We had the good fortune of connecting with Abagail Fritz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abagail, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Over the many years of working for myself, I have learned a few important lessons about work life balance: One, is the skill of knowing when to stop… when to put the phone or computer screen away, or how to prioritize urgent tasks from those that can wait, so that I have healthy boundaries when it comes to my personal time. When you work for yourself, the work never really stops, and it follows you home, so it’s important to know when to press pause and rest. This is also important so that you are present with those around you, be it a partner, family, or friends, so that work does not interfere or distract from precious relationship time. The second lesson, is the importance of self care. When I take care of my personal needs, be it my physical, mental, spiritual health, I am much better at my job. This is because self care not only restores my energy, but it keeps me inspired, and present in my relationships, thus I come back to work with 100%+ energy and cleared sense of focus.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is informed most by my experiences, travels and culture, my environment, and a curious spirit to continue learning about the world. I graduated with a BA in Cultural Studies, and love to deconstruct and explore different life perspectives. I find it fascinating how so much of our immediate reality is shaped by beliefs that sometimes go unchecked. Being able to interact with the world with a Cultural Studies lens, allows me to inquire, reflect, and consider the ways I am culturally programmed, and how I might change that programming to redesign the kind of world I believe in. This is a premise of my work in the arts, I explore new perspectives, reflect, introspect, and consider new possibilities of moving through the world. I know how art- and more specifically for me, music and dance – has the ability to bring people together, so I employ my medium of work to support all efforts of cross cultural understanding and connection. From my experience, when we are given the opportunity to practice these tools through dance and the arts, in turn we can develop empathy when we share knowledge and experiences. This builds a stronger sense of empathy and allows us to connect deeper as humanity. These are some of the broader/greater efforts of my work that I am proud of. My goal is to share what I’ve learned from my lived experiences traveling and connecting with people across cultures, languages, ages, countries, etc, and this is part of what sets me apart, because I embody the lessons and the knowledge in my artistic work. Since COVID started, and we all watched the world dramatically change, I felt I was able to adapt myself rather quickly because of my above experience. In the last several months, I have moved my entire dance business online and built anew, creating Heart Dancer Experience (www.HeartDancerExperience.com), a virtual/online dance education platform where people from around the world can learn, practice and connect. HDE includes on-demand dance lessons in choreography, movement drills, and follow along dance sessions, as well as educational resources such as playlists, documentaries, articles, videos, and supplemental information to help dancers learn about the culture and history around the dance. To keep dancers well rounded, the site also includes mobility exercises and other bonus material to give dancers tips on a healthy dance lifestyle. HDE offers memberships, drop-in live classes, and on-demand lessons. I have learned over my life that great challenges arise in order to teach us necessary lessons that help us grow. Although the last year has been challenging, we literally had no choice but to adapt, and I knew the more easily I embraced the challenge and it’s redirection of my life, the better I would be in the long run. It takes trust, courage, and faith, but you have to embrace and allow the challenges to teach you, and not resist what they’re here to show you. To have arrived at this place with my art and teaching has taken over two decades of dedicated hard work. There were what I call, initiations, challenges that tested my abilities, commitment, and also knowledge, before I was permitted access or given the blessing of the elders and colleagues to proceed in this work. Nothing was handed to me. I have studied in the cultures of the dance and music I practice, this involved many hours of training in the dance, music, and language, as well as immersive study trips to West Africa, and travel to Egypt, Europe, New Zealand. It took years of travel and commitment to African dance and drum conferences around the United States, and one-on-one training with my master teachers. Their blessings and encouragement towards me to proceed to teach, perform, and share this knowledge is a big reason why I do what I do today.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I would take them to Topanga State Park for a hike where they can overlook the ocean and city. Afterwards I’d take them down the PCH to Malibu Pier to go swimming and checkout the surfers. For a meal I’d take them to Massob Ethiopian restaurant in Little Ethiopia district, for the most amazing food, and delicious honey wine! I love dancing, so I’d take them out to some of my preferred dance nightlife events produced by DEEP, Open House, or Afro Funke to name a few. For a late night bite I’d take them to Korea Town for some great Korean food, there are so many good restaurants to choose from.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who’d I’d like to recognize and honor for their support and influence throughout my career. First and foremost is my family, my partner, and my close friends. My sisters clothing company, Warrior Within Designs, have been a great support network as well, especially as it relates to the topic of women in business. My many many dance teachers (too many to name them all), but a few include Mariama Camara, Awa Pikine, Babacar Ndiaye, Naby Bangoura, Youssouf Koumbassa, Mabiba Baegne many more! Another shout out to Laure Courtellemont, Pape Diouf, Maija Garcia, Lauren Cassassmissa, Rebecca Blue. Also to some amazing choreographers who I’ve had the pleasure to learn from, Wilfriend Souly and Salia Sanou.
Other: Other instagram: @heart.dancer
Sequoia Emmanuelle Jonahan Cortes Dara Block