Have you ever had your day go sideways? Last night I’d planned on getting up and writing about my grandfather’s mysterious indigenous roots, (his middle name was ‘Comanche’ and no one knows the real story), and philosophizing about the nature of human migration on this holiday formerly known as Columbus Day here in the US.
And then we’d planned on driving up through the Napa Valley to pick up my daughter who was going to spend the day swimming at her friend’s grandma’s house in Calistoga, and deliver her to her mom in Sebastopol, passing through Santa Rosa along the way.
But alas… we woke up this morning noticing smoke in the air, and a few taps on the smartphone revealed that huge swaths of the North Bay are on fire, many roads are closed, and people are frantically evacuating ahead of the flames. A 200 acre brush fire grew to 20,000 acres in the high winds overnight, and several more fires have started in the area.
So I’m understandably distracted, and will be spending a good part of my day making sure folks I know in the area are ok, getting our spare room ready in case someone needs it, and generally following the story. I’m safe and sound on a hill with few trees some 50 miles away, but Santa Rosa and the North Bay is my old stomping grounds, so I have innumerable connections there close to the fires. Needless to say, we won’t be doing any swimming in Calistoga today…
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some really exciting public speaking engagements, (such as the one at Cambridge Prep School in San Francisco, in the photo above) and I recently wrote up my story and motivational speaking bio that I’ll enclose here for your Monday Love reading pleasure.
Have a great week, and remember to be ready to open your heart and home and pitch in with love whenever life calls for it!
I got started with public speaking in a roundabout way, as an outgrowth from my role as publisher and founder of Conscious Dancer magazine. I was invited to give a keynote at a publishing conference in Manhattan, and spent weeks buckling down on my slides and preparing my presentation. In spite of the butterflies in my stomach, I was totally surprised and delighted by how much fun it was, I’d never received an ovation for speaking before.
The audience was very impressed, my slides and topics went over well, and when a couple of folks from Condé Nast buttonholed me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it, I was hooked. I’d presented an original idea about the evolution of publishing in the digital age that was a totally new concept to everyone there.
I’ve always been the one who’s happy to grab the mic and emcee at events, being a loud guy with a deep booming voice has its advantages. And every since my high school and college days I’ve had a knack for synthesizing trends and current events into novel and unique ideas, so much so that I began calling myself a “cultural engineer” back in the 90’s.
The most well-known term that I can take credit for coining is “conscious dance.” I’d been deeply involved in the DJ culture of the early 90’s, and my clothing and music store Ameba on Haight Street in San Francisco was widely recognized as one of the main hubs of the rave scene. (That’s also where I started to pay attention to why vinyl records were somehow more enriching than the new digital formats that were appearing at the time, which has led to my current work in the field of analog awareness.)
After Ameba closed and the rave scene lost its appeal to me, I began to make connections and bring my vinyl DJ gear to various retreat centers around California, including Harbin Hot Springs and the Esalen Institute. I began to see how much more energetic the dancers were when they had been meditating, doing yoga, and soaking in hot water all day.
This led to me actually making tongue-in-cheek business cards in 2005 where I billed myself as a “Conscious Dance Facilitator.” A few years later, after traveling around the West Coast and Hawaii with my girlfriend at the time and seeing the variety and growth of different barefoot-freestyle-boogie type dances and witnessing the growth of modalities such as 5Rhythms and Soul Motion, we decided to launch a magazine for the field and call it Conscious Dancer.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and you’ll see the term “conscious dance” used widely all over the globe. We published a quarterly print edition and sprinkled it far and wide to retreat centers and hot spots around the world, and before long this loose and undefined field was a movement with a name to umbrella itself under.
In 2012, after many personal and professional adjustments, I launched the Dance First Association, to change the business model for Conscious Dancer and provide a membership organization for the field. This provides a greater level of service to the teachers and training organizations, and provides a stronger publishing platform.Conscious Dancer is now online, with a weekly blog/newsletter series called Monday Love and the MoveMap, a comprehensive clearinghouse for member events.
All of these developments and initiatives have provided me with more opportunities for public speaking. I’ve been invited to Bali twice to work with SpiritDance SoulSong, an international group of movement facilitators on the topics of marketing, practice building, and analog awareness. I’ve been brought to Boulder and worked in the Bay Area with Turning The Wheel, a non-profit outreach organization, teaching similar subjects in schools. Recently I gave a motivational speech to a large group of advanced placement at a Preparatory Academy in San Francisco covering the topics of contribution vs entitlement, the double-edged sword of digital culture, and actionable time-management techniques.
Due to my extensive experience in both the entrepreneurial and somatic fields, I’m also in demand for creating great results with small groups and one-on-one coaching clients. Working via video chat with clients all over the world, (Australia, Canada, New York, Florida, Indonesia, etc), I’ve been instrumental in helping folks launch new programs, develop new trainings, and build existing practices.
I’m very eager to reach new audiences, and speak in front of different groups such as corporate events and conferences. Meeting planners, event organizers, and educational administrators all love working with me, they can count on memorable presentations that create lasting results. I have a stellar track record, and am often invited back for repeat engagements.
The most shocking and surprising part of my story is how far I’ve come. Before I discovered the value of contribution in my mid-20’s and learned the meaning of work, I had hit rock bottom in a sea of entitlement, a doomed disaster of bad habits and trouble. The arc of my journey from homeless-punk-rocker to globe-trotting-public-speaker-
Thanks for reading and let me know how I can be in service to you!
Dance First Member Spotlight – Anna and Daria Halprin and the Tamalpa Institute!
Whenever someone asks me about the roots of Conscious Dance or who the living legends are, one name that always comes up is Anna Halprin.
Actively teaching today at age 97, she is the creator of the Life/Art Process and one of the leading lights in the movement. Mentored byMargaret H’Doubler and influenced by Ruth St. Denis, Isadora Duncan, and Merce Cunningham, she co-founded the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop in 1959, establishing herself as a pioneer of postmodern dance.
Her daughter Daria Halprin is the driving force behind formalizing the work into a comprehensive training program, co-founding the Tamalpa Institute with her in 1978 where the Life/Art Process continues to evolve and transform lives around the world.
So much good work and somatic inspiration have sprung forth from the outdoor decks and spectacular forest at Mountain Home Studio, Anna’s home base on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais designed and built by her late husband, the renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
You can participate by joining in or co-creating a Planetary Dancewherever you are. First created 37 years ago, “The Planetary Dance is an annual all-day ritual of healing and community renewal. It brings people of all ages and abilities together in a beautiful setting to dance for a purpose.”
A documentary film about her life and art, Breath Made Visible directed by Ruedi Gerber, premiered in 2010. Her books “Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance” and “Returning to Health: With Dance, Movement & Imagery” are both foundational works in the movement as well as Daria Halprin’s “The Expressive Body in Life, Art, and Therapy: Working with Movement, Metaphor and Meaning.”
Today, the Tamalpa Institute offers trainings at their facilities in Marin County, California, and at various retreat centers and locations worldwide. Tamalpa alumni offer work in embodied creativity and expressive arts therapy around the world.
The Tamalpa ArtCorps is their non-profit outreach program that brings the healing power of creative movement and expression to underserved communities around the world. With scholarships, community grants, and mentorships, the ArtCorps bring their important work into hospitals, community centers, homeless shelters and jails internationally.
Visit www.Tamalpa.org to learn more about the Tamalpa Institute and the Tamalpa ArtCorps. Find out how you can sign up for a training, attend a class os workshop, or support their work. Tamalpa Institute’s programs are recognized by the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) and the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA).
This Tuesday night, (that’s tomorrow!), you can attend the “Singing Body” a special Tuesday Evening Workshop with Anna Halprin and guest artist Dohee Lee at the historic Mountain Home Studio in Kentfield.
Singing Body – Workshop with Anna Halprin and Dohee Lee
Oct 10, 6:30 – 9:00pm,
Mountain Home Studio, 15 Ravine Way, Kentfield, CA