Friday, March 26, 2010

Dancing Through March- Week Four

This past week, I did as I promised. My dances were an exploration of an area in my back- a small specific place that is creating what I might describe as an intense localized sensation.


This little area- so small, but so effective in calling for my attention. I once heard it said that pain is "attractive." What an odd word to use, I thought. But yes, it does a great job in attracting the attention. The attention that I give to the area runs the continuum of annoyance to frustration to despair. This week, I decided to give the area attention in the context of inquiry.

How does my back wish to move?

This was the question I asked each time I danced this week.

Often the dances started out very slowly. Sometimes the movements were microscopic; at other times they were big and undulating. The one thing that was consistent about how I moved, throughout this week, was that it was always a surprise. That makes sense though. I wasn't imposing the movement, but allowing it to arise so I didn't know what would happen.

And here is what I learned. I learned to sense my back in a way I had not sensed it before. I have thoroughly studied the muscles and bones of the back of course. I teach classes about the spine. I am always surprised when students say that until they took my class, they thought of the spine as one large bone. I know differently of course. I know all about the back. But this week, I learned about my back.

It was Isadora Duncan who said, "What one has not experienced, one will never understand in print." I experienced my back this week, understanding it at a level that I wasn't able to before, despite all my knowledge. I learned to isolate my latissimus dorsi. I learned that my scapula are mobile and can slide in every direction with ease. I learned how to direct my breath right into that spot that keeps demanding my attention. I learned just how fluid my back can truly be as I was no longer experiencing it as one big piece capable only of the gross motor movements of spinal rotation, side-bending, flexing and extending. To experience movement in the back as rivulets of enlivened motion is thrilling indeed.

Here is something else that I learned. My first reaction to pain and stiffness is often frustration. Frustration followed by worry. I don't want the pain. I resent it. I want it to go away. This week, rather than meeting my pain with resentment and trying to get rid of it, I tried instead to accept the state that my body was in and to explore it instead.

The pain is not gone, but it has diminished significantly. In fact, most of the time I am unaware of it. The difference has been amazing.

Consider making an appointment for a Somatic Rebalancing session in order begin to bring movement to those spots that are calling for attention.

Wishing you balance,


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dancing Through March- Week Three

The highlight of my dancing week was attending a Saturday Night Yoga Trance Dance. Since I have been on the lookout for a place to dance my heart out with other people- a place other than a club, other than my own living room, a situation other than a dance class that I lead; I was excited to try out it out.

I am glad that I did. The space was beautifully set up and welcoming. There were enough people there that you felt the experience as shared, but not so many people that you felt like you needed more space in which to move. The music was great; driving, pulsating drumbeats that begged for movement. Our facilitator lead us through some prana initiated yoga poses at times during the evening, but I never felt as if I had to follow any directions exactly and I mainly used the suggestions as starting places from which to explore my own movement.

What I found remarkable about the evening was how free I felt to respond to my impulses to move. We all have our habituated movement patterns and when I dance, I usually find myself repeating certain phrases again and again. Not that this is necessarily bad. I dance in a way that feels good to me, and those phrases feel good. But this time was different. I found new phrases. It was as if my back came to life. No longer flexing, extending and rotating as one big unit, I was able to explore incredibly detailed articulations in my spine and scapula- flowing movements, undulations, waves and circles...and the coolest thing was that at times, I felt like my body was moving me, rather than the other way round.

And this thought kept going through my head-

We don't do this! We don't move like this. Our culture doesn't have anything built into it that would articulate the spine like this. If we all moved with this kind of abandon, with this much flow, with this much detail, on a regular basis, from a young age, just think of how different our relationships with our backs would be!

My back has been bothering me for over a month, a recurrence of a chronic problem. As with all pain, it is trying to tell me something. It is calling out for movement and for touch. So, for the remainder of March, as I continue to dance, I am going to extend an invitation to my back to express itself.

Click here for more info about the Yoga Trace Dance and ongoing yoga classes at Physikos.

Enjoy the dance and as always....

Wishing you balance,


Friday, March 12, 2010

Dancing Through March- Week Two

My week in dance has been wonderful. The best part of the week has been the incredible feeling of community. I started the week by dancing in my living room with a dear friend. This Sunday I have a dancing date with two friends I used to choreograph with- a reunion dance. I was even fortunate enough to be able to dance to live music a few times this week. Friends have been sending me links to music that they have been dancing to which I in turn dance to as well. The feeling of connection is astonishing.

To dance is to be human. To dance with another is to share the authentic experience of being alive.

We were born knowing how to dance...but sometimes we forget. Not only do we forget to dance, but we forget how.

Responding to our complaints about having to do the same phrase again and again, a dance professor once said to our class "You don't get closer to God by learning more steps." It isn't about the steps. The steps are not the dance.

We don't dance with our feet. We dance with our hearts.

Commit to the movement. Let yourself be absorbed in it. Don't judge. Don't question. Be awkward. Be beautiful. Be clumsy. Be silly. Be fabulous. Be a fool. Let the dancing be whatever it is meant to be in the moment.

Check out this video. Keep your eyes on Donny Osmond dancing in the background Not one cool movement in the course of a 3 minute dance. Now that is sheer genius.

Keep dancing! And this week, why not ask a friend to dance?

Wishing you balance,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dancing Through March- Week One

What a joyful week of dancing it's been. I have been surprised and delighted at how many people have joined me. Of those I know, we span coast to coast and include at least one country outside of the United States. It was not my intention to start a viral phenomenon, but it has become one, albeit a tiny one. This delights me. The fact that other people are excited by the idea of dropping everything and dancing, gives me a warm feeling inside- it gives me faith in our collective humanity.

There is a woman dancing in France while she makes cookies, at least one person who dances while brushing her teeth every day. There is a whole college class who dances together each time they meet- a different student provides the music each time. (I wonder who their professor is?) There have been reports of slow dances, River Dances, thrash dances, elementary classrooms dancing to the Beatles. And lots of people are dancing with their children. (Lucky children to have such great parents.)

My dancing has mainly been music-blaring, upbeat, fun dance all over the house dancing, although there have been a few raw, writhing, music-less, butoh-esque dances in there. Most days I have done more than one five minute dance. There was only one day when I was feeling really sad and I just couldn't bring myself to dance without it feeling like a chore.

Butoh Dancer

So far, the dancing has felt like a real treat. And the best part was sharing it with others. In fact, the highlight of my week, not just my dance highlight, but THE highlight, was dancing with my son.

Keep dancing! And remember, it isn't about how you look. It is about how you feel. Dance how you are moved to dance. Here is some inspiration.

Keep Dancing! And tell me all about it!