Lately, I’ve been doing some exploration with ecstatic dance as an avenue to awareness and connection.
Ecstatic dance is free form style dancing that is focused on being present and aware of your current energy in order to release any ‘stuck’ patterns. It is a union of mind, body, and spirit that allows you to connect with yourself as well as with others, if you so choose. It is playful, sweaty, and can be an intense experience.
Depending on the venue and the community, you won’t only find people dancing, but you’ll also find them on the sidelines doing yoga, meditating, or simply connecting. There are two main guidelines in ecstatic dancing:
1.) There is no talking on the dance floor
2.) Respect another dancer’s space
Both of these guidelines is what makes ecstatic dancing, well, so ecstatic.
It gives you the freedom to move without being concerned about gracefulness or of someone entering your space uninvited. It’s been taking me a while to center with my body and enter a flow on the dance floor, so I have mostly been working on a connection with myself. But, after doing so much work surrounding connection and openness as of late, I’ve entered a state of readiness to receive others and to play.
In my most recent experience with ecstatic dance, there was a beautiful man with an incredible energy, an energy that synced with mine. As he approached me and made eye contact, an invitation to play in an arena where words are nonexistent, I experienced a desire to connect, but without touch. And, it was amazing to me how quickly he understood that, without words. How through the constant three hours of dancing we weaved in and out of each other’s space and presence…circling each other, sharing movement, respecting boundaries, facilitating each other’s freedom, exchanging smiles and energies, connecting.
His torso dripping sweat, my hair drenched, purely dancing with complete awareness and present of our own selves – this playful energy began to inspire an even greater openness in me. By the end of the night, there was a complete euphoria. I realized that both my connection with myself and my connection with him, this amazing stranger, had unexpectedly opened doors for me.
I stepped off the dance floor for a water break, where talking is allowed, but still without any words, we hugged. And hugged. And hugged. That moment was dedicated to a complete appreciation for each other and for simply being. Me for being me. And him for being him. It was ecstatic.
Because that connection opened me up even more, when another kind man approached me during my water break and asked me if I wanted to experience body contact dancing, I was receptive. Body contact dancing requires that dancers remain touching- with every move you make, every turn you take, you remain in contact with your partner. The closeness can be incredibly intimate and it requires a certain amount of comfort and safety level, especially with lifts. You must feel comfortable with yourself and be in a place where you want to let people in.
The connection experienced through body contact dancing allowed me to further delve into an awareness of myself and where I was at, while simultaneously trusting my connection with this stranger and his ability to show up for me and my ability to show up for him. This was further ecstasy. And at the end of the night, we (you guessed it) hugged. And hugged. And hugged.
Again, there was a complete appreciation for each other and our abilities to see each other, trust, and connect.
Discovering how movement can be an avenue to awareness and vulnerability has been enlightening after being so wrapped up in storytelling and words as an avenue to connection.
The bay area is doing such a great job in creating and facilitating spaces for people to interact with one another in person, to share, to play, to connect – it gives me hope that society is recognizing the value of connecting face to face rather than just texting, facebooking, etc.
What avenues have helped you connect with yourself and others?
A taste of ecstatic dancing:
A taste of body contact dancing:
An explanation on contact improv: