Many people dream of quitting their day jobs to pursue their passion projects. In 2007, Natasha Maltseva, owner of LaVida Dance Studio in Bellevue, did just that. “I’ve danced all my life and I always dreamed of having my own studio,” she said. “But I never thought it was possible.”
After having children, Maltseva decided it was time for a change. She left corporate America and her job managing a bank branch and then remodeled part of her home into a studio. “I started pretty much out of my basement,” she said. “When the business grew, I partnered up with a friend, and we moved to a bigger location.”
Now a lively studio that caters to all ages, LaVida Dance Studio specializes in Ballroom, Latin and contemporary styles of dances like hip-hop and jazz.
One of Maltseva’s goals has been to build a community of Argentine Tango and Salsa dancers on the Eastside. “We have a great turnout for our monthly social dance nights where you can get an introduction to a new style of dance, or practice one you’re working on. The great thing is partners are not required for social nights. Everyone is welcome to come and dance.” she said. People even come from places as far away as Olympia and Vancouver.”
If you’re a little more serious about dance, LaVida’s team helps dancers at each level shape feasible goals. For kids under six years old, the goals are listening to the teacher, gaining better control of their bodies, and having a great time. “For them, dancing is play,” she said of the youngest dancers. “Our goal for kids is to build their basic abilities and just enjoy dancing.” Adult and youth dancers participate in a high-end stage production where they can showcase their abilities and tell a story.
From first time dancers to reluctant husbands, to champion Tango-ers, she says the benefits of dancing go far beyond building strength and cardio exercise. “Life is full of hardships,” she said. “But dancing prompts uncomplicated happiness, promotes self-confidence, provides a community of people who people who are happy to see you.”
Untangle your feet and start dancing! Choose from Absolute Beginner Salsa, Tango, and Zouk or look at the higher level classes. You’ll find a class that will get you moving today. Visit Connect2Classes to register.
When the world is confusing and things are tough, sometimes the best way to start feeling better is to focus on your personal wellness, both physical and spiritual. We work with a number of providers who are specialists in the health and wellness space and who are deeply passionate about helping people reach their greatest potential. In this article, we would like to introduce you to some of them and get you on track towards a personal renaissance.
Embrace the Yogi Lifestyle With Aham Yoga and Arundhati Baitmangalkar
A recent transplant from South India, Arundhati started her Seattle-based yoga studio to bring the best of yoga philosophy and practice from her homeland. Yoga transforms people’s lives and Arundhati brings the best in both physical and spiritual practices of yoga. Yoga is among the safest ways to beat stress, depression, improve posture & flexibility, enhance strength and improve concentration. Modern research is uncovering more benefits of yoga each day!
Even though there are differences, yoga unites people all over the world. We may be different on the surface but we all seek the same goals of good health and liberation. The paths we take towards yoga are many, but in the end they all unite. – Arundhati B.
Aham Yoga offers classes, retreats, pre-natal yoga, teacher training, trance dance, meditation, Ayurveda, and much more!
I highly recommend this place. Arundhati is one of the very few people in the area teaching the traditional vinyasa and hatha yoga – Dmitry T
Tap Nature’s Healing Bounty With Herban Wellness
Seattle’s Herban Wellness is a unique resource for learning how to use herbs, tonics, teas, essential oils, and aromatherapy to guarantee better physical health as well as reduce stress, cure insomnia, head off anxiety, and promote relaxation and calm.
Founder Katya Difani is a cultural anthropologist who went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Herbal Science from Bastyr University. She has deep expertise in over 100 different plant species that are known to aid or cure a wide range of health and wellness issues.
Beyond herbal medicines and nutrition, she has been exposed to many other forms of healthcare, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture & Chinese medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic medicine, and various forms of energy or touch healing. She believes all health and wellness tools have their place and can be uniquely suited for each situation and person.
Psychic Awakenings provides a safe space for sensitive people to develop their psychic abilities. Once psychic or extrasensory abilities are developed, the teachers believe it is possible to commune with the Universe and receive answers to your questions. Uncovering one’s life purpose is a deeply transformational process for many students. It also helps considerably with learning to develop better relationships with others.
