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NEW! MOVEMENT MENU: Happening Events for Every Palate

conscious DANCER #5 WINTER 2008 FREE

movement for a better world

New Year’s Revolutions Out with the Old Spin with the New!

Improv Yourself Bring Your Inner Child Out to Play Dance into Action Moving Stories that Inspire

Hearty Brews From A to Tea

Bindi-Hop Bhangra Hits the Clubs with a Bang 28

conscious dancer | winter 2008

nyc & national midcoast ME sarasota FL ft lauderdale FL austin TX southern LA ok city OK eugene OR

photo: Anita by Tasja Keetman

Eurythmy m usic a n d Wor d i n mov Em En t

Embody the Spirit classes and Workshops available Four-year, Full-time training Begins september 2010 Change Yourself J Change the World For upcoming Events, please call or e-mail us.

RUDOLF STEINER COLLEGE 9200 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Fair Oaks, California 95628 • 916.961.8727 x100 • •

Nancy Stark Smith (right), improvising an Underscore in Helsinki, Finland, May 2007.


FEATURES 10 Dance into Action

Moving stories that inspire: ordinary people are giving presence with the gift of movement. by Lauren Tepper

14 Improv Yourself

Getting a handle on the evolving art of improvisation. 15 Cynthia Winton-Henry on Diving into Peace

Creating breakthroughs with InterPlay.

15 Sara Zolbrod Explores the Global Underscore

Instant messengers of peace.

17 Mark Moti Zemelman Makes Peace with Improv

Ways to stay engaged on the improvisational edge.



Photo: Raisa Kyllikki Karjalainen


7 5 MOVEMENTS It Takes Two Pairing up to get in balance: the martial art aikido, the social dance salsa, and the modality Authentic Movement are three forms of partner-based motion that require the reflection of another to complete the equation. 7 WARMUPS • New Year’s Revolutions: Poi Ahoy! • Debbie Rosas: The Body’s Business • The Upside of Down: Hard times fill dance floors • Move to Greatness: Strong leaders know the right moves • Party in your Pocket: Meet the Pacemaker 18 SOUNDS Bindi-Hop: Bhangra Hits the Clubs with a Bang Mari Thorn dives into the global mash-up of bhangra culture, tracing the path of Punjabi folk music from the farmlands of northern India to the dance floors of the West. 20 VITALITY Hearty Brews: From A to Tea Rachel Trachten discovers tasty ways to warm up the winter months with aromatic drinks that stimulate conversation, medicinal teas that soothe the sniffles, and specialty brews that come to life in the pot. 23 MOVEMENT MENU New! Our new department highlights the freshest happenings with current listings and reviews from around the globe. • Winter Highlights: Happening events for every palate. • Book Reviews: Lessons from a Tantric Tango Dancer and Natural Rhythms • DVD Reviews: Wijdan and Kids Get Movin’ • MixMaster: Luna Ravenchilde conscious dancer | winter 2008


SF Bay Area moving arts network

move & be moved SF Bay Area (F) facilitated class


TransDance® Circle (F)

6:45-9:15pm • North Oakland (8 class series starts 1/19/09)

Fairfax Contact Improv Class (F) 7-8pm • The Common Well

AcroYoga with Tyler (F)

7:30-9:15pm • 7th Heaven

Fairfax Contact Improv Jam 8-11pm • The Common Well

Visit the Moving Arts Network at for events in your area

tuesday Soul Motion® (F)

6-8pm • Wildcat Studio


® (F)

Dholrhythms Bhangra (F)

Core Connexion® Class (F)

6:30-8:30pm • TVCC

8:00-9:00pm • ABADA Capoeira Arts

saturday Dholrhythms Bhangra (F)

2nd and 4th Fridays 6-7:45pm • Sawtooth Bldg

TransDance® Journey (F)

8:30pm-12:30am • Sawtooth Bldg

9:30-11:30am • Pickleweed Center

Ecstatic Dance East Bay

Contact Improv Class with Vitali (F)

Class (F) 1:30-3:00pm • 8th St. Studio

9pm-1am Fairfax Community Church 1st Saturday of the Month

Aceituno Arts Cooperative 2141 Mission St #200, S.F. Ashkenaz 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley East Bay Dance Center Glenfield Ave, Oakland 21318 conscious dancer | winter 2008

8:30-10:30am / 11am-1pm MLK Gym

(see website for dates & times)

Groove Garden

ABADA Capoeira Arts Center 3221 22nd St., S.F.

5Rhythms® Sweat Your Prayers (F)

9:30-10:30am • Ashkenaz

3:30-6pm • 8th St. Studio

7th Heaven Yoga 2820 7th St, Berkeley


Core Connexion® Dance Medicine (F)

Contact Improv Jam


5Rhythms® Endless Waves (F)

5Rhythms® Endless Waves (F) 6:30-8:30pm • Studio Gracia

Biodanza® with Belisa (F)

7:30-9:30pm • Aceituno Arts Coop

Thursday Jam for Contact Improv & Movement Jam 8-11pm • 7th Heaven

Dholrhythms Bhangra (F)

8:00-9:00pm • ABADA Capoeira Arts

7:45-10:30pm • Sweet’s Ballroom

10:30am-12pm • InterPlayce

Dance Jam

7-9pm • Unitarian Church


Ecstatic Dance East Bay

5Rhythms® Sweat Your Prayers (F)

Family Jam

6:30-pm • 8th St Studio

7-9pm • MLK Gym

9-10am • East Bay Dance Center

Interplay® (F)

10am-12:30pm • North Oakland (8 class series starts 1/21/09)

5Rhythms® Endless Waves (F)

8-9:30pm • Western Sky

Nia® with Danielle (F)

TransDance® Circle (F) Miriams’ Persian & Central Asian (F)

6-7:30pm • InterPlayce

Miriam’s Persian & Central Asian (F)



10-12pm • Studio 12

10:30-1pm • Sweet’s Ballroom

Soul Sanctuary Dance 11am–1pm • Ashkenaz

Nia® with Danielle (F)

11:15-12:15pm • 7th Heaven

Biodanza® with Marina (F) 6:45-8:45pm • 7th Heaven

Barefoot Boogie

7:30-11pm • Sawtooth Bldg

Fairfax Community Church 2398 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

Studio Gracia 19 Heron Street, S.F.

InterPlayce 2273 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Sweet’s Ballroom 1933 Broadway, Oakland

MLK Gym 100 Coloma Street, Sausalito

Tamalpais Valley Center (TVCC) 203 Marin Ave., Mill Valley

Pickleweed Community Center 50 Canal St, San Rafael

The Common Well 85 Bolinas Rd #8, Fairfax

Wildcat, 8th St, Western Sky & Studio 12 in Sawtooth Bldg 2525 8th St., Berkeley

Unitarian Church 1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley


Contact Improv for Total Beginners

February 7 - The Common Well

NCDC Winter Dance Camp December 12-14 Monte Toyon Camp, Aptos, CA

5Rhythms® Moving Meditation

10 class series starts January 22 with Kathy Altman at TVCC

rejuvenate rejoice refresh WEBSITES

Photo: Laura cirolia


he screen mimics the sky, while the page reflects the earth.” The recent election illustrates this truism by the poet Robert Bringhurst. He points out that our eyes scan the computer screen for information and clues the way we look to the clouds for signs of a change in the weather. The printed page, however, “repays the gift of sight” by going directly to the side of our brains where intuition resides and gut feelings are born. Both presidential candidates had plenty of facts and information available online, and each has told his life story in print. Voters who paid attention to both intuition and information chose carefully, and we have turned a corner in American history. Conscious Dancer sees the value in both print and online formats. Your feelings are important, and that’s why we print articles and photographs

that go directly to the heart of movement. We also understand that you need logistical information, so we’ve created the Moving Arts Network, an online counterpart to the magazine that connects you with people in your area. Directory listings for movement providers include your schedule and bio, display pictures of you in action, and include a coupon you design that



founders & publishers Mark

Metz & Aspen Madrone Metz Creative Director Aspen Madrone Quantum Communications Laura Cirolia Community Coordinator Casie Casados Distribution Manager Deborah Meyer Senior Editor Rachel Trachten Copy Editor Jerod Allen Graphic Design Lauren Golik Multidimensional Marketing Rana Satori Staff writers Rachel Trachten, Mari Thorn, Nirmala Nataraj, Heather Cohen Staff photographer Tyler Blank Webmaster Steve Shaw IT angel Luis Echeverria Licensing Efrain Correal Printing American Web, Inc. Editor-in-Chief Mark Ad Sales Circulation Subscribe Editorial

other Inquiries PO Box 2330, Berkeley, CA 94702 (510) 778-9131 Conscious Dancer is a quarterly active lifestyle magazine that celebrates transformative dance, mind-body fitness, and energy movement arts. Conscious Dancer does not endorse any specific modality, practitioner, or product. Please consult a health professional before attempting any new movement activities or health regimens. Conscious Dancer disclaims any liability for loss or injury in connection with activities portrayed or advice given herein. Please send all editorial mail, manuscripts, letters to the editor, and address changes via email or to our Conscious Dancer address listed above. © 2008 Moving Arts International. Printed in the USA with post consumer-waste content using soy-based inks. Please reuse and recycle. All rights reserved.

