Creating a safe(r) space is an art form.
It is an intentional practice.
Below is a short culmination of some of my go-to methods for creating a sense of belonging, acceptance and liberation in educational and transformative spaces--particularly keen to dance, expressive arts, embodiment and arts integration settings.
It's been studied, written about and I have learned from some of the greatest masters. The person who I accredit much of my current work to helping me know and how to do this, is my esteemed mentor and global leader, Dr. Melissa Michaels.
Her book Youth on Fire: Birthing a Generation of Embodied Global Leaders is a tribute to the system which I seek to implement in all of my programming. It is a must read for anyone working to also break systems of oppression and facilitate transformative embodied experiences and events for people of all backgrounds and cultures.
I've created many of my own systems which have been refined over time. From running a dance studio, to getting theatre kids to dance and be comfortable in their bodies, working with youth whose first language is not English, and getting a lot of hesitant, afraid, reluctant young and older people to find freedom of expression through their body is a huge part of my life's work.
Becoming a master facilitator has taken a good three decades with a lot of learning curves along the way. I've created spaces for all ages and levels of movers. From women's empowerment experiences, to ecstatic dances, flash mobs, retreats, conferences, and festivals in different communities and parts of the world- I take pride in being able to create an energy where people feel totally free, protected, accepted and able to shine in their truest forms.
It is also imperative to me that my spaces are devoted to inclusion and representation. As a bridge builder and light bringer, it is a gift to the Universe to be intentional in how we create the spaces we seek to inspire, inform and educate within.
After decades of trial and error, routines and rituals, light and shadow work--I've discovered many majestic ways from myriads of teachers to help people be more at ease within themselves and within a space.
I'd love to share my top 11 ways to create safer spaces to help people reconnect to their authentic selves and build community. May these methods be of use or serve as reminders for your sacred spaces of learning and transformation.
1. State the intention(s) of your space. This is for you and the community and/or classroom culture that you are building. Ask yourself what you want to see, feel from this? What kind of outcomes are you desiring? State intentions for the people who are participating. Explicitly accept people and let them know that they are welcome as they are. People go through so much. Give them a chance to be what they need to be in their own way.
2. Acknowledge people. See people. People who enter creative and expressive arts spaces tend to carry vulnerability as it is--it takes a lot of courage to say yes, to show up, or sometimes even being forced to do something. A simple hello, warm smile, or ask for a hug can go so far with someone feeling safety and acceptance.
3. Accessibility. Acquaint people with the space. Be explicit in asking what will help them feel more comfortable. Let them know there are gender neutral bathrooms, where water sources are, where they can put their belongings, etc. etc.
4. Create a vibe. Really imagine and feel what you want people to experience when they enter your space--whether its a classroom, conference room retreat space, or dance studio. Use all of your senses to create the energetic flow you want people to feel. Think about the five senses.
5. Circles, Circles, Circles. Create a container for your space. Always begin in a circle where everyone in the room can see and be seen. It also helps to end in circles with some kind of individual expression/reflection/offering.
6. Allow space for people to share parts of their identity. Whether it is the name they like to be called, pronouns, likes, dislikes, culture--depending on what you are leading, think about what is important to be shared, what knowledge about each other will make it more helpful for everyone to feel welcome, seen, heard and appreciated. It really helps people to know whose in the room and something about them--whether this is shared through words or improvised expression--Name + __________ does miracles for comfort levels.
7. Lead by example. Be goofy. Be willing to take risks. Push your own limits of expression and communication by doing things that allow people to see that its okay to make mistakes and be imperfect.
8. Bonding Activities. It's a huge part that never gets old--incorporate icebreakers and community building activities into the mix of anything you're going to do with a new group of people.
9. Smaller group pairings. If your class or workshop allows time, get people paired up or in smaller groups--give them a prompt that allows connection.
10. Group risk-taking. Bring everybody together to do something improvised through a shared prompt. E.g. sculptures, sound ball, mirroring, etc.
11. Be intentional about inclusion. Always ask yourself whose in the room, whose not and why or why not? What kind of space do you want to create and is it inclusive to people of all backgrounds, genders, and cultures? What language are you using or not using? How do people know that they are entering a safe space that includes them? At this point in the 21st century, holding space in the U.S. requires facilitators to go above and beyond to create explicit safe spaces--this includes language around gender and racial classifications. If you are not sure, please ask how to do this. Language is a fluid form, is ever changing and we are all living and learning--its okay to make mistakes.
