A Story of Reclamation Through the Power of Dance
When I was a young girl I loved to dance. Twirling and leaping through our unfurnished living room with my younger sister, my parents watching, was a favorite pastime. Each dance ended in giggles of pure delight and exhausted satisfaction on the floor.
As any good parent would do, mine enrolled me in ballet classes at 4 or 5 years old. I adored the twirling, the leaping, and especially the tutu, black leotard, pink tights and slippers. What I didn’t so much care for were the recitals. The dark stage, bright lights, strangers watching, brought on sensations that were far from pleasant. I eventually quit.
As a preteen I took jazz dance classes. This is where the comparing myself to the other dancers took root. My newly developed self-critic talk started to grow. “You’re not as good a dancer as the others. You don’t belong here. You’re a bad dancer.” And so I quit this, too.
By the time dance found me again I had turned 50. Yoga had been my close and steady companion for some 25 years and it fed my need for body expression. But over the last several years my enthusiasm for it was waning. I had by then taught yoga for 15 years and for the first time was struggling to get myself to my mat. Suddenly, the mat felt too small and confining which correlated to how I was personally growing my inner Self. My wings were growing and I needed more space for them to stretch, flap and try to fly.
At first I was guided to Nia dance and it didn’t take long to feel like I’d come home. It became crystal clear I needed dance to be an integral part of my life and practices. But little did I know this was just a stepping stone.
In my search for something more, I discovered Toni Bergins’ JourneyDance which is a hypnotic container that weaves expressive movement, guided imagery, ritual, voice and affirmation to create a transformative, evocative experience. I’d found the missing link.
JourneyDance gave me the chance to reconnect to my Little Karen who loved to dance for the pure joy of dance. Recitals and performances in my growing up years had taken that away from me.
In a JourneyDance class I could just be a dancer — no good or bad. Just me, all parts of me.
The me who could be weird, emotional, grief stricken, or ecstatic — sometimes all in the same class.
Those first classes felt like I was signing a contract with myself to never again abandon my little dancer. Plus I found myself being freed of my habitual comparing to others.
JourneyDance provided this sacred container where it didn’t matter if I could dance or not. In fact we were encouraged to sometimes move in our weirdest expressions even to the point of it not looking like dance. These hour long classes were like all my practices, rituals and tools wrapped into one.
JourneyDance became a practice where I could not only move, feel, and express whatever was currently going on in my life which feels so liberating, but also to tend to those places within me that had been crying out to be held and nurtured, which felt so healing.
I was even invited to try on parts of myself that have laid dormant for so long, to let them out to play and be tended to. This felt transforming.
Most of all this dance provided the framework I needed for expressing myself — the self I have been and the self I desire to be, my life as it has been and the life I desire to live.
Every class opened my heart and evoked tears, especially during the part that’s called, “Tell your story to the dance floor.” I always left feeling so grounded in body, flowing in emotion, clear in mind, inspired in heart and soaring in spirit.
When Covid-19 hit I knew I had to keep dancing to keep my sanity. I joined in on Toni’s Tuesday online classes. At first, I was hesitant and resistant. Could I really receive through a screen? I discovered, yes, surprisingly, it really works. Little did I know I’d not just be keeping my sanity intact through dance but also be growing and even thriving.
There’s nothing like dance, especially expressive, conscious movement like JourneyDance, to unbind one’s self from the weights of the world.
Through this pandemic I’ve danced my fear and anxiety, my despair and helplessness, my grief and confusion, my joy and hope, my angst and elation — all as my story, my art — in my own unique expression on that particular day, within a community of other unique dancers, all within the comfort of my home.
Through the rituals and processes provided in JourneyDance I’ve even danced my way out of old conditioning and limiting self-talk, growing more into my true, wise self — my embodied self.
Although I’ve shifted out of pink ballet slippers and into bare feet, the lost dancer in me has been found and I’ll never abandon her again.
My little dancer has been leaping and twirling through her living spaces once again and she doesn’t care who is watching!
JourneyDance has been my saving grace, my anchor through troubling times! So much so, that I jumped into Toni’s JourneyDance online teacher training so I can now share with my community this transformational dance.
Dancing is our birthright. It’s in our DNA. Our ancient sisters and brothers knew this. Something went horribly wrong once we lost this connection to dance. We can now reclaim it and move and groove our way back into connection with our bodies, ourselves, with others, with Earth and with the guiding loving force all around us.
One day I know we’ll get to dance together again in person. I can’t wait! In the mean time I hope you’ll get dancing at home in virtual community.
Karen has been holding sacred space for women to feel and express the truths of their bodies and hearts for over 15 years. As owner of Open Heart Healing, she’s been guiding women to stretch, grow and expand into the fullest expressions of themselves. She’s a certified women’s life coach, women’s sacred circle facilitator, Reiki master, and JourneyDance guide. She’s also co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Self-Healing Techniques.