The Message of a Dancer

For this is my message, the message of a dancer.
Within your being, within your mind and your living body
Lies a world of joy and power.
Within you lies a kingdom that you know little of.
The kingdom of fearless living, of sharing love, and the unfolding glory
Of your infinite being.
All this and more is yours.
Cease from creating a world of lifeless machines and learn how
To use your living ones.
Cease from your pride of conquest and learn to realize
Your inheritance of joy.
Dance in the morning -Dance in the night.
The dance of victory and joyous praise.
Let your children dance and your aged dance. Let all things move in the rhythm of Life.
Let us dance alone and let us dance together!

Bending with the tides and swinging with the stars.
Beating with the heart drums and running with the winds.
For visions will come and powers will expand.
Love will renew itself and the mind grow clear.

O Dancers of earth in the East and the West, tell the spirit’s meanings
With courage and love. In the temple of old, they had a saying
“They entered as humans and left as gods.”

Our task is for beauty, for freedom and joy.
We begin in self-limiting, we end as light.
We begin in art worship, we end in God’s prayers.

For our dancing feet bring peace and rhythms of another world. Our moving arms cast
the sun rays in gestures, uplifted and wide. Our bodies move in rhythmic spirals,
powerful and free. For we are the dancers upon the mountain.

Come and join us now, for we bring peace in the beauty of the dance,
Divine and Free.

-Ruth St. Denis (“How Beautiful the Mountains”)


5Rhythms Friday: A confession…

Happy Friday!

All right, my lovelies, it’s confession time.


It’s a big one…

This is not how I expected 5Rhythms Fridays to go.

Of course, if you’ve been following along at all you’re probably going “Ummm….DUH.” But seriously…when I started I was all “Yes! I will dance each of the 5 Rhythms in its entirety every single day, come rain or shine, and then I will blog about my experience!”

Which, really, says a lot about how little I understood the practice of the 5Rhythms…it’s not about a dogged, textbook approach, but about tuning in and dancing out however feels right in that moment on that day.

Here’s the thing…I don’t really feel bad about the shift that’s happening here. I think that if the spirit of the 5 Rhythms is tuning into your body, getting out of your head, and letting things flow in the dance, then somehow I’m embodying that…even if I’m not dancing much at all right now. And I think that it makes sense that someone with bone-deep issues about dance and the body would have…hmmm…difficulty along the way and need to keep going back to Square One.

Want to know what my body is telling me? It’s telling me to back off with the expectations and the guilt. It’s saying, “Hey, you’re finally starting to ask me what I want? I’m going to tell you. But don’t expect to like it.” And its hitting me with all of these realizations about how I haven’t really been respecting it or caring for it at all. I thought I was. But the constant headaches and back aches and creakiness and dehydration and sugar/carb/caffeine addictions…these things tell me that I wasn’t.

And I have to humbly submit. I understand. I see where this is coming from. I asked myself why every single time I started dancing again everything fell apart and I ended up hurt? It’s because after a certain point I wasn’t listening to my body. I was listening to my ego and my expectations and the pure “I wonder what this looks like, and could I perform this way and is this valid art?” Valid art?! Oy.

Just dance. Just move. Unless your body says not to. And then, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t. And don’t feel bad about it. Be present in the stillness as well as the dance. That’s still so hard to do. Which is why you’re seeing it turning up a lot on here 😛

Today I was outside with my son and it occurred to me (as so many things do when I’m outside with him), “For once could you stop worrying about whether your dance is ‘good enough’ or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and just DO YOUR DANCE?! That’s what you keep saying you want to do…that’s what you want other people to do…but you’re not really doing it.” Oh…my…God. It’s right. How did I not realize it before? When I truly and completely face the truth I see that I’ve been play-acting at this process, not tuning in and dancing deep down in my bones. It’s been a surface shimmy, a halfway there dance. Not deep enough.

My body knows it. My body is screaming at me. It’s screaming “Stop focusing on the details and the trimmings and HEAL ME! I AM HURTING. I am so tired of carrying your burdens without being truly cared for. And I’m not going to do it until you LISTEN TO ME. I’m RIGHT HERE.”

My mind is slowly catching up. It’s shedding the “I can push through this” and the “How can I be hurting when I’m supposed to be the teacher?” and the “I should be doing classes already!” and even the “why is this so complicated?!”

