Photo courtesy of Karen Arceneaux
The photo below of dancer, choreographer, personal trainer and fitness coach Karen L. Arceneaux pretty much sums her up — power, persistence, poise — a true Passionista. When we spoke with Karen for this week’s episode of the podcast, we were blown away by how devoted she was to the art of movement in both dance and fitness.
Photo by Rachel Neville Photography
At the time of the interview she had done 325 straight days of planks — not all on top of exercise balls, mind you. And she encouraged us take on the challenge — even if we had to do them on our knees and could only make it through a minute a day. What was important was the doing as far as Karen was concerned. We’re proud to say we’ve been doing them each day. We’re pretty sure we’ll never build to the expert level in the photo above but we know Karen will be proud of us just for doing what we can do.
Here’s an excerpt for our interview with Karen talking about how she first got interested in dance:
Pop Culture Passionistas: Karen, what are you most passionate about?
Karen L. Arceneaux: I'm most passionate about inspiring others through dance and fitness. Dance called me. I think I was in the third grade and the librarian was giving away books. I was very shy back then. And I just stared at this one book. It had the threading and it was torn. And it had a picture of a point shoe on the cover of a book. And I just prayed, I was like I hope no one gets that book. I hope no one takes that book. So when everyone left the library the book was still there, I picked up the book and took it home. And to this day I don't know where the book is but I realize, in thinking about how I came to this thing called dance, that was like the first image of it, the first thing that got me interested, that piqued my interest — it’s that point shoe.
Pop Culture Passionistas: And how did you get physically involved with it after that?
Karen Arceneaux: I was on the cheerleading team in middle school and then I wanted to try out for dance team in high school. My mom was strongly opposed but my father was an artist. And he's like, “Come on. She's an artist. You gotta let her do it.” So she let me audition for the dance team. And that was my first… because I never had any formal training. I auditioned for the dance team. I just loved moving. I just loved moving and picked up movement quickly and just loved it. So that's in high school.
And then when I went to college that's where it got a little tricky because I've always wanted to work with kids. And I initially went into college to try to study to be a pediatrician. My mom, everybody was happy about that. But then a year into the program, I wanted to dance. I saw these girls walking back and forth from the dorms with pink tights on and pink ballet shoes. And I was like, “I gotta do this. I gotta do this.”
I spoke to my mom and dad and my mom was like, “What are you going to do with a career in dance? Would you choreograph videos? What are you going to do?” So eventually my dad ended up talking her into it again — to let me do it. And it's been history ever since.
You know going to college and studying with girls who had been dancing since they were three. I got my formal education in college — my sophomore year in college. And I just love it. I just love it.
Pop Culture Passionistas: How does that translate now into what you do for a living?
Karen Arceneaux: I studied at University of Louisiana Lafayette. It was University of Southwestern Louisiana and there was auditions to come and study for the Ailey School. And I said, “Okay.” You know what, I was up here and came in in New York in 1996 too for the Graham Intensive — Martha Graham — and there was an audition at the Ailey School for their cert program. I was like okay, this is not coincidence. I'm supposed to do this. So I auditioned and got into the program — graduated from college and that summer. I moved up by myself to New York to study dance at Alvin Ailey.
I never, never thought it would be a teacher — never thought I would be a choreographer when I was in college. I said I do not want to choreograph. I don't want to do have anything to do with it. It's too hard. I don't want to teach. I just want to dance. Now I'm a choreographer and a dance instructor.
To find out how Karen made the decision to become an instructor listen to her entire interview at The Passionistas Project Podcast. And find out how to get Karenated at getkarenated.com.