Checking In

brings people directly to you. If your goal is to see more dance and movement in your area, we are here to help you achieve it. This issue offers a reflection of what we receive by giving this holiday season. And what better time to engage the joyful spirit of improvisation, as we greet the New Year and reconnect with friends and family. Our new department, the Movement Menu, is where you’ll find events that are worth the trip, and exciting ways to connect in your area. Be sure to let us hear from you as we step into 2009. Your wisdom is our foundation—may we all be grounded as we welcome the winds of change. In Movement

mark metz, Editor-in-Chief

Lauren Tepper > Dance Into Action, page 11 Lauren Tepper is a yoga and dance instructor,, environmental educator, personal trainer and freelance writer. She also facilitates spiritual circle gatherings through the Institute for Circlework. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she cultivates awareness of the sacredness of life with movement, meditation, a backyard garden, and a posse of neighborhood cats. Cynthia Winton-Henry > Why We InterPlay, page 15 Cynthia Winton-Henry cofounded InterPlay and InterPlay’s Life Practice program with her colleague Phil Porter. Based in Oakland, California, she keynotes, dances, and swaps stories with people around the world. Author of What the Body Wants, her forthcoming books are Chasing the Dance of Life: A Faith Journey and Dancing: The Sacred Art of Movement. To learn more visit: Mark Moti Zemelman > Making Peace with Improv, page 17 Mark Moti Zemelman, MFA, is a teacher and board member at Earthdance Retreat Center in Massachusetts and a Professor of Dance at CICO (Centro de Investigación Coreografica) at the Instituto Naciónal de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. For 13 years he has taught contact improvisation and performed vocal-electronic music across the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Europe, and Israel. Sara Zolbrod > The Global Underscore, page 15 Sara Zolbrod is an actress, dance performer, and choreographer. She has worked for DanceAbility International since 2000 and helps produce the Breitenbush Contact Improv Jam held in Oregon each March. Her work appears in Contact Quarterly magazine and the anthology Dance, Human Rights, and Social Justice. Her blog is

COVER > Gretchen Spiro and Steven Homsher at the Naropa Somatic Arts Concert 2006 PHOTOGRAPHER > David L. Andrews conscious dancer | winter 2008





85 Bolinas Rd. Fairfax CA 415 456 6995


A community center for holistic living, embodied practice and healing arts

Contact Quarterly

journal of dance and improvisation a vehicle for moving ideas since 1975

Rana Satori Stewart, CI teacher


w w w. t h e co m m o nwe l l. co m Rent our studio!

Calendar of events online Sign up for email updates!

making friends with Chaos


as a musical process, invites you to investigate chaos as a healthy and vital ingredient–necessary for learning. Clapping, stepping, and singing simultaneously opens the door into inner knowing. Learning with the whole body, in rhythm, prepares you to experience the friendly and healing aspect of chaos in a nurturing environment.

Experience it!!

TaKeTiNa registration/info


Redwood City CA Maui HI Honolulu HI Austin TX

TaKeTiNa was developed by Reinhard Flatischler 4

conscious dancer | winter 2008

Dec 5-7 Dec 10 Dec 12-14 Jan 9-11

magazine web resources kneepads dance and somatics books Contact Improvisation; Helsinki, Finland. photo Š Polina Bykhovskaya



It Takes Two

ikido, salsa, and Authentic Movement are three practices better done in pairs. All are quite different on the surface, yet with underlying themes in common. Another person’s energy brings balance to the movement equation and provides a mirror into our own practice. We become more sensitive when we pay as much attention to our partner as we do to ourselves. Being in the moment can become easier when we share it with another.

Photo: Nathalia Leinig


A desire to have fun is the first thing you need to enjoy salsa dancing. Probably the most popular of all Latin dances, salsa is an energetic form that emphasizes enthusiasm and verve. A fusion of several dance styles with roots primarily in Cuba and Puerto Rico, modern salsa evolved in the New York Latino communities in the ’50s,’60s, and ’70s. Today salsa has enthusiasts worldwide, and has crossed over to many other cultures including the Anglo and Asian communities. why we like it: Although salsa is primarily a partner dance, certain styles such as Rueda de Casino are danced in groups with frequent exchanges of partners. A social dance with specific steps and techniques to learn, salsa also offers many opportunities for solo improvisation and performance. conscious dancer | winter 2008


movements l continued from page 5

Authentic Movement The journey of discovery that two people share through the practice of Authentic Movement starts with one person holding the space as a witness while the other moves with eyes closed, following the impulses of the body. A path to embodiment that cultivates a contemplative frame of mind, the method is used for creative exploration in the contexts of dance movement therapy, meditation, and contemporary improvisation. why we like it: Authentic Movement creates a space in which a person can be witnessed without the pressure of performance. It also allows us to work with a partner in a different context, with no skill level to match or technique to master. 6

conscious dancer | winter 2008

Aikido photo: jun akiyama / Authentic movement Photo:

Aikido The art of aikido emphasizes the dynamics of movement. The Japanese teacher Morihei Ueshiba, who developed aikido, emphasized the moral and spiritual aspects of this art, placing great weight on the development of harmony and peace. why we like it: Aikido requires a working partnership between two people. It is traditionally noncompetitive, and the training is of a cooperative nature.


New Year’s RevolutionsOut with the old, spin with the new!


photo: Kim Sallaway

etting centered has never been easier now that the ancient arts of spinning are making a modern-day comeback. The Maori of New Zealand developed the art of poi using various types of balls suspended in pairs on lengths of rope; today poi and staff spinning are practiced the world over using kevlar wicking for fire or multicolored LEDs for stroboscopic effects. Spinning enthusiasts find it to be a moving meditation that calms the mind and stimulates the soul. By taking a position in the center of rotating objects, spinners take advantage of the natural effects of centrifugal motion, and create a feeling that is akin to the nucleus of an atom, the eye of a hurricane, or the sun orbited by the planets. Tapping into the source of universal energy can be a profound experience, whether practiced solo or performed for a crowd. Spinning is a healthy habit that’s easy to pick up, and hard to put down.

Fav o r it e P O I t e chniq u e s

Weaves – Alternating spins on either side of

the body.

Butterflies – Spinning in opposite directions

B e n e fits of s p innin g • Increased hand-eye coordination • Left-right brain integration • Strength and fitness • Chest and shoulder stretching • Mind-body centering

flat to the body so that the poi cross at the top and bottom of their circles. Wraps – A move where one or both poi are wrapped around a part of the body, to change the path or direction of spin. Flowers – The spinners extends his or her arms and moves them in circles around the body. Isolations – Also known as ‘cranks,’ this refers to a class of moves in which the poi handle is also spun in a circle.

T h e u p s i d e of d o w n . . .

flapper photo: rob kunkle

Whenever times get tough, the tough start dancing! If history is any indication, we may be on the verge of the biggest dance craze ever. Here’s a look at c rashe s and craze s of the 20th c entury Panic of 1907 Ragtime music sets off the Foxtrot craze

Post WW-I recession of 1918 Flappers get jazzed doing the Charleston

The Great Depression of 1929 Swing dancers tear it up with the Jitterbug

Recession of 1957 Teens twist to the sounds of Rock and Roll

1973 oil crisis Disco dawns with dancers doing the Hustle

Recession of 1981 Punk rockers Pogo their way into the New Wave

Recession of 1990 Ravers put the “E” in Ecstatic Dance

conscious dancer | winter 2008


conscious dancer | winter 2008


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conscious dancer | winter 2008

Lead by moving? It’s as simple as that, according to the authors of the revolutionary new book Move to Greatness. The trick is to get the four fundamental patterns of the nervous system in balance in order to move yourself to your highest potential. Dr. Ginny Whitelaw, a senior manager at NASA, and Betsy Wetzig, a choreographer and dancer, teamed up to articulate a theory that is an effective tool for leaders of all types of organizations. Take a close look at these four essential energy patterns and discover how to move into your winning way. The Driver – THRUST! Motion > Gets to the point, fast! Voice > “What’s the bottom line?” Best at > Getting to the crux of the matter, making the goal. The Organizer – SHAPE! Motion > Does the right thing step by step. Voice > “Let’s take this one step at a time.” Best at > Suggesting next steps and orderly ways to proceed. The Collaborator – SWING! Motion > Plays with give and take. Voice > “You gotta roll with the punches!” Best at > Getting people excited, engaged, and cooperating; multitasking. The Visionary – HANG! Motion > Goes with the flow. Voice > “Let’s see how things develop.” Best at > Trying new things and promoting harmony.

Dance with percussive energy: punk rock, tango, techno, or African dance. Push into the driver with sharp movements that are angular, rapid, and thrusting.

Dance with precise form and footwork: ballet, waltz, contra dancing. Step into the organizer with measured movements that are composed and repetitive.

Dance with forms that flow: hip-hop, swing, belly dancing, the Charleston. Swing into the collaborator with playful movements that are flexible.

Dance with movements that are random and improvised: modern, jazz, freestyle, ecstatic. Drift into the visionary with expansive movements that float.

the body’s business by Debbie Rosas

A commitment to being fully present

Consciously commit and activate the flow of all of your energy toward the day. Fully commit to your day. Repeat out loud, “I’m present to my day and commit to be fully in it.” Sense what it means to fully commit from head to toe. Physically be present to every experience using the five sensations (strength, flexibility, mobility, agility, and stability). Awaken daily to the vibrations of your body, mind, and spirit.

It is your job to manage your commitment to being fully present to the day. Integrate different energies into what you do by asking, “Do I feel like moving and interacting with my environment with the supple softness of Tai Chi, or with the playful and expressive quality of jazz? Or perhaps the precision of Tae Kwon Do suits me better today?”

How do I do it? I watch out for overdoing or underdoing any one sensation and creating an energetic imbalance. I feed my body daily with all five sensations. I learn to detect which sensations my body is asking for and feed my body a potpourri of energy food.


Five Energy Sensations Strength flows as the sensation of energy moving inward. Flexibility flows as the sensation of energy moving outward. Mobility flows as the sensation of energy moving in constant motion. Agility flows as the sensation of energy starting and stopping. Stability flows as the sensation of every energy moving simultaneously.

Become a practitioner of



Somatic Expressive Therapy

Learn a movement healing modality that integrates the expressive arts, body psychotherapy and somatics.

SomaSoul awakens intuition and creativity to heal & transform stuck areas in our bodies and in our lives, leading us to our full aliveness and potential!

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Upcoming Workshop: Getting Unstuck

Move over iTunes, step aside Traktor... here comes the Pacemaker!

This nifty little gadget takes the concept of digital mixing to a whole new level. Put 120 gigs of your favorite music in your pocket, allow limitless mixing between two independent channels, and throw in an extensive range of professional audio manipulation features. Suddenly you’re able to mix, play, and perform anywhere you please. Forget hauling around a collection of music or a laptop—with the Pacemaker you can dance while you mix and never miss a beat.

Getting Unstuck is the first of three phases in the SomaSoul: Somatic Expressive Therapy Training to become a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) through Leven Institute for Expressive Movement.

Two Dates & Locations April 12-17, 2008 Location: Kripalu Center Lenox, MA 866.200.5203 OR October 22-25, 2009 Location: Leven Institute at Rhythms Center Lenox, MA 413 329-2300

conscious dancer | winter 2008


The Avodah Dance Ensemble creates opportunities for women in prison to experience feelings of trust and understanding through the expressive art of movement and dance.


conscious dancer | winter 2008

dance into action Giving

MOVEMENT as Spiritual Currency


by lauren tepper

ancers around the world are giving the gift of dance, offering inspiring ideas to help us get involved in our communities. Working with underserved populations like prison inmates, low-income women, and the elderly, these movement devotees present opportunities to share movement and artistic expression for the greater good. Simultaneously giving and receiving, dancers create a spiritual currency that grows the more it is spent.

Photos: Laura MacPhee

The Gift of Peace Jalaja Bonheim, founder of the Institute for Circlework based in Ithaca, NY, builds bridges to peace in the Middle East with Circlework, a new take on the ageold form of tribal circle gatherings. She brings Israeli and Palestinian women together to foster peace and mutual understanding through movement, song, and heartcentered sharing. Transforming the deep-seated mistrust and animosity of people long taught to view the other as “enemy” requires a careful approach, as interactions can quickly

become volatile. Dancing together creates a heartopening, enabling the women to see beyond their differences. Listening to each others’ stories of pain and hardship leads to realizations of how much unites them. “People tend to be very much in their heads,” Bonheim observes. “We cannot bring peace until we have a heart connection. The heart is in the body, so you have to help people get in touch with their bodies and find the movement that arises organically from within.” The women begin simply by closing their eyes, putting their hands over their heart, and starting to rock continued on page 12

conscious dancer | winter 2008


and sway. Gradually, Bonheim guides the dancers to connect with each other through gentle touch, gestural movements, and sacred songs, chants, and dances from the women’s respective traditions. By the end of the circle, the women are dancing together, embracing, looking into each other’s eyes, and in Bonheim’s words, “falling in love with each other.” “I feel like I receive more than I give,” she reflects. “I watch people who come with anger and hatred towards each other creating a community of strong bonds that last.” The Circlework process leads to practical progress as well as emotional healing. Jews and Arabs who connected through Circlework protected each other during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war, alerting each other by cell phone to danger on the roads or in villages. Dances of Universal Peace also offers dance as an avenue toward peace and harmony. These dances use simple movements, lyrics, and music from many traditions to forge connections between the spiritual essence in ourselves and others. Dances of Universal Peace was first developed by Sufi mystic and

Zen Master Samuel L. Lewis, who predicted that when people “eat, dance and pray together,” the world will find peace.

The Gift of Connection Avodah Dance Ensemble based in NYC offers inmates in several women’s prisons the opportunity to dance and tell their stories through movement. Director Julie Gayer Kris says, “It’s an opportunity to experience moments of complete freedom where they forget where they are. All the bars melt away.” The work also fosters trust, healing, understanding, and confidence. Kris adds, “The inmates feel forgotten; we accept them and treat them as members of a dance company. It’s a chance for them to express emotions and to feel camaraderie. They can’t believe their own creativity, and they’re just blown away.” On the opposite coast, the Movement Works Project, founded and directed by Sukha, provides creative outlets for male inmates in the California Department of Corrections system. The diverse slate of programs includes ecstatic dance rooted in the 5Rhythms method of Gabrielle Roth, improvisational dance theater, yoga, poetry, and storytelling.

Sukha is inspired by the men’s openness and supportiveness. “Their ability to hold [space, each other, emotions] is staggering— and I’m holding with them, so they’re teaching me how to do that,” she reflects. “It all happens in the movement. It reveals, it leads us, it is the medicine.” Although dancing inside prisons is not widely accessible, Sukha values programs that encourage inmates to write, an incredible outlet for connection with the outside world that also alters people’s perceptions of inmates. She also suggests gifts such as a tree planted in a prisoner’s name or much-needed books. Opportunities for supporting prisoners are available through Buddhist organizations like the Prison Dharma Network and Bo Lozoff ’s Human Kindness Foundation.

The Gift of Transformation Kairos Dance, based in Minneapolis, shares the gift of dance with elders. Through Kairos’s award-winning Dancing Heart: Vital Elders Moving in Community project, Director Maria Genné has witnessed dramatic transformations as elders expand their movement capabilities and engage in the process of

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conscious dancer | winter 2008

artistic creation. Participants start small, tapping toes or fingers while seated in chairs. Gradually they progress to more vigorous movements. Elders express joy and amazement at being able to reconnect with their bodies through dance. “This is the best thing that’s happened at this nursing home. I feel like I’m coming alive,” raved one participant. “This is about the best my week gets—when we’re here dancing,” confided another. Some participants go on to perform with Kairos’s intergenerational dance company, ranging in age from 6 to 98 years old. The Kairos performances are changing attitudes about aging and dance. “Audiences cry during the performances, seeing the beauty of what community can be,” said Genné. Sharing movement with the elders provides spiritual nourishment for Genné as well. “It gives me the opportunity to connect with people, to experience joy and grief and laughter together. With dance it’s possible to transcend age, background, ability, political inclination … It truly is a universal language that’s much bigger than our own personal experience.”

Bringing It Home We can all take part in the unbroken circle of giving and receiving. These are just a few examples of ways we can inspire with the gift of presence in our own communities. When we take the time to center ourselves and share our unique gifts, we come together in that transformative space where giver and receiver are one blissful dancing presence. Open your eyes to an underserved population in your area and see how you can give the gift of presence this holiday season. Support the work of these organizations and individuals with tax-deductible contributions or by volunteering. The Institute for Circlework Dances of Universal Peace Avodah Dance Ensemble The Movement Works Project Prison Dharma Network Human Kindness Foundation Kairos Dance Theatre

conscious dancer | winter 2008


play ‘ til your heart ’s content


Neige Christenson takes Dan Zemelman on a circular journey at the Earthdance Retreat Center in Plainfield, Massachusetts.

