This is in no way intended to be authoritative, but is our current best effort toward addressing some issues that seem to be a persistent part of the growth, healing and learning process that our overlapping dance events and spaces provide.
Some of the transformative opportunities that we feel exist in this richly powerful, beautiful, tender, fierce, contemplative, expressive, healing, playful, sacred space have to do with dynamics we feel the culture and planet are currently being called to work through between men and women.
This observation is not intended to exclude anyone of any gender identification or sexual orientation, nor to be harsh toward men or minimize their very real vulnerability. Rather, it is a response to multiple requests from women to address these topics. Nonetheless the language below will be gender neutral to emphasize that this is indeed a human conversation that includes everyone —as we are all deserving of respect, kindness, and space to be who we are!
My hope is that this first step toward having some guidelines will continue to support everyone feeling free to be themselves in this fun, juicy and life-affirming practice within a context of community sacred space that is respectful, conscious and mindful.
Yours with so much humility, gratitude and love,
Dance Community Consent Guidelines
1) Come to the dance floor with the intention to connect with yourself first. When crossing the threshold into sacred space, take time to come home to your own body, to find your breath and drop in beneath the surface and access a practice orientation. Leave room for others to do the same.
It is primarily a barefoot space —wear shoes only if your feet absolutely require it, and in that case please have them be dance shoes that you never wear anywhere else. Carry them into the room to change into, and take them off again before you leave. Protect your fellow dancers’ toes, and let’s keep the floor clean… Part of the practice may include rolling or lying down on it!
Please come to dance clean and free from any strong fragrances —be aware too that excessive pet hair and dander or pollen on your clothing might affect others!
2) Shared dances often happen in the dance space between two or more people spontaneously. This is a beautiful opportunity to practice interpersonal embodied mindful and empathic awareness!
Unlike in other settings like nightclubs or parties, the primary objective should not be that of trying to find dance partners or “pick up on” other dancers… Maintain the respectful sense that we are all there first-and-foremost to be present in our own practice; expressing, and opening up into flow states that may include deep emotional vulnerability, child like play, cathartic release, and moments of both being very connected to others or very internally self-reflective.
When we are grounded and centered in ourselves, the dances that emerge with others tend to be more satisfying and elevating.
If you find yourself drawn to share a dance with someone, pay attention to their signals as you approach mindfully.
If they turn toward you, make eye contact, and appear to be responding in a welcoming way, this means they are open to it.
But if they move away, look down, or appear to not be available for that kind of interaction, respect that and give them space. This is not personal, and if it brings up feelings for you, make that part of YOUR dance as you recenter in your practice.
If the person is open to sharing dance space bear in mind that this might last 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on the mutual consent of engagement and playing off one another. It also doesn’t mean you have permission to put your hands on them, pick them up, or draw them down to the floor —though those things may happen between people that feel safe, trusting, and connected…..
How do you know?! Pay attention —stay aware.
We also suggest that either hand on heart and bowed head, or hands together in a prayer/namaste gesture while moving away be recognized universally as a way of disengaging and requesting space.
You might see a pair of dancers engaging in a very connected, sensual, intimate dance —recognize that this is a moment they are having, and it isn’t a green light to engage with either of those dancers in the same way, or to try to join their dance uninvited.
If you’re ever wanting to engage and aren’t sure, ask with your eyes, your facial expression, your body language, and accept what comes back in response. You can also whisper something like “is this ok?”
Know that for many participants a continuous stream of attention is not really what they are there for —let this sacred space be a sanctuary for all. Give yourself the gift of coming into your own center and exploring your practice first and foremost too!
If someone is not open to sharing a dance, don’t keep trying every few songs, or follow them around the room hoping to just happen to bump into them again…
If someone is new, give them plenty of space to have their own experience and get oriented to this unique and magical community.
If someone is weeping, meditating, resting on the floor, or standing in stillness with their eyes closed, don’t use this as an opportunity to slide in under their boundaries with some helpful energy work or comforting touch.
Even if your intentions are completely pure, and you feel powerfully drawn, wait for a signal from them that this is welcome or that they are not so deep in their own experience that you are intruding. After you’ve waited and not gotten any welcoming signal, leave them alone.
If we all embrace a practice orientation then this is all an opportunity for self awareness, healing and growth —notice your own needs, expectations, reactions, judgments, projections, fantasies, feelings of rejection, loneliness, desire, awkwardness, and whatever else comes up with compassion and curiosity, and include it in YOUR dance meditation.
You are not alone in being human, and everyone in the room has their own version of what you are invited to be present with in yourself.
When taking a break, and sitting or standing at the side of the room, notice the difference between bearing witness to what is happening around you, and prolonged staring at someone who has caught your eye —regardless what they are wearing or how they are moving, most participants want to feel free to “dance like no-one is watching..” Give them that gift.
3) Once in the dance space please feel free to sigh, to laugh, sing, weep, and when the energy is high to express yourself in ways that fit the group vibe in that moment —but if you need to talk PLEASE whisper. People deep into their dance will be distracted and thrown off by audible conversation and chatting. We’re not just hanging out.
4) Know that you are being welcomed to take a journey into movement and stillness, energy and awareness, shadow and light, self, other, and community, every time you join us —all with the intention to grow, heal, connect, and transform together with the shared values that say “movement is medicine, music is magic, breath is alchemy, and community is sanctuary.”
As such, there will be periods of quietness, intensity, and everything in between…. If possible, don’t just dance to your favorite type of music…. Take every genre, style, tempo, rhythm, and feel as a doorway into really exploring and articulating the rich and diverse possibilities of your own soulful embodiment, ecstatic potential, heart-centered intelligence and spiritual communion.
If this is truly “the only journey I am on” then nothing is in the way and everything becomes the way.
Say YES to your “one precious body,” be present with the process of your mind and heart, and meet the others in the space with a reverence for what Mary Oliver calls the “soft animal body.”
That’s all I have for now. I love you if you made it to the end. I look forward to sharing the journey with you further.
This flow chart summarizes some of the above —please feel free to use any of this for your own dance spaces!