I have come to be danced

Finally, after 4 and a half years of wanting to go and not-going, I made it to Barefoot Ecstatic Dance on Saturday. It’s a monthly ecstatic dance event in Halifax, and it was fabulous. Here’s what I wrote the day after the dance: 

 

The room was in twilight, half-lit by strings of multicoloured fairy lights.

We gathered in a circle, 20 or 30 of us. The organizers reminded us of the “rules” (no talking, let your inner dance out). We chanted OM, a continuous loop of sound reverberating through the space.

We spread out in the space, and the music began—slow, soft, pulsing. Some people immediately sank into trance and moved with that special quality of someone letting their body dance them (and not the other way around). Some sat or lay still at the edges of the room. Others, like me, began to move tentatively, warming up to the dance, sinking slowly into it.

Lights by sporkist on Flickr.com
Image by sporkist on Flickr.com

I kept my eyes down. To look up was to become distracted by the dance of another, to activate that inner judging voice comparing myself to them. I didn’t want to do that. Some dancers moved through the room, interacting with other people. I didn’t want to do that either. I feared them. I wanted to disappear, to dance invisibly in my own bubble.

The music grew. It pulsed and throbbed. I stayed more or less in the same area of the dace floor, focusing on the floor and my body. I kept my focus and consciously brought my training into play, grounding my feet and gently moving my joints as I would at the start of my classes. Gradually, my muscles warmed up, my feet found their rhythms. I felt more comfortable. I let go of my control. The music picked up.

And then…I don’t know if it happened gradually or all at once…things changed. Where I had consciously stayed on the edges before, an outsider, I found myself moving deeper into the room. Where I had felt threatened or crowded by the moving bodies around me, I no longer recognized them as “other.”

Light goodies by Georgie*S on Flickr.com
Image by Georgie*S on Flickr.com

As the music pounded through every cell of my body, and coloured lights began to flash through the room, the final vestige of my inhibitions, the last legacy of those years in the ballet studio…released. I was no longer the dancer and the observing inner critic. I was just me. My body felt clearer and more solid than it ever had, my mind was clear and open—still thinking, but with a stream of thoughts flowing through my mind like water.

I was one with the music and the dancers around me. My feet instinctively found the empty spaces in the room, and my hands stretched wide as my hand chakras opened and I sensed the energy that swirled through the space. I’d felt that before, when I first learned Reiki, but it had been a long, long time since then.

My eyes no longer sought the floor. They lifted—now to the play of coloured lights on the high patterned ceiling, now to the face of a nearby dancer, sharing a grin of connection and joy. I beamed…glowed. I shone.

Light painting by kevin dooley on Flickr.com
Image by kevin dooley on Flickr.com

 

It was deep in this trance that the message came. It came in my own voice, ringing through my mind as I danced in the half-dark. It said,

“What if you could be like this, always. Just you. Not afraid, not hesitating. What if you could leap joyously into experience, saying YES when the Universe asks you to dance, instead of freezing in terror. You can move past the fear you’ve been stuck in. It’s so simple. You just have to let go and be brave and be the person you are RIGHT NOW.”

 

A giant smile stretched across my face, and I lifted my gaze to the ceiling in gratitude and amazement. As the music shifted and I lowered my gaze, my eyes fell on the small altar at the side of the room. I went over to investigate what was on it, and I saw a crocheted bag with a note next to it: Reach into the bag and receive a message from nature.

Without thought, my right hand reached into the bag. It knew what to do. It pulled out a smooth, small piece of driftwood with one word on it:

Courage.

It took my breath away. I sat for a moment, imagining the essence of the word infusing my body through the hand that held it. Then I put it gently down. I got up and bowed to the altar. I stepped away and sank back into the dance—hair flying, sweat glistening. Aches and pains that would normally have me seizing up in fear came and went away again as I surrendered to the holy trinity of body, breath, and beat.

On and on I danced, one cell of a single living, dancing organism. The music grew sultry, then softer and lyrical, then quiet. One by one, the dancers moved to the floor and lay still. I kept moving until the very end…I wasn’t ready to stop.

When the music ended, I stood still for a minute in the dark, quiet room. I felt my bigness, the extent of my space in the Universe. I knew that this was only the first of many dances, that I was on the dancing path. And I knew that miracles and magic awaited me, so long as I remembered the message that this night had brought:

Courage.

