2012 Chan Fellows at Dance Daze, Inc. Offices



On Thursday, October 4, 2012, we were visited by the 2012 UC Berkeley W. T. Chan Fellows. The Chan Fellows are a group of 6 undergraduate and graduate students from China, who spend 5 months in the United States, immersed in a service-learning experience. The Fellows live with local families, attend a university seminar 1 day per week, and work as interns 4 days per week at a nonprofit organization that serves disadvantaged communities. Our Dance Daze Chan Fellow is interning for our nonprofit organization, Dance Daze in Schools. In addition to focusing on fundraising and development with Dance Daze in Schools, she is also leading a dance program and math tutoring program at Yu Ming Charter School, a Mandarin-immersion charter school in Oakland, California. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with UC Berkeley’s W. T. Chan Fellows this year, and we are excited for the work our Fellow is doing this fall semester!


What Should I Eat? From a Pyramid to a Plate

What should I eat?

This is a question I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves on numerous occasions. It can be difficult to find food that’s both healthy and affordable, and while many people want to eat healthfully, some don’t have the time, education or resources to do so.  To answer the question “What should I eat?”, it is important to first answer the question “How should I eat?”

There are many free, user-friendly resources out there to help us answer the latter question. In general, these resources will explain that nutrition is a major component of leading a healthy lifestyle. From reading about nutrition, one will quickly discover that our eating habits dictate our weight, emotions and sleep patterns, among other factors. Proper nutrition includes having a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been instrumental in streamlining dietary guidelines for the public to use. In the past, the USDA used a Food Pyramid to represent the 5 food groups and their proper portions. Recently the USDA switched from the pyramid to a plate. The new initiative is called MyPlate and resembles a pie chart with unequal sections. The USDA hopes that MyPlate will improve America’s diet and address the escalating burden of obesity and diabetes.

On MyPlate, you will see that fruits and vegetables, which are the foundation of a healthy diet, take up half of the plate. Some people say a meal is incomplete without meat; I say it’s incomplete without fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are the source of nutrients that help to regulate our bodily functions. Eating these foods may protect against certain type of cancers and lower one’s risk for heart disease. Grains, like rice, bread, and pasta are rich in fiber and are key factors in reducing high blood pressure. Careful, though: Grains can be high in calories, which is why they are smaller than vegetables on MyPlate. Proteins such as beef, chicken, and eggs give us the energy we need throughout our day. It’s important to remember that your meat and poultry should be lean because proteins like beef can raise “bad” cholesterol levels. Finally, the smallest portion, dairy, are those foods made from milk. This includes cheese, fluid milk and puddings. Dairy products help to fortify our bones and reduce our risk of bone and joint related diseases. Like proteins, dairy products can have a large number of calories. For example, if you drink whole milk, it is suggested that you drink reduced fat (2%) or even fat-free (skim). These are healthier options and provide the same nutrients.

Making the right, healthy choices isn’t always easy—but it can be done. Changing your diet takes time and may require doing a complete over-haul of what you are used to eating. Though some things may taste different when you change your diet, you’re making a conscious decision for yourself and your family to live longer, healthier lives.

Bon Appétit!

Jonathan T. Reid, MPH is a clinical researcher and the new Lead Health Educator and Health Blogger for Dance Daze. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University.

Dance Daze Fairy Tale: A True Story

Once upon a time, there was a brand new dance program in Alameda, California called Dance Daze. It was founded by Saumirah McWoodson, an extremely zestful dancer and educator who had been dancing all over the place since she was 5 years old. Saumirah loved dancing so much that when she grew up, she decided to study ballet in New York City! She became an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher and was so eager to teach dance to children, teens, and adults that she started her own program!

The Dance Daze studio was located within Bridgehead Studio, at 2516 Blanding Avenue in Alameda. The street, like its name suggests, was pretty bland, but the beautiful mosaic on the outside of the building made it sparkle like the diamond it was!

Dance Daze - 2516 Blanding Avenue


Slowly, but surely, tons and tons of students of all ages began taking classes at Dance Daze. A trip to the Dance Daze studio was always exciting for everyone, especially because of all the gorgeous art on the walls that was often changing!



There was a big studio downstairs in the building that Dance Daze students used for large classes of about 10 or more people, but students usually started off taking classes in the smaller studio upstairs. The hardwood floor was simply gorgeous.

Dance Daze Small Studio


Parents liked the upstairs studio because there was a comfortable waiting area inside and a lovely rooftop patio outside where they could lay out while their children were in class!



Saumirah somehow eventually got everyone she knew to fall into a dance daze with her! (Maybe it was because she was so dedicated to keeping the world up-to-date with Dance Daze via Facebook and Twitter!) Within a few years, Dance Daze classes were taught all over the United States of America! Many of Saumirah‘s students became professional dancers when they grew up and made enormous amounts of money doing what they loved. Saumirah was happy that she got to pursue her two biggest passions of dance and education and spread them throughout the land. (This made her smile even more than normal, even in her old age.)

Despite all of their crazy successes in life, neither Saumirah nor her students ever forgot about their early experiences that all started when they first walked down the halls of Dance Daze, and they all lived happily ever after.

Exit Sign



Let It Snow!

Greetings Everyone!

It’s been a while since our last post! For the past several weeks our Director, Saumirah McWoodson, was busy preparing for her lead role in the International Ballet Theater Institute’s production of The Snow Maiden. Ballet master Alexei Badrak, Co-Founder and Director of IBTI is one of Saumirah’s former ballet coaches! Saumirah also performed as the Snow Maiden back in December of 2007. See the photos below from both the 2007 and the 2010 performances!


Saumirah McWoodson, The Snow Maiden 2007
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Saumirah McWoodson, The Snow Maiden 2010
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