If you've made it this far. I just want to say that you are awesome. I hope you get the chance to create spaces that offer people a safe space to express themselves. Whether or not you are in the arts, these concepts can be applied to your organization or business.
Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions in the comments below.
May these tools to aid you in your process.
Axé (ah-shay / I feel the spirit / It is so)
she l hers l they l them
Founder/Leader of Sol Vida Worldwide
Sol Vida Worldwide is shifting normalcy from systemic oppression to radical freedom leading transformative dance and wellness experiences online and across the globe. Tune in to tune in.
It appears I am an initiate of the mid-life awakening.
2019 has been one of the most provocative years of my life--provoking in testing my ability to handle all the elements chosen and unseen. It's been a time of releasing so many layers, adding new ones on, living nomadically, surrendering to Bay Area home base on a super shaky ground and barely, I tell you miraculously meeting my Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
There is a calendar that lives in my household and each month there is a new activation--days ago when it turned into November, the invoker read, "Process your shame."
Fuck. My immediate response. Yep, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
First things first.
Second things--admit what you've been holding on to that has limited your ability to show up for all things totally abundant and good.
Work in progress.
Name it. Stop hiding. Tell the story.
You see, when you go through a hard time, it's so easy to want to constrict it, hide it, pretend that it doesn't exist.
Fact of the matter is, I have lived a great part of my life in denial, we can also call it blind faith. I am ever optimistic, positive energy activator, and I truly do believe and know you can make things happen--and as miraculous as it is--it can feel fully stressful too.
And at what sacrifice?
This year in the process of what I will call my mid-life awakening/ initiation--I performed and produced a one-woman show, traveled to Guatemala with a one-way ticket, experienced beauty in love, bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles to lead at Ecstatic Dance LA, and proceeded to ground down solo style on California soil--answering the call to return to Oakland and San Francisco--I lived in friends homes for weeks at a time until I found resources and a space I was to claim as mine.
I've been gifted with ambition, vision, and this psychic intuition that tells me to do things even when I don't know the reasons why--just like what I'm writing now. I know there is a point and I am discovering how to share it in this vulnerable state.
My head being shaved feels raw.
I do feel exposed. Like really exposed.
There is no mane of shame to hide beneath anymore.
In my efforts to show up, write messages, scroll Facebook and craigslist at ungodly hours because of a call to action and the innate need to survive--I have ended up working with the Bay Area's most profound players and changemakers.
I became a stage manager for Eye Zen Presents, Out of Site: SoMa production in San Francisco, California. I never played that role in my life and I chose it because I needed to make money and it also sounded extraordinary to work with a queer theatre company doing site-specific work.
It was the hardest "job" I think I may have ever had--in a really long time--I had to dig into parts of my brain that I do not put to practice a lot. It certainly showed me something about myself and that I was capable of something more and by god-- I can organize time, schedules and people.
It was also during this process that I had a lot of doubt and shame around this role--this wasn't what I was accustomed to being--I'm used to running the show and creating all the things behind it.
It was a humble bow moment that I later realized was only my small-minded projection that led to me to think I was playing less than. It showed me that there is a place for me to carve out here.
This work strengthened my mind and my body.
I got to work with some of the greatest players in the industry and they got to know me as I did them. So much love, respect, trust and camaraderie was built.
One of the things I'm most proud of during the era of this year is learning to ask for more. I worked dance studio hours into my contract, not knowing exactly what I'd do with them at the time--but had a feeling about it.
I kept having this idea that I'd get an opportunity to do something more experimental. Sure enough, the SOL VIDA™ conscious dance laboratory that we call Fab Lab was born and out of one of the healthiest collaborations I've experienced this year.
I have experienced the beautiful and abundant synchronicities of working with the holy-what-in-the names like Ecstatic Dance Oakland, Soul Motion, Girl Project, Grown Women's Dance Collective, Destiny Arts, and Eye Zen Presents in less than six months of my landing.
There has been a general consensus that this is where I'm supposed to be.
A friend noted that this year seems like my big year of collaboration. And you got that right.
We put SOL VIDA™ on the map in a big way. It's been so cool to figure out what this energy and movement is all about. It's also taken tremendous energy to figure out what to do next.
I've asked so many questions, spoke so many prayers, vision walks, journals full, minutes of chanting, prayers to the waters, hugs of the trees. I wake up everyday in practice.
My life has truly become what feels like one walking personal ritual.
Figuring it out every freaking god-loving day.
I am devoted to love and light.
I am devoted to walking my birthright.