Improvisation comes of age, but never grows up.

hat’s the one thing that we all have at our fingertips that increases our body intelligence, is creative and fun to do, and helps us find peace in the present moment? Improvisation! It’s a tool used in business, therapy, and the arts; it’s also a form of dance known as Contact Improv developed by Steve Paxton and Nancy Stark Smith in the early ’70s. Let these three stories guide you into a world where imagination is the only limit.


conscious dancer | winter 2008

Cynthia Winton-Henry

diving into peace: why we InterPlay

photos: Left and top right: Mark moti zemelman / Bottom:


ying on my back, I raise a hand in the air. Hearing music, my eyes relax. My hand takes on a life of its own. For a minute my body isn’t something to feel good or bad about. My body is me. Am I praying? Meditating? Dancing? Discerning? On vacation? Could serenity be so simple? This is improvisation. Beyond the degrees in dance, theology, and multicultural education, I discovered that whenever I improvised, help was just a movement, breath, or story away. Enthralled, I cofounded a systematic practice called InterPlay with Phil Porter to discover how far improvisation might advance creativity, community building, and personal and social change. Google “improv” and find two million entries. Improvisational dancing, vocalizing, stories, and stillness form a mysterious skill set used in team building, creative problem solving, communication, and management. Therapists use it to heal trauma. Activists empower minority points of view with it. Teachers use it in inquiry and to personalize knowledge. Spiritual directors and coaches create breakthroughs with it, evident in the words of a shy man who claims improvisation as “a chance to be you in the present moment … Maybe a new you, one you haven’t explored or had the pleasure of meeting or maybe an old you that hasn’t been around for awhile.” As a veteran improviser I know that when continued on page 16


the global underscore


tanding in a hot gym in Pennsylvania with 250 other people, I was poised to begin the “Global Underscore Solstice” improvisation. I started by noticing my breath, and the subtle sensations of my upright body Four dancers in its constant negotiation with gravity. improvise at the 2005 New Year’s Together, the dancers faced a group in Contact Jam at Buenos Aires, also standing, who in turn Earthdance in Massachusetts. faced the next city in the chain. Electricity ran down the back of my neck as I thought about the group in Mexico City facing us, and a group facing them, and so on. An estimated 700 Contact Improvisation dancers in 15 cities were creating a circle of attention around the Earth, in gyms and dance studios around the world, some in daylight and others at night. We all started by simply standing, sensing our bodies and acknowledging our dance partners worldwide. This dance took place at a gathering called CI36, celebrating 36 years since Contact Improvisation began. The Underscore is a framework developed by Nancy Stark Smith for practicing and researching contact and other dance improvisation. We all became familiar with the framework at study sessions before participating, and the structure allowed us to find a balance between open improvisation, concentration, and shared intentions. About an hour in, I needed to catch my breath and found a slow pace with Gretchen Spiro, a Contact Improvisation teacher from Boulder. Completing our trio was her baby, asleep on Gretchen’s chest in a colorful sling. I pressed arm-to-arm with Gretchen, sensing whether our slow momentum and mutual light lean into each other would take us up or down, forwards or backwards. I had felt during the opening “stand” that there is no such thing as a static position when it comes to animate bodies on Earth. By noticing the movement inherent in balance, we can explore the potential for giving in to the tiniest lean in any direction. Leaping and falling are outwardly dramatic ways to play against or with gravity, but listening to minute shifts in momentum and weight offers rich territory to explore too. My body was alert, willing to move in any direction that felt guided by the human physics of the moment. Focused as I was on listening arm-to-arm, I was surprised by a light touch on my hip. I looked down and saw the baby’s foot, reaching into me, exploring me. Her eyes were still closed, but her foot was definitely awake. After the gathering, I interviewed Claire Filmon to learn about the origins of the multi-location Underscore. A dancer from France, Filmon attended a winter workshop in 2000 with Nancy Stark Smith, who taught her the Underscore. Filmon proposed to her fellow workshop participants that they all do the score, in their respective homes in

Improvisation is the foundation of InterPlay wherever it is practiced in the world.

continued on page 16 conscious dancer | winter 2008


diving into peace c o n t i nu e d f r o m p a g e 1 5

we let go to connect beyond ourselves, the teachings of detachment and “to have life one must lose it” make more sense. Launched in wonder, eyes up, feet on the floor, leading and following others without hesitation, when we attune to another person, the group, or our own center, we are at one. The alchemy of cocreating with few words or predetermined steps makes me giddy. When an uninitiated witness blurts out, “You made that up?” I know I am in on one of Mother Nature’s magic tricks. Because improv doesn’t limit who can play, diverse people can engage with artful consciousness. A favorite playmate, who has muscular dystrophy, zooms around the room in a wheelchair she calls Stella, telling her stories with sublime wit. Add the epiphanies. On retreat, after the group warmed up and began dancing, my head felt full and tight. I closed my eyes, slowed down, and watched my inner sight synchronize with my moving. I saw images. Then, a tube of Kraft processed cheese popped into view. It didn’t take a college degree to figure out that my head felt stuffed with over-crafted “cheesiness.” Engaging my kinesthetic imagination, I squeezed the excess cheese out the top of my head. Phhhhhhhht. I began to let go of crafting and processing every piece of data that I encounter. Improvisation is a life practice. If we do it, we won’t need so many degrees, self-help books, antidepressants, or margaritas. With little else than our own creativity we can bond, be entertained, and heal. Improvisation is becoming a key practice for communities that seek peace. Collective body wisdom develops sophistication as we build on five powerful, yet ordinary skills, starting with awakened body-to-body communication. Scientists discovered that our “mirror neurons” let us sense someone else’s movement. If one person falls, I sense the fall in me. If a group is jumpy, I feel jumpy. Body-to-body improvisers harmonize, energize, slow each other down, and literally stop together with no other common language. Second, improvisers create a synergy, an interplay. Merging in communion, we enjoy shifts of eye contact, expression and sound, then trick each other, get distracted, differentiate, and rejoin with affection. Early childhood experts believe that this dyadic consciousness feeds us like daily bread. A third skill is the improviser’s use of light trance or easy focus. Relaxing our eyes, we 16

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interplay exercise Explore the space between mind and body with a simple improv exercise. Put one hand in the air • For ten seconds let it move in a smooth way. • For ten seconds move it smooth and fast. • For ten seconds let it move jerky. • Move it jerky and slow.

let your hand take a shape • Take another shape. • Enjoy being still in that shape.

let your hand make contact with your body or the floor • Let the point of contact move. • Now bring your hand into the air, let it move to some music, and notice what happens.

open to the multisensory streams of the whole body. Releasing that tenacious need to “understand” everything, we widen our field of awareness and get more information. Fourth, an improviser’s body extends beyond his or her skin. Pick up a pencil. To use it you must incorporate it as part of your body. Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee in The Body Has a Mind of its Own call this our peripersonal space. A dancer’s body extends to encompass her group. They are her. Lastly, “Yes! And…” is one of the best

known improvisational tools. Saying yes from moment to moment relaxes our ego, helps us leap over hesitancy, and “go with” others. The more we follow reasonably good ideas, the more the group energy and ideas build. In a circle, ask an individual to describe a place with one detail. Going around, each person adds a detail. The only rule is that you can’t contradict what someone else says. A blue dress can’t be changed to red, but it can be a blue dress with red dots. How do you welcome people into the waters of improvisational life? As shy people ourselves, Phil and I made it our assignment to start with cultivating the willingness to play. Instead of diving in, we offer brief improvisational sips. I laugh at how long it took us to recognize that people relax if they lie down with no one watching them. Moving just one arm is not too much to ask. Afterwards, the room exudes a rare peace. Disarmed, unlikely dancers drop duty and pretense, tapping an inner resourcefulness beyond words. Bit by bit they open to ideas like Dr. James Gordon’s in Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression. “Shaking and dancing,” he teaches, “can energize your depressed body, relieve your preoccupied mind, and dissolve your tension. It can also, as you do it regularly, help you feel more at home in your body, and bring you into the moment-to-moment flow of your life.” Improvisational movement is a great way to learn to swim in life’s deep end without getting eaten alive. Add affirmation, affirmation, affirmation and people start growing fins and gills. So many reasons to improvise. Why do I do it? Because it blesses me.

global underscore c o n t i nu e d f r o m p a g e 1 5 different countries, at the summer solstice. Ever since, dancers from about a dozen cities around the world have participated annually, with 2008 boasting the most participants yet. Filmon described her experience this year in Paris: “I felt I was dancing with people around the world; I didn’t need a plane to go meet the people. Memories came up as I was feeling contact. I felt all the contact dances I’ve loved dancing in my life.” Besides using our imaginations to weave worldwide dancers together, participating cities also used the Internet. In the Pennsylvania gym where I danced, there was a laptop in one corner. We were invited to share written words into the ether at any time or to read others’ thoughts. At times when I glanced at the laptop, I felt there was a physical gateway

there to faraway dancers. In the final phase of the Underscore, we were invited to “harvest”: to share thoughts and experiences in a group circle. One “harvest” story comes from Maxine Saborowski in Stolzenhagen, Germany. “In the beginning, I was lying still on the floor, bonding with the earth, when another participant named Peter Aerni walked by. I felt his locomotive movement in contrast to my stillness. I continued lying still. After a while, Peter passed by again, walking in the same direction as before. Although he probably had only walked once around the large dance space, I had the impression that he had made his way all around the earth. When I shared this image with him, he showed me a little stone he found on the way to the studio. It was a little white pebble with a circle engraved.”

