Meagan Kong is no stranger to the world of dance but can still acknowledge that it’s never an easy job. She’s danced professionally in the worlds of entertainment and sports for years and yet still experiences pre-audition nerves and the struggle of jumping back onto the fitness grind after a hiatus. Meagan is just like the rest of us, and is living proof that hard work and determination will get you far. From dancing throughout high school as a hobby to gracing stages and TV channels worldwide, to even working with major brands like adidas, Meagan is living her own personal dream. Check out our interview with her to get peek into what it’s like to dance professionally.
When was the point that you decided to make dance your career and how did you prep for that?
I decided dance would be a career in Minnesota while in high school. One day I realized how much time and money my parents were putting into allowing me to dance whenever and wherever I wanted. All night after school, away on weekends, in LA during the summer. We’d save and hustle side jobs so I could train with the best. The idea that someday someone could pay ME to do what I loved was mind blowing.
I prepared by training in as many disciplines of dance as possible, even Irish soft shoe. I also went to college and graduated Cum Laude–from Loyola Marymount University–with a double major in Business Marketing and Dance. On one hand, some dancers would say it put me 4 years behind in the industry, but within those four years I matured and gained a larger perspective of the business of entertainment and the context of dance within it.
Putting yourself out there through dance requires a lot of confidence, what helps you to become more confident? How do you handle the stress of not always booking the jobs that you want?
It’s definitely rough. Auditions are like interviewing for a new job every week, on a megaphone, while in front of all the other applicants. This never becomes easy, but you develop defense mechanisms to help cope with the fact that despite perhaps being the best dancer in the room, maybe they aren’t looking for a tall, multiethnic, long haired woman that day. I learned to focus on the task at hand rather than fantasize about how amazing the tour, the tv show, or the award show would be. Your drive trumps the fear and speaks louder than any other voice in your head. If you lead with determination, your confidence will follow.
What’s a typical day in the life of a professional dancer?
A day as a dancer is completely dependent on whether or not you’re working. While on a job, you wake up, go to work, come home, eat sleep, and do it again. While not on a job you hustle. Take class and go to castings or auditions. You take care of your body and keep your tools sharp so that you’re ready when jobs pick up.
What’s your favorite style of dance and why?
I don’t have a favorite style, but I have a favorite type of job. I dance for, and assist, Emmy-winning choreographer Kathryn Burns. She’s known to work on a lot of comedic television where dancers are used to make a joke kick. For example–in the CW show Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I was in a yoga class scene doing sun salutations as a pregnant woman. The lead actress fantasized about a song and dance production and the entire class broke into a Bollywood-esque routine. It was ridiculous that I was jumping, kicking, and turning while appearing 8 months pregnant, but my job was to dance like it was perfectly normal. Dancing within the context of a script adds another layer to my performance which I love.
What has been a highlight of your career as a dancer?
Dancing on the scripted VH1 series Hit The Floor. As a dancer, it’s your job to make a singer look cooler, a product look sexier, and a joke punch harder. Hit The Floor is about a fictional LA basketball team and their cheerleaders, so us dancers were woven into the storyline. On the show I had a character name, lines, occasionally hosted, and of course danced every episode. Being principal talent and showing up to Paramount Studios to work with the same cast and crew for multiple years in a row was an absolute dream. The fact that my parents at home in Minnesota and my friends in Paris could watch gave me all the motivation I needed to kill it.
Any tips for young girls out there trying to get into the professional dance industry?
1. Outlast them all.
2. People don’t care about what you’re doing as much as they care about what they’re doing.
3. Remember to be adaptable – the stage, choreography, singers, and actors are always changing, our job is to make them look flawless no matter what.
Being an ambassador for adidas, what’s it like to work with a major sportswear company?
Insane really. It’s rare that the more involved you get with a company, the more you respect it. adidas lives what they sell and genuinely care about the strength of the female athlete. It’s a giant corporation but they project so much trust onto us ambassadors while letting me be me, say me, and do me but with their support.
Favorite sneaker by adidas?
Non-work out: White leather gazelles with gum sole
Workout: Ultraboost X
You’re also a worldwide recognized fitness influencer, have you always been so health conscious?
As a dancer, I grew up super active of course. It wasn’t until after college that I understood that I needed to eat right and train outside of the studio to reach my maximum potential in the studio . I was kind of a mess–Dominos accepted our University meal plan and I thought healthy was a Salandwich (a Caesar salad Sandwich). I would go to diet extremes when dance jobs or auditions popped up to whip my body into shape ASAP. I eventually got tired of constantly getting my body “ready” for something and learned to train and eat cleanly everyday so my mind and body were always prepared.
What are three hidden gems in LA?
1. Hollywood Reservoir
2. Palette Juice and Food
3. Raggedy Threads
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH represents women who own her craft and live their lives unapologetically.
Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
My MISSBISHes are all the ladies I meet who are finding fitness for the first time. Movement is programmed into me and even still, kicking my fitness game up after a month of LAX is rough. The MISSBISHes that find it in themselves to get up, lace up, and show up for the first time fuel me to keep on pushing.
