This week’s Dance First Member Insight is from Sedona-based Maneesha McClure, founder of Dance Alchemy.

Dear Dancers,

In the mid-’60s, Gabrielle Roth arrived at Esalen and began teaching in Fritz Perls’ gestalt workshops. Her teachings focused on getting a society of ‘up in the head’ people to open their bodies and resolve their repressed pain and emotions through dance. At the same time, I was a teenager on the other side of the U.S., marching in Civil rights and peace marches and singing songs of love and freedom.

Soon began my path as a seeker, an adventure of lifetimes, coming in contact with an enlightened Master who brought a revolutionary understanding: That for centuries, man has been in a fight with himself; suffering from social and religious conditioning which made enjoying all aspects of life in this physical body “wrong,” and repressing the body, needs and emotions to find spirituality, “right.” His attitude was that all of life is divine. Only through both – being fully in human life, yet entering the space within – do we grow as divine human beings and become a whole person. And that this split between us and our bodies needs to be healed.

A simple example – have you examined your self after dance? Have you experienced how, after you dance to the fullest, it is easier to stop, feel the body in stillness, and witness the dance of aliveness flowing through you? Isn’t that a sacred moment?

In that community, by including my body and all its feelings, meditations involving movement and stillness, and inner work through cutting-edge therapies of the time while dancing through it all, I found that life began! I dropped dance performance and technique and plunged into inner exploration, free dance, and meditation. Eventually, Dance Alchemy began to evolve out of living this essential understanding.

Since that time, we have seen the rise of the awareness that for therapy to heal people from the traumas of their lives, emotions, energies, and the physical body have to be part of the work. Somatic Therapies like SE, Hakomi, and various forms of dance therapy, have become more mainstream. We no longer find that the only treatment in this head-oriented society is talking, thinking, and medication. Hallelujah!

I have been very touched to read about the work of everyone on this Conscious Dancer platform Mark has created, and the unique ways each of you are sharing the joy and possibility you have found through dance. I feel at home with this community’s spirit and intentions; I, too aim to share joy and possibility in every movement.

Dance Alchemy is about transforming energy through dance. It attempts to provide processes for deep emotional exploration, healing of past patterns that limit our life now, but especially to introduce the magic and power of dance and meditation. Although I am trained in childhood development, hypnosis, metaphysics, bodywork, and Somatic Experiencing Trauma Healing, my passion is to create the space for self-transformation – for something bigger to happen.

A Dance Alchemy workshop might offer a journey into a particular issue – but it always explores what alchemy is. First, alchemy is the possibility of welcoming our energies and feelings as they are (dark or light, sad or happy, angry or loving) and not as we think they should be. Then, it is the possibility of allowing these things to be felt and expressed in their full aliveness and intensity – which through dance is creative, not destructive. And the third element of alchemy is the power of presence, watching, witnessing, both as we move and in stillness.

In my experience, real change happens when we can live the full intensity of life’s storms while connecting with that which is beyond them. And dance is such a beautiful way to do it! In this way, we can invite the mysterious gift hidden within each situation life gives us to be revealed and received.

I feel honored to share what has opened me up to life’s magnificence, and I hope I get the chance to dance with you!

This coming Wednesday, April 28th, is the last in a series of weekly Dance Alchemy Heart Meditations online. In May, I am excited to offer a women’s workshop in 3 classes, The Power of Feeling, and 2 weekends, Being Yourself – Dance, the Joy of Rebellion, and Emotional Intelligence through Dance Alchemy. In June, I go to Europe and do some workshops live in person – it has been more than a year! Although I so look forward to dance in a room together, I am tremendously grateful for the chance to work so deeply and personally on zoom with people from all over the world – all of whom have touched me deeply.

I leave you with a famous quote:

Life is not a problem to be solved; it is a mystery to be lived (and danced!)

Love, Maneesha

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