Ecstatic dance in Austin, Texas

I’ve been doing ecstatic dance since 1995. It’s brought me many gifts: a community of friends, inspiration, playfulness, release, deeper embodiment, awareness of my body/others/the space, a place to experiment with movement and energy, sweetness, connection, and the natural high that comes after dancing for an hour or two.

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The availability of ED in Austin has increased over the years, and the community is always evolving. I want to list current opportunities here and 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. These dances take the form of a musical wave that at least somewhat follows the 5 Rhythms (flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness) of the late Gabrielle Roth, a manifestation of the idea that each dance is a journey into yourself through different terrains.

The dance space itself is nonverbal — we take our 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. They may be more into self-expression or processing something at that moment. Some of us use movement to get right with God.

The safety of all is important too. Some allow contact improv or acro-yoga (usually on the edges of the space) and others don’t.

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Courtesy: The New Yorker

Some facilitators offer a theme for the dance after a warmup. Some may offer a guided warmup, while 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 their parent’s chest at some dances; at others, only adults show up. If you are considering bringing children, it’s probably a good idea to ask 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 available for those sensitive to loud music— and you can always bring your own.

At the end there’s always closing circle, where OMs or a silent meditation may happen, people give their first names, and there may be some shareback about the experience and announcements from dancers. People may hang out a bit afterwards to schmooze.

All of the founders and facilitators listed below are on Facebook, and some of the dances have their own Facebook page or website. Continue reading

Your body language influences your experience

In yoga, we learn that forward bends are calming (think fetal position, child’s pose), while backbends are stimulating. In a yoga class, after backbends, students usually start chattering!

Imagine holding your body upright in a relaxed manner, with the weight appropriately divided between front and back. Let your shoulders surrender to gravity. Imagine doing this with ease and breathing freely.

This is such a simple point that it’s easy to overlook how easy, and powerful, a tool this is to keep in mind. When you’re depressed, make an effort to sit up, and relax. When you’re excited, make an effort to breathe.

Buddhism: 50% of your State of Mind is dependent on your Posture. | elephant journal

For more on how body language influences experience, here’s a TED Talk on the subject. Amy Cuddy is a researcher at the Harvard Business School who shares some fascinating findings and her own story.

I particularly like “fake it ’til you become it” and “tiny tweaks —> BIG CHANGES.

Plus, two minutes. That’s all. Two minutes is all it takes to change your state.