So much of dance is about release, but it's also a lot about control (or at least heightened awareness) of our bodies and the physical attunement to what they are capable of. How do you personally walk that line between tension and release?
I’m sort of a tightly wound person, both emotionally and physically - so I’m primarily drawn to dance for the release. I have always been highly sensitive, but in my adolescence and until a few years ago I relied heavily on my masculine energy for protection. This manifested for me physically in the fact that I was always labeled in the dance world as a “strong athletic mover”. I wasn’t mad at that per se, but I did feel it was limiting. I knew my dancing was missing a softness, and there were times when I could physically feel that energy was being blocked from flowing smoothly through me. The last few years pushed me to work on healing my relationship with my own feminine energy, and I’m so grateful for that.
During the pandemic all of a sudden I was (we all were) forced to let go of so much, and in those moments, like in a rip tide, my survival depended on surrender rather than fighting against the current. In order for me to find a modicum of peace, I had to allow my softness to surface both physically and emotionally. This was a revelation for me, a true sea change. At first it was a full pendulum swing, the only movement that would come out of me was total mush, noodling around on the floor, no structure. I found myself repeating “release release release” as a mantra in my meditations and in my movement practice. Now I’m really enjoying playing with with both sides of the spectrum, integrating and making space for polarities to exist in my body, in my dancing and in my choreographic work. In my teaching I often talk about dance as a pathway towards becoming more sturdy and expansive, using movement as a tool to hold and process a wider range of our human experience in our bodies. They say you teach what you need, and I think that’s very true for me.
Dancing can be so personal, intimate, and spiritual but—unless you are literally alone—it is also inherently performative. How do you parse dancing for yourself and dancing with/for others (the whole "dance like no one is watching" thing is so tired, but it's a thing for a reason). Or maybe: how can we shed the weight of the gaze?
I actually created a whole 8 session course about this very topic! The short answer is having an improvisation practice. Improvisation is a tool for us to un-learn performativity, to notice our habitual movements and learned behaviors, and to tap back into or perhaps even learn for the first time what our authentic desires and expressions are. It’s incredibly liberating and empowering to move our bodies in a way that is focused on curiosity, imagination, and sensation rather than aiming for virtuosity or to satisfy the gaze
When you notice disconnection between body, mind, and intentional presence, how do you recenter and re-engage?
I’m only really aware of a disconnect between my mind and body when I spend too much time with technology. That being said, I feel like I’m in a constant state of re-centering since technology is such a big part of all of our lives. I feel pretty damn lucky that intentional presence and working with the mind/body connection is essentially my job, because it means I’ve got a surplus of practices in my toolkit that help me return to center. Some of my favorites are spending time alone, my solo improvised movement practice, hiking, being with my dog, taking a bath, yoga, Pilates, dancing, doing morning pages, opening the akashic records, cooking a meal, a cup of tea (or three). Today I tried my first sensory deprivation float, and it was complete and total bliss. After today I’m definitely adding floating to the list too.
How do you want to feel in your clothes?
Expressive, comfortable, free.