This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight is brought to you by Madison, Wisconsin-based Qoya facilitator Sarah Sadie, founder of Studio Sadie!
Hello, and Happy Autumn, here in the Northern Hemisphere!
How are you holding up?
Myself, I hit the “six-month wall” that was much talked about sometime in September. As my kids went “back” to school—one to a substantially modified college experience and the other to high school…up in her bedroom on zoom—I found myself flagging a bit. How much longer will this go on? My friends mourned a “lost” summer. My family struggled to figure out if there would be holiday gatherings this year (we’re still wrestling with the question). I find I’m having more days of low concentration, more trouble focusing, more lost hours here and there. I try to remember that this is normal and expected and that “do less” is an excellent motto for these challenging times.
And I dance.
Thank goodness I have dance. At this point, I’ve repurposed a corner of my basement specifically for dancing. Have you noticed, too, how our physical spaces shift and transform to answer the needs of the time?
As our physical spaces transform, our weekly patterns do, too. Since March, I’ve changed my schedule to teach Qoya classes online regularly on Sundays and Tuesdays. I came back to dance a couple of years ago purely intuitively, knowing it was something I wanted to do at my most profound level. COVID has made it imperative for me to take the time and prioritize dance for myself. Dancing helps me ground myself in the immediate moment. Dancing helps me say to my friends and family, “I don’t know what next summer or even next week will look like.”
And I don’t need to. I’m breathing now. During a Qoya class, it’s enough to know I’m lifting my arms, circling my head, bending deep into my hips. There is no doubt in my mind that dancing 1-2 times a week (or more!) keeps me grounded in my body and open to experience the present moment – whatever that might be. All of this is helping me to navigate anxious times.
Added to this gift of embodiment, dancing through COVID has given me the gift of community. I know I’m never dancing alone. Each week, my community connects energetically across the interwebs, listening and responding to each other with care and support. While I miss dancing in a studio space and creating sacred space for others to enter, dancing online has allowed me to connect with dancers from all the corners of the nation and forge connections that are dear to me. I have built an expanded family that I now treasure as “my people.” The online space welcomes dancers who might never have gone to a dance class or yoga studio in person —for whom dancing in their own living rooms, off-screen, feels more comfortable.
That may be the best gift of all.
Dancers are some of the warmest, most open-hearted people you’ll ever meet (yes, that is a generalization, but it’s also true to my experience). I could speculate why this is, but I don’t need to understand it to feel it and appreciate it. Gathering with my Qoya people is a highlight of my week.
I know I’m not alone in feeling deep gratitude for my family of dancers and the experience of dancing through these difficult times. At the end of each class, we share out the words in our hearts. Gratitude comes up again and again. This fall, at my online studio, we’re beginning to expand this experience by growing our community practice to include a semi-regular gratitude ritual separate from the dance classes. I believe that a healthy gratitude practice plants the seeds for peaceful spirit, resilience, and creativity—all of which we will need as we head into winter.
Somehow, through all of this, I do believe dancing is helping. Not just on the individual level, and not just in our Zoom circles. On a broader level, I believe that every time we dance, we connect to other dancers across the planet in our hearts and spirits. I feel that. The health restored that I experience for myself also ripples out. We’re dancing spirit. We’re dancing health. We’re dancing restored relationships. We’re dancing justice. We’re dancing peace. And we all dance together.
I look forward to dancing with you soon!
Studio Sadie Website and Online Qoya Class Info: