever else, and that’s just not possible. So it helps to have a plan. I have a very strict rule: the first hour of the morning and the last hour before I go to bed, no phone. And in my bedroom, no phone. So it helps me to wake up calm; I could take time to have my coffee, and everything would start slowly. If I go straight to my phone, then it’s not a good day. I’m really strict about that. I put my phone in my office when I go to bed, and I take it out in the morning when I go to work. The third one is “schedule me time.” I have to schedule my time. So it might sound crazy, but it’s on my agenda, which saves me time. And at this time, I don’t have plans. I just do what I feel like doing at the moment. Sometimes it’s taking a bath; sometimes I just watch Netflix, and that’s okay. I mean, everybody watches Netflix. I’m not always working. My time is just like no plans; I go with the flow and just do whatever my mind or my body needs at that moment. So this is how I work, more or less.
What does success mean to you?
For me, it is linked to the mantra that I said. So for me, it is waking up in the morning and knowing for sure that I am able to do what I love and have an impact. If, through my efforts, I’m able to impact one person, I feel rich. because my soul is full and overwhelming. This is the highest positive energy for me: to serve. If I can serve through my work and inspire people, that’s success for me.
As creatives, we understand the high tendencies of getting stressed out even while pursuing our passion. There are days when even depression may creep in or just that inexplicable feeling of overwhelmingness. Do you have any relatable experience to this? If so, how are you able to manage and thrive beyond phases like this? Any quick tips on ‘Mental Health for Creatives.’
I think my biggest learning within all of this industry was that I stopped chasing everything. When I was younger, I chased everything. I chased shows and competitions that featured me somewhere; can I participate in your video clip? I was really searching for opportunities, and the older I got, the less I chased and the more things flowed to me automatically. I mean, this was an opportunity, and it came to me because it had to happen like that. And that’s what I believe: what is for you will not miss you. It will come. So be patient, do less initiating things, and go with the flow. I think that’s a huge message to people who are upcoming in the industry. You can literally work 24 hours, but you’re chasing, and that’s not good.The second thing I’d like to say is do not compare yourself, because you can get inspired by other people, but don’t ever try to compare the journey of someone else with your journey, because your body, mind, and soul are unique, so why should you live the same life at the same pace as someone else? That’s not interesting, it’s not authentic, and it’s not you. So try to be you. It’s really hard with social media because you’re comparing all day. Concentrate on yourself because the only limit you have is the face in the mirror. Your goal is to be better than yourself yesterday, not better than anyone else.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about BRiNA.
Maybe you would laugh, or maybe you would not, but it is the case that I’m an introverted person. It doesn’t seem like that, even if I do videos. I mean, I talk on Instagram stories; I show myself. I’m an introverted person. That’s what most people don’t know. I’m nervous before class, before teaching, if I have to speak somewhere. The secret is that I’ve learned over the years how to manage it, but I’m constantly going out of my comfort zone. People always think, “God, it’s easy for you, Brina.” Uh, no. You don’t know how it is inside. I’m pretty introverted, so I have to push myself anyway.
Do you have any forthcoming project you will like to share?
The most important project or two, mainly for this year, is that I would love to go back to teaching. So, this is really something that I miss. I don’t feel ready yet to do that on a regular basis, like weekly classes or whatever, so I don’t try to push myself and my body too much, because that’s a lesson I learned. I would try to start with workshops on weekends, then let’s see how it progresses. So, this is something I hope to start in the summer. I’m training myself for that and getting ready. And the second thing is actually something that I dreamed of for four years. I’ve had that in mind for years, and I’ve been scared, but this year I have decided to finally launch this project, which is exclusive information. I never talked to anyone officially about it. Furthermore, I would launch a podcast, and it would be called “Rina,” and so really life lessons, like never giving up, are part of these things that I said today that will be topics for this podcast.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?
It would be orange. Part of the NYDS logo Why? Because when I started NYDS, I was searching for a color and I knew that the D for dance had to be in another color. And I decided on orange first because the New York City taxis are this yellow-orange color. That inspired it, and also because orange, by its definition, is optimism. It is creativity. It’s uplifting and energetic, and it describes my best character, which is why I have chosen this color as my brand.
Massive Love BriNA,
The ICONIC Team