On being a (conscious) “dancer”:
“I cannot remember a moment growing up that I did not love to dance yet never once did I consider myself a “dancer.” For one thing, being a dancer seemed to require dancing other people’s dances, an endeavor my body could never quite grasp nor fully enjoy. It also seemed to imply that movement had a “right way” and a “wrong way” and that “getting it right” was at best difficult and counterintuitive and at worst, dispiriting and a setup for failure.
And so I danced the way most people do– at weddings, high school dances, college parties, outdoor music festivals, in living rooms and in the occasional kitchen. (As a side note, while alcohol was often in the vicinity of the dance floor I could never personally relate to the notion of “needing a drink” to dance. Yet it wasn’t until my early-thirties that I had the following epiphany: when it came to dancing, “nothing to drink” was actually way more fun than even the smallest amount. Clarity, physicality, aliveness & the sheer joy of moving in my body all thrived on my being as awake and aware as possible.) Meanwhile along the way I was lucky enough to catch a few whiffs of something deeper than dancing as an aspect of typical social life happenings:
- As a young child I attended creative movement classes with Mrs. Ruth Boozer, an anti-nuclear activist who ran a dance & theater school out of her Atlanta garage during the 1960s and 70s. Mrs. Boozer believed that children needed (in contrast to formal dance instruction like ballet) “a freer kind of dancing where they could work out their fantasies and feelings and creativity.”
- While living in Washington, D.C. after college I took weekly Synergy Dance classes with Charmaine Lee, a former South African ballerina and political refugee who fused dance & movement with Polarity Therapy as a means to healing herself and others.
- During graduate school in Princeton, NJ I audited a modern dance class with Aleta Hayes and got my first soulful taste (as an adult) of exploring movement from the inside out. Dancing with Aleta was a joyful revelation– and yet still the identity of “dancer” remained a preposterous, even flighty, notion to me.
It was not until my first JourneyDance class with Toni Bergins at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in 2009 that the deep resonance of free-form movement finally clicked into recognition. I remember feeling as close to a state of flying as I had ever experienced before in my life. At the end of the class Toni walked up to me and said matter of factly: “Dance is clearly your sadhana” (spiritual practice). I went on to become a JourneyDance Facilitator, teaching for a number of years in Rhode Island (in local dance & yoga studios as well as the women’s state prison) and as visiting dance teacher at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.
Since then I have sought out conscious dance communities wherever my travels have carried me– from California to Georgia, Idaho to Texas, Florida to Maine to Portugal. I have danced numerous forms (Soul Motion, 5 Rhythms, Authentic Movement, Biodanza, Contact Improv, Shamanic Happy Dance, Ecstatic Dance, etc.) in churches and warehouses, beach parks and forest domes. The more I dance, the more Toni’s words ring true: dance is my sadhana. It is both my practice and my offering to the world.”
“What are you? Some sort of gazelle-butterfly-unicorn?” (Rebecca’s all time favorite question anyone has ever asked her on a dance floor. 🙂 )