Good Morning, an interview with Zoja
Zoja is a woman, an artist, a healer, a friend. Someone who is sure of herself. She has experience and wisdom. You can see it in her eyes and hands.
I fell for her hands. You might be able to tell from the photographs. She uses them to emote and express. Her hands are not just an extension of a limb. She understands that, understands their power. Harnesses and uses it. After all, she’s a body worker. It was incredibly obvious to me; her gifted hands.
Zoja and I met up one spring afternoon, I believe it was April. Maybe May. The grass and trees were in bloom. And so were we. I was metaphorically on the edge of a cliff. At a point in life trying to embrace the tornado of change. To say I was blooming is not something that was obvious to me at the time but as I look back, it was clear. And she was launching her project Rosé Porn in Toronto, Montreal and LA. We sat and spoke about many things: life, art, being a woman, love, creating value, originality. A lot of things. She helped me make sense of a lot of things.
Zoja is a performance artist- dancer, choreographer. And also a healer- yoga teacher and reiki practitioner. She recently launched Curated Life Retreats and will be taking a lucky group to Greece (her homeland) this September for yoga, meditation and a general good time. And the Zoja I know, knows how to have a good time. She’s a lot of fun and has a laugh that is literally unstoppable and infectiously contagious.
But please, before you gaze any further, feast your ears on her mixtape for Rosé Porn. “A pink haze of light, guided meditation, pop songs of the ages, reflections on the gaze, and a performance just for you. Rosé Porn is a concept album that came from a dance that seeks to speak the language of a pop song.”
Describe who you are (right now) and what you do.
Who am i right now. I’m always Zoja, doing whatever i can to continue with my performance art practice. It’s an extreme life, which demands a lot of commitment. But I guess one could say I am committed to making art, my friends, my family, and a good time.
I guess a more official answer would be. I just finished a 2 year art residency at Dancemakers here in Toronto. Not sure where i will end up next, taking some time to figure this out right now.
I usually live where I have an opportunity to make my art projects live. I’ve mainly created dances/performances in Europe and Montreal.
What is your favourite quality in yourself?
One of my favorite qualities about myself is that I listen to more of how I want to be in this life, rather than follow conventional norms.
Do you have any morning rituals? What’s the first thing you do when you rise?
The first thing I do when I wake up is make coffee and drink it in bed. I always make sure I give myself 30min in bed with coffee..otherwise it’s not a good day. ha –
Let’s talk food. What does a typical breakfast look like?
My favorite breakfast is a meal, a full on meal. Meat and salad. Or kale salad with a friend egg. Something I learned in Thailand. What I eat and when I eat all depends on what I am doing. Since I work for myself, everything is always changing especially my location of living. It’s a very nomadic life. So I do have to make sure I eat well. I always make sure to drink water with lemon and eat lot’s of kale, and beets. I also love to eat chips and fries with mayo.
Quality of food is so important but so is quality of mind. How do you feed your mind?
I have had moments in my life where I had a lot of negative thoughts, and the only way I got out of it is doing yoga.and surrounding myself by supportive friends. So that’s what I do to stay grounded I do a lot of yoga, and make friends a priority.
Describe your relationship to food. Do your emotions affect what or how you eat?
When I was younger- late teens into my 20’s I had a lot of problems with food. I didn’t want to be fat, I still don’t. But at that time my body was changing so much so quickly that I treated myself badly. But honestly now I allow myself anything I want, I just make sure I am very active. I find when I deny myself the food I want, I turn into someone I don’t like. Control and me don’t do very well.
You are a woman doing many things: art, reiki, body work, teaching yoga, dance, choreography and you cook for people too. What has drawn you to these things and what do you feel the most compelled towards currently?
I love working with people on projects. Making art is a different process than giving someone a reiki treatment. But they are interconnected for me. I enjoy learning, and giving, and mostly I am interested in what we as people can create together when there is trust and curiosity. Lately I am very compelled in mixing my healing practice with my art practice. I have become very clever in how I enter the studio to make art work, and I am craving for myself to be more open to be surprised by what I could create. When I give a reiki treatment I am a vessel, an open channel. It’s not about me at all. I would like to find a way to enter my art practice in a similar way that I do when I give bodywork. So curious about what could appear.
Tell us about your project Rose Porn – I was enraptured in the experience in Toronto and now you’ve brought it to Montreal and LA. What does this project mean to your heart?
Rosé Porn is a interdisciplinary performance project that I created with musician Victoria Cheong. It’s a dance that made an album. This live visual work is about me dealing with the audience-performer relationship in the theatre. I created a piece that deals with the notions of spectatorship. I asked myself “how do you want to spend an hour with an audience?” and Rosé Porn is what came out. It’s funny because there is no porn at all in the work. I used the word porn in this context as abundance/overload/overstimulated.
You’re hosting a retreat in Greece this Fall – tell us about it!
YES. I am so excited about this Project. Curated is the name of the retreat. This will be the second one. Last year I hosted the retreat with my sister Christina. Curated, takes place on the magical island of Folegandros. It’s an island that is 13km big located in the Cyclades. I have been going to this island for over 10 years now. I am half greek and speak the language. This retreat is a way for me to able to share all the things I love with foreigners and the greek locals of the island. I am your personal guide in Curated. We do yoga, hiking, swimming, eating, and lot’s of laughing together. It’s a retreat where yoga is a part of your day, but so is drinking wine in the local taverna. I share the people, the music, the life with you. It’s really such a transformative place. I truly believe once you’ve been once…you come back again…and one starts to have different dreams…just sayin’… Curated Sept 19-25. Contact me for any questions you might have and here is the website for Curated!
What is the feeling you have when you’re making art, dancing, moving? And what about when you share it with others – performance, bodywork?
Making art….. it usually takes a lot of work to have the right conditions to make art. This is actually quite a difficult question. Making art I find extremely difficult, and yet it’s the challenge of it, the way it makes me think, that I am addicted to. All I know is I don’t always love making it, being around it, showing it, but it feeds me like nothing else in this life, and I’ve pretty much committed myself fully to it.
I love dancing, love it
but more on the dancefloor
then on stage.
the body holds our history
our experience…moving, dancing…is a great way to unblock and bring vitality back
How do you take care of your mind, body and spirit?
I take care of myself by surrounding myself with amazing people, sharing what I can, laughing, dancing, working hard, but mainly recognizing the privilege I have to be raised in a 1st world country, so I allow myself to dream big. I am very aware of the privilege that is Canada, and so I allow myself to be who I am. I am grateful for so many things. Making art and Curated are my way of giving back and of being together.
Describe mornings with one word.