When I first heard of Ecstatic Dance I thought it was kind of different and odd since it was so completely different from what I was used to. And then let’s frame this by sharing that I grew up teaching group exercise staring with high impact aerobics and went to Texas A&M so dance to me had lots of boundaries, restrictions and accepted moves. Little did I know that was all changing before my eyes and in my life…
Until, after the Magdalen Workshop in Houston that Sarah and I had co-chaired I woke up in the middle of the night and just knew that I MUST GO TO DANCE TOMORROW! It was that kind of knowing that was big and foreboding and I could do nothing else but here it loudly in my head and I could feel the dancing in my bones trying to come out. Plus, my friend Randy had told me about it and I knew he was going so that helped me feel safe about trying it out. Yet, I felt a bit paranoid about showing up alone so I texted him in the middle of the night letting him know that I would be there in the morning, and I prefaced it by sharing that Spirit made me do it!
That was last summer and I have to say that after my first dance where I just starting to tap into my inner groove, I have gotten more and more into Ecstatic Dance so much that my life has become ecstatic. What does that mean exactly? Well, let me start by saying that Ecstatic Dance has just a few guidelines and no rules! For me it’s like teaching high impact with strict dance moves to provided music at a 180 beats per minute and then going straight to teaching a spin class that flows with nature and gives you the opportunity to feel yourself more intently while you get your sweat on. Does that paint a better picture? Because that’s what it’s like, it’s amazing. You don’t need to wear any shoes, but maybe socks when it’s super cold; you don’t, I repeat DO NOT use the mirrors, which is so fantastic since I grew up staring at myself in the mirrors and wearing the perfect outfit, and about clothes, you just need anything that is kind of loosely yoga based so you can move around comfortably. I’ll never forget my first dance because I actually wore a bra! And quickly after seeing everyone in their jog bras did the remove-your-bra-without-taking-off-your-clothes in public shimmy shimmy co co puff shake. And finally, there is no talking during dance. We are invited to use our body language only as we dance and you can always dance with another person but when you are done, you can put your hands together and give a little nod in gratitude before continuing on your journey. Having an ecstatic life means that it is full of joy and happyness because when your thoughts, words and actions match your expression about life, you become much more grateful and in synchronicity with the world around you.
Samadhi and her team create a beautifully curated sacred space in which to totally feel the music and let it move you in any way that feels good to you. You can’t dance in any way wrong. It just doesn’t exist! You can go in any direction at any time doing whatever your body feels and without any judgement about how you look or how anyone else looks. It’s all just an expression of each person as they take a journey through the music! It’s like a grown up version of going to Great Skate! Remember skating? You just do what you want when you want. It’s a big sand box and we are all just playing together and having fun. Sometimes the music makes me feel like jumping up and down, or gliding around the floor, or even beating on the floor during a tribal beat. It’s always different and a compilation of rythms and beats that make you want to move.
Back story is that I sometimes dream in music and wake up with a song that means something to me. That’s what Ecstatic Dance is for me. Samadhi is the amazing talented individual that started it here in Houston more than twelve years ago. She is ALL about the music, I mean she spends hours upon hours working on the music set which is completely different for each dance every single Sunday. And it’s all professionally mixed and flows together so you never lose your dance buzz. The music is created by going through the chakras taking everyone on their own individual journey, kind of like how teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation works. Everyone comes in for their own experience and gets exactly what they need at that moment. Samadhi and her group of trained facilitators set the intention with a theme each week during a conference call on Wednesdays and then from then on Spirit works to create a vortex of loving support to which everyone shows up and it starts.
The dance officially starts with a warm up which is a few songs to which you’ll see people stretching on the floor, in yoga poses, dancing around, meditating, or just laying on the ground in their own silent space. Then, when the warm up has ended, Samadhi invites us to come together in opening circle where we all sit in a massive circle to hear about the intention of the dance, who is facilitating since there are a few different leaders so we can understand the intent of the set of music we are about to dance to. The last dance held at Planet Funk Academy was facilitated by Andy and the theme was Epic and the set of music even included the theme to James Bond and Star Wars which was a total delight for us all to dance to! Now that the dance has moved to MATCH in Midtown Houston, we are all excited to open up the dance for more people to join, especially since we are now in a beautiful new studio in the middle of town. The floors are so soft and spring loaded, with tall ceilings and the music sounds fantastic! You are all invited to attend Ecstatic Dance Evolution Houston every Sunday from 10:30am to 1pm and know that you are welcome to come any time and leave any time. Some people come after warm up and that is totally up to you! The dance is about 90 minutes long with definite high notes and ends in a loving manner by winding everyone back down for a closing circle. The Closing circle is when we slowly move back into a circle and Samadhi invites us for share-backs where anyone can voice how their experience was during the dance, then we go around sharing our names quickly, and then end with any community announcements.
The entire Sunday morning when I go to Ecstatic Dance is the best way I know how to start my favorite day of the week! It’s a great place to meet friends, meet new ones and just be yourself. Everyone wears what suits them from yoga clothes for women and shorts and bathing suit trunks for men. Sometimes I wear flash tattoos, bendi and sequins with my hair in mini buns! It just depends on my mood. Plus, after dance we will share a local place in which we are all meeting if anyone wants to join us for lunch. And this is the best time to meet all those familiar faces that you’ve just experienced Ecstatic Dance with and maybe don’t know. This past Sunday we had a great group of new people from as far as Victoria with us during dance and there were about 85 in attendance. Samadhi has worked tirelessly to create Ecstatic Dance Evolution in which to package the dance with her style so that others can go through facilitator training, join the music service and create their own conscious community with her brand of dance. For me, the experience is always different each week depending on where I am with my life and what I’m feeling, but it’s the one place that I can truly go to express myself and I always leave feeling a bit shinier and brighter about life!