"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes!"

~ Mark Twain

Do you have a dream? What is your vision of an ideal society? Where do you fit in the social strata of our world?

Here in the USA, today is a holiday dedicated to the memory the Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. Born on January 15, 1929, the annual holiday happens on the third Monday of the month, nearest his birthday. 

Through the narrowing lens of history he is remembered mainly for the mark he made as a civil rights leader, leaving behind a legacy of landmark actions and events including the March on Washington in 1963 where he delivered his epic “I Have a Dream ” speech. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1964.

Less well-remembered through the sands of time is his role as a peace activist and strong stance against the military-industrial state. By 1967, in particular with his “ Beyond Vietnam” speech given at the Riverside Church in New York City he was advocating for the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement to be a common cause in the quest for social justice.

One can only imagine what he would say about today’s world. Society dances with the winds of change as the pendulum of popular opinion and thought swings from extreme to extreme. As always-on modern communications and an ever-shrinking news cycle make us more focused-on-the-current-moment than ever, it’s important to emphasize the lessons of history to keep our perspective.

It’s easy to think that we’re living in one of the more tumultuous times on record, but in fact, the world is becoming more peaceful . Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement, but we will do well to not fall back either. In some ways we’ve been lulled into a sense of normalcy for the past few decades, for a bracing refresher course on the tumult of the Watergate years, check out Rachel Maddow’s “Bagman ” podcast for the Spiro Agnew story, or Leon Neyfakh’s “Slowburn” for a play-by-play of Nixon’s downfall. 

Pondering the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. leads to some unsettling conclusions, and points to the ongoing work that needs to be done. He was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Which means that many of the people who hated him at the time are still alive and well, (and voting). 

Another useful gem from the pages of history is the story of “The Rainbow Coalition ” formed in 1969 by Fred Hampton in Chicago. Hampton was a Black Panther leader who invited the Young Patriots Organization, (White Confederate-flag waving Southerners), the Latino Young Lords, Women’s groups, and others to work together for economic justice. Denouncing racism and division was the prerequisite for uniting under his umbrella and working towards a common cause. 

History has many examples for those of us who believe in tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. We have a responsibility to model these values to the next generation. Building coalitions across identities isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. 

At our weekly event, Dance Jam in Berkeley, we offer free admission to anyone under 18, and are happy to see a good number of young folks dancing with our long-time regulars, some of whom are well into their eighties. In this way it feels like we’re keeping a living legacy of DJ culture and conscious dance alive and well.

Tolerance is a tricky topic. On the surface, it’s easy to miss the point, and say that more tolerance is always good in every situation. The idea of ‘Free Speech’ is sometimes exploited to this end. In some ways, society’s tangle with tolerance mirrors the conscious dance community’s quandary of consent. 

With either one, a line has to be drawn. There’s a fascinating philosophy known as the “Popper Paradox” that helps clarify just what is and isn’t acceptable in a civilized and sustainable society. In 1945, surveying the wreckage of WW-II, Karl Popper said “ In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” In other words, it’s a question of self-preservation. If we tolerate those whose platform is our annihilation, then we will cease to exist. 

The question of consent on the dance floor is somewhat similar. If there are no agreed-upon boundaries regarding consent, then those who insist on engaging with others against their will can run riot. If this is tolerated, the gentler souls will vote with their feet and stay home, leading to the demise of the dance. 

Just as Anna Halprin says that “Our bodies are a microcosm of the universe” so are our dance floors a microcosm of society. We can build the culture we crave one kind move at a time. 

Today is a good time to get clear on our values and ideals for the other 364 days of the year. Martin Luther King Jr. modeled strength and resilience through non-violence and belief. Let’s do his legacy justice!

M+

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

Dance First Member Spotlight :: Ya'Acov Darling Khan & his upcoming Movement Medicine workshops!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Ya’Acov Darling Khan and the groundbreaking modality, Movement Medicine ! With a brilliant back-story and a long legacy of leadership, Movement Medicine has established itself as one of the premiere forms of conscious dance known around the world.

He is the founder and director, along with Susannah Darling Khan , together they have developed and evolved the practice since 1989. Their path has led them around the world, and is informed by their work with shamans from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle, as well as an 18-year apprenticeship with 5Rhythms founder Gabrielle Roth. They offer workshops, teacher trainings, apprenticeships, and the annual summer ‘Long Dance’ the pinnacle of the school’s year held at the Earth Spirit Centre near Glastonbury not far from their home base in the UK.

“Movement Medicine is for everyone who wants to wake up, discover more of their creative potential, study shamanism in a down-to-earth way, discover ecstasy without drugs, find community in a way that doesn’t require giving up individuality and find the courage to make your own unique contribution.”

With a full calendar and busy travel schedule they work hard to bring their work to people all over the world. Appearances in the USA have been less common, that’s why we want to let you know about two West Coast workshops coming up later this month! Starting in San Rafael in Marin County from January 25-27 with “Jaguar in the Body – Butterfly in the Heart ” and then up to the Madrona MindBody Institute from Jan 30 to February 3rd with “The Alchemy of Infinity – Healing the Cycle of Giving and Receiving” you’ve got two opportunities to experience Movement Medicine with Ya’Acov Darling Khan firsthand.

“Since pre-history, dance, song and ritual-making have played an important role in the human community. Movement Medicine is a contemporary expression of this inheritance. It marries ancient and modern wisdom, and supports you to experience the transformative power of your own potential in co-creative community.”

I’ve had two different occasions to interview Ya’Acov on theConscious Dancer Podcast , you can hear our first conversation here, and then more of his story here . There are some tremendous tales and amazing anecdotes in both of our chats that are really worth listening to!

They are both also avid media-makers, Susannah’s creations include the CDs (in order of most recent) ‘All the Earth is Sacred’ (accompanied by a song book of the same name), ‘Elemental’, ‘Movement Medicine CD 1’ (with Ya’Acov), ‘Still Waves’, ‘Wild Prayer’, ‘Party for God’ and ‘The Walrog’. You can also hear her on the Long dance CDs ’21 Gratitudes’ and ‘Another 21 Gratitudes’. She wrote the book ‘ The Walrog‘, a magical fairy tale for adults and children.

Ya’Acov is the best-selling author of ‘Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart – the Real-Life Initiation of an Everyday Shaman’. His new book, ‘Shaman – Opening the Door Between the Worlds’ is coming out this spring. His musical creations include the CDs: ‘Shaman’s Song’, ‘Movement Medicine CD 1’ (with Susannah). You can also hear him on the Long Dance CDs ’21 Gratitudes’ and ‘Another 21 Gratitudes’.

We’re happy and fortunate to count Movement Medicine in as members of the Dance First Association and as leaders in the global Conscious Dancer community! Reserve your spot right away in either one of these soon-to-come workshops, and experience Movement Medicine firsthand!

Learn more:
School of Movement Medicine Website

Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart – Movement Medicine Weekend with Ya’Acov Darling Khan
Jan 25-27, Marin Masonic Lodge, San Rafael, CA

The Alchemy of Infinity :: Healing the Cycle of Giving & Receiving with Ya’Acov Darling Khan
Jan 30 – Feb 3, Madrona MindBody Institute, Port Townsend, WA