We had the good fortune of connecting with April Axé Charmaine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April Axé, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I have to say this is an area of my life that has truly evolved. I feel like I used to be confined by my schedule, other people’s needs and priorities, always going, back and forth doing 100 things in a day. Now, and I believe, before it even became popular and a global pandemic made us slow down, I took on this value of Rest as Resistance. I feel it’s so important to listen to our body’s signals and trust our own rhythm in life. Through my career, especially in the last few years as I became nomadic–I have learned to honor myself, my time and needs in a much more organic way. I go through periods of time where I produce A LOT and then I go through other moments where I rest A LOT. Balance is a continuous practice–and as I carve and create my life of my dreams, I prioritize the feelings, people and environments I want to be in. I prioritize time in nature, taking naps, being with friends and I also create space to vision, dream and be in ritual to manifest what I really want in my life. I no longer feel that I have to do things for survival’s sake and I am so pleased that I prioritize choice and freedom in my life. I do what I want and that is a growth that I love and am holding on to.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is shaped very deeply by my very diverse lineage… I am someone who came into dance because of my “bad posture,” entering the world of classical ballet at the age of 9 set me on a course of being a dancer, choreographer, and expressive artist. As I come from training in Dunham, Horton, Limon technique; West African, Afro-Brazilian forms, Symbology of the Orixas, Performance Art, Hip Hop, Improv, Conscious, Ecstatic Dance and Theatre–my pride and excitement comes from blending all of these influences into my own body of work–the idea of using form and freedom in movement, teaching, and choreography is what makes my own dance style, SOL VIDA, quite special. The more I grow, I am in love with the weaving of all of my tools and technical skills–utilizing dance, expressive and healing arts to make an impact on the world in hopes that I can empower others with this embodiment of freedom and voice. My edge is bringing this work into site-specific places in Urban Nature, as well as growing a video platform that bridges holistic wellness with expressive arts all over the world into mini dance films. I didn’t set out to become a dance or theatre educator–however life has clearly shown me that this is where the majority of my work will take place. It has also become more clear that as a result of my work, people feel better, more empowered and connected to their authentic selves and the natural world. My degree is in Writing and Performance and I often say there isn’t a day or project that goes by where I don’t use my education–it’s very much who I am, a renaissance artist with many forms of expression that want to pour out of me. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in life is accepting and knowing how to be all the parts of me. In a world where identity signifies so much about a person and we are often asked to check boxes, I have found it really difficult to be just one thing. I am a dancer, I am a thespian, I am a healer, I am an artivist, I am a writer, I am a mother, I am a friend, I am queer, I am Black, I am mixed-race, I identify as a womxn and use the pronouns she and they. I am a feeling human being. I am all that I am and accepting that has been a big piece of work. The work that I do with SOL VIDA encompasses my entire being, and it is dance, it is expression, it is freedom, it is embodied healing justice, it is nature, it is a community. At the base of everything I do is love and light. I love creating safe spaces for authentic and personal expression–it is a gift, it is my calling and I have learned to value my intuitive voice and trust in the visions and messages I receive to do what I was brought to here to do. At this point in my career, I am dedicated to showing up where it feels possible to honor my personal values and centering QTBIPoC/BIPoC people, voices, experiences and stories. I am also compelled to build a global movement collective that allows multi-generations to say something, feel something and do something with the body.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ha ha, what a wonderful question. As someone who was born and raised in Denver, Colorado–I definitely have my favorite places in the city and the state. No trip to Denver is complete without a visit to City Park and The Cheeseman Park Pavilion. A sunset walk in City Park and a freestyle dance at the Cheeseman Park Pavilion. I’ve always been a fan of Benny Blanco’s pizza, and I love walking by almost any part of the Platte River. As someone who was away from Denver for awhile, coming back, it feels like a new city and I feel like I am rediscovering what’s cool and amazing–I’m absolutely fascinated with the “new Larimer” which seems to have an amazing food scene, also all the graffiti art down there is awesome. Gotta throw down for Five Points and Welton St. Cafe always, gotta give it up for all the Ethiopian restaurants in East Denver, and El Taco de Mexico is the bomb for breakfast burritos. If covid wasn’t a thing, I’d show off the Art Gym, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and hit up the Korean spa in Aurora. Otherwise, you gotta get to the mountains, the rivers, we truly do live in colorful Colorado and there is no other place like this on Earth.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My work and life have been deeply influenced by the work of my mentor, Dr. Melissa Michaels of Golden Bridge. She has shown me paths to spiritual, body, emotional, psychological and mental freedom through conscious dance and ritual that have completely redirected my life. I am a global embodied leader because of my training, education and practice with Soma Source and the years of workshops, camps and experiences that have come through this lineage.
Photo credits from One Sol: Melanie Fichter Moonbeam