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Pia Podgoretsky creates works of modern armor art - while cultivating family @ home in Taos

Video + Images captured by Olga Nazarova

I’ll never forget - or I’ll always remember - when Ashley joined our Hawaiian Hula dance class

Two of her babies were hanging in the corner of the dance floor, next to our Kumu (dance teacher) and when the littlest one wanted her mom’s attention Ashley just picked her up, strapped her on her body, and proceeded to dance the rest of the class with her baby.

It seemed so effortless - and I was just struggling to still just learn the moves, and she was just following along like she didn’t have another human strapped to her body

Needless to say - it was love at first Ka’o (it’s a Hula thing)

Your work is so magical – what inspires you to create?

I am obsessed with light, magic and what strikes the heart in an understated rebellious kapow.I come from a background of designers, painters, musicians, tailors, and so design whether my family and myself wanted it or not, was perhaps ingrained into my dna. I'd never have believed in that If I did not see my children gravitating to creative expression without it being pushed upon them. Personally I've always had this deep desire to share my story of resilience and extend this cloak of grit to others like necessity and it "just" so happens that I've always been into gemstones since at least 4 years old, my father began to teach me energy work as a toddler, I fell in love with Ancient Egyptology as a 7 year old - the symbology and ability to conceal information for only the intended never left me, and I grew up with skateboarders and Punk that really instilled this will of you do not ever give up. We each have a story, and these are the positives that have never left me at each crucial point in life. Coupled with my design background, creating objects of resilience is really an extension of everything I have come to be and feel like I can teach. But to teach, you often have to hope that someone comes to resonate with what you're saying to reap the benefits of what you have to provide, (you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink as the saying goes). So I see myself as creating a series of powerful yet subtle visual cues that set in motion others will to connect with their supernature and do incredible things they had to be reminded they could absolutely do.

RA: Your family is so beautiful - how does dance inform your journey as a mother?

AS: Firstly, thank you! I am definitely grateful for my little family and feel so proud to be a mother, even when it’s hard! Like dance, it takes great courage, consistency, and strength to not only do the physical act of dancing, but to also get lost in the natural flow, expression, and energy of what dance can evoke. This is the same as motherhood to me.  A mother learns to be all of these things, all the while remaining completely open to whatever may come up along the way—at least that is what *I* have learned. To dance comes in many styles, and one can certainly be coordinated and choreographed. But one can also be free and unbridled. I remember when I first started dancing with Kumu Anna Liza. I would bring my 3 children with me to class. My youngest was still breastfeeding and very much attached at my hip. Because I was determined to finally get lost in the Hula, I was prepared to do whatever I could to make sure both baby and me were able to flow. Often times, this meant I would carry baby on my back while I danced! It really was no question for me, because the nature of Hula as sacred as is the nature of motherhood. And though I was the only mama dancing with a baby on her back, I certainly was not the only mama. I got the fuel to persevere in this way from watching the mothers of the group “mother”. Some of these mothers had children dancing in class, some of them had children who refused to dance, and all of it was perfect. Finally! I had found my tribe!

RA: Tell us more about your current projects and performances? What are you excited about presenting to the world in the next year?

AS: Looking back over the last year, I think most people would agree that it’s been one helluva ride! And honestly, when life as we once knew it came to a halt, pieces of who I was died along with it. Many of us experienced great loss, and I was no different. So this next year is about rebirth for me. Who I knew myself to be is no longer, and I’m completely at peace with that. Releasing people, beliefs, patterns, and small thoughts I held about who I was are all a part of my rebirth story! I started my online herbal business called ALOHA SNOW, which supports healing the whole person (my focus is on people who identify as women). I am writing my first book and I’m also working on creating a new show! More details to unfold very soon! Of course, I am still dancing the Hula with Kumu Anna Liza, because I love her and what our Halau stands for. Our classes have mostly been virtual, but as we begin learning how to live with and accept that the coronavirus may be here to stay, my prayer is that I can dance and perform with my Halau Hula in person once again! No more baby on my back, however, as my little one is now 3! My ultimate goal is to be of service during my time on this beautiful planet of ours. I do that by sharing what I’ve learned along my spiritual journey, supporting others who are also here to heal the world, as well as helping people (especially those who identify as women) step back into their personal, spiritual power, after such a long, and often hard journey through patriarchal rule.