Leela-francisVividly Woman Mexico Retreat
A dimly lit empty room or large event tent. There is little in the space except a sound system, perhaps cushions, yoga mats, or folded chairs. A deserted beach or grassy meadow. Again no clutter, just pelicans or ravens flying about, waves crashing and insects scurrying. These are the stage sets and props that I find when I arrive to teach.
There’s not much going on here now but soon the setting will be profoundly altered by the arrival of the dancers. And once we begin our moving ritual, the present peace will be transformed to a cacophony of motion, music (sourced electronically or donated by nature) and a pulsing, breathing tapestry woven of lives, love, emotional inquiry, and passionate expression.
Why do I love to teach? Why do I love the shape shifting of reality that I described above?
There is something in this act of co-creativity that gives rich and lasting meaning to my life. When individuals, seemingly unrelated come together to creatively weave their temporary destinies through movement that is explorative and expressive, my life meaning is aroused, ignited, inspired. Giving freedom to our deepest held psyche/somatic secrets that would otherwise cause shame, limit realized potential, and generate suffering, is something I cannot not do.
Having facilitated dance and movement for thousands of people over the last 20 years, I have ample experience witnessing what can happen even in the space of under an hour giving ourselves and our bodies permission to move and be moved.
I often say that my journey in dance evolved from intensive “training” to what I was blessed to come to know as “dancing” later in my life.
For me as a child, dance was my preferred creative and athletic hobby. I trained rigorously as a rhythmic gymnast, performing and competing regularly as part of my daily life. I worked hard and eventually found that this stressful environment in which I was spending so much of my time was not in the least fun and joyful enough. It just didn’t feel like what a kid’s life should be. So I quit training in my early teens.
When I was 16, my father suffered a massive heart attack while dancing at my cousin’s wedding. He died within the hour. In my grief, I shut down emotionally inside and around my broken heart, retreating inward, unable to express or share my grief verbally with my family. Dance was where I naturally turned to process my grief. This was not by any means a conscious choice. It just so happened that since I was 16, and all my friends were having sweet 16 birthday parties, I literally had every weekend to go out and dance. And that’s what I did. I would dance and dance and dance. Every weekend I would dance my heart open. I would dance to a place so deep that I actually touched the place within me where my father still lived. The place where now I know he will always live. For the simple and blessed reason that love never dies.
My healing journey gave me access to a dance that issued from a place inside me that was aching to dance. And that dance just never stopped. I was blessed to be gifted with dance as a path for processing grief. And, I discovered that dance also allowed me a way to be seen in my joy, an important facet of growing in my potential for greater intimacy with myself and others.
What I understand now, is that while the body is birthed only once, the heart is birthed over and over in a lifetime. Like a butterfly’s wings that open and close for it to fly, so too must the heart open and close. It is this birthing and re-birthing of the heart that is why I teach. I can taste the longing within me for every being to have their heart freed from within the prison walls that life experience can so unconsciously impose. It is such a gift that we have the emotionally, mentally, and spiritually therapeutic inquiry and expression that dance so marvelously is.
As a dance facilitator, I am a vehicle for love, wisdom, compassion, and full-out free expression to be modeled to encourage and inspire sustained energetic expansion. My teaching style is not so much instructional as it is shared. While some of what constitutes the dance modalities I facilitate is choreographed, I see those moves as energetic vibrations that are channeled from transpersonal and primordial intelligence, given life and healing potential through their unique embodiment by each dancer.
The movement forms that I create and hold space for that are free and un-structured, are about dancing with, dancing for, and dancing beyond the chains that bind us as prisoners in our own self-imposed suffering. Discovering, divining, and allowing our own shapes and synthesis to dance though us in the container of a safe community is a major dimension of my work as a facilitator, and it’s an honor to be trusted to create that space.
I often facilitate events that are for women only. These dancing events are for women to grow and expand as embodied leaders where I teach dance to assist them in reclaiming the healing art and empowered expression that dance is as their own. So many women have forsaken their aliveness and authentic expression. Not dancing is both a symptom and a cause of this unfortunate condition that I can so vividly relate to.
Ultimately I teach because I can’t not. I teach because I have been chosen to. I teach because through teaching, I learn, heal, and evolve myself. www.VividlyWoman.com