A Practice for Wild, Evolutionary Times:
Meet Dancing Freedom
Dancing Freedom is a practice I created because I wanted to share the transformational and healing experiences I knew through dance with as many people as possible. I created it on the basis of 20 years of research, performance, choreography, improvisation, yoga and ceremony. It poured out of me organically, as a prayer, as love-in-action, as beauty unbound, as a safe space for rage and despair and the dissolution of shame and alienation, as an inquiry into consciousness, awakening, power, love and relationship. It was unstoppable.
I couldn’t sit still. I asked myself, if the universe doesn’t sit still, why should I? Why should my spiritual practice be a stillness? Wouldn’t it make more sense to move just like everything else? In dancing, I found my gateway to eternity and back again into life. I moved. It worked.
I wanted it to be accessible to all bodies. I wanted it to be cross cultural.
I didn’t create it because I wanted to make a cool, spiritually based business. I didn’t consider myself to be an entrepreneur when I created it. I created it because I am driven to help us all wake up – together – and to be a cause for an emergent, evolutionary and regenerative culture of peace. It drove me to become an entrepreneur because that was the best way to share it and spread it. (I’m really grateful for that. I wouldn’t have chosen to be good at business on my own, but I’m so glad that I am, now.)
I created Dancing Freedom because I believe that when we connect with our bodies, each other and the earth in really palpable ways through a practice that we can repeat, we begin to learn how to be people in right relationship with the world. I’m not being lofty here, I’m just being honest.
Dance is a great practice for dire, beautiful times like these.
And, Dancing Freedom is a totally accessible practice that can help you to live more openly, more fully. It can help you with your desire to be a whole person – body, heart, soul, spirit. It won’t fix you. It will make what is ok. And, it will help you dance the way to “better”, “bigger”, “bolder”, whatever that is for you.
Basically, it’s an ecstatic dance practice that takes you through a musical wave that integrates deep intentionality, gentle guidance and a rich Harvest practice at the end of the dance.
A lot of people ask me if Dancing Freedom is similar to Five Rhythms. It’s kind of hard for me to answer that question, because I’m not trained in Five Rhythms. (I did Five Rhythms for the first time in my mid-thirties, after I had already begun weaving the structure of Dancing Freedom.) But, as someone who has a lifetime of dance research under my belt, I bow to the pioneering work of Gabrielle Roth as an elder in the Conscious Dance movement. I bow also to my elders who came before her: Isadora Duncan, Jose Limone, Eric Hawkins, Martha Graham, and, of course, Anna Halprin! I additionally bow to my teachers, Bill T. Jones, Arnie Zane, Sarah Shelton Mann, Nita Little, Carol Swann and so many others!
Dancing Freedom is distinct from Five Rhythms in the ways it integrates somatics, shamanic work with the elements and ancestors, and the particular ways in which we work with prayer, intention, mirroring, circling, group work and mindfullness. There’s more… but this list is a start. And, I can say honestly that it arose as a body of work through me quite separate from the Five Rhythms community.
My elders and teachers were many. I came up in the West Coast Contact Improv Community and in Barefoot Boogie. I danced daily for many years on the beaches of Santa Cruz, and later at the foot of Mount Shasta, learning directly from nature. Years of dance, yoga, ceremony and studies in classical Tantrism taught me how to work with conscious intent, deep body sensing and the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether as allies. This practice has deep roots Tantra, Buddhism, Deep Ecology, Permaculture, Somatics, Goddess Studies and Red Road Indigenous Wisdom.
The practice takes you on a 1-3 hour movement journey. The experience is mostly non-verbal which opens your ability to connect to yourself, others and more subtle realms of consciousness without the mediation of your mental chatter. After the dance, we take time to share our experience, bridging these refined and embodied states back into relationship – sharing the medicine in a way that really brings it into our lives.
No dance experience is necessary. The practice is accessible to all bodies and all levels.
Visit DancingFreedom.com for more about the practice and upcoming workshops and trainings with Samantha. The next International Facilitator Training is April 25-May 16 in Southern Oregon, and there are still a few spaces.
About me and dance: I started dancing when I was 13 as a way to channel emotional and spiritual energy and as a space to explore my deepest questions: “Why don’t people get along?”, “Why is there war?”, “How can we (or I) get to peace?”, “What makes a good relationship?” I’ve been dancing ever since. My dance has spanned a career as a professional dancer and choreographer, a career as a yoga teacher and teacher trainer, a stint as a dance fitness instructor, over 20 years of practice and facilitation of contact improvisation, and countless trainings in somatics, Feldenkrais, BMC, capoeira, chi kung, massage, perceptual and experiential anatomy, yoga, Reiki mastery and various improvisational techniques. I created Dancing Freedom just after my 30th birthday when I had become disenchanted with the separation between audiences and performers and deeply interested in shared participation. I’ve been doing it ever since.