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Dancing Life

After teaching a particularly imaginative lesson in last year's LGBTQA Feldenkrais Summit, one of the participants invited me to record a podcast about the Feldenkrais Method and dance! The interview was helpful in organizing my thinking about the two subjects. In the interview I summarized ways in which Feldenkrais has served me as a dancer, and ways dance has served me as a Feldenkrais practitioner. Here I have linked the Moving Into The Unknown podcast; a great thanks and credit to Kym Mcgregor, Libby Murray, and Heidi Carroll. Below that is some writing on the subject and some links to dances I have performed over the years.

© Michelle Agins

When I first took a dance class in high school, I had already spent years struggling to sit still. Then after starting college for architecture, it wasn't long before I switched to studying dance. From there things fell into place and dance became my passion and my career.

Although my inner drive to move brought me to dance in the first place, I soon learned to quiet my internal awareness in service of suggestions from peers, teachers & choreographers. This is not a 'bad' process, a conscious process, nor one exclusive to dancers: we all learn to regulate our childlike internal desires for social and material reasons. However once I moved to New York, the social pressures intensified and with them the challenges of maintaining my health and my sense of self. I began taking Feldenkrais classes soon after I arrived in NYC. In those classes I was able to connect with deep inner sensing and a closer connection to movement than I had ever found before.

Dancing, on the other hand, offered joy, shared experiences, support and respect from peers. I had come to Feldenkrais to improve my dancing, but Feldenkrais classes themselves are by design, quiet and non-social. Then in training to become a Feldenkrais practitioner, I often felt lonely and had difficulty articulating my experience to others in the program, most of whom were not dancers. Articulating my experience to other dancers outside the program was also challenging.

Teaching public ATM classes and dance workshops has come the closest to experiencing the balance of both. My dancing and choreography has also taken on a balance of the two. By maintaining my dancing life, and bringing in the work I was doing in Feldenkrais classes to my performance, I had more to share in dance and more immediate pathways from inner life to outer. I believe there are helpful, accessible tools at this intersection for all people, whether they are involved in dance, Feldenkrais, both or neither.

Here I have linked a handful of videos from my dance performances, some are context videos and some are full works.

© Maria Baranova

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