Staying engaged on the improv edge 1. Stillness and Breath Steve Photo: John Bainbridge / left page photo:

Paxton’s “Small Dance” is ubiquitous in CI. What’s the smallest motion perceived? This witnessing creates a container for each to recognize one’s own authentic impulses and emotions. Stillness and breath support safety, calm, and presence.

2. mistakes are your friends

The annual Moab Jam in Utah draws enthusiasts from every corner of the globe.

making peace with improv


3. make eye contact Eye contact is a way to encourage empathy with a partner. Even if the eyes meet for a split second, the dance deepens immediately.

mark moti zemelman

t a local Contact Jam, a woman I don’t know initiates a dance by hanging onto me in a way that feels uncomfortable. My initial reaction is to get out of the dance as quickly and gracefully as I can. Then I look at the story I’m telling myself. If I stay in this dance I will be engulfed both physically and emotionally, and I won’t be happy or safe, but if I leave she will feel abandoned! Is there another option? Beginners as well as experienced Contact dancers often wonder how to reframe these uncomfortable moments. A first step is learning the spoken or unspoken contract in CI about each dancers responsibility for his or her own safety. This assumes a certain skill level in both physical and emotional realms: not taking too much weight, falling safely, controlling momentum, and knowing how and when to say “no.” But many exciting discoveries happen on the brink of these precautions when we are disoriented, risking, taken by surprise, surrendering, or generally outside of our comfort zone. When we’re consciously on this edge, we develop new knowledge of our bodies, fresh strategies and unique articulations. The “edge effect” as defined by Wikipedia is “the effect of the juxtaposition of contrasting environments on an ecosystem.” For example, in a forest where adjacent land has been cut, wind and sun dry out the forest edge, encourage growth of opportunistic species, and increase biodiversity. These dynamic edges also happen in our cultures, religions, homes ... and in our bodies. CI can be a new ecosystem butting up against old movement habits, body images, and beliefs

”Mistakes” are just moments of vulnerability full of potential energy. Going with unintentional falls instead of tensing up or disengaging makes them safer and lighter.

about intimacy, forcing new growth. On each physical edge there is an emotional parallel. The “opportunistic species” that grow on these psychic boundaries can be invasive or symbiotic, greedy or generous, dark or light. Regardless, they represent the diverse and vulnerable new and unknown parts of our inner environment. I suddenly find myself in a tense position I’d hoped to avoid with my new dance partner, caught under her on the floor in a tangle of limbs, twisting my torso in efforts to squirm out from under the pressure of her weight. As I reach the edge of my range of motion I pause. As a beginner I often felt panic and frustration in these moments. Over time I learned to use spiraling and reach to roll someone’s weight off of me quite easily, and with this skill my emotions became peaceful. The moments that one becomes most aware of an edge effect are what some chaos theorists call the “tipping point.” In my teaching I refer to these moments as “avalanche points,” such as when one is quite literally on the edge of a human shelf being lifted by a partner, poised to move in one direction or another. A miniscule amount of directed weight can shift the “environment” and transition one or both partners to the ground. I use the word “transition” instead of “falling” because so many of us view “falling” negatively (accident, failure, humiliation, disaster). As a teacher and dancer, I attempt to redefine falling as a safe passage to the ground. One gets acutely sensitive to these moments, able to suspend, stretch, and make choices, as opposed to having an uncontrolled descent. If instead of avoiding

4. have a boring dance Don’t do anything creative, and suddenly nothing is boring! As Nancy Stark Smith says, “Replace ambition with curiosity.” Curiosity makes even the most tread-on paths interesting.

5. begin and end...again and again Endings and beginnings can be vulnerable moments. In these transitions judgmental thoughts creep in. Begin or end surprisingly, and let go of the way it’s “supposed” to go. It’s improvisation!

these edges or being immobilized by fear, we stay present, find stillnesses and ways to be with the awkwardness, we then open up curiosity and forge new patterns and pathways. With my new partner I decide to stay and see if I can find a new and better story. At first I move out of contact but stay engaged in the dance with eye contact. She follows jovially and continues to try to give her weight to me. I let only a moment of contact happen before I move out from under her touch. With clear “yes’s” and “no’s,” the dance evolves into a playful dialogue of moving together and apart. By staying mindful, I simultaneously stay engaged and safe while joyfully surrendering to the improvisational negotiation of each moment. Tightly choreographed modern dance can sometimes give the illusion of a dangerous edge without any actual unscripted risks, weeding out all the faults and quirks that make us human. Improvisation is not about perfection—it’s about accepting the unpredictable reality of this moment, oneself, and one’s partner, and authentically committing to the honest dialogue of the dance. For me, CI is a lifelong practice of finding this ever-changing, imperfect balance between control and surrender. What keeps me returning to Contact Improv again and again? There is no final frontier! conscious dancer | winter 2008



Bhangra Nonstop Punjabi passion ignites a global dance phenomenon. BY MARI THORN


renched in sweat, I have become one with the bouncing crowd. The inhibitions that came with me this evening are a faint memory within the packed hall housing this evening’s bhangra spectacular. Catching the twinkle of a friend’s eye, I realize that I, too, have been caught open-faced with joy. Exchanging a knowing grin, we turn back to the stage, which pulses with colorfully dressed dancers. The musical tones of the dohl and tumbi drive the energy to higher and higher states of release and bliss. This is bhangra, an ancient South-Asian tradition celebrating its rebirth in myriad new forms across the globe. The birthplace of bhangra, the Punjab, is a region extending over part of northern India and northeastern Pakistan. The specific phenomenon of music and dance known as bhangra came into being when Punjabi wheat farmers danced and sang with the sight of their growing crops. With time, these dances entered harvest celebrations at Bhaisakhi (April 13) festivals. The dance quickly moved through all divisions of class and education, eventually becoming a part of weddings, New Year’s parties, and other important occasions. In 1947, the Punjab was split between Pakistan and India at the end of British rule. Britain’s


conscious dancer | winter 2008

withdrawal after more than 100 years of colonial presence resulted in a large migration of Punjabis into the United Kingdom. Bhangra was reborn in the U.K. in the early 80’s, as young Punjabi descendants fulfilled their desire for self-affirming cultural identity. What began as an underground music movement spread in popularity until bhangra music and dance exploded into mainstream awareness. This eruption simultaneously increased and transformed in 1994 with a discernable trend towards the use of samples, often taken from mainstream hiphop. In the mid-90’s, bhangra became infused into the world media circuit. Today, bhangra is found throughout the U.S. in the forms of popular music, university team competitions, and dance groups such as Dohl Rhythms, who host packed monthly celebrations. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dohl Rhythms is an organization formed by Punjabi-born Vicki Virk. The group of core dancers is composed of women, although bhangra was originally a dance done only by men. Dohl Rhythms blends traditional bhangra with gidda—women’s Punjabi folk dance—and with Virk’s unique choreographic style. Gidda adds hip movements, clapping, and hand gestures to the strong, upper-body dance of bhangra.

Vicki Virk considers Dohl Rhythms a middle ground between traditional bhangra and the showy bhangra competition styles. University competitions are fast-paced, highenergy, co-ed, acrobatic extravaganzas of physical endurance. Native Punjabi bhangra is much more subtle in demonstration, and intentional in the symbology of its movement. The dance, the songs, and the music are a reflection of the direct human relationship with the natural environment and the cycle of the seasons. It is a dance of planting, harvesting, and community celebration. As a folk music and dance, it is for, by, and of the

Delhi 2 Dublin is a cultural mash-up from Vancouver, BC that refers to their sound as “Celtic-Punjabi fusion.”


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T O P T E N B H A N GR A P I C K S 1. Punjabi MC – Beware 2. Various – Bhangra Dance 3. DJ Rekha – Basement Bhangra 4. Various – Desi Nation 5. Delhi 2 Dublin - Remixes

6. Various – Original Punjabi Pop 7. Bhangra Brothers – Soni Mutear 8. Various – Bombay Beats 9. Kush Arora – Bhang Ragga 10. Soundtrack – Bend It Like Beckham

Photos: avobe: Luke Moloney / below: Brad Dosland

Suman Raj and Vicki Virk are the founding members of the dance troupe Dohl Rhythms.

people, which is precisely why Virk believes it is so popular today. Another area where bhangra is growing is the world of mind-body fitness; Neena and Veena, the popular duo known as the Belly Twins, fuse bhangra with belly dance in an entirely new aerobic style. Turning the page in the story of bhangra’s global embrace, we meet a new and spontaneous character, Delhi 2 Dublin. The group was originally formed for a one-shot performance during Vancouver’s Celtic Fest in 2006, but word of their foot-stomping live style started to spread, and the project took on a life of its own. The five-member band

fuses the traditional sounds of tabla, dhol, fiddle, and sitar with cutting-edge DJ aesthetics and vocals to create a highly charged multicultural dance celebration. What’s more, each of the group’s talented musicians is unclassifiable through the name-game of ethnological pedigree. Each plays the music he or she loves, coming together in a cultural fusion that dances across the borders of Ireland, India, and the Punjab. Delhi 2 Dublin is not a bhangra band, but a world fusion band that uses bhangra instruments—namely the round and essential rhythmic centerpiece, the dohl. And so bhangra journeys from localized folk tradition to cultural resurrection in a new land, through its teenage years of expansion and integration into the mainstream, and now into today’s global melting pot of new creations. Coming into real time on the pulsing dance floor, divisions have dissolved. The concept of world music has taken on an entirely new meaning. I am laughing wordlessly with a total stranger and moving my mind and body to a musical genre I now want to share with the world. It is a nonstop bhangra party in an urban gymnasium, an outdoor concert on a sunny afternoon in Canada, or a packed nightclub in London. This is planet Earth, and we are dancing here together.

