I became a teacher because of a dream.
A dyslexic dance teacher?
A free-form dance teacher?
Are these oxymorons? Yet, I’m both.
A mother, a business woman, an unhappily married woman who had secretly danced all her life, mostly by herself. In private studios, living rooms, far away tavernas under Mediterranean stars, in holds of cattle boats in stormy seas off the Patagonian coast. I’ve danced in many strange places but until the dream, I never imagined having a gift to share. A reason to share.
It started with a dream. A dream that gave me the blessings and encouragement to teach and share my passion of the healing journey dance had taken me on throughout my life to that point at 37-years-old when I had the dream that changed my life.
A few years before this magical dream, I read Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth. The book led me to the Five Rhythms dance community in the San Francisco Bay Area. I discovered I was not alone in my Dervish-like passion. There were other dancers out there who sought freedom in their self-expression. Not imitation of steps and choreographed scenarios, but authentic movement that evolved from within themselves.
“God, Sex and the Body” was one of the many dance workshops I took with Gabrielle in my mid-thirties. My severe dyslexia was not an issue as I wasn’t following steps. This set me free. I could dance in a room full of others and connect or NOT…
I found my dance tribe and to this day I still attend the Sweat Your Prayers-style dance events in the Bay Area and around the globe. It has proliferated and there are ecstatic dance communities in almost every part of the world I travel through–-Ashland, OR; Port Townsend, WA; Pahoa, HI, Prague, Paris, Brazil… .
And most of us have Gabrielle Roth to thank for spreading the word about dancing for dancing sake.
Back to the dream…
I continued my private dance exploration while studying over several years with Gabrielle. Tensions and constrictions in my body were breaking loose as I danced my emotions. The glacial blocks in my psyche were shifting and melting, sometimes it was painful internally, other times blissful.
Dance allowed me to travel through my emotional landscape without drowning in the fears and intensities.
I got curious instead of fearful when large waves took me into deeper waters of my past. What does this dance look like, feel like, where will it take me? The only way to find out was to let it flow through my dancing body. Fascinating! Suddenly the feelings I had avoided all my life— been trained to avoid, were now the fodder and fuel for creative development.
No only did I get physically and emotional stronger, I had found my “church”— my place to dance my prayers, inside and out. Issues such as bronchial illness and gallbladder ailments disappeared. Even my dyslexia!
So I danced and danced for several years and then one night when I was 37-years-old I had a dream that was not a dream. It was a message, an invitation. In the dream Gabrielle Roth swirled past me in a garden, dancing in great swoops and turns. She gestured with a long-fingered hand for me to follow her. I danced behind her through the lush garden. People were everywhere and they parted as we passed by, watching us dance. Gabrielle entered a maze, a green boxwood hedge labyrinth. I danced after her on the gravel path around and around the spiral until we reached the center.
Gabrielle stopped and turned to me, inviting me with a smile and those long-fingered hands to dance on her head. I rose above her and found myself dancing upside down with our crowns touching. She looked up and gave me a very encouraging grin and laughed. She supported my weight on her head as I spun and wove my arms like snakes in the air. I noticed that crowds of people, thousands, surrounding the labyrinth. As they watched me dance, they clapped and cheered.
I danced faster and faster. feeling lithe and free. Then Gabrielle who had been standing still as I danced upside down on her head, raised her arms in an invitation. I slide down and she embraced me. She pulled me close and kissed me on the lips. Her lips were warm but did not part. It was a sacred seal of blessing. It was sanctification and permission to teach. I was so surprised. Even in the dream I was surprised that I was meant to teach. It had never crossed my mind to teach on my own.
But what would I teach?
The dream was real. I could not dispute its message and Gabrielle’s seal of approval to step up to the plate and share my dance knowledge with others.
I started teaching the next day. By myself. That was 26 years ago. Since then I have taught hundreds of classes and workshops.
The message for you is—if your teacher blesses you to teach—do so—no matter how scary or how clueless you feel about what you have to give. You will be guided by the ones that have walked the path before you—seen and unseen.
This story will be included in my next book Dance Life. Copyright Lisa Alpine 2017