Dance as an Art Form of Connection and Reaching Ecstasy
I have been dancing as long as I can remember. Before I could even name what sacred connection to Source was, before I knew what to call the presence of God or divinity – I felt that wordless, energetic channel to Spirit through dance. Many of us experience this relationship with dance, as human beings have throughout time.
Dance has always been a form of ritualized spiritual expression for individuals and communities. This art is recorded by ancient scribes all over the world. It was painted on cave walls 30,000 years ago, and dance as a form of ecstasy probably pre-dates recorded history.
Healing through Discipline and Community
In my own life, a dance injury in my twenties began a period of shamanic dismantling. I began to question my life’s purpose, setting me on a path to becoming a healer. My body and spirit healed over time. This was thanks to physical and spiritual discipline – and thanks to community.
Living in New York City and dancing through its clubs, I began to recognize the power of dance to build community and deepen connections to those around me. I also experimented with various club drugs. I found that, though those substances promised connection, what they delivered was something very opposite. Something that usually wound up detaching me from myself.
I began to realize a mission to help people reach ecstasy without taking it. Alongside other dreamers and manifesters, like Zohar Wilson and Mark Sklawar, in 2001 I helped launch, produce, and co-lead an ongoing holistic rave called Body Temple. This was alongside my practice of facilitating Dance of Liberation. Dance of Liberation is a ceremonial dance modality that uses the shamanic tradition of blindfolds to guide dancers into an experience that is both intensely personal and communal.
Now at home in LA since 2013, I’ve been grateful to witness and participate in the birth and expansion of dance community at Ecstatic Dance LA, part of a global Ecstatic Dance community developed over the past decade. EDLA Co-founders Robin Parrish and Atasiea Kenneth Ferguson have nurtured this community from a collective of 60 souls in 2014, to an event that now draws an average of 300 people on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month.
Ecstatic Dance LA
This freeform dance format has a few guidelines – no shoes, no talking, and no drugs or alcohol, bringing nonjudgmental intentionality into the dance space. As classically-trained dancer Atasiea puts it, “hold the dance with reverence” in a way that doesn’t make distinctions between “acceptable vs. non-acceptable” forms of dancing. For co-founder Parrish, the experience is about tapping into a sense of infinite “possibility,” and of gratitude: “With social media, there’s lots of distortion, and people try to be something other than they are.”
EDLA works to “bring people back to our humanness,” realizing “we all have tender hearts and we can do things together.” My consistent experience at EDLA is that, even if I arrive not knowing those around me, by the end of the dance, there are no strangers in the room. Dancing freeform in a nonjudgmental, conscious, and intentional space helps people open to and truly see one another. Movement becomes a way of silent, deep communication with others. I find I’m able to discover new parts of myself – sometimes celebratory, and sometimes uncomfortable – while not being left alone with those revelations; I’m witnessed and supported in my discovery of myself and of them.
Dance of Liberation at Ecstatic Dance LA
The format at EDLA begins with an hour of a visiting wisdom teachers who help warm people up, set the tone, and enrich the experience. On March 17, EDLA will host Dance of Liberation in the first hour, inviting dancers into a sacred, ceremonial space. Blindfolds will help dancers move away from the distractions of the beauty of others, and allow them relief from any comparisons that may arise, while also inviting them to dance with parts of the self that may be challenging reveal in a public space. As Atasie puts it, it will be both an “inner and outer dance experience.”
Daily Ecstatic Dance and Dance of Liberation Practice
In 15 minutes, experience a daily Ecstatic Dance and Dance of Liberation Practice
- Begin your practice by setting an intention.
- You might also use sage to help clear any negative energies and invite sacredness into your space.
- Pick three tracks that inspire and/or challenge you.
- Being careful to create safe space for yourself, dance the first track while wearing a blindfold.
- Notice what comes up. If there is a sense of fear or disorientation, see if you can dance with that fear. Invite yourself to trust in the safety of your surroundings.
- For the second track, remove the blindfold and dance freeform. No mirrors, no sound, no judgment. Just move.
- Experience the last track lying down in savasana, absorbing the energy of the music and feeling the sensations released in your body. Breathe.
Learn more about Ecstatic Dance LA
Learn more about the March 17th Ecstatic Dance LA/Dance of Liberation event.
Facebook event page: * Video: https://vimeo.com/305355175