I want to be the living, breathing, highest version of myself.
This shit is hard. Being her. Consistently.
My challenges and mistakes have aged me. They have built me up. They have clarified my purpose. They have helped me set boundaries. To say yes and to say no with equal satisfaction.
Lots of spiraling and spinning that I process in nature and on the dance floor.
As humans, we often think and say--when only this or this gets better, then I'll be better with myself.
I've challenged myself to ask: What decision will I make if I'm not centered on scarcity, lack or comparison?
Comparison is a bitch.
Periodt. (Side note: I love language and mixing up Ebonics, Spanish and all the things)
How will you really show up?
Which brings me to final shame sharing for now. I have shame about how I've handled money in my business. My methods haven't felt good, they often came from a place of feeling "thirsty" and based on survival. Oooh, it's so hard to admit and I thank you for saying yes to supporting this work anyway--we all know it's going to be okay boo.
This is a supreme area for growth that I've dedicated much of this last cycle to learning from others and finding a way to thrive in a colonial capitalistic society whose system I despise--how can I value myself, create the spaces and sustain the movement?
When I evaluate my choices and projections--I'm amazed I've had any level of success.
Here's the thing though--success is what you choose.
By god, I know that this is a year of success on so many levels--it just amazes me what happens after I teach--the affirmations are frequently immediate and remind me just how important this work is.
Part of this initiation is about setting priorities.
I've had to ask the questions about where is the energy flowing, what do I want my life to look like and feel like. How much can I commit to one thing? What is that one thing? Is there really just one thing?
The one thing that feels clear and has come through the messengers and chanting it has become very apparent to me that to gain my solid grounding, to be of the highest service of my self and the upliftment of humanity doing my work is in offering consistent opportunities to experience Unwind + Grind and Fab Labs.
I feel the most all of me when I get to teach from the depths of my heart SOL VIDA™ style.
And writing... so much more writing. This is scaring the shit out of me writing this and I'm doing it anyway. Highest self me is ready to revolutionize the world through these experiences in connection and expression.
This mid-life breakdown-to-tha-breakthrough initiation of truly stepping into the Golden Circle, being Queen Warrior Axé has been no joke. I am here. I want to be all the best of me. I accept the shit that has been living in me and I release the shame of the not knowing how I'm ever going to pull it all off.
I pray that this rawness symbolized by my bald head allows me to continue to remove these veils of fear and shame.
There is no hiding behind a bald head.
I am ready to stop fighting me.
I am being required to show up all the way.
To be successful in all the ways.
It's really quite miraculous--these hardships that turn into your most profound learnings.
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Now that you've heard some of the story, I'd like to offer you some tidbits of personal ritual that you can practice for yourself, save you some of the time and the pain. There are ways to remember who you are and focus on what really actually matters--living your greatest truest high self and giving yourself outlets to get all the gunk out and be closer to a higher expression of your authentic self.
I hope some of these tools help you go there, consistently!
💜5 RADICAL SELF-LOVE RITUALS FOR THE EMBODIED REVOLUTION💜
Extra Love--> PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!! Ask for what you need and listen. No matter your spirituality or religion.
All right folx.
Leave a comment if ya hear me, feel me, feel this, want this, know this, whatever it is.
I am because of you. You are because of me. We are because of we.
Blessings dear babes, blessings of the highest to you and all that's in your heart.
Axé Out (drops mic in vulnerability and goes into the forest and hugs eucalyptus trees)
April (Axé) Charmaine (ah-shay / i feel the spirit / it is so) is the founder, director and leader of SOL VIDA™, revolutionizing the world through dance, connection and authentic expression. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she is a holistic dance and performing arts educator, writer, producer, speaker and consultant who is now a Bay Area, queer, black, mixed-race artist, unschooling mama, empty nester activating her dreams and activating #TheEmbodiedRevolution in Northern California, USA.
I was in a shared kitchen of a villa I was renting in Antigua, Guatemala cooking up a pot of greens and beans, when a song by Young Fathers came on, Wire.
As songs have often done in my life--they take over my entire being and require me to dance in the here and now.
Quite frankly, I lost my shit with this song and dance--you see there is a feeling I get when I dance that makes me feel so connected to my inner divinity, makes me feel larger than life, and so connected to the purity and vibration of one true love--universal love.
It's a true, cathartic delight.
There was something different about this free dancing episode.
I channeled a message, as I frequently do when I dance.
The message was to start a virtual flash mob.
I had no idea at the time that this dance would start to take on a life of it's own.