Director Madeline Hartman brings extensive experience in both conventional and alternative counseling. Since 1980 she has offered spiritual counseling in the form of readings, healings and psychic development classes. Her training began at the Berkeley Psychic Institute/Church of Divine Man where she was ordained as a spiritual minister. While at Berkeley she taught meditation and healing classes for five years.
With classes ranging from Psychic Tools 101 to Healing Hands, Psychic Awakenings helps its students learn to work with their innate energetic abilities.
Your Renaissance Has Begun!
Being healthy and feeling well inside and out are the first steps in creating a personal renaissance! When you feel great you can do more and greet each day with enthusiasm. Register for upcoming classes and jumpstart your journey towards a better you!
With the rapid pace of technological and societal change, it is no longer sufficient to rely purely on formal education and college degrees when seeking employment. We all need to be learning all the time as we adapt to changing conditions in the job, career, and business markets. The Economist just published an article on this topic.
Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment. – The Economist
Many people are concerned about the advancement of robotics and automation that appears to be replacing jobs, especially in the manufacturing space. But the industrial revolution has now been replaced by the information revolution and the knowledge economy. As such, jobs of the future will change and many new opportunities will arise. Jobs will be less repetitive, centered around technology innovation, more creative, and more challenging and rewarding.
So how do you prepare for this sea-change? The answer is lifelong learning, which continues over the course of a person’s entire career. Keeping up with professional and technology trends will help light the way towards the learning that is most important in the new economy.
A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades. – The Economist
Many successful people understand how important it is to be continuously learning. The younger you are, the more obvious it is. Those who rely heavily on the Internet are learning all the time. A key skill they develop is learning to learn, but there is still a place for classes, workshops, and bootcamps that will boost your learning to new heights. Unfortunately, companies now spend less money on training and professional development, so it is important for employees to have their own continuous learning strategies.
According to the Pew survey, 54% of all working Americans think it will be essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives; among adults under 30 the number goes up to 61%. Another survey, conducted by Manpower in 2016, found that 93% of millennials were willing to spend their own money on further training. – The Economist
We are so passionate about helping our learners succeed and offer thousands of classes. both in-person and online. It doesn’t take much time or money to boost your skills to make you more competitive. You just need to have a strategy for ensuring that your knowledge and skills are always up-to-date. Even if you aren’t in a technical job, technical skills like software and social media help everyone. Creative skills like graphic design and photography are also useful in a variety of jobs. Skills like project management, team leadership, and conflict resolution are critical to anyone’s success.
Vocational training is one way to get yourself into the job market quickly. 4-year degrees and even certificate programs take a lot more time than is needed to learn the skills necessary for particular jobs, like culinary professionals, creatives, and software development or data science. Even then, a commitment to continue learning is how you will rise to the top. What is really important is what you know how to do and how you can express those abilities through a portfolio of work.
Vocational training has a role, but training someone early to do one thing all their lives is not the answer to lifelong learning. – The Economist
It’s time to re-think our approaches to career training and professional development. College is very, very expensive, but it is possible to learn critical skills and build a portfolio of work in a short time taking individual classes targeted at your career goals. Maybe you want to start your own business, in fact, which is another trend that is really taking off.
So, are you ready for the future? At Connect2Classes, we offer a wide array of online and in-person classes to prepare you for all of the most exciting jobs of the future.
Master photographer Bruce Hudson starts off each of his classes by asking students why they want to learn photography in-person, rather than through tutorials on Youtube. The answer varies for each set of students in his popular 7 Steps to Better Photography Class, but the answer is most often that hands-on learning offers an experience that is more practical and useful. This is the answer Hudson is looking for!
With over three decades as a full-time professional photographer, Hudson’s experience has been vast and rewarding. His portrait work has given him the opportunity to photograph presidents, governors, celebrities, and hundreds of clients from Japan to Jamaica, Tuscany to LA, and all over the great State of Washington. His background in teaching, he was the high school band director at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, WA from 1978 to 1982, compounded with his photography expertise, led Hudson to teach classes to photo enthusiasts and then eventually to develop Hudson’s Photo Workshops.
