Update, Dec. 13, 2020: Several Austin ecstatic dance facilitators are offering online dances during the pandemic and posting their music on Mixcloud.
I’m only posting online offerings at this time. Be well, and be considerate.
The Tribal Joy Ecstatic Dance Group page on Facebook has announcements with the Zoom links and passcodes for each of these dances. You need to answer a couple of questions to join the group. Then look under Announcements to find the Zoom links — they stay the same every week.
Dancers from anywhere are welcome. All times are U.S. Central time. Please check each facilitator’s policy in regard to payment or donations.
- Tribal Joy meets Sunday mornings from 10-11:45am on Zoom, and each attendee is encouraged to check in afterwards during shareback. Oscar Madera is the founder and facilitator. You can join his email list on the group Facebook page.
- Source in Motion meets on Zoom on Mondays, 6-7:30pm. Lisa DeLand offers this lightly facilitated class. She’s a 5 Rhythms teacher who trained with Gabrielle Roth.
- Ecstatic Soul Sessions meets on Zoom Wednesday evenings from 6:15-8pm. Mia E. Pem is the founder and facilitator.
- Inner Rhythms ecstatic dance is held on Fridays from 7:30-9:30pm. Donna Starnes created this and facilitates.
- Step into Yes!, for women only, meets the first Saturday of every month from 11am to 1pm. An offering from 5 Rhythms teacher Lisa DeLand, Step into Yes! includes a facilitated-by-a- volunteer-dancer creative interlude sandwiched between two 5 Rhythms waves.
The rest of this post was written pre-pandemic when we danced together in person. It’s a different experience on Zoom, for sure. Instead of gathering together, we invite others to meet us in our living rooms, kitchens, yards, trailers — wherever we can dance.
Dancing on Zoom has grown on me, especially the shareback after the dance when we can hear from each person and ourselves be seen and heard. I don’t watch the screen that much during the dance. Too busy dancing! Some people turn their camera off for the dance and on for the shareback.
The attentiveness people give to one another in shareback during this pandemic is levels beyond what it was before, I’m guessing due to the constraints of social distancing and mask-wearing and the uncertainty of the times. We find connection here, in the Austin dance community, with those who are dialing in from around the country and the world.
I’ve been doing ecstatic dance since 1995, mostly in Austin. It’s brought me many gifts: a community of friends, playfulness, release, sweat, connection, deeper embodiment, awareness of my body/energy/others/the space, a place to experiment with movement and energy, and the natural high that comes after dancing for an hour or two.
The availability of ecstatic dance in Austin has vastly increased over the years. The community evolves. I list current opportunities here and will update this blog post with changes when they occur.
At all of these dances, we dance barefoot in clothes we can move and sweat in. A facilitator puts together a program of danceable recorded music — sometimes there’s live music. The music usually takes the form of a wave that follows the 5 Rhythms wave sequence (flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness) of the late Gabrielle Roth (shown above), the mother of modern ecstatic dance. A wave starts slowly, builds to a crescendo, and descends into stillness — a manifestation of the idea that each dance is a journey into yourself traversing different interior terrains.
The dance space is nonverbal — we take conversations outside the space.
Boundaries are important. Not everyone wants to dance with a partner all the time or even to be touched. We read and use body language to say yes or no, and we don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to dance with us. People dance alone, with partners (many or a few), or with groups of people.
The safety of all is important too. Some dances allow contact improv or acro-yoga (usually on the edges of the space) and others don’t. Some allow children and others don’t.
Some facilitators offer a theme for the dance after a warmup. Some may offer a guided warmup, and others provide guidelines for newcomers.
All ages are welcome at most of these dances. I’ve danced with people that are nearing 80 and with babies in Snuglis on a parent’s chest. If you are considering bringing children, it’s probably a good idea to connect with the facilitator first. If you bring them, you will need to make sure they and the other dancers stay safe.
Also, most facilitators make earplugs or headphones available for those sensitive to loud music, and you can always bring your own.
At the end there’s a closing circle, where OMs or a silent meditation may happen, people share their first names, and there may be some shareback about the experience and/or announcements from dancers, or not.