"The complexity and subtlety of this inner world is vast, infinite and ultimately wordless." -- Vajra Ma
My first contact with the “Dance” was a talent show of sorts with a small gathering of friends in 2004.
I witnessed four women moving in a way I had never seen before. Evocative, rhythmic music filled the space... but they were not dancing to the music. Their movements were subterranean, extremely slow, serpentine and fluid. Delicately each woman, with sinuous spines and unique in her expression, explored the space with exquisite awareness. Then, in unison, they walked toward the audience in that very, very slow manner like four willows in the wind. The effect was visceral. My spine came alive and my heartbeat quickened. Energy moved up into my throat and tears spilled down my face as this wave of feminine grace and power wafted through me.
Though new to me, something ancient and familiar stirred. I was captured by Beauty. In that moment I knew in my body and soul that I was called to dive into this mysterious Dance.
I chose to call it the "Deep Feminine" because in my experience of the practice, that the well of wisdom and beauty that springs forth from within is bottomless.
If you are a Nia student or Nia teacher you may have heard me say that Nia and the Dance of the Deep Feminine go hand in glove. They are stand-alone movement modalities and they complement one another greatly. Here a few of the ways:
1) Nia and the Dance are both based on the pleasure principle. We learn through pleasure instead of pain and crisis, always tweaking to move towards what feels good in our body.
2) In Nia we talk about being Sensation Scientists where through giving our attention to sensation in the body we begin to develop body literacy. Sensation is the language of the Body. It is a continuous exploration and an awareness that develops with practice over time. This is also Principle #5 of the White Belt: Awareness.
3)The heart and soul of Nia is The Joy of Movement and this holds true for the Dance as well.
4) In the Dance you will recognize a couple of the principles from The Body's Way, namely #4: the body demands simultaneous mobility and stability. And #5: the body itself reveals the body's way.
5)Slowing down in order to move to heal.
6) Moving the core of the body: pelvis, chest and head with an emphasis on the spine and intrinsic movement.
7) Exploring the 3 M's: Music, Movement and Magic. And for the Dance I will add a fourth: Mystery!
How Ann Came to the Dance
My experience of witnessing the Dance as part of a performance is, I think, not typical. Generally one attends a workshop, class or private session with an experienced Tantric dance teacher. I began my journey of private sessions and classes with my teacher/mentor Karin Pedersen in Ashland, Oregon, and also occasional workshops with Vajra Ma in Grants Pass Oregon. There were a lot of road trips to southern Oregon in those early years of my study. After sponsoring Karin to come to Seattle several times for workshops on the Dance of the Deep Feminine it was time to start facilitating classes of my own.
So, what is this Dance? Originating in Tantric traditions, the Dance is a sensual moving meditation that taps into the womb-sourced portal to explore our deepest feminine essence.
In the words of Vajra Ma, "No dance experience is necessary. Every woman embodies this power and wisdom; she only needs to feel herself deeply enough."
As women, we hold a universal truth that cannot be understood through the mind. To embody your feminine wisdom it must be awakened through your womb as a second "brain". Tapping into the mysterious fluid rhythms of your unique feminine essence, this movement allows for an effortless flow of energy leaving one feeling more sensuous and alive. Pleasure is the portal.
In my years of studying and teaching the Dance the gifts have been many. It along with Nia has brought me home to my body, integrating inner beauty with outer beauty. There is the joy of knowing at a cellular level that beauty is not about shape. In witnessing, in myself and others, the healing that comes from slowing down.
Our nervous system requires this in order to heal from trauma. I have seen many women deepen their healing from physical and sexual abuse and the emotional injury that comes with that. It might be reclaiming the womb space after a hysterectomy or coming back into health after debilitating depression or chronic fatigue.
There is great healing and power that comes from women gathering together in a safe sanctuary, to give and receive positive messages, to witness and be witnessed in the Dance of the Deep Feminine.
Another gift has been experiencing the holding of opposites. From the beginning of my journey and exploration of the Dance I have experienced simultaneous familiarity and something unfamiliar and surprising. Sensation arising that is new and ancient. The tension between form and freedom. Simultaneous stability and mobility. Feeling vulnerable and powerful. It is not a matter of "either/ or." It is both.
There are more parallels and intersections of Nia and the Dance of the Deep Feminine but this gives you an idea as to how very compatible and complimentary they are to one another.
In describing what a Nia class is like we often say it's like attempting to describe the taste of dark chocolate, or trying to describe the color red. In other words, you really need to let your body have the experience. The same holds true for the Dance of the Deep Feminine.
My hope is that this will give a little form to the formless, a few words to help create a better sense of what you can expect if you decide to join me this coming Saturday, April 28th from 6:00 to 9:30 pm. Like Nia, the Dance of the Deep Feminine is for me a love based path.
Yes, the Dance is transformative and healing and let me assure you -- it is also full of sensuous delight, pleasure and empowerment!
Ann and I been exploring the routine Feeling over the past four or five weeks, a brilliant movement experience that focuses upon the Three Body Weights: the pelvis, the chest and the head. The student feedback we've gotten on Feeling has been wonderful, and I can sense that my body has been profoundly affected by its extraordinary chemistry.
Whenever a routine hits me like this, the curious researcher in me -- the Sensation Scientist -- yearns to to explore why that is. So I dove into studies about the mind-body-emotion-spirit connection as they pertain to these areas of the anatomy.
This, in turn, resulted in a Sunday Sacred Athlete class where we moved with the "spirit" energy of each body part: drawing upon the energies of the head (guidance, intuition, vision), the chest (the energy exchanger, the engine of the heart space) and most powerfully, the pelvis.
One of my favorite terms that I discovered in my research about the pelvis is that Taoists refer to it as the Cauldron of Desire. It is our body's refinery and generator of, and a central storage space for, creative energy. The importance of nurturing and tapping into this energy cannot be underestimated. And I only know a tiny amount about it.
Black Belt Nia instructor Susan Tate knows far more than I do. That's why we're so excited that she' s chosen Move2Center to host a four-hour mini-retreat on Sunday, May 20, that's all about the pelvis.
One might think of her workshop, Igniting the Power of the Pelvis and Maintaining the Flame, as an ownership manual for this all-important body part. But its value extends beyond that simple description.
In amplifying the power of the pelvis, she writes on her blog, we can make "choices to create a wildly healthy relationship with sex, money, and power is only one option of caring for your body, mind, spirit, & emotions. You are advised to listen to your intuition to see what other joyful activities can be added to your life."
Full disclosure: the workshop comes with side effects. Some she lists include "frequent bouts of choosing love over fear," "a refusal to engage in self-rejection or self-sabotaging behaviors," "un-bonding from past wounds" and "a release of anger, guilt, & fear." And those are just a few! Check out the full list by reading her wonderful blog post about the workshop. And by the way, if you've taken this workshop with Susan before, be aware that this is an expanded and upgraded experience with new information, including a full Nia class with choreography designed to seal the experience.
Igniting the Power of the Pelvis and Maintaining the Flame takes place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 20. Register before May 19 to save $10 off the $75 day-of fee by clicking here.
Where our instructors share information and observations about what's going on at Move2Center Studio!