“Rhythm is our universal mother tongue. It is the language of the soul.”

―Gabrielle Roth

Do you ever feel like you’re a rare bird in your area? Does your dance world feel unusual and unique? Are you the only one carrying the banner for conscious dance in your neck of the woods?

Sometimes it’s easy to think that we’re the outliers, and that conscious dance, holistic movement, and the somatic arts are confined to the hip urban centers on either coast or a select circuit of retreat centers in lavish locations around the world.

Back in 2007 when a tongue-in-cheek phrase on my DJ business cards morphed into the title of a magazine and wound up being the umbrella name for a movement, I had no idea how far and wide this field would grow.

As a DJ who had been instrumental in bringing turntables and freestyle dance to places like Harbin Hot Springs and the Esalen Institute since the mid-90’s, I laughingly referred to myself as a ‘Conscious Dance Facilitator’ specializing in ‘House Construction’, ‘Break Repairs’, and ‘Disco Archeology.’

I wanted to clearly distance myself from the rave and nightclub DJ’s of the day, and embrace the healthy and holistic side of dance and movement in a lighthearted way. I’d been writing about dance, culture, and consciousness in various pamphlets for my store and underground magazines since 1991 or before.

So when the idea for a magazine presented itself to me one morning after a dance in the hot pool at Harbin, the name ‘Conscious Dancer’ seemed perfect. And as someone astutely pointed out some years later, the phrasing of the title puts the topic inside you. They said “It’s not Scientific America, it’s Scientific American.”

My co-founder Aspen Madrone and my creative director Laura Cirolia and I talked it over at length, and the consensus was to leave the term ‘conscious dance’ alone, and let it run wild and free and remain open source and generic so that it could be picked up by anyone in the field who cared to adopt it.

Conscious Dancer is the brand and trademark, and since 2012 has been the publishing arm of the Dance First Association. It’s been super gratifying to witness the proliferation of the term ‘conscious dance’ by so many leaders and event organizers around the world.

Before Gabrielle Roth passed away, her and I would have regular phone calls, I count her as one of my most valuable advisors in the early days. She was a big fan of the term I coined, ‘conscious dance’ and was also very adamant about how to frame 5Rhythms. “Don’t you dare call 5Rhythms ‘ecstatic dance’!” she would exclaim, “There’s so many more emotions being expressed besides ecstasy!”

Somewhat ironic, in that the title of her first book was “Maps to Ecstasy” but still very fitting that her and many others would feel much more comfortable under the umbrella of conscious dance. It’s allowed ‘ecstatic dance’ to evolve into it’s own genre of EDM-driven and festival-esque events, which fit neatly under the conscious dance banner, but not vice-versa.

Conscious Dance is a title carried comfortably by many more refined and quieter modalities such as Soul Motion, Authentic Movement, and Open Floor. It also is a good fit for more exuberant and action-oriented practices such as JourneyDanceChakraDance, or Nia.

Having been pressed to define the term I coined, the phrase “movement with an intention towards greater awareness” came to mind and has stuck. My goal has always been to operate on a cultural level to get as many people dancing and living embodied lives as possible. (and btw, please click on and share the short promo video above!)

That’s why I’ve been so thrilled lately to see how far-flung some of the locations listed on the MoveMap and in the Dance First members events list below have become! Alex Svoboda is offeringfreedomDANCE workshops in Russia, Croatia, and Spain. Vangelis Legakis is leading the Embodied Unity eco-somatic Dance and Nature Project on the island of Tenerife. Ellen Watson hostsSpiritDance SoulSong Somatic Arts Immersions in Bali. The list goes on and on…

The point is, when the term ‘conscious dance’ came into use in the 00’s, we knew it was a happening thing here in the Bay Area, and in places like New York City, Portland, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. We could count the big names in the world of facilitation on two hands.

Now as we’re closing in on 2020, it seems like conscious dance is finding it’s way into the farthest corners of the globe. World-class training programs are busy placing facilitators in the field, and theDance First Association continues providing support.

However you fit in the movement or whatever role you play, keep spreading the love and innovating your energy wherever you go. Your part of the ‘movement for a better world’ and we’re here to help keep you in motion!

Much love and happy dancing til next week!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Media Partner Spotlight – Win Tickets to InterFusion Festival!

Now here’s a concept we can really get behind! The InterFusion Festival is “the largest movement and healing arts fusion event in the U.S offering transformative workshops, evening shows & epic night parties.” Enter to win a pair of tickets and be sure to share this with your friends!


From Sept 1st thru 4th, enthusiasts from across the country and around the globe will converge at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria Virginia for a “holistic opportunity for participants at all levels to deepen their practice, explore new art forms, cross-train in multiple genres, share their arts with others, and connect with like-minded creative souls.”

Featuring over 20 genres of movement and healing arts including 5Rhythms, Acro Yoga, Biodanza, Bollywood, Contact Improv, Hoop Dance, Thai Massage, Zouk, Bachata, Tantra, Salsa, Kizomba, Meditation, Pole Dance, Belly Dance, Capoeira, Laughter Yoga, Mambo, Qi Gong, Samba, Tango, West Coast Swing, Mindfulness, and Meditation.

Develop new interpersonal connections as well as deepen existing ones with a vibrant community that stays connected throughout the year and reunites at various other events between major festivals. See extraordinary evening shows feature a variety lineup of world-known artists and rising stars with acts in dance, acrobatics and flow arts. Plus nightly themed parties with top DJs across six dedicated dance floors for Zouk, Bachata, Salsa, Kizomba, Swing, EDM, Pole, and Ecstatic Dance.