If someone asked me what I love about dance the most, I could list off quite a few ideas. But one in particular, I never knew quite how to describe: those moments of pauses, and breaths, and silences in our bodies, and the music, when we are moved even if not actually moving. That space when our feet press into the floor ever so slowly.
What could I call it? Matrix style?
I tried capturing the concept of it in poetry, but the words would escape me. It seemed like something only someone who actually had experienced, would really grasp. And words didn’t seem sufficient enough to explain that space.
But then I would laugh, realising it’s not just in dance. It’s also IN the words, within poetry, lyrics, novels. I realised there too was that magical gap, a breath, a sigh, a whisper amongst the letters and phrases. They are not just to be seen, or thought through in the mind, but felt and heard, with the heart, and spirit.
It’s like a space that spirit grants us for a few seconds sometimes. A space that shows us and takes us into a realm of all possibilities. We come out changed, deeper, without even knowing exactly what happened. We just want to feel it and experience it, and be a part of it again.
And I remember thinking I wish there was a word for this. But how can there be for such a sparkly, stardusty concept that we can’t even hold in our hands? Could we ever find letters to capture it on paper?
I was walking back from an appointment yesterday, and I stopped in front of this cute book shop. I tend to search not just for books through the window of shops like this, but for messages, from the Universe, I guess you could say.
For a couple of months, it was a little sign on the doll house in that shop that I took in as the message I needed: It said, “Books make a big difference in even the smallest of houses.” I smiled because my apartment is definitely small, and I have a lot of books in it. I find it difficult to part with them though. And I thought that this was the Universe’s way of telling me that maybe I don’t need to, at least not anytime soon. They put magic into my surroundings and it’s okay to hang on to them a little longer.
But today, I saw this book title and author in that same window that I had never heard of before. It was called Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me, by Robert Crumb. I was a little startled at first. I thought, what kind of a message is THAT? But I also considered that actually, that’s a pretty gutsy thing to say to someone or even to announce on a book. I was kind of intrigued, and of course, couldn’t wait to look it up when I got home. And then I laughed, because I thought this could actually be very fitting right now, as a message from the Universe.
I know you through Zouk, but did you start out in Salsa like many of the Zouk dancers? What is your dance background?
Bellydance is my first dance. Before any social dances, I used to train and perform with “Leilan”, a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Troupe at Stanford University. I was first introduced to Zouk by some Bachata friends. I couldn’t get it out of my mind after a glimpse of it.
Oh wow! I didn’t know you started with Bellydance. Now it makes sense why your hip movements look so fluid and effortless.
What is it about Zouk, and/or Lambazouk, that draws you to it?
In the beginning it was the connection, the music, the free-flowing movement and the seemingly infinite possibilities of things you can do in Zouk that drew me to it. Later, as I went on to perform and teach Zouk, I liked that it makes me reflect upon body awareness, breathing, mindfulness and spirituality. It’s like an area in life where I can observe my own growth and my blind spots.
Lambazouk is similar but it has more of a wild, happy and uplifting energy that I really enjoy.
I love how my passion for dance has allowed me to meet people from all over the world-people who, I’m sure, I might not have met otherwise. Some of these individuals are inspiring teachers, others literally take my breath away on the dance floor, and a few have an infectious energy about them that is so uplifting for any who are around them.
Jessica Lamdon happens to be one of those rare souls in the dance world that demonstrates all of these qualities.
Not only is Jessica a beautiful dancer and performer- invited to congresses and dance festivals throughout many different countries, but she is also an encouraging and warm hearted individual. Her personable, welcoming nature motivated me to want to learn Zouk more. But it also helped me feel connected to something at a time when I was feeling lost and heavy hearted.
Sometimes, the right words at the right time can lead us to places we didn’t even know we would go. Continue reading →
Excerpt taken directly from the original article-
Making Dance/Movement Therapy the Therapy of Choice for Autism Spectrum Disorder By Danielle Fraenkel:
“Phillip Martin-Nelson, principal dancer of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who was diagnosed with severe autism, credits ballet with saving his life. Similarly, dance classes have been a driving force for Leon*, a 15 year old, high functioning, home schooled male, diagnosed as a young child, with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
You’ve got to read this in depth article about the power of Dance to ward off certain diseases. This is an excerpt taken directly from
Thinking on Your Feet: Dancing Wards off Neurodegenerative Disease By Rewiring the Brain by Lizette Boreli
(Please note that the photo is directly from the original article as well. I have literally copied and pasted the link and photo because it is a must read and I just want to promote the page and message. I am in no way claiming any of this one article or photo to be mine).
“Strengthening Muscle Memory
Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. For one, our muscle memory allows us to learn how to perform a dance without thinking about the steps. According to neuroscientist Daniel Glaser, this happens because “the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing,” he told The New York Times.
In other words, we memorize how to do things so efficiently that they require no conscious effort. In dance, this is done by constantly repeating movements, which are practiced to the point that they can be performed automatically.
Although muscle memory can’t really distinguish a correct movement from a wrong one, some research suggests the endorphins released after performing a successful move cause the brain to store it as the correct way of moving — a process that constantly rewires the brain’s neural pathways.”- by Lizette Boreli
One man’s quest to retrain his brain- through movement and dance-to overcome a severe movement disorder. Federico Bitti suffers from dystonia, a disease that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. He is using a new therapy involving neuroplasticity, and specific exercises to retrain the brain, which for Mr. Bitti, includes …DANCE!
It’s stories like these that keep Dance Me Free growing and remind me why the site was born in the first place. There is proof, all over the globe, of how Dance and Music really do heal. You’ve got to watch this one! Incredible! What an inspiration.
“Dance is everywhere for me In the way I walk, In the boys playing in the streets, In my home, in any place. Dance is everything that you are, and is [all] around you. It’s that. Dance is life.”-
Andy Manuel Gonzalo Varona
What an absolutely amazing short film to wake up to! – “Dance is Life.”
Watch this moving video in which a passionate professional Cuban dancer talks about what dance means to him.
“I started dancing, as a bboy first. Back then, in 1984, there was no Youtube, nothing like that. We would just see something on commercials or on TV – some breakdancing moves- and dancing looked like a positive way for us to channel our energy.
That’s how we got started, and maybe also because we thought it would help us get the girls at first (laughs). But later, you realize there is so much more to it. And when you get into dancing so deep, it becomes your passion.
I love dance, but it is the pioneers of Hip Hop who really inspire me. Crazy Legs, The Rock Steady Crew, and all the others who, despite the criticism they faced from everyone that didn’t believe in hip hop and breakdancing at the time, just kept going with it.
If it wasn’t for those guys who paved the way for us, those artists who constructed the highway for us, we wouldn’t be enjoying what we enjoy right now.”