I’ll tell you why, mind. It’s complicated because YOU ARE HEALING YOUR LIFE. Maybe you don’t see that, all snug and warm and cut off in that brain of yours, but you are. Of course this is hard. Of course this is complicated. It’s hard and complicated because it’s digging down under TWENTY FIVE years of baggage and trying to get back to the 5 year old who danced around the living room and who didn’t worry about whether she was “good.”

Isadora Duncan, who is famous as one of the mothers of modern dance, wrote about the school she planned to found, “In this school I shall not teach the children to imitate my movements, but to make their own. I shall not force them to study certain definite movements; I shall help them to develop those movements which are natural to them. Whosoever sees the movements of an untaught little child cannot deny that its movements are beautiful. They are beautiful because they are natural to the child. Even so the movements of the human body may be beautiful in every stage of development so long as they are in harmony with that stage and degree of maturity which the body has attained. There will always be movements which are the perfect expression of that individual body and that individual soul; so we must not force it to make movements which are not natural to it but which belong to a school.” (The Art of the Dance, 60-1)

Sometimes I think about Isadora Duncan and how horrified she would be if she could see the havoc that was wrought with her own style of dance. But that’s another story for another blog post.

My point is…I didn’t go to her school (no matter how much I wish I did). And what do you do if you were taught those movements that were foreign to your own body? What if you can’t tell right or wrong FOR YOU from “right” and “wrong” in terms of dance technique? Instead of “does this feel right to me? Is this a natural expression of my soul?” you’re asking “does this look good? is this art?” She didn’t really write about that stuff.

…and are we at all surprised, given a past chock full of technique classes and fear and pain and self-negating, that these issues are rearing their ugly heads?

I think what I’m trying to say is that my little Friday project has opened the way to something much deeper and more complicated than “I’ll do this exercise every day and blog about it” (I still WANT to do the exercises every day…but I’d prefer it if I didn’t spend the following 5 hours in pain). It’s so much bigger than that. Which is, I think, the whole point…the point of my blog post and the point of the Rhythms…and of ALL free-form dance.

What we’re really talking about here is the Dance of Healing. And that doesn’t always happen overnight or in one magical epiphany (no matter how many times I’ve tried it). It’s a journey. One step at a time. In fact…it really is a dance.

The Dance of Healing…I like that. Expect to hear more about it in posts to come.

Inspiration Tuesday!

It’s Inspiration Tuesday!

Today I have two links to share…two links and a crown 🙂

Link number one: I’m fed up with comfortable definitions of passion. I like the reminder that your passion doesn’t always feel good. And even though you read most of the way through this and think “Yikes! That sounds hard“…by the end you’re all “YES! I shall FIND my passion and follow it! It is IMPORTANT! YES!!!!”

Link number two: the lovely Leonie posted this just the other day, and it was an eye-opener. I have a habit of getting stuck and chipping away and never-finishing projects. I have a List of Creative Things to Do in This Life…75% of which is projects I’ve thought of or started, but I haven’t actually done or finished. I love the idea of getting carried away by a project and just…DOING it. Doing it until its done and then letting it go. I WANT TO DO THIS. I’m going to remember this and try to ride the wild donkey more often! (just writing that makes me giggle!)

And now…MY CROWN!

As you’ll recall, I announced that I was making one after my session with Goddess Leonie last week.

After a little fun on Google, I decided to use this pattern as my inspiration.

I made a template out of paper and cut out the basic shapes:

(I ended up losing that grey cut-out…which is just as well because then I found a bright pink piece of felt that I LOVE)

I added some felt shapes, which I purloined from my son’s play area, and some purple rickrack. I sewed all along the top, matching the points together, with a whip stitch and some purple embroidery floss. And then I measured a piece of 1″ elastic to fit my head, pinned it in place, and sewed the bottom of the crown (being careful not to sew the elastic…so, basically, I made a channel for the elastic inside the crown). And then, finally, I sewed the ends of the elastic together with some white thread! DONE! Want to see?

Front view (yikes! blurry!):

Side view (whew! better!)

And…here I am in a lovely bathroom mirror photo a la Myspace (sorry…you work with what you’ve got :P)



…my son is very jealous. I will definitely need to make him a mini one! Mine is (luckily) too big for the little monkey’s coconut head 😀

Happy Tuesday!