This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight is brought to you by Margaret H. Wagner, founder of WRITE IN THE BEAT™, a certified Open Floor and 5Rhythms® movement teacher weaving writing and art-making into her classes.

Dear Dancers, 

What a time we live in –  pandemic, politics, and protests combining with the pandemonium of fire, wind, and water. What can help us stay positive and fluid when the world makes us want to feel fixed to the couch?

My usual coping mechanism of working it out on a dance floor can’t happen the way it did six months ago. Even being in nature, which usually settles and inspires me, has been limited by California’s heat and smoke conditions. What can we do, as movers and dancers, when we’re displaced from our dance floors and the grounded sense of partnership and community movement provides? When our livelihood has paused, and we can’t even count on being in our home within the next 24 hours? I don’t have easy answers – I’ve turned to creative outlets more than ever.

Moving in my living room and dancing with people online has its limitations — and yet, I’m so thankful to have that opportunity. A stranger’s movement travels through the computer screen and lands in my heart, just like it did on the dance floor. When partnered with someone in an online class, I’ve fallen in love with how they move their hands, hips, or shoulders. I’m so grateful for this joy!

I find I do need to include other creative avenues beyond mindful movement to keep me settled. One creative modality isn’t enough. Pairing dancing with writing, poetry, and art translates well into Zoom. I’m blown away by the variety and depth of what students
express from simple one-word prompts: from gritty feelings about the protests to tender losses of loved ones, and from the wisdom of ancestors to the laughter of a pet’s antics. I actually look forward to these Zoom encounters because I feel closer to everyone by the end of class. What more can I ask for – intimacy achieved!

What else helps? Making marks on paper with paint, fingers, or pens – every stroke is another way to express what’s inside. I keep a box of art supplies beside my desk, so I’m ready to collage, paint, doodle, or draw whenever the spirit moves me. Ten minutes can make a big difference in how I feel. I may not be able to see art in museums yet, but I’ve taken an online class from London. I’ve spent some time recreating how my favorite artist Matisse “drew with scissors,” and that keeps me going!

I encourage you to try different creative avenues and to mix and match them. I hope they will provide you with a sense of connection and fill your heart.

I’m looking forward to assisting Open Floor’s Ground Floor Lab. This innovative five-day lab held online from September 9 through 13 is a concise yet profound way to explore Open Floor’s multi-dimensional movement curriculum. Come join us!

Sending you possibilities in mindful movement and the arts,


For more info on WRITE IN THE BEAT™ workshops and Margaret H. Wagner, please visit https://margaretwagner.comFor more information about Open Floor’s Ground Floor Lab, Sept. 9 to 13, please visit:–sept-9-13-online.html.

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