“Photography is a powerful medium for recording history, telling a story and preserving heritage for generations to see”, says Hudson, at the beginning of every class he teaches. The popularity of his classes quickly grew organically although their initial success was a bit of a surprise to Hudson. “My son Josh gets all the credit for convincing me to start the photo workshops. But, get this: we actually received several hate emails from some of the local professional photographers in our area, who were upset that we were training more competition! They compared it to a magician sharing secrets to the public!”, Hudson explains.
In reality, with digital cameras being the new norm, budding photographers are interested in the craft and looking to expand their knowledge which Hudson believes is a good thing! The majority of students enrolled in Hudson’s Photo Workshops are parents and grandparents learning to take better photographs of their kids and grandkids; or hobbyists, such as hikers, who want to capture some great images along the way. The workshops, offered at Hudson’s studio in Tukwila, draw students mainly from the Puget Sound region, however students from Spokane and Bellingham, and as far as Vancouver, Canada have sought out Hudson’s expertise.
Hudson’s Photo Workshops offers a four-hour introductory class that emphasizes learning the basic function of today’s modern DSLR. The class also covers artistic strategies, lighting techniques, tips and secrets for making subjects look great, and a tutorial on how to take a typical snapshot and turn it into a work of art. “My goal with every class is to share a ton of information that will take my students’ photography to new heights and put them in control of their camera, well beyond basic point-and-shoot”, says Hudson. Students are given the tools needed to operate their camera in manual mode for the ability to control the technical and artistic outcome of each image captured.
As Hudson’s Photo Workshops have gained popularity, requests for advanced classes and trip-based photo shoots have evolved leading to the creation of an entire suite of classes. From 7 Steps to Better Photography and Advanced Level Photography: Artsy or Techy, to Beginner Photoshop, there is a class to fulfill the learning needs of any aspiring shutterbug! 2017 will also see the addition of a week-long photo cruise expedition to Alaska and a Mediterranean cruise to put skills to the test on the road!
Benefit from Hudson’s expertise and indulge your passion for photography by enrolling in an upcoming classes. Visit Connect2Classesto register today and build your photography skills to see where they can take you in the new year!
When Richard Kinssies, founder of the Seattle Wine School, was offered his first job in the wine industry, he had a confession to make. “I really don’t know much about wine.” His soon-to- be boss laughed it off saying, “nobody does!” Fast-forward several decades and not only has Kinssies’ knowledge positioned him as a wine leader, but industry popularity has led to increasing numbers of consumers and professionals looking to building their wine tasting skills. Building on the reach of the online class marketplace Connect2Classes, Kinssies aims to reach a larger audience who are searching for wine classes in the Seattle area.
Through weekly classes at the Seattle Wine School, Kinssies offers some of the most popular classes in the area, particularly because of his pragmatic approach to wine. He believes that wine, like art, can be appreciated on many levels. A painting evokes a certain feeling upon sight and can be enjoyed on a surface level. If the viewer digs deeper, the artist’s intention and processes can be understood and a greater appreciation can be gained. With wine, a sip can be enough to pronounce it good or bad but if the taster understands the particular characteristics of the grapes used, learns how the soil, altitude, slope of the vineyard, climate and farming processes work, the quality and personality of a wine will lend a greater understanding. Kinssies calls this the ‘geeky’ part of wine and believes that it is what motivates people to dedicate themselves to studying the subject.
In his expansive career, Kinssies has explored a multitude of jobs within the wine industry. He has worked in retail sales, as a sommelier and a winemaker; he has owned a restaurant and a wine bar, written two books and hosted two radio shows on wine and food that spanned nine years and was the wine columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer for nearly 30 years. Kinssies saw a need within the industry for basic education for wine professionals and started the Seattle Wine School in 1981. He eventually decided to open the school up to the public so that non-professionals can develop a professional level of wine education. Kinssies has also developed wine certification programs for the Washington wine industry and for the government of France, training American wine professionals in French wines.