I knew I wanted people from all over the world to learn it. I knew it was something that was accessible to all genders, bodies, and levels of movers. What I especially knew is that it would get taught and performed in Denver, Colorado at One Sol.
What I didn't know is how it was going to impact people.
Since I downloaded the original vision, I have shown up to teach it live in my Facebook Group, on the hill at Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco. I even pulled over impulsively at a little hill in San Rafael to film an impromptu tutorial, and alas I got to teach it to the dancers of One Sol plus everybody of all the generations who attended One Sol // GET FREE.
I didn't know that this dance was going to live on.
I didn't know it was going to become a legit Flash Mob--Like a dance that can be performed spontaneously anywhere!!!
I didn't know people were going to start requesting to do it, that it was going to stick in people's beings.
I had a feeling that all of us knowing one dance together will be revolutionary.
I had a feeling that we can use this dance for protest.
I know that this dance can be used for mental health and physical fitness.
I know that this dance is fun as fuck and makes you feel good and so alive when you do it.
This dance lives on.
I hope you enjoy this short video that I filmed with my incredible roommates, Jett and Angus, on Stinson Beach.
They said, "We have to do your dance!"
I said okay.
I want it to be a dance for all of us.
All of us who know that we must shift normalcy. All of us who are impacting change.
This is my offering to the revolution. Dance as a revolution!!!!!!
This dance signifies the birth of Dances of The Embodied Revolution.
It begins within and then we get to pour it out. It is embodied choreography, meaning it is accessible, it is health full, it's for you to do in your body in a way that feels good for you.
It's here for you. It is here for we. Use it whenever you need it.
Try it on your body to any song you want.
Remember, always... YOU ARE A DANCER.
Here are some awesome ways to release your mind, have fun and get free in your body:
So much love,
Founder/Director, Sol Vida Worldwide
ah-shay / i feel the spirit /it is so
she l her l hers l they l them
There are three major catalysts that have lead to the creation of ONE SOL, a summer dance camp immersion and festival that is taking place in Denver, Colorado at the legendary Cleo Parker Robinson Dance this August 7-11.
1. Collaboration not Competition. speech I gave at the Colorado Dance Educator Organization Conference in Spring 2018, entitled "Collaboration not Competition." It was after I gave this speech to an audience of dedicated dance enthusiasts including budding teen dancers and their leaders that I realized how much we are hungry for true connection in the dance world. How there is a void and vacancy in the dance world for authentic collaboration spaces and an opportunity to enjoy each other's company without the edge of competition.
Which leads me to....
2. The Edge. Rewind to the summer of 2016 and you'll catch me and multiple artists from Colorado at The Savoy, coming together for a day of workshops and performances that were aimed to "cut the edge." We created a space that would allow artists to push past their normalcy and have their work seen regardless of experience. It was a beautiful day that has stuck with me for years. My favorite part was when everyone who was there got to participate in workshops with Jen Fagan Archer, Lisa Engelken and Kebrina de Jesus--there was nothing like all being in on the same thing. The feeling of connection and vitality was immense, I vowed to create more experiences like that.
Speaking of creating fulfilling experiences...
3. Sol Vida Pop Ups at Cheesman Park during the Summer of 2018. Honestly, I hit a point in my artistic and entrepreneur life that had me questioning my purpose. I have a group of global colleagues/comrades that I talk to every singe week about personal and professional development--it's a mastermind. It was in one of our discussions, that they probed at me and helped me to realize it was time to create something simply for the sake of love and passion--not money--but something that was just going to give me the pizazz of life again. This is when I dreamed up the pop up series. Some of the greatest takeaways that informed this future were the fact that these classes ended up being intergenerational. We had 12 year olds - 60+ year olds. We had representation from many cultures. And... not only did we get to train, there was meaningful choreography--what began the idea of "embodied choreography," and the opportunity to explore freeform, stillness, and the practice of holistic dance.
So there you have it folx, the reasons behind this season of ONE SOL. We are coming together to train, create, heal, and perform cutting edge works together, to allow ourselves to attune to our organic rhythms, to consciously connect, and say something with the body. Dances will be created to the theme, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," as brought to us by Gil Scott-Heron.
This is a space for people who want to dance, who want to explore. It's a place that is like no other place. A place where you get to meet form and freedom together while exploring the connections of cross-cultural, contemporary and conscious dance forms lead by embodied leaders from across the globe.
Please consider joining us for this revolutionary act in self-love and authentic expression. Here are the ways you can get involved.