Photos by Christina Choi
While unplugging and disconnecting are many people’s go to answer to de-stressing, these days this isn’t always possible. Online, offline, at home, at work, in the gym, on the road… Stress is inevitable. As a professional dancer, I’m hyper aware of the fact that a stressed mind a stressed body go hand and hand.
Here are my methods to control the madness and cut the stress.
Tools of Torture.
Mental stress creeps down to my neck and shoulders first, then makes its way down to my mid and lower back. I keep a bucket of stress relieving fun next to my couch to pick up whenever I have a spare moment. Trigger points (knots) develop in your muscle tissues from physical, metal or emotional stress. I use a TheraCane or lie on tennis balls to massage these spots and increase blood flow. I like to use Rescue Cream on problem areas to moisturize my skin and relax my muscles as I iron out the tension.
Sitting still and taking 5 deep breathes helps me relax, but when I have time I like to float. Floatation therapy (sensory deprivation) is gaining popularity among professional athletes and those looking for complete and utter relaxation. In your hour long session, you float in a pool of water filled with 10K lbs of epson salt. This pool is enclosed in a pod or room that blocks all light and sound. Without distraction, you increase relaxation, creativity and clarity while decreasing stress and mind clutter. Note that the first time I floated, I was a mess. I was anxious I was doing it wrong and stressing about not de-stressing. It takes several times to achieve a peaceful Theta state of relaxation.
While any form of yoga or stretching helps me relax, aerial yoga really changes the game for me. In an aerial yoga class, you use a silk hammock to maneuver yourself into positions that suspend your body in the air and allow you to hang freely. There is a tourniquet effect created by wrapping the hammock around your limbs. Though uncomfortable in the moment, when you dismount the pose, fresh blood travels around your body and through your joints. This gives you an adrenaline rush and releases “happy” hormones like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. All this boosts your mood and makes you feel more energetic, happy and stress free.
Sometimes it’s hard to pop into a deprivation chamber between meetings and unfortunately, the TheraCane doesn’t fit in my purse. My portable means of relaxation are herbal supplements like products from Rescue. Rescue Remedy is made of 5 of Bach’s flower remedies: Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Start of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum. I reach for an Elderberry Pastille (hard little gummies) to chill out during Los Angeles traffic from hell, to help focus at an audition or while learning choreography. I pack the dropper in my yoga bag and add a few drops of Rescue to my water bottle to enhance my relaxation and deepen my practice throughout class. The Rescue Plus Sleep gummies with melatonin have been key while I travel and adjust to sleeping in new places in new times zones.
This post was sponsored by Rescue, who was kind enough to send me some of their products earlier this year. I’ve since been able to find them at Whole Foods here in Los Angeles.
Click here to find Rescue near you.
Adidas recently launched Adidas Athletics and its Z.N.E. line to help you #findfocus off the court or at the start line. This structured hoodie is thick. It keeps me warm and muffles the noise with the hood on. The pants are super stretchy and are loose enough to wear tights or shorts underneath. I’m a fan of this concept and this line, can’t wait to see more. I’m wear a small top, bra and pant. Links below.
PHOTOS BY JA TECSON
Sarah created Restoration Skincare and explains, “I believe in eating clean and not putting anything on my body that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. I like to feed my skin vitamins and nutrients to promote a healthy status and balance inside and out.” Though I love her Hydrating Mist and deodorant dispensed Body Butter Balm, the Sugar Body Scrub is definitely my favorite. I’m in awe of the simple ingredients: coco butter, coconut oil, raw sugar and vitamin E. I’ve noticed that after I use the scrub and pat dry, the coconut oil and cocoa butter subtly remains on my skin to moisturize it without feeling oily.
Sarah recently hosted a Restoration Skin event at Soule Spa. This Sunday Spa Day was equipped with a brow bar, oxygen facials, shoulder massages, and hand treatments. Naturally, I kicked off the event with a glass of rose accompanied by a plate of brie and brownies. I experienced a brow revolution with Candy who pointed out that my left brow was round and sloped downwards compared to my perky and pointy right brow. She evened me out and taught me how to fill my brows in to lift my face (tail end to center, then define the inside corner point). Candy used Restoration’s lavender hydration spray on a Q-tip to calm my freshly waxed skin which I loved because other calming oils and creams make me break out. Sarah gave me a hand treatment with her Brown Sugar Scrub which I was already sold on and my garden shoulder massage was heaven accompanied by Restoration clove body butter. I went home with a mini lavender hydrating spray and roll on body butter which will keep my skin fresh and dewing during a month of heavy travels.
Maybe it’s because I am here in Los Angeles, the epi-center of folks looking for the next wellness trend, but I have been hearing (or feeling rather) the buzz about the healing practice Reiki, on the daily. Under my own assumptions I put together that Reiki healers use their energy and touch to channel healing powers into a certain ailment plaguing a patient. I thought the practice was similar to that of acupuncture: you lie down, tune out and let the expert work their magic.