Over the years, teaching has remained a constant in Kinssies’ career. He proclaims it to be his greatest thrill and admits it has given him the most professional and personal satisfaction. Guiding students towards understanding a certain aspect of a wine and seeing them grasp it is what fuels his passion. Anyone can learn wine, Kinssies believes; however, time and resources can be a limitation that he wants to help students overcome by making learning accessible. Classes at the Seattle Wine School offer great value and are consistently scheduled on Monday evenings to make fitting it into a busy lifestyle easy. Kinssies does offer one warning: studying wine is like studying physics. “You can learn a lot, but you will never learn it all,” Kinssies says. “Just savor the journey!”
Start 2017 off building your wine skills in a variety of classes offered at Seattle Wine School. From Mastering the Art of Wine Tasting and Wine 101 to an Introduction to France or Italy, there is an opportunity to uncork your knowledge and see where it will take you! Visit Connect2Classes to register today.
When we give others the gift of experience, especially transformational experiences, we give them so much more than any physical gift. We give them opportunities to fuel their passions, get inspired and motivated, and we can even set them on a path towards ever greater learning and success in life.
Why do experiences matter?
Our brains are hard-wired for memories that are tied to experiences that stir up our emotions. The Harvard Business Review’s Elements of Value Pyramid illustrates how people perceive the benefits of products and services that are available to them. There are several elements that demonstrate the allure of novel and life-changing experiences. The emotional and life-changing layers are indicative of personal change associated with experiences that truly resonate. Such resonance is the magnetism that keeps people coming back with the hope of re-creating pleasurable experiences that have stuck in their memories.
We have identified 30 “elements of value”—fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. – Harvard Business Review
Creating Emotional Connections and Lifelong Memories
This sort of emotional engagement works in a variety of ways, and is so powerful when it comes to learning new things!
What is delight really about? Surprise. Novelty. Wonder. The unexpected. Deviating from business as usual and injecting awe, a visceral emotion reaction, into the learning journey. Novelty and surprise fuel the pleasure-seeking reward centers of our brain, which is exactly the opposite of evoking a stress response due to poor product or service experience. The brain chemicals matter when it comes to making memories. These are also the sorts of experiences that people are prone to share, and to ask people to join in on.
How do memories develop and stick with us? And how does that impact learning? It’s about responding to latent human needs for novelty and surprise, the cornerstones of delight.
The experiences we remember are defined by change. Our stories are made up of experiences that are new, novel and those that have greater significance. We actually don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. And even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories. –Daniel Kahneman
There are certain things that we are so passionate about, especially things that we know are aspects of the recipe for creating happier people and a safer, more joyous world. One of those things is a learning mindset as part of culture, which leads to an educated and productive populace. In our modern, wired world, however, we need to re-think learning. Instead of being a formal activity we commit to or are committed to (like kids) in life, a lifelong education mind-set should include our own ongoing processes of learning and personal evolution.
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. ― Socrates
The most important skill in our self-service, information-rich, world is learning to learn, also dubbed meta-cognition. Once someone perfects this skill there are nearly unlimited options for personal development, as well as a persistent urge to continue to expand one’s repertoire. It’s why traditional education models are forced to evolve while understanding that the role of the teacher or instructor is as important as ever. In fact, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that we are going to need 69 million new teachers in order to meet their global education and learning goals.
But this isn’t business-as-usual education or training. Why fill a head with so much stuff when so many of us have access to all the world’s knowledge in the palms of our hands? This is a huge opportunity in the making, but it doesn’t completely obviate the need for more formal and hands-on instruction. The goal of education should be creating lifelong learners and helping learners understand how to take advantage of all the learning possibilities at their disposal. This means making available a wide array of options that allow learners to pursue a lifelong path of learning.
Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their aspirations and contribute to their societies. – UNESCO
Learning new things not only makes us more successful, it also makes us happier. It’s also known to forestall conditions like dementia and even Alzheimer’s. Keeping the mind active while learning new things and exploring one’s passions is the key to a healthy brain. It also keeps life fun and connects us with like-minded people who share our passions!
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. ― Henry Ford
It can be helpful to think about things you would like to improve upon, given specific personal or professional goals, even the things that seem out of reach. Digging into casual interests can also spark lifelong passions and give us the skills we need to comfortably explore new realms in life and work. Make a commitment to try something new each month!
