About trajwani

Lover of words, cultures, art, magic moments, children, soulful endeavours, dance, and music, music, music.

How Salsa Got Me In Touch With The Wood Element of Chinese Medicine and the Root Chakra

Photo by Daniel Watson on Pexels.com

Dance moves energy within and around us, with the potential to make space for healing and happiness.

I’ve been learning a lot about different energy systems and the important role they have in our overall healthy and happiness. I have realized how various dances really bring out aspects of these systems because dance itself is energy in motion. It moves energy within and around us, allowing us to make space for healing to happen.

I’ve decided to write a series of articles dedicated to particular dances I’ve experienced and which energy systems they highlight for me and reconnect me to.

This one is about Salsa.

The Root Chakra

Salsa was the first dance I really invested time and energy into. From taking group and private lessons, attending workshops and festivals, learning from international instructors, and going out social dancing on real dance floors, it became a regular part of my life. It was also the first dance where I experienced what it felt like to become part of a dance community.

Because of this I associated salsa with a sense of belonging and the building of a strong foundation.

Salsa was where I first learned about connection, timing, and lead-follow techniques like moving from the core, or prepping a turn, or knowing where your weight is.

Through this dance, I became aware that I even had weight. I was fascinated by how I could feel a great deal ‘lighter’ or ‘heavier’ depending on how I held myself. Was I pushing down on my partner too much, or were my arms noodle like and disconnected from my body? Was I accurately matching the pressure or connection that my partner was giving? And was I engaging the appropriate parts of my body to feel these changes? I never asked myself these question before, but once salsa had me looking into them more, I couldn’t go back. It became something I could take notice of and change whenever I wanted.

Continue reading

Interview With Rod McRae- Nothing Can Stop This Man From Dancing

Rod McRae and Melissa “Birdie Bird” Patterson- Hallowe’en Party

How long have you been dancing?

My first reaction is to be a little circumspect regarding my age. However, one look in the mirror decided my answer: 70 years on and off.

Wow! That’s amazing. I hope I get to say taht one day! I say flaunt it, rather than hide it.

You started dancing at an early age in public school, right? How did that come about?

Well, I am from Saskatchewan. And physical exercise in a Saskatchewan winter wasn’t easily done. Plus, the little three-room school I attended did not have any such thing as a gymnasium. So, a few desks were pushed back and our teacher, Miss Broadfoot, began teaching us the basic dances of the time: Foxtrot, Two-step, Polka, Waltz, Schottische, and some Square Dance.

I am so jealous! Maybe I would have actually liked P.E in school if I had had that kind of class and teacher.  

Well, the community where I was in Saskatchewan was so small it didn’t qualify as a town or village, but as a hamlet. And the community dances drew from the farms in the district.

That’s such a great reminder- how the community we are around influences the kinds of cultural and artistic activities we are exposed to.  

I’m curious if there was any stigma around dancing as a boy at that time.

Well, when these dances occurred, mostly during warmer weather, my ability to do a bit of dancing stood me in good stead, as many of the men usually visited together outside having a drink, leaving their wives/daughters/girlfriends in the townhall for me to dance with.

Haha. They had no idea what they were missing. And how perfect for you!

Continue reading

Tango Taught Me Not To Cheat My Steps, In Dance, Love and in Life!

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

When I turned to tango, I thought it was an escape, from the embarrassment and hurt I felt over being betrayed in a relationship in the salsa scene. I thought that everyone knew what was going on for those couple of years except for me. And when I found out about it, I just wanted to run away from the salsa regulars- those faces that I imagined were either pitying me for being so gullible, or maybe even laughing thinking. “He’s a salsa instructor, for God’s sake! What did you expect?”

I knew I still wanted to dance, but everytime I would go to those same venues, he would be there, eyeing down his next prey. I was disgusted because now I could totally see him for what he really was, and how I had been so blind to it. As much as I tried to ignore it, and put it behind me, I could feel him around. And I knew he was very aware of exactly where I was.

I couldn’t shake the bad energy from it. My body would actually literally be shaking with anger whenever I would go out on the dance floor. It hadn’t forgotten about the mess, eventhough I was trying to will my mind to. How ironic that the muscle memory for salsa dancing had finally been ingrained into my system. But unfortunately, along with that were now these negative associations with the venues where that learning had happened. The spaces that brought me so much joy felt tainted with the lies that were uncovered, so I couldn’t get myself to enjoy dancing in those surroundings.

Where could I still dance and actually have fun with it again?

That’s when Tango came to me- literally. At the time, I thought I chose it. I thought I came up with the idea of trying another dance. But it would take me some time to realize tango had actually chosen me. It had lessons to teach me that I didn’t even know I needed to learn, and at exactly the time when I was ready to learn them.

Continue reading

Age Doesn’t Bring Us Down, It Brings Us Deep. And Dance is the Elixir!

My birthday weekend just passed, and I feel younger and more alive than I did in my twenties. “What’s your secret?” I’ve been asked many times, especially over the past few days.

I have three ‘easy’ answers.

1. My beautiful mom who taught me to walk this earth with simplicity, courage, and authenticity. That kind of beauty radiates from the inside out, and no one can diminish its brightness. Age can actually brighten it.

