I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, to share with you some of the digital places I’ve been enjoying dance lately.
For me, dance is so lifegiving during this difficult time. It’s a way to unlock the tight muscles that come from sitting at home for so much of the day. It’s a way to sweat, and find renewal in body and mind. It is a way to move without going outdoors into San Francisco air that is filled with smoke and hazardous to spend much time in. It’s a way to shed tears sometimes, to grieve. And it’s a way to access some moments of vitality and joy – yes, joy! – during these trying times.
We turn to dance not to check out of the pain of this time, but to feel everything more fully, so we can meet it. We turn to dance to return to the whole of who we are.
For some among us, a cruel inner critic voice has devoured our sense of permission to dance. For others, the words of an outer critic – that childhood dance instructor perhaps, or that junior high friend who made fun of the way you move – may have gotten so lodged in you that you stopped dancing. If any of these are your story, maybe now is the time to update these internalized voices, and give yourself the freedom to dance.
I often think about how all cultures developed their own forms of dance for celebration, ritual, worship, and expression. That dance is not part of life for all of us, in our contemporary time, is simply a byproduct of some very new changes to how humans live, and to how societies function.
So you might be living in that strange time, but – the invigorating thing that happens when music hits the body? You don’t want to miss out on that.
Here are a few venues for dance online that I am grateful for:
These are high energy, dance-based workouts designed to be very accessible. They’ve grown out of the artistry and culture of one of California’s beloved dance companies, ODC. I defy you to try these classes and not feel joy at some point of the class! The teachers are a very diverse group, along many different dimensions of diversity, and they have real-people bodies. Many classes are pre-recorded so you can watch anytime, and are free of cost, with opportunities to donate to support the teachers. Others are livestreamed. You can find both on this page.
Open Floor defines itself as “a high-spirited moving meditation done in the company of others” that teaches us to “mine the body’s innate intelligence and resilience.” There is no choreography to follow; skilled teachers create incredible playlists of music and guide with gentle prompts, and then you follow your body and move how it wants to move. You might find elation, or grief, or anger, or peace as you dance – whatever it is, your body will take you where it needs to go. These dances are live on Zoom and have a sliding scale of $5-$20/class.
Hipline describes itself as a “judgment-free, women of color owned space.” Founded by two sisters, their classes are for “all self-identifying women & non-binary” individuals. Their classes are also super high energy, full of passion and spirit, while also conveying a sense of being a very safe space for participants to fully be themselves. I’m most familiar with their dance classes, but they also have stretch and strengthening ones. Their classes are scheduled, require advanced registration and have a cost of around $16 dollars.
I hope you will try one or more of these. Or, if these aren’t the right fit for you, listen to what kind of movement your body craves right now, and see how you can make some time for that.
Top photo credit: Ahmad Odeh