Dance Power!: Creative Movement Offers Healing Release
Jan 06, 2016 04:30PM
By Khristee Rich
Detoxification is the new hot topic. From food elimination diets, juice cleanses, supplements, relaxing salt baths, saunas to detoxifying chemical peels, detoxification is in our thoughts. There is a great need to rid our bodies of what it doesn’t need. We want to feel good, eliminate toxins and live longer. Not only do we want our bodies to feel good, we want our minds and spirits to as well. With the “dawning of the age of Aquarius,” people are realizing the importance of great health, joy, and connection to our spirits; some are achieving this through dance.
Healing dance is an increasingly popular option for finding cathartic release to heal our minds, bodies and souls. New styles are emerging, such as Biodanza, Chakradance, 5Rhythms and others. While most of these healing dances have their own unique attributes, the common theme is to connect us with our bodies, to calm our minds, to become empowered and to find joy.
Sandrine Harris, a movement educator, certified Feldenkrais practitioner, mindfulness facilitator, dancer and certified health counselor, is the founder of Kinesoma (Kinesoma.com). The wellness approach blends several modalities, including dance movement, principles from the Feldenkrais method and mindful practice. The dance classes, for all ages, are very fluid and blend contemporary dances, such as African or Argentinian tangos. It is about the moment and who is there, she explains. Harris infuses her tools from various modalities and brings these skills into the room, curating the music to create the mood and fit the attendees. Classes start slowly and gently on the floor and the energy and intensity builds as the dancers move across the floor. Harris’ classes are about awareness, tuning in more deeply, learning easier movements, being present, and finding more creativity and joy. In addition to continuing to travel the world with her workshops, Harris will open Kokoro, her own “dance nest”, in spring 2016 in Sharon.
Biodanza is an international transformational movement practice that integrates music, movement and authentic connections. Translated, it means “the dance of life”. Created by Rolando Toro in the 1960s in Chile and based on his research in psychology, Biodanza is described as the poetry of human encounter. He interviewed thousands of students at a university and discovered five common themes that everyone wished for. He named these principles “vivencias”. They are vitality, sexuality (to give and receive pleasure), creativity, affectivity (to love and be loved) and transcendence.
Although popular in South America and around the world, Biodanza is still gaining popularity in the U.S. Michelle Dubreuil Macek, one of the few Biodanza facilitators in the U.S., divulges that she loves how Biodanza (BiodanzaUSA.com) is a powerful way to be present and connect with others without words. It concentrates on the human connection and includes partnering and group dancing. The movement can help improve the nervous system, lower blood pressure and add more happiness and zen to our lives. Maryland-based, Dubreuil Macek will teach Biodanza at Basil Yoga Center in Ridgefield on March 12. She is in the process of opening a Biodanza school in Maryland, and continues to travel to places such as Kripalu to teach workshops.
“Through dance, we awaken,” says Keith Lightning. “Through dance, we remember who we are.” Lightning, a facilitator of personal liberation and empowerment coach, is the founder of Liberation Soul Dance. Although he always had a passion for dancing, he was not a trained dancer; his zest for dancing came later in life after experiencing an “awakening” with a shaman in Peru.
Liberation Soul Dance (KeithLightning.com) is a free-form expressive dance geared toward reconnecting us to our passion and joy. Lightning weaves yoga philosophy and empowerment coaching practices such as the four pillars of personal power: grounding (water), fire (focus), earth, (strength) and air/wind (flexibility). He activates chakras, releasing energetic blocks. “So many people are disembodied, disassociated right now,” says Keith Lighting. “An awakening is happening on earth. People are remembering their divinities…and finding answers inside.”
Developed in London in 1998 by Australian-born Natalie Southgate, Chakradance is a free-form shamanic dance that balances our chakras and connects us with our spirit. In shamanic cultures, it is believed that if we are depressed, stressed, or even if we have addictions, it is because we are disconnected from our spirit. Southgate developed Chakradance with the intention to heal using her expertise of dance, Jungian psychology, chakra knowledge and meditation. Practiced in over 35 countries, workshops include a guided dance journey of the seven major chakras, meditation, healing music, and creating an art mandala in a candle-lit room. Dancing with eyes closed, participants see visions while they dance; they connect to the collective unconscious, recall dreams and memories, gain insight, even see flashes into the future.
The owner of The Dancing Curtain, LLC (TheDancingCurtain.com), Khristee Rich, is a Chakradance facilitator. With her theatre background, Rich’s classes are for all ages and dance experience is not necessary. Chakradance may be done seated in a chair, making it accessible to all, even those with disabilities or mobility restrictions. Rich is currently the only Chakradance facilitator in Fairfield County. She will teach Chakradance: Celebrations, an intensive/spiritual dance party, at Basil Yoga Center in Ridgefield on January 9 as a celebration of the spirit and the new year.
Gabrielle Roth, a dancer and musician, created 5Rhythms (5Rhythms.com) in the 1970s in New York City. 5Rhythms is based on her movement philosophy of five universal beats: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. Each workshop contains all of these universal beats; 5Rhythms can be a powerful, cathartic dance.
Margaret Wagner teaches 5Rhythms in New York City, Connecticut and other locations. In 2016, Wagner hopes to bring 5Rhythms to more museums to bridge this expressive dance to the art world for a unique experience combining art and dance.
“To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self,” says Gabrielle Roth. “Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past. Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna or the sweat lodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy.”
In the past, shamans would drum for hours and people would dance. Unfortunately, we are so connected today to technology—such as our phones and computers—that we forget to sing, dance and laugh. We are in a rush to succeed and to move quicker until stress and sickness slow us down. “We have created a difficult situation for ourselves constantly being wired in,” says Sandrine. “Everything is moving in the rapid direction and it is the wrong direction. There is something we can do every day with community work or with our individual selves to get calm, to get peaceful. It is possible need to carve out the time. That is what Kinesoma is; do it in a gentle loving way.”
Long gone are the days that an apple a day kept the doctor away. Disconnected from our bodies, emotions and each other, more and more people are seeking therapists, taking medication and suffering from chronic illnesses. Our bodies hold wisdom and deep emotions; unfortunately, if we ignore our bodies’ inner wisdom, we will develop illness. Exercise and talk therapy are not enough. There are plenty of ways for us to be proactive about our health, including through healing dances.
Khristee Rich is the owner of The Dancing Curtain, LLC in Ridgefield. Connect with her at TheDancingCurtain.com.