We used to think that human brains are vessels to be filled with things they need to know. But we all know that lecture-based teaching often puts learners to sleep! Thankfully, there has been a renaissance in learning in recent years. For example, project-based learning is now of major interest for both kid and adult learning. Learning, it turns out, is an individual effort that relies on a person’s passion to learn new things. Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin
We must be involved and engaged to truly learn, and if you want to learn new things, or want to help a loved one learn, knowing how we learn best will help. It can also help people discover how much they love to learn and create, which as we know, makes us all happier!
What fuels our passion? Learning happens naturally when the subject matter is something we’re intrigued by. Know someone who loves home improvement shows? Gift them a woodworking or remodeling class!
How do we learn best? Some of us thrive while reading or writing, but many of us are visual or kinesthetic (learning by doing) learners. Young learners, in particular, can struggle in school where they need to sit still, so show them how much they love to learn with a class or workshop tailored to their interests.
How do we learn tangible skills like cooking, arts, crafts, or DIY? There has long been a tradition of teaming masters like chefs and artists with apprentices to learn their craft. Many of us need to watch skilled practitioners and learn skills and tips step-by-step.
How do we remember what we learn? While we might immediately forget a chapter we read in a how-to book or even the content of a video, hands-on learning experiences allow us to learn while getting feedback from experts.
What can we learn that will make a difference to our lives? Improving career and business skills, as well as life skills like relationships, benefits us enormously. It’s so important to stay current, even if it involves learning about something we’ve never heard of!
We’d love for you to give the gift of experience this holiday season! Gift certificates are available! Great gifts for far-flung loved ones, or even for a class you can take together! One of our grandmothers decided on sushi-making classes for her 12-year old grandson – what can you choose to wow those you love?
Some experiential class options for everyone on your list!
It’s been difficult to watch the eruption of discord and violence that has been all around us recently. A lot of us are finding it challenging to know how to respond, especially as our deep-seated urges for peace and stability seem to be called into question.
Here are 10 ways to discover the peace within you, and to share it with others:
Educate yourself – spirituality, philosophy, and other reflective practices will help you find your center, and will keep you grounded in these tumultuous times.
Cultivate awareness, compassion and empathy to help you understand diverse points of view and to respond appropriately.
Learn to use your voice to promote the world-view that is most meaningful to you – read and watch things that make you feel good and don’t forget to share them with others!
Engage in daily practices to re-connect with your body – yoga, surfing, hiking, walking, and meditation will add a bit of zen to your days.
Treat yourself well – endulge in pleasures that engage your senses, like massage, dancing, and aromatherapy. Invite loved ones, too, and foster the peace between you.
Bond with those closest to you – doing fun things together and learning new things strengthens your connections.
Make new friends with shared interests, or even find kindred spirits – join communities that resonate with you, and learn with like-minded people.
Remind yourself that together we can achieve great things – baby steps matter, and each and every voice counts, so keep the faith that our topsy-turvy world will right itself.
Share your spiritual journey and skills with others – people need to understand that there are alternatives to being stuck in a rut.
Remember that you are loved, and work on confidence, self-esteem, and forgiveness of self and others.
We talk a lot at Connect2Classes about how so many things are changing when it comes to preparing for a career. With so many classes, workshops and online classes available, people now have more options than ever when it comes to developing their careers. For one thing, traditional college, or at least 4-year degrees, are becoming less important in some industries. What really matters is what you can do, which can be demonstrated via a portfolio of work. If you’re a developer, it’s working apps or games, or even code samples. If you’re a designer or artist, having a strong portfolio of game art is the way to get you noticed. There are other options, as well, like project management, writing, and customer service. You can even start your own business or game studio, or work as a free agent.
If you’re into games to any degree, then a career in the games industry might be for you. In this article we will look at the roles available in the game industry, as well as some of the skills you might consider developing if one of these career paths is of interest to you. If you’d like to know how much you could expect to make in any of these careers, check out the Game Developer Salary Survey 2013.