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conscious dancer | winter 2008


From A to Tea

Warming up the winter with a cup of conviviality.

BY Rachel Trachten


renched and shivering, I escaped a November downpour. As I dripped onto the rug, my husband turned on the kettle and pulled out a canister of spiced tea. Before long, the aroma of ginger and cinnamon filled our kitchen. The tea he chose was right on the mark. According to herbalist and acupuncturist Melinda Kong, spices like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg are warming in nature. Kong notes that some people are constitutionally cold, while others react to the environment, diet, or emotions. Warming herbs restore the body’s balance between cold and hot, yin and yang. Cinnamon twig aids circulation to icy hands and feet, while dried ginger warms the center of the body. As an Ayurvedic home remedy, tea that’s two parts ginger and three parts cinnamon is recommended during the winter cold and flu season. “Teas made with ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon are associated with fall and winter,” says Reem Rahim, cofounder of the international company Numi Teas. A steaming cup of chai comes to mind, along with a slice of pumpkin pie in front of a crackling fire. “Tea is about nesting,” adds Rahim. “Coffee is a get-up-and-go drink, but


conscious dancer | winter 2008

tea is about staying a while.” Worldwide, the warmth of tea extends to a sense of connection and community. Roy Fong, founder of San Francisco’s Imperial Tea Court, the first traditional Chinese teahouse in the U.S., explains that in the gonfu tea ceremony, you energetically connect with others as you prepare tea. Through simple acts like rinsing the teapot and cups with hot water, you begin to wash away worry and negativity prior to accepting the tea. “You start to fill your mind with tea,” says Fong, “and you allow the tea to be the bridge between you and your friends.” Drinking tea might involve a formal practice or just a gathering of friends around a teapot. The Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu) offers not only an elaborate ritual, but also a time for reflection and harmony with nature. In the Chinese culture, before a wedding banquet the bride and groom present tea to each member of the extended family in descending order of age; the sharing of tea solidifies relationships and shows respect to elders. While serving tea to friends at her home, Rahim of Numi Tea removes the lid from the teapot to allow each person to inhale the aroma. She favors small cups to encourage

drinking in small doses, appreciating rather than gulping. Rahim values the mood that a tea ritual creates: “You come in from the hustle bustle and through the ritual you’re transported into another space, a quieting space.” Roy Fong also notes the slowing-down benefits of tea. He views a few minutes of tea as a reprieve that relieves pressure and makes us mentally more prepared to deal with the rest of life. With about half the caffeine of coffee (and half again for green tea), tea offers a calm alertness rather than the jolt that a cup of java provides. In some homes, tea follows the evening meal, encouraging people to linger at the table. A tea urn at an event like a local dance or tradeshow booth is an easy and generous way to get people together and warm them up. And drinking tea can forge connection with nature as well: Kong recalls that when she lived in Taiwan, friends took her to secluded spots in the mountains to enjoy a cup of tea and a sense of unity with the natural world. According to legend, the world’s first cup of tea was, in fact, brewed in nature. Chinese mythology credits Emperor Shennong with the discovery of tea in 2737 BC, after some herbs accidentally blew into his cauldron of steaming water. Tea played a key role in U.S. history when the colonists dumped crates of tea into Boston Harbor, setting a spark that helped to ignite the American Revolution. As in ancient and colonial times, tea is still made by pouring hot water directly onto loose tea leaves, though a strainer can also be used. Chinese tea cups called gaiwan have lids that are used to hold back the leaves while sipping tea. Whether it’s black, green, white, or oolong, all tea leaves come from the plant Camellia sinensis, a flowering evergreen shrub found in parts of India and China. The length of time that the leaves are oxidized and aged determines the flavor of the tea. Herbal teas or tisanes are made from dried herbs and flowers and typically contain no actual tea leaves. Handcrafted flowering teas are an exquisite treat: Numi’s selection includes white tea leaves handsewn around a rosebud, as well as chrysanthemum wrapped in a bouquet of green tea. Placed in a glass teapot, the leaves and flowers expand in the hot water, creating a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Back in my own kitchen, the spiced tea not only warmed me up, but also worked its magic of connection. As the warm scent of ginger and cinnamon filled our house, even my teenagers were drawn to the kitchen table.



reading the right leaves Round out your tea collection with selections from each category: Herbal, Traditional, Medicinal, and Specialty. We sampled only organically grown teas, which is especially important since tea leaves are not washed before drying and packing. Most organic teas are also Fair-trade certified, which means the farmers are guaranteed a living wage from their efforts. From chatting over a pot of blossoming tea, to revving up your digestion or cooling down a fever, the right choice will hit the spot. herbal

NUMI - Bushmen Honeybush A unique and delightfully mild herbal tea from Africa. Honeybush is excellent with milk or served iced as a caffeine-free alternative to black or green tea. CHOICE - Peppermint Herb The classic favorite for settling tummies and starting conversations. Peppermint is long known by herbalists for stimulating digestion and freshening breath.

Photo: Laura cirolia


TAZO - Darjeeling Stimulating black tea with a heartwarming aroma and a full dose of caffeine. These tea bags are strong enough for a full pot and make a healthy and invigorating substitute for coffee.

RISHI - Pu-erh Ginger Black Pu-erh teas are fermented leaves from old growth tea trees. The fermentation creates a rich earthy flavor that is complemented perfectly with ginger. REPUBLIC OF TEA - Green Earl Greyer Named after the British Earl Grey who visited China in 1830, this tea is flavored with bergamot, a type of citrus. As a green tea, it is crisp and refreshing. medicinal

TRADITIONAL MEDICINALS - Throat Coat Licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow in a warming base. Reach for this comfy brew at the first sign of a sniffle. ORGANIC INDIA - Tulsi Honey Chamomile The sacred herb of India known as Holy Basil, Tulsi’s benefits are noted in texts dating

back 5,000 years. Together with chamomile, it’s a soothing treat. s p e c i a lt y

NUMI - Flowering Tea “Leaves of Art” are carefully hand wrapped and sewn into tight balls by artisans in China. Watching them unfold in a clear pot adds excitement to intimate occasions. ARBOR - Pineapple Passion Tasty and refereshing blend of green tea, pineapple, and blue malva flowers. This loose leaf tea is ideal for an after dinner treat or with a light midday snack. YOGI - Chai Redbush The exotic stimulation of Indian chai meets the sublime flavor of South African rooiboos. This combination is the best of both worlds, without the caffeine.

conscious dancer | winter 2008


Contact Improv in Paradise

Exploring Contact Improv & Site Specific Dance on Sacred Land 3rd Annual- with Mark Moti Zemelman February 22-28, 2009 Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

spring issue editorial highlghts


Vinn Marti A class with the minister of Soul Motion

The Motion of eurythmy Rudolf Steiner’s evolving modality

A Body’s Education Schools and institutions that are expanding the meaning of dance, somatics, and energy movement arts ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖

Start the day with morning meditations, sungazing, sound-yoga, and improv warm-ups. Enjoy daily Contact Improv classes and improvisation structures in the gardens, lake, and jungles. In the evening - jam to live music. Dance and volunteer with local youth arts leadership programs. Education on local ecology and culture. Swim, hike the volcanos, and boat across to traditional Mayan villages.

Register online at Or e-mail: 22

conscious dancer | winter 2008



movement for a better world™

Display ads from under $50/month Call now to reserve your space 510-778-9131 Street Date: March 2, 2009 Ad Deadline: January 16, 2009

23 Events and Festivals 23 Workshops and Education 25 Performances

26 Reviews 26 MixMasters Top Ten

Movement Menu

Visit the Moving Arts Network at for events and listings in your area.

winter highlights festivals & events

improvisation everyone is engaged in dancing expressively and creatively.

Asheville Fringe Arts Festival

30th Great Dickens Christmas Fair

NOV 28–DEC 21 Cow Palace, San Francisco $10-22 The Fair is a holiday adventure into Victorian London, with hundreds of costumed players in 100,000+ square feet of theatrically-lit music halls, dance parties, pubs and winding lanes. Many of the over 600 performers bring to life the dances of ancient England, the Continent, and the Far East. In addition to visiting dance troupes, there are 5 ‘resident’ dance companies at the Fair who perform on 5 stages, plus a dance floor where the public may join in.