If you wanna really have some fun while you're checking this out... learn the #ONESOL Virtual Flash Mob from the comfort of your very own chosen space. This dance will be taught and danced at GET FREE!!!
It is my firm belief that in order to change the world, the systems, and shift normalcy we have to start with us. Nothing will get better unless we commit to mental, spiritual and physical wellness.
When you are well, we will be well.
Here are my Top 10 Ways to Practice Radical Self-Love for the Revolution:
1. Believe in yourself and your wildest dreams. That crazy feeling you have about something that seems so "crazy," do that, be that. That is what is calling you. Listen to it. So many people are ill and depressed because they refuse to live in their personal truth. Do not get stuck in your fear. It is okay to be afraid, but take one step at a time to get closer to living that absolute dream feeling.
2. Drink Water. Just do it. Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, fill it and drank it. If you're in a bad mood or achy or feeling the big weird, drink a bunch of water.
3. Meditate. Stop your brain and focus on universal light and energy. If its hard for you to do on your own, there are a ton of resources, you can google a meditation for just about any ailment. Do this first thing in the morning and before you go to bed--you will feel so much more sourced, connected, grounded and ready.
4. Spend Time Outside Everyday. Seems simple enough, but for a lot of people, especially if you drive everywhere everyday, you are missing one of the most divine connections available. There is nothing like going outside, taking a walk and just being. Choose to take the bus or subway instead of driving or ride-sharing. Take 10 minutes of a break to walk around. Make yourself do this everyday.
5. Unplug at certain times everyday, every season. In order to break the systems and step out of the program, we have to consciously stop ourselves from playing this man made game that will have us believe we are in "FOMO," or that we need so many likes to be okay. Trust that it's all good and what's happening is what's supposed to be happening. You do not need to be locked into your technology every hour of everyday.
6. Allow yourself to rest. You are not lazy, I guarantee it. You need more rest than you probably think you do. You want to sleep for 12 hours for 4 weeks, fine. You want to take a siesta everyday for a few hours, awesome. Listen to your body. Western mentality will have us believing that we are not doing enough and thus makes us afraid to stop. Trust me, when you listen to your body, you will realize you have phases. Sometimes you may be up all night long, sometimes you may be up at the crack of dawn. Allow it to be.
7. Say nice things to yourself. If there was a recording for how many times we negate ourselves, put ourselves down, or allow ourselves to believe that things aren't possible, we'd be very disappointed in ourselves. Try replacing one "I can't, won't, shouldn't, never," with an "I can, I will, I totally should, yes please more!!!
8. Do nice things for yourself. So whether you have a self-care budget or not, think about working towards one. Schedule treats for yourself at least once a month: acupuncture, massage, hot springs, beach trip, going out dancing, mani pedi, etc... If it's not in your budget right now, do things to pamper yourself at home: take a bath, make a facial, light a candle, eat food rich with nutrients.
9.Play! Stop taking yourself so seriously, there aren't a million playgrounds in this world for nothing. Next time you see one, stop and do the thing that makes you feel giddy. Be spontaneous, do some cartwheels, try a handstand, play patty cake, make up a song, anything that you would do as a kid is super Bueno!
10. Dance like you mean it! You know I had to say it. There is no better way to release feelings and celebrate this vessel than to allow yourself to dance. When you dance, you are taking care of you on so many levels--you're practicing risk-taking, creativity, connection with your higher self and the divine, you are circulating the body, removing stagnancy from the being and shifting your mood and energy. It's amazing and there's nothing like it.
There it is...do these things consistently and you will be sourced, grounded, and ready for anything. Taking care of yourself is the greatest thing you can do if you are hoping to impact change in this universe.
It has to start with you so that you can be all of you, the person who we so desperately need as your total you in this world.
I love you,
Axé, Founder/Leader, Sol Vida Worldwide
(Ah-shay / I feel the spirit / It is so)
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Want more tools, resources or advice for your life? Book a 30-minute Positive Energy Session with Axé.
I frequently encourage people to count their blessings, it is a sure fire way for me to get a grip on what's actually happening or happened.
I am in utter awe of the impact we have managed to make in the first year of being committed to Sol Vida Worldwide, a nomadic company dedicated to shifting normalcy through transformative dance and wellness experiences online and across the globe. There have been so many things to define, cultivate and create.
At the beginning of the year, I knew this was going to be a year of discovery. I had to try out a whole bunch of things to figure out what I loved as the leader of this entity and what has the power to impact as many people globally as possible.
