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
My loves, my loves. It is so easy to be reactive to this world, the people of this world, the situations of this world.
I cannot tell you how many times I've allowed negative energy into my sphere, had to battle with the self and the mind and attempt to get myself out of a funk.
I'm someone who has been dealt some large doses of darkness in my life, from sexual abuse, abandonment, to divorce, single parenting, custody cases, anxiety and personal existential crises that seem to take place more often than not.
I've fought to keep myself in the light so many days of my life. When you have major life challenges that challenge you it becomes a fight for the light. Sometimes, it can be the smallest things that push us to our edge, making us feel mad, blah, depressed, sad, or just confused.
Being in a good mood and feeling the goods of life does take energy and effort. Some people are blessed to wake up everyday and automatically feel okay. But if you're like me and have any sort of trauma, these things can haunt you if you don't demand to overcome them.
I think people sometimes see me as a blossoming sphere of light and of course that is what I want to send out into the world. When I show up that's who I am and want to be. I can tell you it takes work for me to be this way consistently.
It is often said that the people with the greatest light have also known even greater darkness.
I choose to focus on what's good. I get caught up in what doesn't feel good. It sometimes takes a lot for me to get back into that place of being joyful, excited and in a good mood.
Here's some splendid news: I can tell you there are some sure fire ways to bring yourself back. It will take a little bit of effort, desire and persistence.
I'm going to share some definitive ways to improve your mood, shift and change your energy and consciousness... FAST!
1. Stop whatever you are doing and BREATHE.
You don't have to be a professional breather for God's sake, just be conscious with your breath. Even 15 seconds of this can shift things automatically. Enjoy A Moment of Presence of being with your self. I like to post these on my Instagram as a reminder to BE HERE NOW.
2. Get off of your phone/technology.
Guess what? I'm guilty of it, when I feel lost and don't know what to do, I find it ever too easy to zone out in a social media binge or Netflix show, it's embarrassing, but I can do that shit for days. Take a fucking break. Give yourself some discipline around your phone and those type of things. Commit to not looking at it first thing in the morning. Commit to not letting it be the last thing in your brain (and if you must, do something mindful with it, like listening to a meditation before slumber). Give yourself some boundaries with your technology. I promise this will help.
3. Go Outside
I don't care how hot or cold or wet or dry it is, Go Outside! Mother Nature is the greatest healer. Give yourself even one minute of conscious time outside. Take in your surroundings, notice all of your senses-- what do you see, smell, what you can you touch, hear, feel?
4. Walk it Out
This can be around the block or around the whole damn neighborhood or up a trail. Get outside, walk, and breathe. This is a surefire way to change your energy and begin to notice other things in your environment as well as your mind. I find this particularly helpful when feeling indecisive or when you're just not in the mood for shit. Just walk it out.
You know I had to say it. You don't have to go to class or be a professional to remember the exultation of releasing your body. This can be the greatest medicine. Every single time I've been in my darkest of deep spots--this is the remedy that pulls me out and reminds me of who I am, not based on other people or decisions that need to be made just the essence. Not sure what to do? Try this Body Part Warm Up I filmed in Guatavita, Colombia.
When you're in a not so great mood, it can feel really hard to get out of it. So, try these things and let me know how it goes for you in the comments below.
Remember: You have to commit to shifting your energy, you are the only one who can truly do it. I believe fully you can do it. One breath and one move at a time.
Sending you blessings of light and the power to control to improve your mood.
I love you with all of my heart,
April (Axé) Charmaine, CEO/Founder, Sol Vida Worldwide