mel and kim "you got this, girl"
The best part of making bitchesbewitches is talking to amazing women who are doing really inspiring projects to help other women. Kim Gingras and Mel Mah are professional dancers living in Los Angeles, and they started an incredible project called You Got This, Girl. Rooted in yoga, meditation, and dance, YGTG is an empowerment workshop designed to encourage young girls to go after their biggest, wildest, dreams. Oh, what I would have done with something like this at age 12. We spoke to these magical uber-cool women about what pushed them into this direction, and how they achieved their career goals. I decided to show you the entirety of their answers, because they are just SO. DAMN. INSPIRING.
Why was it important for you to start You Got This, Girl?
MEL: YGTG was important for us to start because we feel so grateful to have accomplished our #1 goals of dancing on world tours for Janet Jackson and Beyonce. After having experiences like those, we felt like everyone in the world should be living out their dreams, living the lives they imagined, and should always go after a goal even it’s too “crazy” or “unrealistic”. We want the rest of the world to believe in the magic of following dreams and more importantly, we wanted to teach others HOW to do that the right way. The right way is with positive intention and with positive mental attitudes, and that’s not talked about enough. We are also very passionate about being confident females and leading by example, and we wanted to create a movement that would motivate more women to step up to the plate, share their gifts with the world, and spread positive energy. I’m especially fired up by the fact that there are still disparities between men and women all over the world and that there’s not one single country in the world where there’s equal pay between men and women… but it’s about teaching the WOMEN to step up, make changes, and turn up the badassery.
KIM: We moved out to LA, which was a big move for us, and we were pursuing our dreams and our goals. The number one for me was to dance for Beyonce, and for Mel it was to dance for Janet Jackson—that was our number one dream that we really wanted to accomplish. I’ve been working with Beyonce for a couple of years now, and it was that question of: what’s next? I got to accomplish my biggest dream: how do I share that with others? How do I share my story and share the tools that I have accumulated, all the lessons I’ve been through on this journey. Obviously we know this industry is very hard, so I just felt like I wanted to create something where I could share my voice and help others any way I could. It was important to create something that was going to go beyond the dance moves. In our industry there’s a lot of great conventions, great master classes, so many great teachers, but often we’re very focused on getting the technique and the moves right. We never really talk about the mentality behind everything, and that’s what’s most important. We want to dig deeper: how do you feel right now? How do you start your day? How do you set your goals? Do you visualize? Do you take the time to be at peace with yourself and set an intention for the day? How do you deal with being judged every day when you’re in auditions, having to compare yourself to others, feeling like you deserve this but you didn’t get it. It’s the mental aspect of it all that we feel wasn’t talked about enough. There’s just so much potential in everybody, just as long as they believe in themselves, know they’re worth it, and just go after their biggest dreams!
What do you know now that you wish you could tell yourself as a young dancer starting out?
MEL: I know now that YOU KNOW YOURSELF BEST. Sometimes even better than your own parents, and you have to lead with that intuition. I love my parents and they gave me absolutely everything, but it was a fight to choose dance over school. It was a hard struggle for me for a long time because I knew in my heart that I wanted to pursue dancing but some of the people closest to me didn’t approve. There was some little voice in me that told me I had to follow that any way even against my parents’ wishes and that intuition allowed me to accomplish my biggest dreams. So I would tell myself “trust yourself”.
KIM: So much! When I was 15, 16 starting out in the dance world—forget about the dance world! Just in general—what I know now would have been so helpful. I used to do a lot of stressing out. For me it was important to have good grades in school, so I’d study a lot and be a really good student, and I’d stress out if I had an 80-something instead of 90. There was a lot of stress added on to what I was doing when really, there’s no point. Just go with the flow, do your best. As long as you do the best you can do and you have fun doing it, the outcome will be the outcome and you just have to trust and let go. Also, to just be as caring and loving as possible with everyone around you; be open minded with everyone around you and just give as much love as you can. Also, meditation: If I had known the benefits of just taking 10 minutes out of your day every morning to be with yourself, to be connected, just breath in and out and set an intention for the day. I’m hoping that more young girls and young boys can start doing that; it’s so beneficial. I definitely see myself doing that later on in life with my kids.
How are you encouraging girls to listen to their inner voice and intuition?
MEL: We encourage girls to listen to their inner voice by finding stillness first. Our four-step program toward achieving any goal is 1) Listen To Your Thoughts, 2) Pick Your Thoughts, 3) Manifest Your Dreams, and 4) Trust and Let Go… so the very first step about listening to what’s going on inside is the very first thing we teach girls to do before they even try thinking about what goal they want to achieve. We teach girls how to listen to their thoughts through yoga because yoga allows others to achieve full mind and body awareness with breath. It’s teaching girls how to slow down, be present, and listen to their thoughts without judgment so they can clearly hear what their soul is trying to say. After listening, that’s when the other work begins and that’s when they can start following their heart in the most authentic way.
