A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

~ John Lennon

Why are connections so important? What are your most valuable ones? How do you maintain them?

What a difference a year makes! If you’d have told me last October that (almost) everyone would be wearing facemasks and trying to stay at least six feet apart, that kids would be doing school online, and no dances, concerts, or conferences would be happening I would have been highly skeptical.

But here we are, seven or eight months into our ‘socially distanced’ society with the endpoint still somewhere way off on an unknown horizon. The question looms: Will things ever be the same? Maybe or maybe not, but one thing is for sure, we’ll be carrying some of the lessons learned forward with us regardless.

So much of what you and I would have probably taken for granted in the ‘before times’ now reveals its value. All of those casual interactions that give daily life so much color and texture are now rare, masked, and distant.

Sharing a smile with a stranger that starts a conversation is somewhat more complicated when you’re both wearing masks. That noisy buzz in the air in a crowded café that can be so conducive to thinking and writing has been silenced. Contact improv? Forget it.

What’s being revealed is the value of connection. What we’re learning are ways to innovate to keep those connections alive and well. The longer we endure our ’social distance’ the more ways we find to adjust and adapt. To borrow a slogan from a well-known and well-loved public servant currently on the national stage, we can ‘build back better’.

Much as we love to malign our screen-centric world and lament the hours spent behind our keyboards or staring at the devices in hand, can you imagine where we’d be without them? Video conferencing has been around for a while, but it really got up to speed for the pandemic.

A year ago I felt like an early adopter when I would steer clients to Zoom, it seemed like such an improvement over Skype. Now it’s ubiquitous with everyone from kids in school to conscious dancers doing their best to have it serve as a platform for connection.

I recently managed to get my 93-year-old Dad up in Oregon up and running on a Zoom chat, even taught him how to screen share. It’s a huge improvement over the telephone when we need to go over some documents together. Years ago I tried to get him to use Skype, but only succeeded in crashing his computer during the install and he refused to try it again.

For me, some of the biggest shifts and counterintuitive discoveries have been around the vinyl-spinning and record-collecting side of life. For five years preceding the pandemic I was toting my turntables to Berkeley every Friday night and playing music for the Dance Jam community.

When the lockdown hit and we had to shut down, I sorted out some software and began streaming a set at the same time on Friday nights as always, doing the disc-jockey thing directly from my record stacks. What followed was an evolution of the meaning of connection.

When you’re behind the decks, playing records for a group of dancers, the feedback is instantaneous. People vote with their feet. You watch for the overall texture of the movement of the crowd. You want to keep them dancing, one wrong record and they’ll head for the door.

Online is a much different feedback loop. You’re watching the numbers, the windows, the chat. Engagement is the metric; are people sticking around or interacting with each other? About a month go I acquired a microphone and started announcing tracks, telling stories, and talking directly to my listeners.

That’s when I realized, that for me at least, the ‘private radio’ format is much more engaging than simply playing music. It makes it more of a ‘live event’ and on Twitter, where a lot of my fans are, it’s become a real party.

live-tweet the record covers and folks chime in with all sorts of crazy comments, gifs, and links. Meanwhile, my sweetheart Isabelle is dancing in the living room, so it feels like we’re the nucleus of a special party that’s open to friends like you from around the world.

All in all, it’s changed the nature of our Friday gathering from Berkeley locals to far-flung friends from the East Coast to Thailand. I’ve gotten more in touch with my music and more deeply connected to fans on a musical and aesthetic level. We’re not as constrained by the demands of the dance floor and have a wider musical latitude. In other words, it’s a blast!

So ask yourself how your connections might be shifting in some unexpected and positive way. Like all things in life, forward motion is the key. The view changes as you go along your path. When one door closes another one opens, as long as you have your eyes open and trust your heart.

A year ago today Isabelle and I began our journey together in earnest. On the eve of the lockdown six months ago she moved in under my roof. I’ve watched as she officially became a Reiki master and encouraged her as her professional practice develops. We’re huge inspirations for one another and strange as it may seem to say in 2020, we’re having the best year ever. We haven’t missed a beat yet and our love is stronger every day.

I hope you can tune in and join us some Friday night or Wednesday afternoon soon! Say hello in the Mixlr chat, post a meme in the Twitter thread, or show off your dance moves on Zoom, (if you join our Patreon). I’m working hard twice a week to share some good vibes and lift your spirits with music and stories, so c’mon in, we’d love to see you there!

Much love and good grooving till next week!

M+

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

Music for you on Wednesdays and Fridays!

I DJ directly from my stacks of vinyl on Wednesday afternoons and Friday nights! Grab the links on the Dance Jam Patreon Page and follow the live-tweet covers @markmetz!

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Dance First Member Insight: Wildcore Movement founder Brietta Leader!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight is brought to you by Brietta Leader, founder and creator of Wildcore Movement!

Cycles of Wellness

The cycles of wellness I am inspired to write about today connect us with our physicality, our energy body, and the bridge of metaphor that supports us in weaving our inner and outer worlds. In addition to using the word wellness in its holistic essence, I am inspired to play with The Well. The Well as a metaphor links us into the cycles of our daily body rhythms and to the ancient stories and sacredness of the Well Waters.

The natural spring within us has cycles we can pay attention to as a means to guide us on the path to wellness. In August, I navigated a lot of bad news, drama, and grief that could easily have compounded if I chose to turn on any outside media. The sensation in my body was one of welling up, a sense that the inner reservoir had reached its maximum of grief, and the floodgates of tears were about to open. I have noticed many friends are quick to tear up these days too. It is our body’s natural dam release, I suppose. It is part of the cycle of wellness and cleansing of the soul. If you need support with your welling up, I suggest a sappy movie, a good couch talk with a friend, or dive into the dance.

Another style of well I have experienced after working too much or being too busy is the Dry Well. This can happen for various reasons, but no matter the cause, the dry well causes sensations of bitterness, depletion or a sense of lost hope. Replenishing the Dry Well requires your favorite self-care technique: a swim, a bath, and/or time alone to gather our energies and re-fill the well.

Tapping our creative well-spring is my favorite part of the cycle. At this point, the inner well is bubbling with an abundance of inspiration, and the heart feels full. The energy channels within the body are open, clear, and the spiritual co-creation (however you define it) is aligning. I find that dancing every day keeps my creative well-spring tapped, along with inspiring books, painting projects, adventures, and friends. As we experience this global initiation together, I feel the importance of tending the inner well is a great way to discover imbalances. Like water, our inner creative well connects us to the deep, dark, and supportive energies of Mother Earth. As the energies or the waters bubble up from the depths, give them form with your most heartfelt creation – and share it with others if you can. There are so many lovely offerings here on the Movement Map/Conscious Dancer Magazine! If you are ready for a weekly online one-hour class that conditions the body, taps your creative expression, and leads you on a path of untamed self-discovery, give the WildCore™ Movement a try. It is M-W-F 8:30-9:30 am PST

I have two more Online Offerings:

Creative Empowerment October 27-November 1st

‘Awaken Your Medicine Woman’ a 16-week journey with 13 women, begins January 2021

See you on the zoom floor~

Dancing Love

Brietta Leader

Founder of WildCore™Movement

(Would you like to write an Insight Column for Monday Love and be featured on the Conscious Dancer website? Send us an email today!)