(What Dance Means to People)
Within our book we have include a few lovely little stories from dancers about their experience with dance. Usually just a couple of paragraphs. Here we have some longer lovely accounts of conscious dance from others. Enjoy!
Liberation in Dance -- Minnie Chu
To me, dancing is a form of liberation. It's a chance to connect with my body, feeling its strength and grace as I move through space. When I dance, I try to be both in control of my movements and also letting go, allowing myself to express and explore. Through dance, I've discovered new aspects of myself and felt a profound sense of connection with the world around me. It leaves me feeling alive and grateful, almost every single time.
-- Minnie Chu
Building Ecstatic Energy -- Tyler Blank
After attending the original ecstatic dance on the Big Island of Hawaii at Kalani, we were inspired to start the 2nd ever ecstatic dance in Oakland, CA. We asked permission from the founders on the Big Island to do so. They gave us their blessings, and the simple guidelines that create the container for ecstatic dance. We looked for an inspiring building to house the dancing community we envisioned, an urban version of Kalani, and found it in the historic Sweet’s Ballroom, in the heart of Oakland.
It didn’t matter that we were both homeless, living our of our vans, we just wanted a place to dance as our home. Despite having amazing, talented DJs, a great sound system, and an incredible space, we still struggled to pay rent each and every week for the first 6 months. But we were determined to be able to dance ecstatically in our own home town. We added ecstatic dance Wednesday nights, and slowly, very slowly… we attracted a devoted community of freeform dance and electronic/world music lovers. Over the next 10 years we grew to over 300 dancers twice a week! We made ecstatic dance a non-profit, and allowed anyone to follow in our footsteps, as long as they followed the simple guidelines laid out by ecstatic dance Big Island.
As a result, the “Open Source Dance Technology” that is ecstatic dance is now held in over 500 cities globally.
-- Tyler Blank (founder of ecstaticdance.org - Oakland, SF, & Fairfax)
Opening Up My Eyes to Consent -- Kiiut Katt
Before to arrive to The Bay, I used to dance with my eyes close, all the time. That was my best way to set boundaries and keep myself safe. The first time that I did contact I was so surprised about the ownership of the no and that is ok to say it in any moment, when you feel it. That I was not obligated to continue any dance at least that I desire that, I stated to try different ways to say no, finish a dance or even say yes, because by keeping my eyes close, I was also missing super great possible dances!
Sounds silly but sometimes we underestimate how hard is to set our boundaries and how amazing feels when we respect them. Once that I learnt how to say No, I started to enjoy even more my yes! My dances were way more meaningful, my No were celebrated, respected, encouraged. And I actually got to dance with a lot of wonderful people instead of just myself!
-- Kiiut Katt
Dance as a Microcosm -- Patrick McConnell
Dance is a microcosm of everything happening in my world. It instantly reveals my soul’s truth of how I’m feeling on any given day and is a mirror for how I'm showing up in the world. It is as much a part of my spiritual practice as seated meditation. It is as much a part of my movement practice as hitting the gym. It is as much a part of my social life as meeting up with friends for dinner. In fact, it is the only practice I’ve found that consistently elevates my mind, body, and spirit.
Dance pushes me to my edges and well beyond my comfort zone. It’s a rocket ship for growth and confidence. It holds me in my most tender of moments, and lifts me up in my most courageous of triumphs. It is a vessel for play, silliness, and laughter. It is my creative teacher and personal tour guide through the essence of my being. Dance has made me a better friend, lover, and son, and it’s a constant reminder to not take life too seriously. Dance, in many ways, is my church, and I will continue to pray to the God of joy through goofy footwork and funky jams.
-- Patrick McConnell
Imagination in Dance -- Robin Munt
Ecstatic Dance has allowed me to open myself fully to my creativity and imagination. Having a safe space gives me the freedom to cut loose and dance my stories and dreams alive. And this has had a profound effect on my life outside of dance, my perspective and presence has shifted to allow myself to naturally bring this creative energy into my external world.
Two particular examples of dancing my imagination spring to mind. The first, an internal ritual of rooting myself to the Earth, giving my energy to Mother nature and receiving her abundance in return. A very powerful experience which I feel has been integral to feeling deeply settled in what I now think of as home. The second, a beautiful connection with another dancer, starting off just with a subtle mirroring of our hand movements and slowly evolving into a full on play session where we throwing 'balls of air' to each other across the whole dance floor! An amazing experience, bringing out the little kid in me to play was so exhilarating!
-- Robin Munt
Dance as Religion -- Brian Spears
Growing up Mormon, dance was one of the few permissible ways to maintain physical contact with those I found attractive. In college, I uncovered a passion which took on the forms of ballroom dance -- male dominated with correct and incorrect figures.
I often broke out into spontaneous dance with friends. A couple years ago, some recommended I try out ecstatic dance. One session I dropped in and had an experience I’d only previously had on psychedelics. Since then, I’ve learned how to let my mind go and be in my body, the music, and motion with others. Love, play, anger, bliss, fear, sadness, and connection with the infinite all emerge. The dance holds them all.
-- Brian Spears
What Dance Feels Like
You transcend the perception of time and space and drop through a portal when you enter an ecstatic dance. Time collapses and you travel inter-dimensionally. Every individual’s experience at a dance looks so different. It shows you a glimpse into your inner world as well as an expression of the totality of existence. How we are all unified despite our differing individual experience. It’s all energy pulsing together. Ecstatic dance is like the conscious choosing of energies to merge and come together in a free expression to see what transpires. You never really know what you are going to get but it is always the medicine you need. Everyone there are the conscious co-creators energetically agreeing to help heal each other through the experiences that carry out that day. For me, I let my body and the divine energy that moves through it, move me and speak to me. I put myself in the most intense vortex of energy, right up the front of the dance floor by the DJ and from there, I like to look out over everyone and play witness to the beauty of their truest expression. It all starts to feel like a dream to me. I experience myself as pure presence, light, and connection. That is the gift ecstatic dance brings to us and I feel so blessed to have it in my earthly existence.
-- Juju Wild
Dance Fundamentals -- Ethan Paul
As a bodyworker and movement coach my life is an exploration into the depths of the human body. What makes the body feel good? How does the body talk to us when something isn't right? What patterns repeat? Dance answers these questions and so much more.
For me, dance is the truest expression of the self. To be fundamentally me. To be fundamentally human. To be fundamentally a part of the universe witnessing itself. To explore the experience of the self as duality and non-duality simultaneously.
When I dance I can be in my own body and feel its presence, awareness, abilities and limitations. I can become aware of the order and repeating patterns that keep me stuck. Or I can get lost in the chaos and surrender to the flow, the spirals and the freedom. I can bring joy to myself and others. Or I can explore the depths of my fears, sadness and anger.
To dance is to get lost in the rhythm. To dance is to be human. To dance is to be primal. To shed the layers of civilized conditioning and return to all I am - particles of space dust swirling around in space.
-- Ethan Paul (physical therapist & movement coach)