JAN. 22–25 Asheville, NC The festival brings original performance, genre-bending theatrical fringyness, and exciting experiences to venues around the town for the culturally adventurous, featuring everything from dance and sketch theatre to multimedia performance art and cross-genre improvisation.

Bali Spirit Festival

APR 1–4 Bali, Indonesia, $250 Fusing the personal transformative process of a spiritual retreat with the ecstatic communal energy of a world music and dance fest, the Bali Spirit Festival offers an exultation of the sacredness of Being. The festival opens with a day-long offering of SILENCE, fasting, and prayer. From the warmth of sacred silence, participants INHALE and enter a transformative retreat intensive. Emerging centered and whole, participants then join together in an EXHALE of love and profound gratitude with celebratory days of yoga, dance, music, drumming and meditation workshops, as well as nightly concerts, kirtans, and dance gatherings.

Making Friends with Chaos–TaKeTiNa, pg. 24

workshops & education Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being and Healing Conference

Photos: body of sound: / pasadena dance festival:

Jai Ganesh: Ecstatic New Year’s Celebration

DEC 31–JAN 1 Portland, OR, $23-85 Beloved Presents: Wah!, MC Yogi, Ott, Waterjuice, DJ Dragonfly, and more in an 18-hour prayer of dance, devotional music, yoga, and fun that begins on New Year’s Eve with dinner and ends on New Year’s Day with a mala of 108 Sun Salutations. Cross the divine threshold and set your sacred New Year’s intentions with ecstatic Kirtan, a midnight Ganesh puja, a danceuntil-dawn party, Yoga Nidra, sound healing, and Indian Classical Raga. The greatest aspiration of Jai Ganesh is to facilitate the hearts and minds of those present in discovering the beloved in themselves, each other, and in the surrounding world to further our ability to cooperate and to manifest our appreciation on earth.

Mystic Garden Party

FEB 12–15 Maui, HI, $150 The Mystic Garden Party is a four day musical healingarts festival with conscious music, workshops, and visionary arts. The stellar lineup includes Alex Grey, Ram Dass, Freedom, Goddess Alchemy Project, and more!

Jai Ganesh: Ecstatic New Year’s Celebration, pg. 23

American Dance January Intensive

Pasadena Dance Festival, pg. 23

DEC 29–JAN 8 New York City, $695 This nine-day workshop is designed for intermediate/ advanced level students interested in learning about New York’s dance scene from the artists who are creating it. The artist-centered design of the intensive allows students a broad range of explorations, study, and inquiry into the profession of dance. If you have ever considered making New York City your dance home, this workshop is a great way to experience more and ask questions in an environment that supports the shaping of young artists.

Body of Sound

Pasadena Dance Festival

FEB 21 Pasadena, CA, 9am–10pm The festival will feature teachers and performers from the greater Los Angeles area. Lineage Dance specializes in providing accessible, exciting dance workshops for people of all ages who have never danced before. With a combination of choreography and structured

MAR 19–22 Duke University, Durham, NC Scientific, creative, and mystical disciplines will explore and share transformative paths leading to integration of mind, body, and spirit. Keynote speaker Bradford Keeney, Ph.D., will address SHAKING: The Original Path to Ecstasy and Healing. A keynote performance and workshop will be presented by the internationally acclaimed South African dancer/choreographer Vincent Mantsoe. The conference also includes workshops in performing and visual arts, yoga and meditation, panels and paper presentations, participatory art installation, Bantaba (a celebratory gathering of community), and opportunities to share meals, network, and relax.

Body of Sound, pg. 23

DEC 26–28 Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA Movement and sound are both forms of creative expression, and they influence each other very much. This workshop will draw from a variety of modalities such as vocal toning and body percussion, contact improvisation, tap dance, circle song, and Balinese kecak. Join Alyssa DeCaro in this joyful celebration at Esalen, the world renounced hot springs and retreat center.

conscious dancer | winter 2008


Bali Spirit Festival, pg. 23

Contemplative Dance/Authentic Movement Experienced Workshop

MAR 7–8
The Field Studio, New York City, NY, $250

 For those experienced with contemplative dance and authentic movement, this workshop will deepen your movement practice. Experiment with dimensions of the process with a group of experienced movers. Included are guided movement meditations and explorations with art media and nature.

Delilah’s Hawaii Visionary Belly Dance Retreat

JAN 24–31 Kalani Oceanside Retreat, Big Island, HI, $1796-2286 Delilah will teach her foundations and her favorite combination moves, impart philosophies and lead impassioned workouts. Beginners, intermediate, professionals, and teachers will study together. A Dancing in Nature morning dance and costume contest (with prizes) and a solo recital night (not mandatory). Dancers of all styles levels, and walks of life are invited.

Eurythmy Training

MAR 6–7 Fair Oaks, CA - Friday 7–9pm, Saturday 9–4, $75–100 Eurythmy and Awakening Spring with Maren Stott and Cynthia Hoven. In eurythmy, word and music become visible through our articulate gestures. Special guest eurythmist Maren Stott from Stourbridge, England, joins Cynthia Hoven for a celebration of spring music and poetry.

An Evening with Deepak Chopra: Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul

APR 14 New York, NY, 7:30pm, $35 The Open Center is delighted to welcome back Deepak Chopra to discuss his newest book. Deepak says each of us in a sense unconsciously “invents” our body, he argues-through beliefs, habits, conditioning, and mental responses to everyday stress. But, he says, through awareness we can also reinvent our body and resurrect our soul; we can reduce the ravages of entropy by using the unlimited capacities of Mind.

Feldenkrais Week with Betsy Ingalls

FEB 7–13 Rancho La Puerta Spa, San Diego, CA The Feldenkrais Method of somatic education is a moving meditation that uses gentle movement and directed attention to enhance your life. Without knowing how it is that you move, you can’t change the habit that is preventing you from attaining ease and comfort. The classes are simple, guided movements that miraculously change the way you feel and sense your body. As you do the movements, you will learn how to trust your body to give you what you need. The Feldenkrais Method promises to “make the


conscious dancer | winter 2008

impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant.”

GaiaDance Technique™ Training Program

MAY 1–3 Sedona, AZ, $250 This workshop teaches participants how to work with bellydance movements blended with yogic philosophies and holistic techniques for bellydancing as a form of moving meditation, embodied prayer and a medium for spiritual path-working, holistic healing and personal empowerment. Learn the dances of Earth, Air, Fire, Water & Spirit as well as techniques for clearing and energizing the chakra system with bellydance.

Joy and Self-Discovery through Latin Dance, The Dashimo™ Technique

FEB 16–20 Kripalu Center, Stockbridge, MA Immerse yourself in empowering and liberating Latin dances, alternative healing methods, self-exploration, and exciting music. Carmen Robles-Herrera introduces her Dashimo™ Technique (which stands for “Dance, A Self-Healing Innate Movement”), using dances from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. www. /

Making Friends with Chaos-TakeTiNa

JAN 9–11 Clear Spring Studio, Austin, TX, $180-235 TaKeTiNa as a musical process takes us into the realm where we use our own bodies as instruments. By clapping, stepping, and singing simultaneously we can activate more than one system of information at the same time, overloading the thinking or rational mind, deliberately setting the stage for ourselves to experience chaos—in a safe and gentle environment. www.

MELT Winter Intensive

JAN 5–23, New York City, $110–750 A series of daily workshops in technique, somatics, contact improvisation, composition and other areas. Taught by 25 of Movement Research’s internationally recognized faculty as well as acclaimed guest artists, these workshops provide an introduction to the range of practices and to the artists who work within Movement Research’s programs.

Novaballet: “Choreo ’09, The 2009 Choreographic Workshop

JAN 9–11 Tempe, NM, 8pm Fri–Sat ; 3pm Sun, $20 Choreographers Emery LeCrone and Robert Dekkers join an ensemble of dancers and new choreographic talent who have the opportunity to invent, challenge and explore in a casually intimate and creative atmosphere. The results are played out in small scale episodes which may refine classical traditions, or redefine what we thought was contemporary movement.

Qigong Retreat—Reach Out Touch the Stars

JAN 22–25 Santa Fe, NM, 9:30am–4:30pm Qigong is moving meditation. For thousands of years, people on this planet have captured the essence of these simple movement exercises to maintain balance and to heal themselves. Cultivate a feeling of deep joy and an expansive connection to the universal flow of chi.

The Reclamation of Self: A Women’s Midlife Retreat

FEB. 5–9 South Whidbey Island, WA, $495 This experiential retreat includes the wisdom of astrological midlife cycles; solo time in nature; creative processes; ceremonial circle; deep imagery journeys; Soulcraft™ practices; a purification sauna; a labyrinth meditation; drumming and dancing. Explore, honor and celebrate this potent life phase.

