Archives for posts with tag: dance

Image

i had a really beautiful moment last saturday as i was walking down the street to go teach a yoga class. i was on 8th street, a corridor of shops and restaurants, and as i approached the corner, i saw a husband and wife and their very young daughter. she was maybe 2. dressed in her fuzzy petal pink leggings, a cropped soft wool coat, and the most impossibly tiny and stylish shoes. but the beauty of this image was that this tiny girl was stopped on the sidewalk, dancing. music was being piped out onto the street from the restaurant and she was peering into the air wondering where this music was coming from, and moving, bouncing, stomping, rocking and waving her arms. she was entranced and utterly engaged and unselfconscious.

Image

Image

so as wonderful as this scene was, the thing i loved the most was that her parents were letting her dance. they were not pulling on her arms and trying to hurry her to the destination, which is all too often the case. “no, we don’t have time for you to look at cars, or smell flowers, or pet dogs, or touch the rough wood, or the smooth wrought iron, or the warm stones or the cold water, or dance. we need to get to point B. NOW!” the only time in our lives when we are constantly delighted with the world around us and we are forever being pulled away from it’s magic. her parents did not do this. but smiled and laughed and danced with her. no hurry to move on. i stopped as i approached them and told them how they had made my day, and i told her to never stop dancing and being delighted by the world around her.

Image

i am a pretty magically engaged person in the world around me, but lately have felt that i have been forgetting that. missing that. this was such a sweet reminder of the magic that is always there. to listen for the music and dance like no one was watching you.

Image

as i went to teach class, i shared this story and asked that we find our playfulness and curiosity in our yoga. we do yoga because it feels good. because we want to delight in our bodies and in our senses, not because it is a punishment that has been foisted upon us. we need to remember that. each and every day. find the joy in your life and reacquaint yourself with your inner tiny dancer.

Image

 

over the years I have done many kinds of exercise. Aerobics and Jazzercize back in the stone age… ballet, modern dance, light weight training, gym workouts, mountain biking, running, walking, hiking, and the last 12 years, yoga has been at the forefront of my physical activity. In the last 6 years ecstatic dance (you, wildly dancing like no one is watching in a room full of people who are dancing like no one is watching them, and, no one is watching anyone else) in the last couple of years I have also been a regular at the Y and incorporated weight training, stairs and elliptical machines into my regime. In the last few months, BodyJam is the latest addition. BodyJam is a fantastically fun dance class where you learn dance moves and the choreography is built on section by section. The music is great and the moves very hip hop inspired. So I am now at the Y about 4 days a week, and am having a very different experience being in a gym atmosphere than I have ever had before in my life. I attribute my yoga practice to this shift.

In the past I had approached working out as something I needed to do to atone for the sins of my indulgences to radically alter my imperfect body into something thinner and hotter than it currently was.  It was a loaded masochistic exercise in feeling unsatisfied with myself and striving to attain something that was never realistic. At times it was obsessive. Weighing myself a couple of times a day. Not healthy at all and I think chances are good that a huge percent of people have this experience when they work out.

Fast forward to me after doing yoga for 12 years. I LOVE going to the gym. I do not see it as a task or grueling punishment that I must subject myself to. I focus on my breath, find a rhythm. Slow the movements down. Each move mindful and controlled. I delight in the strength of my body, the sweat and exertion, and I smile and laugh a lot in the process. I am curious as to what my body can do, how I can help it move with grace, build muscle and burn fat. Enjoying the workout itself rather than foucs on some nebulous end result.

It is very interesting to see how many people do not smile, nor even seem to enjoy any part of their workout experience. How uber serious people can be in dance class, or even yoga class for that matter. Sometimes I think yogis can be the most pious and humorless of all. I always try to remind people that we do yoga because we love the doing of it, not because someone held a gun to our head and made us go.

Find the joy, the playfulness, the curiosity.

Try something new: Dance, fencing, tai chi, zumba, kick boxing, yoga, ballroom dancing. Our bodies can fall into habitual ways of moving, so stir things up. That is good for your brain too.

Savor and luxuriate in the moving of your body and your breath.

Have fun, work hard, but keep yourself safe and don’t push too too much.

If you happen to take a class called Body Attack, please don’t take it literally…

Find an activity that you enjoy, not something you find torturous or you will never stick to it.

Don’t starve yourself, your body needs fuel. Make sure it gets the nutrients you need.

Be kind to yourself. No negative self talk, only encouraging words even if they are only in your head. Health comes from the inside out.

Finally, do it because you have your best interests at heart. If you don’t, who will?

Image

when you are a teacher and no one comes to your class, it is exceedingly difficult to not take it personally. “what have I done to piss someone off? do I smell? am I not as funny as I think I am? have they finally discovered that I am completely unqualified to teach and the “emperor’s new clothes” gig is up?”

this is usually what passes through my mind under such circumstances, but recently I have had an opportunity to shift that, and to enjoy an empty studio all to myself.