2. Dancing. Someone reminded me today that it’s not just the physical act of dancing- although that is a huge part of it.

But it’s also how much dance taught me, and continues to teach me, about myself- my body, my intuition, my spirit, my connection to all that’s around me, and how to tap into my greatness and life force energy.

That energy is electric, making Dancing a fountain of youth for our minds, bodies and spirits.

I am so blessed to have it and my mom’s spirit making me better and brighter with age, not dulled or diminished.

and

3. Recognizing that we have been conditioned to believe that aging brings us down and deteriorates us.

Age doesn’t bring us down, it brings us deep. It gives us dimension, character, grace, and wisdom. It is up to us- how we choose to use that and perceive it.

And what you believe, you will see and achieve. So choose your beliefs wisely. Ignore the ones that don’t serve you in reaching your highest potential.

Dance, Dream, and Desire at any age. Don’t let anyone – not even a silly number or wrinkles- stop you. They are just character lines. Proof that you have laughed and loved, expressed and indulged.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to indulge more and more each year, unapologetically. I am actually pretty proud of this self-indulgent girl.

She has finally learned how to give to herself. Dance has helped me see my worth. My much needed presence and energy in this world.

You are much needed here as well. Let’s own it. And celebrate this life, each year, instead of fearing it.

#DanceMeFree#LailasDaughter#TasleemLaila#BirthdayBeauty#Blessed#MySecret#DanceKeepsUsYoung

If I Had My Life to Live Over- Julia Maria Riehle’s Kitchen Dance Version

Poet-Julia Maria Riehle- Stuttgart, Germany

If I had my life to live over I would allow myself to be loved. To feel someone’s heartbeat at night and have crazy kitchen dances in the morning.

If I had my life to live over I would sing songs out loudly and dance through the streets. I would roll down the windows and scream out the lyrics.

I would go up on stage and bring on the karaoke show. Who cares how I’d be singing because at least I’d be brave in my living!

If I had my life to live over I would be less cautious. I would just go for it, just do it. I would worry less, knowing that no matter what happens, it would be worse not to have tried at all.

If I had my life to live over I would read more books. I would read more poems, maybe even share my own. And I would pick more daisies for my flower crown.

If I had my life to live over. ~by Julia Maria Riehle

(inspired by the orignal by Nadine Stair)

Every year, instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, I write an “If I Had My Life to Live Over” poem, inspired by the original by Nadine Stair. This year, I am so thrilled to be able to share Julia’s instead!

From what I have read, the orignal by Nadine Stair was written years ago when Nadine was in her mid 80’s. Although it is beautiful and touching, it made me quite sad as it lays out her regrets of not living life as fully, courageously, and as daringly as she would have liked.

I decided I didn’t want to have such regrets, so I grabbed a pen and paper, and used that line If I Had My Life to Live Over repeatedly on the page to find out what my soul was yearning for. What did I still want to do but was scared of? What was I aching to try but wasn’t sure how or whether I was capable? Instead of it being a sorrowful list of what I hadn’t accomplished, what came out of it was an uncovering of my deepest dreams and desires.

That actually became the catalyst to making those wishes come true for that year. It became a map for how I was going to show up in my life. The funny thing is that I didn’t even have to try. It was like the mere act of writing down my version of the poem allowed the Universe to hear it, and know I meant it and was ready. And I was amazed at how it brought me the exact opportunities and people to fulfill the dreams. All I had to do was let it.

I have been doing this for over ten years now, also inviting others to do the same. And I was so excited when this year, one of my Youtube subscribers who lives all the way out in Stuttgart, Germany decided to try the exercise, and shared her poem! She was so brave and vulnerable in her words, and I loved her reference to dance and expression in it. I knew it was perfect for the blog. And I couldn’t help to share it here.

Thank you, Julia, for such an inspiring piece. You’re right- how amazing it is that Nadine Stair’s poem, written so many years ago, connected us. And now, even though I haven’t even met you in person, you have already inspired me so much.

More proof of the power of the arts- the power or expression and connection- which is exactly what Dance Me Free is about.

To see the original poem by Nadine Stair, click here: If I Had My Life to Live Over by Nadine Stair

To see the original Youtube video where I share about this exercise and how to write your own If I Had My Life to Live Poem, click here: Forget Resolutions. Do This Instead

How Dance Revealed to Me My Own Infidelity

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

After taking dance classes for awhile, although I was enjoying them, I felt like I was missing something. How were others getting to such high levels in such short periods of time? Some were joining performance teams or even becoming instructors, while I was still piling up class after class, month after month, and not feeling like I had a lot to show for it. Sometimes, I felt more like I was falling behind than getting ahead.

What was the secret?

I decided to just ask. I approached some of the girls who I was envious of on the dance floor. I asked where they learned or what they did to improve. I wanted to find out who they had taken lessons from and what kinds of practise they would recommend. I guess you could say I was searching for the ‘magic formula.’

