Dance Lessons are Life Lessons
Newsletter Archive | March 2019
Hi fellow shimmy shakers,
I learned some lessons through dance this month. I learned to inhabit the qualities of a good team player and I had a therapeutic experience of letting go.
I spent one week in an intensive training course co-offered by myself and my long-time friend and teacher Amy Sigil. Each morning at Tribal Massive in Vegas Amy taught her S.I.G.I.L. course, then each afternoon I taught the very first run of my Bellydance Cohesion Stage 1 Enrichment Course. Many of the participants took both trainings, including Amy and me, so about twenty of us spent all day and all week dancing together!
S.I.G.I.L. was a track that focused on collaboration and creativity, culminating in a group performance. Cohesion introduced bellydance movement, music, and history. While each track was very different, there was a lot of bonding, laughing, working, and crying throughout each of the trainings as the lessons from one intensive informed the other. It was a treasured once in a lifetime experience for me.
The First Bellydance Cohesion
Pinch me! I can barely believe what a beautiful, meditative, rejuvenating experience this was. Bellydancers from beginner to expert skill levels were all moving together and challenging themselves to their personal edge in a room full of supportive and encouraging peers. We danced together, drummed together, and improvised together. For me, it felt deeply healing and connective.
Though we spent nearly the whole time dancing technique drills, each person was also brave and enthusiastic to learn to frame drum and play finger cymbals, as well as to participate in lectures on bellydance history.
We used therapeutic exercises to prepare our bodies for lots of movement repetition and we consciously employed mindfulness strategies to help us stay present. Because of the integrity with which everyone engaged in these preparations, each class felt like an extended meditation.
I felt emotionally moved from the first moment of class. I have prepared many years for this opportunity and many people have prepared me. I felt supported by my teachers. Unable to separate myself from their lessons, I brought my teachers into the room with me by naming them and voicing my gratitude to them. To have one of my closest and longest teachers physically present was overwhelming on a grand scale. Beyond having Amy in the room, I felt honored by the presence of each person in attendance.
Amy uses dance (and dance-adjacent practices...like bouncy balls...) to minister life lessons. You’ll have to attend her course to experience the super unusual and fun strategies she uses to teach teamwork but I will give you my personal take-aways. YOU are important to the whole. Your attitude matters. The strengths you naturally bring to the game are great, but they aren’t enough. You need to be a switch-hitter with your team attributes. Today you may be the competent reliable one, tomorrow the encouraging cheerleader, the next day the problem solver, and after that, the adaptable person who praises change and new approaches.
It was liberating to try on different hats and fun to discover which attributes feel more comfortable to wear. I am quite comfortable being the competent one who others can rely on. I am less used to being the enlarging person who bolsters the confidence of others while downplaying their own role. I learned how to be an enlarging team member by watching others who were playing the role of enlarger. I didn’t just learn from Amy, I learned from my peers. It was eye-opening and meaningful. I feel inspired to be more enlarging in my life with others. I feel inspired not to complain or critique as much as I might want to. I feel inspired to be a good team member day-to-day for my family and friends.
On the last day of S.I.G.I.L. we made a dance using the phrases we had collaboratively created all week. Amy arranged the choreography and once it was complete, we were rehearsing it on repeat. She stopped us and told us to observe the intention of this dance piece. She told us the story is about respectfully saying goodbye.
I could feel a flash of connection move through the room as each person identified personally with that feeling of reverently letting go. And living the moments that occur once you decide to leave. As we repeated the choreography I noticed I wasn’t the only person crying as I moved. Several of us danced and sobbed, and danced and sobbed. I know some of the dancers well enough to imagine what they were letting go of and crying over, while others I can’t even begin to guess. It was amazing to be dancing, looking at people in their crying faces, and holding their crying bodies as I cried. It was very therapeutic and healing for me. I can’t speak for them but I know that after performing the dance for an audience, I feel I’ve completed a cycle of letting go and moving on from the things in my personal life that I was imaging in the studio that day.
Thank you to each person I shared these moments with. I don’t know if I’ve ever had such a transformative experience while dancing ...with bouncy balls.
Dance is powerful,