Image

at the beginning of September I started teaching 2 classes at a dance studio as part of their seasonal class offering. Balance Dance Co. is a pre professional modern dance company that caters to girls age 12-18. they are a marvelous company and some of the best dancing I have seen, period, has come from them. I was present at the first ever performance, when my daughter lily was 6 months old. Lily went on to dance with the company for 3 years. Leah, who is the director is a friend of mine and I have taken many classes in the studio myself over the years.  when Leah asked me to be the yoga offering, I was very excited.

Image

Image

any space that you can dance or do yoga in, excites me greatly, and so to be able to teach yoga in a dance studio, was extra special. I had a Thursday and Saturday morning offering and was ready to go. my first Thursday I had a dancer and her mother, and we had a great time. they loved the class, but weren’t sure that the time would work on a regular basis. they ended up being my first and last students…

Image

Image

so for 6 mornings, I got myself up, rode my bike to the studio, was the first one in the building and got to have a ballet studio to myself. after the first 2 times of the disappointment of no one showing, I began to savor my private dance time. I would warm up, do yoga, lead myself through a ballet barre series and then…I cranked the music and danced. on two separate occasions I had a friend join me and we ended up doing a specialized private session.

Image

Image

the light was beautiful in there. high windows with vast open sky in every direction.  it was always warm and quiet. the sound system respectable. what a gift.

during this time frame, the entire city block in every direction was torn up, access almost impossible and convenient parking a vague notion. I am certain that this did not help my situation at all.

eventually I got the email, “we are really sorry but we need to cancel these classes due to lack of attendance.” understandable and unfortunately a ballet barre class that I was taking in the studio (me being the only student) was also cancelled. so it wasn’t just me…

so apparently, I need to have Thursday  mornings off to take class else where from one of my favorite teachers and I get Saturday mornings off so that I can sleep in, snuggle, drink coffee, and make my way to a dance class at the Y at the very civilized weekend hour of

11:30. as these 2 classes have fallen away, other subbing opportunities, as well as workshops I will be teaching have presented themselves. more time for me to take classes for my enjoyment and continued learning and inspiration. in the losing of something there creates space for something else to come in. something new and exciting.

so I am ever grateful for those 3 weeks. not only did I get to have a beautiful studio all to myself….i got paid to be there.

now, that is a bonus to my gift. thanks leah…

Contact. Wanted to share this woman’s writings on dance. Love this. Remember we dance this Saturday night….in love and light, Jodeen

Image

I just watched a fantastic film a couple of weeks ago called “Pina”. it is gorgeous, an homage to the German choreographer Pina Bausch who died of cancer in 2007.  her dear friend, director Wim Wenders and she had talked of doing a film showcasing her work, but kept putting it off for over a decade. they were about to begin shooting when she died 5 days after discovering she had cancer. Wim Wenders and her dance company felt committed to follow through as an act of love for Pina., the result is remarkable. her movement like nothing I have ever seen before. dancers of every conceivable age, body type, men and women. some people had been in the company with her for close to 20 years. that is unheard of.

“I am not so interested in how they move as in what moves them. “ –Pina-

I facilitate an ecstatic dance group once a month in my fair city. there are 5 of us who work together, taking turns “facilitating”. by facilitate, I mean, set up an altar, line the space with Christmas lights, set up the exquisite inter galactic star machine, do the play list, and then create an intention for the dance, a focus and hold this safe space and see what moves people. no drugs, no alcohol, no dry humping on anyone else. this is your clear dance with yourself and the divine that you share in a room full of open hearted tribe. it is powerful and joyous and incredibly cathartic. it is perfect for people who claim that they can’t dance.

Image

dance has always been a part of my life and it has carried me through some very  difficult times. it is my most primal self. a key part of who I am as a woman, my power, my sexuality. my heart.  it helps keep me sane and has contributed to my insanity at times as well, but that was when I drank way more than I do now…

“dance, dance, or otherwise we are lost.” –Pina-

people come there to dig deep, to grieve, to laugh, to love, to celebrate, to sweat their prayers. it is an honor to be there and share that kind of space with others. we have been doing this for a few years, and the family keeps growing.

as I watched this film I was saddened to know that this brilliant woman was gone, but so inspired to so see how passionate she was about her work and the mark that she left. I have thought of this movie over and over since I saw it and am planning on watching it again this weekend.

“sometimes she would say things like “go on searching.”

That was all that she would say and it meant you must keep searching not knowing where to look nor whether you were on the right track.” – from the film “pina”

I was so taken by this notion. “’go on searching”. not knowing if we are on the right track, but keeping all senses open, paying attention and trusting and saying “yes” every day to what moves us. living.

dancing or otherwise we are lost. Image