“Gratitudes the attitude!"

~Anon

Did you know there are three different kinds of meringue? How do you clarify butter? Why does a pie crust need to be chilled before baking?

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Thanksgiving Week here in the USA! For almost everyone, that means all roads lead to the kitchen, which is the heart of most every household. Of all the holidays in the US, in some ways Thanksgiving, (or Friends-giving for those who gather outside of family), is the most user-friendly, since there are few religious connotations, and the idea of feasting and giving gratitude is pan-cultural.

Dancing and dining together have some community-building elements in common. First of all, they’re two activities that bring us together face-to-face in the same space, which is where trust and connection is most easily formed. Second, they both invite an element of collaboration. And third, the best dances and meals all carry with them a spirit of improvisation.

Lastly, they each require a bit of effort to show up. As we all know, sometimes the sofa exerts a subtle center of gravity, a magnetic field that can be almost irresistible when it’s time to leave the house. But usually, whether it’s a somatic soirée or a social gathering, we feel better afterwards for having went than if we avoided it altogether.

And whether it’s dancing or dining, it’s always an opportunity to practice going with the flow. Sometimes we find ourselves in conversations where it’s easier to simply grin and bear it instead of confronting an opposing opinion head on. Just like on the dance floor when we politely nod and turn away from an unwanted encounter, these aren’t adversarial environments. It’s a dinner, not a debate. A dance, not a cage match.

If you’re fortunate enough to be gathering with friends or family this Thursday, just be thankful for the little things, and remember, just modeling gratitude is a gift in and of itself. If you’ve got the resources or time and energy to give back somehow, so much the better. I recently read that clean socks are one of the most in-demand items for homeless folks, so I’m planning on picking up a bulk bundle and keeping them handy to pass along when I see a hand out.

Here in Northern California we’re immersed in the smoke from the worst fires to ever strike our state. Many thousands of people have lost their homes, their belongings, or worse yet, their loved ones. It’s more than most of us can imagine to endure, and also gives rise to the feeling it could be any one of us next. We’re headed into a new era of uncertainty and whatever community-building muscles we can build now are going to serve us well moving forward.

Recently there was a research study that found that community and human connection is one of the most important indicators for longevity and well-being in our later years. I had lunch with a neuroscientist friend after DJing at the Palo Alto Sunday morning dance yesterday, (that’s me with my records in the photo above!) and he was pointing out how humans are hardwired to build trust and rapport best when we are face-to-face within a few feet of each other.

So as we dive headfirst into the depths of another holiday season, it’s a good time to set aside our screens and open ourselves up to the fascinating world of friends and family that is right in front of us. And remember, contribution comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s as simple as simply looking something up and helping someone with their knowledge.

This week our focus has been on meringue, as in the lemon variety. Had Teresa not been in pursuit of the perfect pie, I might have never known that there are actually three varieties – Swiss, French, and Italian, depending on the way the egg whites and sugar are handled. And the fact that “meringue slippage” is a real problem would have never crossed my mind. The struggle is real!

Appreciation, acceptance, and acknowledgement are three handy values to hold as we share and celebrate. May your season shine and your connections deepen as we step into these last weeks of the year!

Much love and gratitude, and Happy Thanksgiving!

M+

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

Dance First Member Spotlight :: Critical Mass Dance Company!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on the incomparable Los Angeles-based Critical Mass Dance Company ! Led by E. Sophia Kozak, author of “Dance from the Heart”, Critical Mass is an acclaimed organization with a dynamic variety of programs.

Together with her colleagues Patille Violeta, Azucena Ortiz, and Gabriela Garcia, they embrace the values of movement as a social change strategy, transformation from within, dance as a healing tool, full creative expression, and the inherent value in all.

Well-known for their fluorescent black-light dance performances that tell illuminating and uplifting stories aided by the use of UV-reactive props such as wings, ribbons and aerial silks  they also offer workshops and trainings in the ‘Dance from the Heart’ practice, which is a seven-step movement-based method of manifesting your dreams. (Visit their website for a free pdf intro to the model!)

They have an inspiring community outreach effort that helps underserved women and girls in the LA area. The Girl’s Empowerment program cultivates self-confidence, positive body image and healthy relationships and seeks to reduce/prevent bullying, depression and eating disorders among teens.

The Women’s Empowerment Program supports women healing from trauma such as sexual and domestic violence, helping them reconnect to their bodies, heal, and cultivate healthy relationships to self and others. They also offer a Caregivers and Kids Program that supports young mothers and other caregivers with infants and young children up to age seven.

Coming up on Saturday, Dec 8th, join CMDC for the “Light Your Way Winter Solstice Gathering” at the Indigo Yoga Studio in Alta Dena. Wear white clothing and dance under the glow of blacklight and set your intention to manifest a heart-felt dream this winter. Solstice is the darkest day of the year, gather to welcome in the new light!

We highly recommend connecting with the Critical Mass community if you are in the LA area! We’re proud to have CMDC as members of Dance First and recognize the great work they are doing expanding and evolving the field of Conscious Dance.

Light Your Way :: Critical Mass Winter Solstice Gathering
Saturday, Dec 8th, Indigo Yoga, Altadena, CA