Catch Light by SodanieChea on Flickr.com
Image by SodanieChea on Flickr.com

 

Greetings from not-Portland-Maine (and why it’s a good thing)

Today I was supposed to be in Portland, Maine.

I was. Last winter, I promised myself that I would go to the Authentic Movement workshop that’s happening there this weekend. Matthew and Xander were going to come too (to Portland, not the workshop). Friends of ours were going to come along for the trip. It was going to be an awesome vacation and, for me, a big, splashy return to the world of dancing with new people and learning new things “out there.”

And then life happened.

My husband left his office job (and his regular paycheque). We cut expenses drastically. I started actually doing all the business-y stuff I talked about doing before he left the office.

And then it was the end of April, and there was just no way in hell it was happening.

So, there it is. The Authentic Movement workshop will happen (technically, it’s happening right now, since there was a Friday night session), without me.

But you know what? That’s OK.

It would have been a really cool experience. But it would have cost well over $1000 (probably $1500 or higher) between transportation and accommodation and everything else. And, frankly, I would rather take that money and use it to cover bills and buy myself some time in which I can focus completely on building my business. I’ve already started, and it’s been fabulous.

Plus, there are a lot of opportunities right here.

Next weekend there’s a Barefoot Ecstatic Dance (which I’ve meant to go to since Xander turned 2, and STILL haven’t made it to). There’s also an open house at a local yoga studio, and that means free yoga classes (which I’ve meant to go to since Xander turned 2 and STILL haven’t made it to). And the weekend after next, there’s a contact improv workshop at the studio space where I teach DansKinetics (the idea of going terrifies me, but in that good “walking my edge” kind of way).

I can go to all three for $25, plus bus/cab fare if necessary. I’ll be walking my edge, challenging myself in the best possible way. And I’ll be making connections and learning and growing in the community where I live. There’s something to be said for that.

Growing...breaking through walls...

I feel like I had to not-go to the workshop in Maine in order to truly appreciate all the possibilities there are right here. I’ll be keeping my eyes open from now on, making an effort to get out to events and experience new things here in Halifax…and I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m looking forward to having new movement experiences to blog about 🙂

Picture post: my technicolour dreambook

I’ve been playing around with a blank book lately, and I wanted to share. I’m a sucker for blank books, but this one went unused for years because I tend to like my pages lined, and I didn’t really know what to do with an unlined book.

Apparently, it was just waiting for the right time. Like the day I bought Xander some new paints at Staples (side note: Crayola watercolours…BEST PAINTS EVER. I may have to buy my own set, because I’m getting quite protective of these ones when Xander tries to mix colours. Other side note: TARDIS MUG!!! YAY!).

I’ve been doing a page every day or so. Sometimes it’s a message about what I need that day…

Sometimes it’s a reminder of the qualities I want to invite into my life…

Sometimes it’s a message about how I’m feeling…

Sometimes it’s an affirmation…

 

I absolutely love this new project. I love the beautiful colours (I am such a sucker for rainbow colours!). I love the feeling of the paint. I love the thick paper. I love the meditative aspects of putting brush to paper and letting the message come out. A page only takes a few minutes, but every time I make a new one, I come back to my day feeling clearer and lighter. I can’t recommend it enough!

 

Beautiful dreamer

Beautiful dreamer—

I see you there, peeking out from the shadows.
The bright sunlight makes you squint as you peer from your sanctuary.
Beyond the shade is a world more beautiful than you can imagine.

But to get there, you must do the unthinkable.

You must uncurl your fingers from that tangle of branches.
Straighten your shoulders,
Take a deep breath.

And take one step.

Step out into the light.
Even though your heart is racing and your breath is catching in your chest.
Step into the light.

You worry that the light will blind you.
That the bright beings you see in the distance will point and laugh
At your dimness.

What you do not see
Is that the shade obscures your magnificent sparkle.
Step into the light and watch yourself transform.

Shine. One step at a time.

Image by davedehetre on Flickr.com

Looking beyond “success” and “failure”

This is the post I dreaded writing…and that ended up practically writing itself in the end.

I held two Dancing Mamas events this month. One last weekend, and one the weekend before. This was my second try…you can read about my first try and the lessons I learned here.

So…how did these ones go?

Just like last time, that depends on how you look at it.

Were they jam-packed money-making name-establishing phenomenons?

Ummm…no.

