"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding."

Do you ever question your ideology? What are your most radical points of view? How easy is it for you to shift your beliefs?

In today’s world it’s almost too easy to be an extremist. In the modern media milieu, the loudest voices on the fringes often garner the most attention.

The challenge we face as we dance together in the marketplace of ideas is to draw our own careful conclusions based on factual information and research rather than hyperbole and propaganda.

When it comes to forming opinions and choosing the best course of action, we are all facing a new reality that quite frankly few are prepared to deal with. Distrust in mainstream media outlets is at an all-time high.

The fact that some outlets present highly partisan or biased opinions as news makes it more difficult for the ones who are striving to maintain the ethics of honest journalism.

(The loss of The Fairness Doctrine was a watershed moment in American discourse, the effects of which we continue to feel to this day.)

More people are getting their news through social media than ever, which means they are trusting the algorithms to create their own individually designed filter bubble. It’s a double-edged sword, one of the best things about social media is that no two people have the same experience, (also one of the worst things about it!)

All this comes to mind as we here in the USA gear up for another election cycle. After the last one, I started to seriously question how public opinion is shaped and the media landscape in general. It was like waking up with a hangover realizing I’d been through some sort of psychological operation that I didn’t fully understand.

As a voice in the dance world, I feel like I can contribute by helping others understand how to consciously navigate our rapidly evolving culture. We’ve got an opportunity to model best practices for others based on our somatic sense of the world.

There’s a somewhat controversial concept called the “Horseshoe Theory” that I’ve found useful in making sense of all of this. When the extremes on the far right and the far left are amplified, steady progress from the sober center is stunted. Who benefits from this? Well, to begin with, kleptocracy thrives in the soil of chaos.

Every time that either side is emotionally inflamed by a hot button issue we are driven further apart. When one side vilifies the other, both are dehumanized and the chances of progress through conscious conversation are nil.

When you look at recent and current events through the lens of the Horseshoe Theory, it becomes apparent that some of the noisiest controversies serve only to distract from the deeper issues at hand. Some say that the goal isn’t so much to get us to take one side or the other, as it is to discredit the idea of objective truth altogether.

Much of what is framed as a partisan political battle between right & left does nothing more than drive us into warring camps while our commonality and shared social needs are ignored. Shrinking things down to a simple left versus right conflict keeps our attention away from the epic spiritual struggle of our time; the authoritarian convergence of official corruption and global organized crime versus western liberal democracy writ large.

So what’s a good-hearted and well-meaning conscious dancer to do? First of all, exercise informational hygiene and do your best to vet your sources and question biases when you see them. Beware of opinions formed in a rush of emotion.

Second, do your best to develop the fine art of conversation. Our personal relationships are a microcosm of society in general. Cultivating our shared humanity one chat at a time is a key to changing the world from the ground up that we can all use.

My entire impetus for swerving into this social/spiritual tangent today comes from the inspiring story I learned this week about the African-American author, actor, and musician Daryl Davis. Since 1983, he’s been going out of his way to have one-on-one conversations that most of us would consider unthinkable.

It all started with a single encounter with a white guy he had at a bar one night after he finished playing the piano. It turned out that the fellow was a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan. After a few more meals together, he denounced the Klan and turned his robe over to Daryl. He’s directly or indirectly converted over 200 Klan members since then, one dinner conversation at a time.

His method centers around a central inquiry. “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?” He puts it this way, “The most important thing I learned is that when you are actively learning about someone else you are passively teaching them about yourself.

His quest is the subject of the documentary “Accidental Courtesy” and his story is one worth sharing. We can all take heart from this model of connection and have faith that in the grand scheme of consciousness-raising we dance up the ladder one step at a time.

With a big grin and open arms, wishing you much love till next Monday!

M+

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

Dance First Member Spotlight :: Fred Sugerman and Medicine Dance!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on Fred Sugerman and Medicine Dance! Fred is a long-time committed contributor to the Conscious Dance world and a member of the Dance First Association since the very beginning.

Based in the Santa Monica area of Southern California, Fred is the hub of a vibrant somatic dance community that comes together for a weekly Saturday Morning Open Class that has a three-fold intention: physical fitness, creative expression, and life application. Fred calls it “Spiritual Warrior Training.”

Here’s what long-time participant Henry S. has to say: “ Saturday Morning Class goes beyond the principles of authentic movement. Or rather, it takes those principles to heart with a rare sincerity and conviction. It’s not often that things come together as beautifully as they do in this class, where the sense of invitation, daring and gentleness are so real, making the process of moving consciously, honestly and joyfully a rich experience of discovery and release. There’s no pretense there, and no pressure, just a non manipulative invitation to be yourself, in movement, from moment to moment to moment, with a wise, heart-centered, intuitively observant guide helping you drop more and more deeply into your body, breath, feelings, dance.

Tuesday mornings in Tarzana you’ll find the “Living Room Mindful Movement Program” — a “small, simple and focused group practice using movement and the marriage of attention and sensation for invigoration, restoration and revelation.” This is an exclusive offering with limited space, so your RSVP or advance registration is required. “ Inviting all elements of the body with intent to awaken, refresh and send one out into the day with clarity and gentle strength.

Beyond the regular offerings in Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley, Fred and the Medicine Dance community convenes on a regular annual basis for immersions, this spring happening in the UK.

The adventure begins May 18-22 in Ormiston, Scotland at the State Theta Galleries with “Recovering Language of the Body ” a two-day movement exploration and excavation followed by the three-day “See/Hear/Love: As a Tree ” facilitation training laboratory and playground. Then the Medicine Dance team heads to the Bolton Village Hall in Northumberland, England to join co-host Jane Virginia for “May Blossoms: The Sap Rises” May 25 – 30th, which coincides with Beltane. This is the 10th year Medicine Dance has held their 6-day immersion!

 The body does not speak English, German, or Hindi; the body speaks sensation. When we begin to slow and soften enough to feel the physical sensations inside our living tissues, we come into new relationship that often times includes respect, awe, curiosity, and the possibility of pleasure. It’s a new (and very old) way of being.

Medicine Dance also travels to Hawaii for an annual immersion, and offers extended Performance Workshops as well as private sessions with Fred. We’re delighted to promote and support the great work that Medicine Dance is doing, and highly recommend any of their offerings or immersions to you!

Learn more at www.MedicineDance.com