I met Kelsey Patel, a Pure Barre studio owner, wellness coach, Reiki Master, and wife and step mother, aka Wonder Woman, at a menu tasting event at Beaming West Hollywood. After dying in her barre class and showing interest in Reiki, she invited me in for my very own session.
My Session with Kelsey
Kelsey gave me no preparation or warning about what I’d experience so naturally, I upgraded my assumptions about Reiki to truth. I was excited to lie back, relax and leave with an energy pep in my step. When I walked in, she placed a stone in each of my hands and told me everything that we discuss in the room would be kept confidential and judgment free *silent panic… ummm come again?
She began to ask me a series of guided questions to understand where I was in my life right now and where exactly I would like to be. I had to rank how I felt mind, body and spirit on a scale from 0 to 10. I ranked my mind at a 6, for example. Kelsey said, “Ok, explain the gap between 0-6 and 6-10.” I said something like, “Well my mind is super excited lately- I’ve been experiencing so many new things, meeting so many new people and developed a new passion. The gap between 6 and 10 comes from uncertainty about how this new passion will manifest itself career wise… Oh and I’m also feeling a little anxious today from running around.”
Kelsey looked for gaps and commonalities in what I was saying and challenged the answers I gave her. This mini therapy session dove deep and was enough to make a grown woman bubble up and cry. I was proud I was able to articulate genuine and honest responses as reflecting upon every prong of my life is not one of my daily chores. For some perspective, in high school I had a friend that would sit me down and say anything and everything to try to get me to cry (never worked). Perhaps this is my emotionally reserved Norwegian side shining. Once Kelsey zero-ed in on something to focus on, the Reiki began.
I logged on to Reiki.org which explains, “Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and charging them with positive energy. It raises the vibratory level […] and causes the negative energy to break apart and fall away.” Working with a Reiki master like Kelsey, “allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of ‘life force energy’ to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.” Kelsey explained that this unlimited energy travels through her and onto me.
So, lights off, candle on, stones gripped tight, I got on board. Kelsey held her hands near my head and led me through a series of breathing exercises. I could feel her hands moving around (but not touching) my head and shoulders. I sat still and listened to what sounded like a soft chant. I then felt as though she motioned from back to front, above my head. I felt fresh air and light pour onto me like I just dropped the top on my convertible. I felt a gust of wind travel into my left ear, loosen my jaw and release through my right ear. I felt bright and aware like I just popped my ears after a long, muffled flight.
Kelsey then repositioned herself in front of me and began EFT– Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT uses the Chinese meridian system used mainly for physical ailments in acupuncture. Instead of using pins, EFT uses finger tapping to awaken the meridian points to focus on emotional issues. Kelsey told me to repeat after her. She said a phrase, I repeated, and she double tapped a meridian point. We repeated the same phrase and double tap for each meridian, then started over with another phrase. This was no casual Instagram scroll, these double taps got intense. By the end she was shouting things I’d never say aloud and I was shouting them back. Though it was definitely not the first time conversation has led to yelling “F*ck these bitches,” it felt so good to say it 8 times straight. I wasn’t prepared for such an intense experience, my session got heavy. I was glad when the EFT was over but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it again.
Kelsey gently led me back into awareness, turned on the lights and asked me to rank mind, body and spirit again all of which took a tick towards 10.
Leaving the session, I felt calm and clear and also stunned at the journey I had just experienced. I definitely didn’t engage in my normal quiet cuss at bad drivers behind my wheel or even pace back and fourth at my casting that was running an hour late. Reiki is meant to bring the feeling of new breath and light and my session did just that. Did this single session cause a major fix-it shift in my life? No, nothing comes that easy. It did however make me understand the importance of regular spiritual practice. Cleansing my insides with certain foods, physical activity and stretching is a priority for me, so why not take care of my spirit? I’ve since subscribed to Kelsey’s newsletter which includes a guided meditation. I’ve been using this meditation to begin a regular spiritual practice in combination with her at home exercise below.
An At Home Exercise from Kelsey:
This small monthly practice allows you to take the reigns, clean ‘stuff’ out and to provide room for you to pursue your dreams.
Know that there is no right or wrong to energy work. Deep respect and acknowledgement of ancient practices is fantastic, but we live in 2016 and need not be scared to honor yourself and adapt practices to your life the way they fit.
When: The new moon and full moon. This happens every two weeks. (Next full moon is July 19// New moon is August 2. Keep track here.)
NEW MOON – The new moon is about bringing things into light and calling in what you want or know you need – sit in silence or with relaxing music and get in tune with what you really know you want over the next 30 days. Take a piece of paper and pen, write the date on it and then write 5 new things you want to bring into your life over the next 30 days. Ex: Attract a new beau or get the next job
FULL MOON – The moon is full and so is your heart. Your energy is about to burst. Concentrate on what you want to release. Write it down. Sleep with it under your pillow. Rip or burn in the morning. Ex: Shitty boyfriend or obsession with chocolate