Since the earliest records of our existence, we have found evidence that human beings have engaged in some expression of dance. For example, vivid drawings of dancers have been found in cave paintings in Spain and France illustrating the prominence of dance in early human society. Even in the early churches of Europe, Christian worship included dance. Surprisingly enough, there were other times in western history when dancing was actually outlawed and banned, which was certainly tragic when you realize that dance is as natural to human beings as when, running or skipping.
Dance, in it's purest most authentic expression, is spontaneous, revitalizing and joyous by nature - linking emotion with motion and bridging the border between body and mind. Although dance encompasses a wide variety of styles, with some forms requiring long-term dedication and discipline, the common denominator of all dance is simply body in movement.
Dancers at the turn of the 20th century, rebelled against the frigid formality of classical academic ballet and the triteness of show dancing. Freshly inspired by a new awareness of what dance could be when not bound by structure, they both shocked and delighted audiences with their improvised movements.
Isadora Duncan, the legendary diva of Modern Dance, was the first American dancer whose teachings and performances helped to raise interpretive dance to the status of creative art. Duncan along with dance pioneers, Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman aimed to free up dancers from conservative restrictions, and help them rediscover their own rhythm and creative core.
Wearing only a simple tunic like the Greek vase figures, Duncan weaved and whirled in flowing natural movements that radiated, she said, from her solar plexus. She believed wholeheartedly that music was the motivating force behind her 'free dancing' style and the key to awakening the dancer's response. It is understood that even though Duncan established schools and had many imitators, her improvisational technique was so unique, that it was too personalized to be carried on by direct successors. However, the spirit of Duncan's innovative and courageous development of expressive dance has been shared by all subsequent modem dancers, who in turn have followed her path of freedom, flow and spontaneity. At the very least Duncan was the backbone of many styles of modem dance practices both past and present. And for me, she was the historic savior whose legendary passion for the creative expression of dance opened my path to experiencing movement in a whole different way.
Even in my youth, my ballet teacher recognized that I was a dance rebel. No matter how hard she tried to get me to conform to a disciplined structure, it was evident that I had a dancer within that desired more freedom.
If that dancer within had been restricted to toe shoes and classical ballet, she may never had discovered the root of her own rhythm and unleashed her own personal dance. Instead she may have drifted away from dance, believing it was not 'her thing'. Or worse yet, considered it an activity that is out of reach for all but a few. And yet, dance - a reminder of the pleasure of movement - is something we can all do. It's disheartening to know that the average person Is deprived of something as healing and magical as dance, because they see themselves as not graceful enough, not the right body type or too old. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you can walk, stretch, bend or twist, you can dance. An ne can be graceful all shapes es and sizes of bodies are good, everyone is creative and no one is too old to dance. When I hear someone say, "I wish I could dance." I say, wish no more, you can! And this is why.
The basic key to the quality of any form of creative dance movement is in the exploration of how the body is able to express itself when it is given the choice to move -Without bound feet or any other limitations. It is has been my experience that dance is body language personified and improvisational dance - the freest form of dance - exemplifies how we feel at any given time. When we utilize music as the activator, allowing our bodies the freedom of exploring our own personal dance, we begin to feel the sensation in our muscles traveling throughout our entire nervous system - involving the whole person - body, emotions and mind. When we dance with wild abandonment, anything we do is authentic and real, and it becomes a beautiful expression of who we are.
In Modem Dance, we are taught that the dancer should appear spontaneous, not mechanical and the all important music is essentially the inspiration that sparks fresh action.
Improvisation is the freest form of dance - as it opens the doors of dance activity to everyone. At the same time, it challenges even the most advanced dancer when it calls for maximum skill in the spontaneous creation of satisfying movement forms. It is not a preparation for some dance which will be performed in the future, for what is important is that it is a satisfying dance now.
A movement journey supported by music can bring us closer to feeling our bodies as a vehicle of light and energy. If we think of dance as a way to circulate our life supporting fluids, stretch and tone our muscles and strengthen our bodies, it can become a source of fitness/healing as an extra added benefit. Whether, we use dance as a way to connect to our spirit, participate in a group, or benefit our health, it is an enriching experience.
Through my involvement with dance, as both a professional and a student, there has been an effort to find a way to help others express their own unique dance form. As I began observing other dancers, I was aware o t of how they unique, ways to communicate through movement. I also realized that to enjoy the benefits of dance, we need not take our bodies past its range of physical limitations, nor do we need to follow a choreographed routine. All we really need is a, love of movement, dance and self expression.
My love of dance and my enjoyment of watching others experience the shear pleasure of finding their own magical dancer within, eventually inspired me to create my own method of teaching dance movement. It was during this time that I birthed "Forgotten Rhythms Dance Play" and began teaching my' method to a group of my women friends. Meeting once a week, we explored movement through the universal language of world music and dance play. I can not speak entirely for my students, but from my perspective, as the teacher/observer and enthusiastic participator, it has been a journey of self discovery and a celebration of inner freedom, self expression and spirit freeing movement. Dedicated to awakening our inner dancer and connecting to a rhythm that both units us and separates us, we collectively found a variety of experiential techniques. Our approach was always to stimulate and cultivate free expression and movement, both through the exercises and improvisation. What I aimed to accomplish was an atmosphere of spontaneity, coupled with a series of constantly changing body moves that were easily duplicated, but definitely not expected. What I hoped to do was release the familiar, and let in the unpredictable.
What ultimately emerged in those two years of co-creating together in "Dance Play" was the core groundwork for Forgotten Rhythms. This experience allowed me to incorporate all that I learned from my students, while I continued to sharpen and refine the deliverance of my technical knowledge. What I realized is that small amounts of structure, involving simple techniques used in dance, enables participants to mirror moves that their body did not realize they were comfortable doing. Once comfortable with a simple dance movement, it gave them the confidence to explore other avenues of movement.
Some of the methods of teaching dance movement have been inspired by Gabrielle Roth's "5 Rhtyhms", NIA's freedance and floorplay, Emily Day's "Dancing Colors" trance dance, authentic movement, and the forever colorful ethnic dances. The commonality lies in the fact that they are all capable of giving birth to one another and what remains is that a dance or a movement grows out of itself like any other life form. It does not necessarily matter what method you use, because dance by its very nature is never boring. What is important is that you share a safe place to explore authentic, liberating and insightful. And what should occur is that you feel deeply relaxed, while energized, stretched, strengthened, refocused, peaceful and centered.
Michele Mokri wears many hats, and she is passionate about all of then For starters, she writes, teaches dance, and has an astrology practice. There is more, but if you want to know what it is, you better ask her. (509) 489-5465 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
918 S. Cedar
(Studio in back of house)
6 weeks $48
no dance experience necessary
Tuesday 6 to 7:30