We had the good fortune of connecting with Mackenzi Bell-Nugent and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mackenzi, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk can be scary for sure! Most people know the saying of “Big Risk, Big Reward” and I do believe that is true. My biggest risk to date has been packing up my life and moving to Thailand! I got my TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certification in June of 2019 and left the US in October! It was a wild choice to make but I knew that I wanted something different and to really live comfortably. I’m forever grateful for taking the risk and living here throughout the pandemic. When you take a deep breathe and make a leap of faith, it all can really end up working out in your favor.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is dance and movement. I have been dancing all my life and continued pursuing the discipline through college & chemotherapy. As a two time cancer survivor, I’ve used movement (yoga, dance, etc.) to help myself through some of the hardest times in my life and I love being able to share movement with other people. I dance several styles professionally and am a certified hatha yoga instructor. I am so proud that I have been able to offer my Afrofusion dance classes in Thailand and continue to teach dance and yoga online. I’m also very proud to have been featured in Children’s Hospital campaign “Courage is” and get to share my story of beating cancer & having my name in lights on the Paramount Theatre marquee.
I have learned that I enjoy teaching as much as I enjoy dancing myself but definitely miss the opportunity to perform.
Some of my favorite memories are choreographing & performing for huge crowds at Drag Nation, Pride and Denver International festival; as well as leading restorative yoga for my community at Juneteenth. I just enjoy opportunities to fully be myself and show what I’m capable of doing. I am excited to share more of my knowledge and ability when I move back to Denver in the Winter!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Definitely if I wanted to show them a good time I would take them to Tracks Denver! I absolutely love the music and people at Tracks and have worked with them for several years. That would be on the itinerary for the evening. During the day, I would take my friend to my old stomping ground around City Park and Colfax. As an East High School alumni, nothing beats exploring Colfax and taking the 15 bus downtown. The people watching alone is great. We would have to get a hot dog from Steve’s before our adventure and once in LoDo go to Sam’s No.3 for a green chili burger. Of course if they are vegan we have options for that as well. We could head over to 5 Points to Tealee’s tea shop and bookstore honoring the culture and history of Black Denver. And for some shopping of precious things we’d head over to Alchemy Ritual Goods.
We would have to see if anyone was playing the Ogden or Fillmore-my favorite concert venues and it’s almost a requirement for people to go Red Rocks when visiting Colorado. I almost forgot about one of my favorite places that I can spend hours in, Denver Botanic Gardens! For a chill day we could also walk around the Denver Art Museum that always has wonderful exhibits.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Satya Yoga Cooperative has been the most incredible community of beautiful souls. Being the first People of Color owned and opereated yoga cooperative in the nation is groundbreaking. They ensure that “yoga” is more than just asanas/poses and really acknowledge the culture & well roundedness of the practice. Lakshmi Nair is an incredible teacher, mentor, friend and I am eternally grateful for the community she created in Denver! I am born & raised in Denver and love my city. Another shout out goes to Denver Dance aka Marguerite Endsley. Her studio was so welcoming to me after moving home from undergrad. Being able to dance professionally with her company changed my whole life and connected me with the most amazing people.
I cannot forget to shout out Denver Children’s Hospital for saving my life not once but twice! The doctors and nurses at this hospital are the kindest and most caring people ever and without them I would not be here living this amazing life!