One thing to know is that people in the game industry tend to work very hard. and hours can be long, especially during ‘crunch’ time (when a title is about to launch). Still, game companies can be very fun places to work, especially if you enjoy spending time around other gamers in a highly creative setting.
Executive Producers might be responsible for a portfolio of games, and create budgets and launch strategies. An MBA or degree in business administration or management is helpful, and a wide array of experience in the games industry is mandatory. Producers are typically limited to one game and are responsible for project management, scheduling and budget. They guide the overall course of game development and make sure all the pieces come together adequately. Courses or certificates in project management or game production are nice to have, but not always required.
Market Research is where it all begins, by looking at the overall landscape, understanding competitors, and defining audiences for a game. It might also include making recommendations about launch strategy and may even affect the concept and design of a game. Market researchers typically have degrees in business, statistics or social science. Player Research is related to the experience of game play and might involve game usability testing or play-testing. Most player researchers have advanced degrees in psychology or the social sciences and may be experts in human factors research. Data Science is an emerging area related to data collected on players and game play. Data scientists analyze collected data and make predictions about future player behavior or help development teams with predictive models to accelerate game play. Most data scientists have backgrounds in computer science and are skilled with databases, algorithms and machine learning.
Game Designers are central to any game project and responsible for designing the overall story and game play elements. They maintain game design documentation and ensure that other elements (art, sound, writing, etc.) are cohesive. There are many professional programs available that focus on this area. Mechanics or System Designers are focused on specific game mechanics, which can vary according to the genre of the game. Level designers are responsible for designing specific tasks, missions or quests, and design both obstacle and reward systems to accompany them.
Concept Artists are responsible for conceptualizing the game’s story, settings and characters. A background in fine art is typical, but there are also programs available that focus on video game art. Character Design and Modeling (or Animation) is the field focused on developing characters and character detail and illustrating them in 2D or modeling them for 3D. Level Designers on art teams are responsible for implementing the overall look and feel of a game into individual levels. UI Design is responsible for the overall user interface including the HUD (heads-up display) and other status mechanisms.
Game Music and Sound Effects
Audio Producers and Managers are responsible for all audio content in a game, and may manage various people. A background in sound recording is useful, or a certificate in sound design for games. Composers write original music for games, much like film or tv composers write scores. Sound Designers are focused on all of the ambient sound in a game, and work to uphold the game’s vision through sound.
Game Storytelling and Writing
Narrative Designers are responsible for the overall story and for ensuring that the narrative plays out through all the various elements of the game. Any sort of creative writing background is useful here, and experience with games, in particular, is mandatory. Education in game design theory and game mechanics is also helpful. Writers are typically given projects to work on, like writing content for quests, or character dialogue.
Game and Systems Development
Game/Systems Architects are responsible for overall technical design of a world and may recommend or develop a game engine, as well. A background in computer science is typical for this role, and specific education in game development is also useful. Game Developers and Programmers are typically assigned to some aspect(s) of the game and may work on one or several components for a length of time.
Quality Assurance positions are not terribly well paid, but they are frequently entry level. You’ll be playing games to find glitches or bugs, or even issues with usability.
Character Models are used as a basis for concept art or 3D models. A standard modeling portfolio is just about all you will need, though games-specific experience is also appreciated. Voiceover Actors supply the voices for characters. Any voiceover experience could be relevant, but you will need a demo reel and will have to audition. Motion Capture Actors are agile and disciplined people who take direction readily.
Marketing and Advertising
Marketing roles in game companies can cover a lot of territory, from strategic planning to communications, event/trade show planning, marketing and advertising campaigns, and social media. If you have experience in other digital-related fields it’s possible to parlay that experience for the games industry, especially if you’re an avid gamer yourself.
Customer Support roles are some of the most important, and some of them are entry level positions.
Community Managers monitor and moderate social media, forum posts, knowledge bases and other locations where game information is shared. They help resolve disputes and often provide input on the player point-of-view to development teams.
It’s never been easier to educate yourself for a career in the games industry. Playing a lot of games is helpful, of course, but there are also many classes and workshops that will help you learn specifics. If you’re really serious, consider a degree or certificate from a school that specializes in game design and development.