Re-education of the Body with Barbara Mahler

JAN 15–18 Earthdance Workshop and Retreat Center, MA, $185-285 In this workshop we will break down the deep connections within the pelvis to create a stronger, more facile moving body, whether in dance, sports, or everyday life. These deep connections allow for an ease and freedom that working on the outer muscles cannot facilitate. The workshop is meant to create a dialogue and a challenge as to the definitions of “center,” “core,” and “grounded.”

Shake Your Soul® Teacher Training

JUNE 22–JULY 11 Leven Institute, Lenox, MA Three-week summer intensive with Daniel Leven. Shake Your Soul is a dynamic mind-body-spirit fitness experience that integrates the essence of yoga with the joy of dance. Become a teacher to move your students into their joy, power, sensuality, and freedom.

Loosen Up, Let Go,

Sweat Your Body, Inspire Your Soul!™ with...

Kris Freewoman Drumming CDs, Workshops and Instructor Trainings This Featured DVD includes Tribal Dance Workout, Yoga, Pilates and LIVE DRUMMING with Mamaya

A week of celebrating life: La Vida Semana

FEB 1-8 Todos Santos, Baja Mexico $1299-1700 Explore the foundation of Vinyasa Flow Yoga and the 5Rhythms Dance as they relate to the elements. Expand and awaken hearts through movement and awareness with Jessica Fagan & Lucia Rose Horan.

SALSA DANCE & YOGA Retreats in Oaxaca Mexico

relax rejuvenate dance

performances Capacitor – Urban Canopy

FEB 4-7 TED Conference, Long Beach, CA The interdisciplinary dance company Capacitor will be unveiling Urban Canopy at the 25th annual Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference. TED is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration. Capacitor artists collaborate with members of the scientific community to create mind-expanding, heart-gripping live performance.

Dracul – Prince of Fire

JAN 7–10 & 14–17 Oakland, CA, 8:30pm, $30–160 The Crucible’s fire ballets take performance to an entirely new level by combining pyrotechnics, molten metal, amazing choreography, and a wide variety of urban and professional dancers. The story of the father of Dracula reveals the begi nning of the vampire legend in a way only The Crucible could imagine.

Somatic Arts Concert

Our retreats are created with sustainable and responsible tourism in mind and we donate 2% of net sales to Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots


JAN 30–31 Naropa University, Boulder, CO, 8pm An annual student directed event sponsored by the Somatic Counseling Psychology Department to create a performance out of love for expression, passion for the arts, and a desire for community. This concert is a venue for performance art of all kinds including, but not limited to, dance, poetry reading, music, voice, acrobatics, aerial work, martial arts, drama, story telling, improvisation, circus arts, spoken word and comedy.

Center for Movement Education and Research presents

Alternate Route Training in Dance/ Movement Therapy 18-month professional and comprehensive training program Starts: January 23, 2009

Southern California: Scripps and Pomona Colleges--Claremont

Starts: July 10, 2009

Northern California: Sonoma State University--Rohnert Park To enroll contact: Judy Gantz, CMER Director 310-477-9535

Visit our website for further information and class schedules: Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for MFTs and LCSWs (#3888)

conscious dancer | winter 2008


menu > reviews





Carla Tara takes us on an intimate exploration of Tantric tango as a healing art form, using dance as a metaphor to facilitate balance between our masculine and feminine energies. Based on the chakra system, Tara demonstrates how healing energy moves through the emotional and physical body through dance. With exquisite perception, she describes the process of developing trust and alleviating fear through dancing the tango in partnership and with oneself. The lessons learned in this book make it worth adding to your winter reading list.

harbin hot springs dance





707-987-2477 Conscious Dancer 1/6 pg. Horizonal: 2.333x4.85 contact:


conscious dancer | winter 2008

Kids Get Movin’ is a delightful instructional movement video for children and young adults. This English- and Spanishlanguage DVD introduces kids to the inspiring worlds of hip-hop dance and Hatha yoga. The instructors succeed in illustrating basic dance and yoga movements in an enjoyable way. A great resource for both families and educators, Kids Get Movin’ offers great movement practices for youth. Proceeds from this DVD support the Center For Movement Education Research and their work bringing movement and dance to underserved populations.

natural rhythms by Lisa Michaels

Wijdan – The Mystery of gnawa trance music

Lisa Michaels invites us to reflect on the power of ritual and intention using the metaphors of earth, wind, fire, and water. This practical and sensitive book guides us toward a deeper look into the nature of each element and how one creates a healing relationship with that element. She outlines several rituals for healing and self-awareness that engage in movements or dance that mirror those of the element. In a unique and succinct manner, Michaels encourages us to be creative and engage in our own healing process.

The documentary Wijdan captures the power of ancestral lineage through a remarkable tale of two African musicians. In this video, a compelling stream of music and imagery propels the viewer into the heart of West Africa. The story weaves together two musicians from different ethnic groups and shows how they transmit healing knowledge to their children through the language of Gnawa trance music. This film offers a powerful illustration of the commonality found in world music and dance.



”Festivals are my favorite place to introduce people to ecstatic dance. The crowds are open-minded and totally receptive to being guided on a journey.” Luna Ravenchilde has been leading dance workshops since 2004, when she trained with Kundalini dance creator Leyolah Antara of Australia. Evolutionary music is a foundation of the practice; here are ten of Ravenchilde’s favorite tracks.

Kundalini Mix

artist – track title 1. ANAHATA – The Unmade Sound 2. SHEN YMBOL RANGE – Symbol Range 3. GANGA GIRI – Culture 4. SHAMAN’S DREAM – Aftonaut 5. KAYA PROJECT – Salaam 6. MIDIVAL PUNDITZ – Kesariya 7. RARA AVIS – Massai 8. ADHAM SHAIKH – Opal 9. FREQ – Aisha 10. OTT – The Queen of All Everything

“Through Movement We Find Health”

Danielle Woermann | 510.385.8858 • •

conscious dancer | winter 2008


The Nalukataq is the spring whaling festival of the Inupiaq Eskimos of northern Alaska, and is characterized most famously by the Eskimo blanket toss. After prayers, feasting, singing, and storytelling, traditional dancing is the order of the day, until a last round of prayers concludes the celebration. Here, Lilly Tuzroyluke flies high above the circle at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage


conscious dancer | winter 2008

Photo: Clark James Mishler

closing circle

Texas locations Ecstatic Dance Houston at Planet Funk

5731 Logan Ln, Houston (281)748-8080

Hope Stone

with Leslie Scates 1210 West Clay #26 Houston, Texas (713) 824-1197

MoveStudio - Nia® 17062 Preston Road Dallas, Texas (972) 732-0206

Austin School of Yoga 1122-C S Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas (512) 923-4643

Crazywood Dance Spa 1416 Sam Houston Ave Huntsville, Texas (936) 662-5250




7:20 - 8:20 pm Nia® Move Studio 7:45 - 9:45pm Ecstatic Dance Austin Yoga

tuesday 7:15-9pm


6:10-7:10pm 7:45 - 9:45pm

Dance Fusion Move Studio Ecstatic Dance Austin Yoga

8:30 - 9:50pm

Ecstatic Dance Move Studio


Move Studio

thursday friday

houston dallas austin huntsville

9:45 - 10:45am Nia® Move Studio 7:45 - 9:45pm Ecstatic Dance Austin Yoga


9:45 - 10:45am Nia®

Move Studio


10am - 12pm Ecstatic Dance Austin Yoga 10am - 12pm Ecstatic Dance Houston with SunShine at Planet Funk 2:00 - 3:45pm Ecstatic Dance Move Studio Evening Contact Improvisation Hope Stone (see website for details)

DANCING WITH RUMI: MOVING WITH THE BELOVED at Move Studio January 16-19, 2009 Fri 7:30-9:30pm Sa 12-6pm Su 1-4pm Ellen Watson invites you to find the poet in you, engaging in the ancient spiritual practice of ecstatic dance. DANCEMEDITATION RETREAT with Dunya at Crazywood Dance Spa for Workshops and Retreats March 7-8, 2009 To register visit:

Attendees can look forward to two days of DanceMeditation practices on floated maple floor, vegetarian community meals, camping, steam and soak.

In the heart of dance: eventscommunitymusicandyou! thank you friends of the movement lifestyle

ammathyst brazil Houston domy books Austin & Houston daily juice Austin dancing chef catering

embodyment arts yoga and massage

nia moves studio Houston

pc guru


Thank you Body Choir for your years of dance and service. We look forward to many more. A bow to the upcoming opening of Galaxy Studio in Austin. The honoring of Peggy Kelly and The Austin School of Yoga for many years of holding space for the conscious dance movement to grow.

Best ofconscious wishes to those| winter who follow in dancer 2008 29 the breeze of dancing feet.

Texas moving arts network at

Deep in the heart of


CD Magazine #5  

Contact Improv, Interplay, Poi, Salsa dancing, Aikido, Authentic Movement, Bhangra, and much more.

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