Can you tell us about a time where you followed your gut above and beyond all logical reason?
KIM: I did two world tours with Beyonce, and there were talks of possibly going on the road again. I didn’t want to assume that I’d be asked. At the beginning of the year I set my own personal goals, brainstorming what I wanted to be doing, listening what my heart wanted to do. Last minute I got a call, and they wanted me for the Formation world tour. I only had a couple of hours, so I had to follow my gut feeling, even though the safe and secure (and also fun!) answer to give would be a yes! "Let’s go on tour, let’s travel the world for a year, be with Beyonce, do my dream job"—but something was telling me to listen to my intuition and my heart and what I was getting started that year (YGTG). I had to block everyone out and just ask myself: what feels right? My gut said I need to be in LA for a couple other projects, and start meeting with Mel so we could get going with You Got This Girl.
MEL: A very important time where I followed my gut with no real logical reason was when I decided to direct my first project. “Directing” had no meaning or purpose to me at the time but I heard a song, it affected me immensely, and I instantly had a vision for it. I saw the whole story play out in my head and I just had to bring it to life. It felt like it was a necessity to fulfill this vision of mine. I had never felt this need to create art before and it came at a time where I was doing a lot of soul searching. Everything just sort of fell into place in terms of who helped me make the video and how it all came together. That first video that I directed shifted me into a whole new life path of pursuing filmmaking and my desire to direct impactful films. When I first created that piece called “YOUTH”, I had no idea it was igniting this new passion for me but I felt so excited throughout the whole process that it pushed me to look into directing more. I now realize that that vision was a huge message from the Universe to feel into an entirely new purpose and life direction.
What is your heart’s purpose/ mission statement?
Mel: My mission is to make a positive impact by bringing more love and light to people everywhere. I believe we’re living our most authentic lives when we’re empowered and I want to help others find their voices and live from that place of truth. I want to use my gifts to pave the way for a more equal, loving, and unified world.
Kim: It varies, it keeps evoling and growing. I think it always goes back to choosing to be happy. Its really important to me. I want to somehow project that, encourage others do it too, just help as much as possible. Yes, sometimes we are handed harder situations, but at the end of the day it’s your choice to make it what it is. Always look at the glass being half full and see the positive. Show gratitude, and the universe will hear you and give it all back to you.
What have you learned from working with fierce women like Beyonce and Janet Jackson?
KIM: Beyonce is just such an amazing leader, such an amazing woman. She does it all. She is so true to herself, which I think is so amazing, especially being in the position where she’s at. Being a major celebrity like she is- it doesn’t change who she is. She’s humble, she’s sweet, she works really hard. She deserves everything she’s been going after. She has this company called BeyGOOD that gives back to different communities. It does a lot of free work, that was something that really inspire me on the road, we got to meet with all these groups—they reach out to as many people as they can with BeyGOOD and give them this amazing night to have fun, to be free to just enjoy her concert, then we got to meet them and share stories. It was so touching and so beautiful. It’s a small thing, but it puts a big smile on their faces and makes a difference.
MEL: I learned so much from Janet but the biggest thing I probably learned from her was GENEROSITY. Janet is such a giving and warm spirit whether it’s in physical gifts or with her bright energy. I admired how thoughtful she was to every person she met and it didn’t matter if you were a dancer, production manager, or caterer. She genuinely gave everyone equal amounts of energy and treated everyone as equals. Janet is also so respectful of the individual spirit and she really allowed all of her dancers to shine in her show. It’s rare to find an artist who truly appreciates other artists and isn’t afraid to let them shine with her onstage, and Janet did exactly that.
What are you hoping to achieve with You Got This Girl?
MEL: I am hoping to inspire people everywhere to go after their dreams. More specifically, I hope that we can affect women to believe in themselves and to take more leadership. I’m passionate about teaching girls to be badass, confident, loving, and hardworking because we’re going to see huge changes in the world once we cultivate that. YGTG is a movement to ultimately change the current gender inequality in the world by empowering women and teaching girls to love themselves and others.
KIM: We just want everyone to know how badass they are, no questions asked. We want people to get up in the morning and think about what they are most passionate about, and go after THAT. Just do it: no regrets, no what-ifs, just give it a try, and it’s okay if at the end of the day the journey brings you somewhere else, or if the final goal shifts to something else! That’s fine. As long as you’re doing what you love, you’re passionate about it, you’re not taking no for an answer, you work hard, and you just go for it. We wanna start that fire in everyone!