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)
April (Axé) Charmaine, CEO/Founder, Sol Vida Worldwide