Did I get to dance with people I love, reconnect with someone I haven’t seen in years, and learn at least a dozen lessons to apply the next time I try?

Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Notebook full of notes. So many lessons!

On July 17 I set up in an absolutely beautiful studio just outside of Halifax. And no mamas came. But (and this is a Big Deal) one old student did come. This month I finally emailed all of my old DansKinetics students from back in 2007, and one of them was so excited to dance with me that she came out to Dancing Mamas. We had an amazing chat and a really great dance together. I played a completely different playlist just for her and me, and it was awesome.

The whole afternoon reminded me how much I loved the classes I offered when I was pregnant and how amazing the people were. It made me want to revisit the classes I offered that time around. It reminded me that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, even when you’re revamping your business. Thank you, Martina, for coming out and dancing with me.

On July 23 I set up in a crowded library in a residential area of suburban Halifax. And I ended up dancing with my old ballet studio-mate Omni and my friend Kerry and her small son Jonah. We had a fantastic time boogieing and chasing Jonah around.

I learned so much that afternoon: about how I was experiencing severe (and I do mean severe) resistance to really embracing the possibility of success, how I’m not sure if I have the details of Dancing Mamas quite right, about how the next time I try a library class I think I want to make it either free or as close to free as I can because it feels wrong to do otherwise.

And I also learned about the things I’ll bring next time: dry erase markers and extra business cards and cups for the water fountain. And about how awesome, supportive, and truly loving my friends are.

You can’t put a price on what I learned.

A handful of precious (and unexpected) gifts.

So, was the second round of Dancing Mamas Tribes a success?

I think that might be the wrong question.

It was exactly what I needed at this time and under these circumstances.

And that’s all that matters.

The “So, what kind of dance do you teach?” phenomenon…

I’ve been noticing something interesting.

Since my Dancing Mamas Tribe starts tomorrow (!!!!), I spent some time putting up posters early last week. Here is the jist of EVERY SINGLE conversation I had in the process:

Meg: [enters store/coffee shop] Hi! I’m starting a dance class for moms with babies and toddlers…could I put up a poster on your bulletin board?

Store Owner: Sure! What kind of dance are you teaching?

Meg: I’m actually not teaching any kind of dance. I’m just offering moms time, space, and permission to come out and do their own dance with their little ones.

Store Owner: Oh! That sounds awesome! [lets me put up poster]

I mean, I get it. “Dance class”…you automatically run through a mental checklist…ballet, modern, tap, jazz, ballroom, zumba, African…more or fewer types depending on your experience. You definitely go into the “learning a dance style” mindset. The teacher is the “expert” and the students are there to learn how to do what she (or he) does.

But in a freeform dance gathering like The Dancing Mamas Tribe, that’s not really the dynamic at all. Yes, I have dance and teaching experience in a number of disciplines. But really, my job isn’t to train other bodies to imitate my dance. It’s to help the attendees find their own dance. They’re the experts.

Even in a DansKinetics/YogaDance class, which is more structured, you’re not really “teaching” people “how to dance”…you’re helping them to bring their own dance out. They don’t have to know the structure of your class plan or even do the movements you plan in any given class. They just have to listen to their bodies and do their own thing. You’re only there to hold the space and offer support and encouragement.

That’s exactly why, on my website and in conversation, I’ve been trying to make a point of not calling what I do “dance classes” and not calling myself a “dance teacher,” (and may I just say that I still find it challenging sometimes…it’s hard to find the right words).

But when you’re just stepping into a business to stick up a poster and you need to make someone understand more or less what you’re offering in one sentence, “dance class” is the fastest thing to say. And you just need to be prepared to explain if someone asks.

What I find especially interesting (and encouraging) is that the people in question didn’t think less of my offerings once I explained. They didn’t dismiss the idea when they learned that I didn’t fit into their preconceived notion. They thought it was a fabulous idea. In some cases they got much more excited about it. But the assumption is always there to begin with. It’s kind of exciting to get to be the one to open someone’s mind.

And here’s the really good news in all of this:

In every single instance where this happened I didn’t go into my usual cringe-and-blush-and-stammer-and-feel-pathetic routine. Nope. I explained the real situation, and couldn’t help but add “I’m really excited about it!” to the end of my “elevator speech.” Because I am really excited. So incredibly, crazily excited. A little scared. But mostly excited.

And that, my dears, has got to be some kind of first for me. I’m taking it as a sign.