Starting the year in Colombia, spending four months in New York, going to California and spending the rest of the year in Colorado has taught me so much and I feel so blessed for all the experiences that I've got to share with so many people from around the world.
I am because of you.
SOL VIDA: 18 INFINITE BLESSINGS:
I have heard some of the best things I've ever heard in my total career as a holistic dance educator and choreographer. People are begging me not to leave Colorado, to puh-lease come back to New York. It makes me feel like I chose the right thing--leaving my role as director of Dance at a high school and traveling with the wind to discover what really wants to live.
I have used the power of presence and intention to build this work from a place of channeled visions. With a dream to help as many people as possible release their minds, have fun, say something and get free in the body, we are doing the work and it is only going to get better and better.
Thank you for traveling with me on the way, encouraging me, saying yes, showing up, and singing Axé Axé Axé!!!!
This year of discovery and infinite blessings
Save the Dates:
SOL VIDA 7 DAYS OF KWANZAA, December 26-January 1
GET FREE January 5-February 19, 6-week online motivational coaching with Axé,
EMBODIED PATHWAYS, 6-8 pm, January 9, 2019, one woman show, Art Gym Denver
ONE SOL DANCE FESTIVAL, August 7-11, multiple venues, Denver, Colorado, USA
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If you want to learn about or practice the 7 days of Kwanzaa no matter your culture or beliefs, please join us in our private Facebook Group: A Self-Love Supreme, we will be focusing on an embodied study of the principles which are great to live by in general. We will talk about creating the life of your dreams, the collective work of radical self-love, free #SVXLive class, SOL VIDA playlist of the year and more!!!
Here's the Link to Get in the Group. Just ask to become a member and you'll get to celebrate Kwanzaa with so many people from around the world, it's gonna be real good. We are going out with a bang, and getting even more vibrant than before 2019. See you there!
* * *
I hope you had many blessings, and if not, that you take a moment to breathe, pause and give thanks for anything you can. The more we acknowledge the good that is happening, the more likely we are to receive more. Count all the blessings.
Happy Holidays! SOL VIDA 7 DAYS OF KWANZAA runs December 26-January 1!
Love you long time,
Axé (Ah-Shay/ I Feel the Spirit / It is So)
Dear Students, Teachers, Directors, Entrepreneurs, Lady Bosses, Healers and all else who have landed here, let's make a pact together....
If you happen to be in the United States for this ever lovely, mass-marketed, high-frequency time that we call the Holiday Season, fa, la, la, la, la, I encourage you to join me in setting some intentions for how to move through this moment with grace, control, and fulfillment.
No matter what you celebrate or where you are in the world, I do believe all of these things can help you at anytime in your life. I created this challenge because starting in November, I start to binge-eat and feel like I'm in a reactive vs. proactive state with family expectations and all of that jazz. In an effort to not completely lose myself this year, I've started an Instagram Challenge which is super easy to do.
Sol Vida Worldwide #HolidayIntentionsChallenge on Instagram:
#1- Ask yourself: How do I want to feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? When you answer these questions, plan out concrete ways you can actually attain this. It doesn't have to be anything huge, just name it, call it in now.
#2- Share your intentions, practices, and challenges in your Instagram Stories and Feed. Use the hashtag #HolidayIntentionsChallenge and tag @solvidaworldwide with any celebrations, challenges or tools you are using throughout the season. This is not a one time diddy. Taking care of ourselves takes focus and intention every single day.
#3- Tell and tag your friends. Imagine if we get lots of people to feel better through this season. That the simple act of us showing up, creating intentions for ourselves, and showing each other that it is possible will serve as a great reminder and piece of light in a time of figurative and literal darkness.
Check out my intentions here and add yours!
I hope you really do this challenge, even if it's just for yourself. I know I am grateful to myself about creating what I want in my life. That's what were here for-- to dream, create and be.
Ever feel like you are trying to find your grounding?
That place that exists within your mind, body and spirit that makes you feel...
at one with the higher universe and your highest self...
It's quite a place to get to and I've managed to find a fun metaphor about it all that relates directly to becoming a better dancer and human being.
Go to any modern dance class, ballet, or contemporary and I hope to God they are telling you to "use your center."
What is a center?
It's that holistically connecting central point of a that axis keeps your body in balance.
It allows you to jump, relevet, turn, leap, shake and shimmy without hurting yourself.
Your center is the energetic force of the ethereal body that keeps your earthly and spirit connection in the physical body.
Centering requires us to use our abdominal muscles, our core, or our solar plexus chakra.
