Dancing with Mom

March 20, 2010

Picture yourself dancing full tilt boogie with your momma… easy? Impossible? A distant dream, a weekly ritual or too terrifying to imagine? Any way you look at it, it’s a powerful vision that might carry some big emotion around it. Used to be a regular part  of tribal village life and as natural as taking a breath.

A few days ago, at ecstatic dance,  two exquisite pairs of mothers and daughters were intimately discovering themselves as never before on the dance floor. After  the mothers shared their experiences, I just wanted to get on my knees and kiss the floor…. this empty space that is the container for magic and healing… so simple…. some wooden boards and a roof… the infinite, creative potential of this open space where dancers weave their stories into moving poetry. Miracles never cease to unfold here.

One  of the daughters was about ten years old give or take a few. Long hair and limbs flying everywhere, totally at ease with doing her thing, a wee shy of weird adults (that would be me) cruising by to play, as if she grew up dancing freely all her life. Imagine my astonishment when her mother shared that she had never seen her daughter like that! That she hadn’t ever seen her dance and how precious it was to watch her child express herself in this way. Both newcomers, the mom had asked the child if she wanted to go to a “spirit dance” and was answered with an unequivocal YES… just like that. A great reminder of how intuitively intelligent kids are and to actually listen to them. And frankly, we have much to learn from watching how a kid can let go in dance; they are great teachers of spontaneity  and unabashedly being oneself.

Wow. How wonderful. I couldn’t help reflecting about how parents think they know their children and how perhaps their own limiting beliefs might be hampering their kids. Hats off to the mother for taking the risk to bring her young daughter to a freestyle dance with adults. It could have bombed. But the risk was taken and this whole new dimension of her daughter was revealed. And they enjoyed sharing that loving moment together. Magnificent. This is to encourage parents to be adventurous. Treasures yet unveiled lay waiting for your rapture.

The other daughter was going on 17. She spent much of the evening gleefully dancing with her mom, so great to behold. Having once witnessed them interact at home, I assumed they were always like best friends, the kind of relationship that I could only dream of with mine. Again, I was flabbergasted to learn that teenager-dom has been a trying time for the girl, lots of moping, grumpiness, lack of energy and enthusiasm. News to me… she was so vibrant and full of smiles.

Her mom called me the next day to say that her daughter was transformed, loved the experience and wants to return weekly. “It’s like a rave without the drugs,” she exclaimed. The best part was that the mother felt this huge love pouring out from her kid, from her dancing being, no words to convolute the message… it was clear, “I love you.” Non-verbal communication is one of the most precious parts of the ecstatic dance practice. So much is shared without a word, so intimate, so refreshing, so uncomplicated. You feel what the person is saying cellularly… not just a talking head. You learn to trust your innate wisdom.

While the teenager was comfortable enough to let go with adults, with her mother!… she felt that her peers would not be and she dreamt of an ecstatic dance for teens. Holy Cow! Amazing concept and I’m putting it out for others to also run with this. Imagine how much less angst-ridden your teen years could have been with a deep dance practice that gave you space for your emotions and to be yourself. There may be dances like this in place already.  Let me know if so please. I have been focused on enticing the free child spirit back into adults’  lives. But creating this venue for authentic expression for youth is needed, especially in an environment that is drug-free and with music that has positive, life-affirming lyrics.

There are quite a number of family-friendly ecstatic dances around the world. Love that. I noticed one recently that included an art corner for kids.Sweet! I have such fond memories of dancing at parties with my parents, all of us being goofy and laughing. I wish for all kids to have a positive experience of dancing. So much is included in that like healthy body image and being seen and accepted in one’s zaniness and bliss. Photo of me at 18 dancing with my dad and mom in the white T-shirt

Thank you to these beautiful mothers and daughters who stepped into uncharted territory together and showered us with lessons on taking risks, becoming more intimate and fostering dance and freedom in our youth.

“Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.” ~William Stafford


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