But it seemed there was none. Nada. In fact, their responses disheartened instead of encouraged me: “Oh, I just took a few lessons, and then figured it out for myself,” said one girl who looked like a rockstar on the dance floor. Or “I never took lessons, I just picked it up going social dancing.” I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide after that one. And then the final doozy was, “Girl, I’m a natural. It’s in my blood being Latina and all. You either got it or you don’t.”

I guess that meant I didn’t, I concluded.

I should have given up at that point. I mean, all the time and money I had already put into this, maybe I should just pack it in instead of wasting more. But I couldn’t bring myself to stop, to stop wanting it, to stop thinking about it, and to stop going out to the salsa clubs that brought me so much joy. Even though I was getting frustrated with my own dancing, when I would hear the music, and watch all the bodies on the dance floor interpreting it in their own unique ways, moving body parts that I didn’t even know could be moved, I felt so alive.

I wanted more of it. But I wanted to be IN it more, to be a part of it. To be one of them. Not just an observer, but to feel what they were feeling. To be one of the ones that outsiders like me were oohing and ahhing over. To be the one who inspired others to want to dance too. But how?

Despite not knowing the answer, I would still show up and put on my sparkly salsa heels, … just in case…

Continue reading

How Dance Connects Us to Our Intuition

Photo by Andrew on Pexels.com

I should actually rephrase this title and call it, “Dance Can RE-Connect Us to Our Intuition,” because I believe we are all intuitive beings. We came here with the power of intuition to help guide us through this journey and beyond. I think we just forgot, or it was scared or ‘sensed’ out of us. As in, the voices that said, “Be more sensible, more practical, if you want to survive in this world.”

As children, we were encouraged to dream and discover and imagine and create. That was intuition at its best. No conditioning of what was right or wrong, no fear or prejudice against others, no questioning our natural ability to play and suss out what felt good for us. We intuitively knew we had intuition on our side and we didn’t have to second guess ourselves!

But as we grew up, other people’s opinions made their way into our heads, often well meaning people telling us what we should do, how we should be, and to BE CAREFUL. They themselves had been conditioned by caring individuals who were caught in this fear and trepidation trap as well. They were pushed to not rely on their gut feelings, because years of experiences that hurt or harmed them taught them that could be dangerous They thought that putting up a shield would stop others from getting in. But what we don’t realize is that it is actually also stopping us from getting messages from within us as well. And if we could tap back into that, it would be our greatest guidance and protector.

I am so grateful that Dance reconnected me to my intuition!

Continue reading

Dance Can Teach Us the Power of Presence

Photo by Katho Mutodo on Pexels.com

When I first came to dance, even as a little girl taking some ballet classes, I didn’t know that I was so in my head.

I was thinking a lot- about where this foot went, and what angle to bend that arm, and where to place my body in relation to another fellow dancer beside me.

No wonder I gave up ballet somewhere around 10 years old.

As an adult, I was so excited to find partner dance. Salsa was the place I started first. I thought, this is it! I will finally be able to learn to move as elegantly and fluidly, and with the charisma of the dancers I was admiring for most of my life. Those beautiful dancers on stages and even on social dance floors. I couldn’t wait to learn how to ‘be like’ them.

So I took classes, and more classes. Really working out the steps in my head, and figuring out the timing and even the styling like it was mathematics. Though I was ‘learning to dance’, so to speak, my dancing felt and looked so robotic compared to the dancers next to me. I couldn’t understand how we all started in beginner classes at the same time, and I felt like I was putting more time into extra lessons. But my fellow students next to me very quickly became more flowing and free and fun on the dance floor, while I felt clumsy and stiff and like I had turned dancing into a science.

Well, I had. Because I had put it all in my head, as if I could work it all out with my mind. And one day, a partner I was dancing with said, “What are you thinking about?” right in the middle of our dance.

What? I wasn’t thinking about anything, I tried to convince both of us. But right then, I realized he was right. How did he know?

Continue reading

What Each Dance Brings to Me, Especially In Relation to The Five Elements

I tend to go through seasons of different dances, and sometimes wondered if there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just stick to one dance?

And when people would ask me which was my favourite, I’d have troube answering that question. All the dances- from salsa, to bachata, to tango, to kizomba, to zouk- seemed to bring me something different, but I couldn’t explain what exactly. Until… I heard about the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine. And voila! Just like that, I got my answer. See, the Five Elements- are within all of us, but we are dominant in some, and have different amounts of them within us. Sometimes, they are in balance, and sometimes, they are very out of balance or craving a little bit of a less dominant element for a little while.

I realised that different dances were helping me tap into different elements that were undernourished, or needed revitalizing.

And learning about this system through two beautiful bellydancers- Dondhi and Titanya Dahlin really got me excited to share with you these wonderful insights.

Do you tend to stick to one dance? Or are you a dance dabbler like me?What do you think you get from different dances? And does your choosing them depend on your mood, who you’re with, the city you’re in, or even the DJ who might be spinning that night?


I’d love to hear your comments about this, and any of the elements you might resonate with. I will be giving a brief description of them at the start of the video. But you can always find out more details about this fascinating personality and health system through Dondi Dahlin’s book simply called The Five Elements.

Click on the link below to get into the Youtube Channel and then choose the video with the same title as this blog post:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX_K65HYLIlJWuwSBWGv6rw