Centering our minds and emotions requires us to dig deep into the core to discover how to release that which ails us or calls us.
Our center in the body and in life is the source of power, freedom and sense of control that we seek.
We go up, we go down, we go to the side.
We keep going.
We keep working our different brain muscles. Emotional muscles. All the energetic frequencies.
Kind of like life.. there are so many directions we can travel, yet if we don't have a sense of connection that keeps us purposeful, we can end up feeling something or doing something which is unfamiliar and possibly undesired.
Once mastered and activated we find that our center allows us to leap and fall.
Succeed and fail?
Our center allows us to DO IT ALL.
We can be connected to our body, mind, spirit and soul all at the same time when we take the time to nurture and be conscious of our center.
It is physical.
It is emotional.
It is social.
It is spiritual.
How are you using your center to take risks, attempt new paths, while staying attune to the WHOLE of you.
Tune in to tune in, check out the latest episode of Sol Vida Worldwide Live to learn more about physical centering.
Tune in to activate your true life dreams by taking a trip to Medellin, Colombia with me and watching this.
Find and hold that center lovelies. You've got this. You can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.
I love you,
Axé (ah-shay / i feel the spirit /it is so)
Can you imagine mixing classical Ballet with Ecstatic Free Form Movement?
How about Soca and Jazz?
Or even Modern and Afro?
If you are a traditionalist in the dance world, you're may feel sentiments toward your discipline.
If you have no technical background, you might be intimidated by the fact that there is a dance vocabulary to learn.
As someone who has lived and thrived in both worlds, I find it completely energizing and wonderful to combine the forces of form and freedom.
I entered the dance studio at the age of nine, in my black leotard and pink tights so that I could improve my posture.
I didn't know it then, but it was those ballet foundations that have made me the dancer that I am today. I learned how to hold and compose my body. I learned how to control my body and carry myself with grace.
I've had the same experience learning other disciplined forms of dance including Modern (Horton/Dunham based), Jazz, Hip Hop, West African, Afro-Brazilian, dances of the Orixas, and Capoeira.
Every single traditional dance/movement class that I've attended has gifted me with a dance vocabulary. They have gifted me with challenges, boosts of self-esteem, and ability.
It wasn't until my third decade of dancing that I began to explore the freedom in this moving body. Placing so much attention and focus on making sure I was technically strong and able, entering the ecstatic dance world was completely daunting to me.
I'll never forget arriving at the Star House in Boulder, Colorado to study dance with the woman who would become one of my greatest mentors, Melissa Michaels, who is in the lineage of Gabrielle Roth and the 5 Rhythms. She invited us to tune into our bodies, our presence our spirit, the way our body wanted to move.
I remember being immediately shocked when I realized that my ego didn't have a place there. That all my fancy technique had no place to showcase here. I didn't need it. It was something I literally learned how to shake off.
Years and years of technical training and then not using it... gasp.
It was in this world of Soma Source that I learned to dance and release my emotional and spiritual body.
It was the place where I learned to connect all the parts of myself.
It was the place that I learned how to shake off my technique and then reincorporate it with an authentic voice and expression.
The thing about traditional dance classes is there is not a ton of room for personal expression. These training grounds serve a purpose, which is to train you and build your movement vocabulary.
This is a good thing.
It can also feel like a rigid and intimidating thing.
I talk to lots of dancers who are afraid to enter a dance studio, classroom and experience.
I know in my own mind, it can be intimidating trying new things in your body, not having the form, maybe because you've entered in later in life or you've just never done anything like it before.
I know what it's like to be in a dance class and want to cry because the technique is so fucking hard, it seems like everyone else is getting it and you're stumbling all over yourself and wondering how you could ever consider yourself a dancer in the first place.
These feelings are a big part of my why I teach the way I do now.
People need permission to be their whole selves.
People need to be shown how to do things with patience, grace, discipline and a sense of exploration.
Now that I have experienced the power of form and freedom in my life, this is what I like to give my students.
The power of having an actual dance vocabulary, defined movements that come from all around the world and now I love to blend that with an emotional vocabulary--an understanding of the self and the need to release into our truth of expression.
I encourage my students to make the dance theirs.
When I teach, I will give you movements that you can try in your body.
I will then give you permission to explore it in your body, adding your flair and authenticity.
Form and freedom is a beautiful thing.
I'm going to have to write more on this.....
For now, I encourage you to explore these two worlds together.
You can check out how to blend classical Ballet with Ecstatic Movement on this episode of Sol Vida Worldwide LIVE!
If you go to the video at about 9 minutes in, you'll see the magic of this beautiful blending of styles.
Whatever you do, keep moving, and try some new things--it's imperative to express yourself in the body to help you keep a clear mind and stay connected with your inner divine magic.
Axé (ah-shay / i feel the spirit /it is so)
Do you ever feel like you're a big weirdo?
Being too much?
Your feelings are too much?
I do... kind of all of the time.
In particularly, this happened to me recently when I was leading a Sol Vida Sunset Pop Up Class at Cheesman Park.
I was in a weird mood. A conflicted mood. Frankly, I didn't even feel like dancing that day. It was like bricks in my body and I really didn't know how I was going to get out of that mood and become the guide and leader that I love to be.
Then it hit me. I had just gotten back from my 40th year birthday celebration at a cabin in the woods with my BFF's. One of my lifelong friends had made me a special playlist for my birthday and we listened to it a lot--she gets me.
There was one song that I found particularly haunting. Like it was getting under my skin.
I thought it was so weird.
But somehow it was so absolutely soothing.
That song was doing something for me.
So, fast forward to sunset at Cheesman Park, I'm having dance teacher block when I remember the song!
That weirdo, kind of creepy, crawling under my skin song.
The kind of song that compels me to choreograph something to it.
I immediately looked it up and was relieved at last when it propelled me to get out of my mind and into my body.
It made me want to dance.
And it made me want to dance "weird."
It made me dance differently than any other choreography I've done in maybe ever. In fact this dance started to feel like a compilation of all the dances I've ever studied, all the dances that the young people have taught me...
It felt futuristic. It felt ethereal. I managed to mix up Modern, animation, with a twist of what I'd call deconstructed Hip Hop.
(Here's a link to the dance...)
But guess what?
I was afraid.
I was afraid that one was going to be able to relate to this dance.
I was afraid my clients were gonna hear this song and see this dance and be like, "What do you want me to do?"
I was sure it was too far out. Way too weird.
And then something happened...
I introduced the song and choreography and had a completely opposite reaction of what I thought was going to happen.
The people who got to learn this dance...
They loved how it felt, how it helped them release their feelings.
In fact, one of my clients was feeling the same type of way as me--confused, at a crossroads, and searching for the answers… That's really what this choreography became to be.
I tell you this story, because it's about the power of overcoming our fear.
It's about doing the thing that we think is weird or too much.
Because you probably need to express it and the world may love what you have to express even more than you can possibly think.
So in an effort to help you express yourself with bold audacity, here are a few ways to help you tap into your inner weird:
1. Do the thing that you are afraid to do. Whatever that gut feeling is that you're having inside and won't go away, do that thing. If it makes you scared, but you know it's calling you, do it. Note: We are talking about personal self-expression in the body, so be safe.
2. Your Feelings are Your Feelings... Express Them. You are a beautiful individual whose emotions are valid. They are your truth. So whether they are amazing feelings or down right crappy feelings, it is imperative that they do not stay stuck in your body. You have to let them out. If you are confused, sad, or just downright ecstatic, express that! It is crucial to give yourself a healthy outlet to live with your emotions--the body is such an important part of this release. So Dance your feelings, choreograph your feelings, or just improvise and dance your feelings however feels right for you.
3. Do Not Worry About What You Look Like. Okay, okay, we get it--judgement. Self-judgement, self-hatred, self-awareness, self-consciousness. We all have a bit or a lot of it. Please do not let these feelings hold you back from doing what is calling you. I have so many students of the young variety and the old who consistently tell me that they are afraid to show up to a dance experience because of how they will look and more importantly what I hear when people tell me this, is I'm afraid of myself. Honey's please stop those voices now. The only thing you need to worry about is the type of environment you are putting yourself in when you choose to express yourself. Be in a safe space with leaders who will guide you to your highest self and light. Guides who will celebrate you being all of you.
All right dear ones, please embrace your weird.
You can check me out talking about and demonstrating all this weird over here.
You can also check out other people doing my "weird" choreography and making it theirs over here.
Facts are, you are actually not that weird.
Being a human is weird.
So, let's all accept the fact that we are weird and start expressing those truths.
If you want some assistance doing this work, you can start with
FREE Download: 10 Ways to Get Free in Your Body
I love you long time,
Axé (ah-shay / i feel the spirit /it is so)
Sol Vida Worldwide
April (Axé) Charmaine, CEO/Founder, Sol Vida Worldwide