"As long as you know that the permission to ask does not include the right to get an answer."
~ Pawan Mishra
When you go to a dance or an event, do you make an effort to be seen? Or do you have moments when you prefer to remain transparent? How easy is it for you to flow between the two states?
It’s totally natural to flow between those two energies, sometimes within only a few minutes of each other. Everyone likes to be seen for who they are and yet there are times when it feels better to be unnoticed.
You might arrive at a dance and need some time to drop into your body and lose the cares of the week, in which case you probably want to be left in peace to stretch, warm up, and enjoy your personal range of movement. You’re probably more comfortable being invisible and transparent at this point in your experience.
Later on, once you are feeling relaxed and embodied, you might be ready to circulate around the other dancers sharing some smiles, making eye contact, or mirroring motions. You can expand your energy and inhabit the entire dance-floor. It’s much easier to see and be seen once you are properly prepared.
When you’re at a healthy event or dance experience, navigating between these states of being is effortless. There’s a presupposition of maturity among the participants and an understanding of agreed-upon guidelines that help hold the space. You naturally want to feel free to be seen or transparent in the time and place of your own choosing.
If your only intention is to enjoy the music, feel great in your own body, and bring positive energy to the group, then it’s no problem for you to respect everyone else’s immediate experience and be a benevolent influence on the floor. But most of us who have been dancing for long have witnessed, (or worse yet, encountered), that one dancer who somehow didn’t get the memo and insists on being inappropriate.
You’ve probably seen him or her in action. Starting a conversation with someone who is obviously meditating. Physically pulling someone into a partner dance without permission. Talking loudly and clogging up the dance floor. Acting like an insider while preying on newcomers. The list goes on.
As you probably know if you’ve been on my list for long, I’m the host, volunteer manager, and resident DJ at Dance Jam in Berkeley . I’ve been carrying the torch for this event for three years now, it’s one of the longest continuously running dances of its kind in the USA, founded in 1976. We’re also one of the only conscious dance events we know of to provide a 100% analog atmosphere, playing only vinyl records with no laptops or digital signal processing involved at all.
So I spend a lot of time witnessing the interactions on the floor from behind the turntables, as well as dancing and having many conversations with our community before, during, and after each weekly dance. We consider ourselves fortunate to have very few of these sorts of interpersonal issues that can be the fly in the ointment of a quality conscious dance.
But occasionally something comes up, and a person will need some communication to bring awareness to their actions. We’re lucky to have a trained and professional mediator on our crew who acts as our Community Liaison and steps up to have these sometimes tricky conversations with people.
If they are willing to hear the concerns, and commit to shifting their behavior, then we’re more than happy to keep welcoming them into our community. If not, and they continue to prove that they are not a match for our agreed-upon guidelines, we reserve the right to insist they find elsewhere to dance. I’m always grateful when someone “gets it” and upshifts their approach.
Here’s what I’ve noticed and thought about lately as one of these (thankfully rare) episodes ran its course. The vast majority of people who come to Dance Jam flow between being seen and remaining invisible with ease. They are content within themselves and happy to be sharing positive energy with the group. Their intention is benevolent.
The few people who run afoul of the community guidelines often avoid the community at large, we rarely see them arriving in time for our welcome circle. Being present during those few minutes when everyone is making eye contact across the empty space of the floor is key to maintaining a healthy connection to the group.
When people have a negative intention, they are more likely to transgress the guidelines of the group. The spectrum of ‘seen’ to ‘invisible’ is inverted. When they are behaving badly they may think they are hiding, but in fact, they are more visible than ever. They may think they are flying under the radar, but there’s nothing like having an ulterior motive or a hidden agenda to make a person stick out like a sore thumb.
For dance organizers who may think it’s easier to turn a blind eye rather than deal with these situations promptly and directly it’s important to remember the rules and laws of word-of-mouth. Allowing a sneaky perpetrator to hide in your midst will poison your efforts to grow your dance and maintain a healthy community in ways you can’t imagine. By the time you notice someone behaving badly on one occasion, you can be sure there were others that you missed.
Ask any restaurant or salon owner. A happy and satisfied client may tell two or three other people that they had a nice experience, or they might just keep it to themselves entirely. But if they went home with a big “yuck” on their mind, you can be sure they will share that loudly with at least ten other people.
With conscious dance events, it’s even more tricky. Getting new people to show up isn’t really that hard, but turning those folks into regular dancers is another story. It’s a subtle and delicate process to convert a first-timer into a regular attendee, and at any point during their first several visits they encounter something out-of-line it can be enough to prevent their return for good.
What if you’re just a dancer with no formal role in the organization beyond wanting to see your favorite dance thrive and you happen to witness a less-than-positive interaction? It’s perfectly ok to approach the person who was imposed upon later on and gently let them know that you saw what happened, sensed that they may have been made uncomfortable, and will let the organizers know to address the situation. It never hurts to reassure someone on behalf of the group that you care and that your communities standards are higher.
My analogy is that these community dances are somewhat akin to the Inuit blanket toss as practiced in the Arctic. We’re all holding up our little section of the net, and we all owe it to one another to look out for each other. Some folks have stronger muscles than others, and we each play different roles, but the shared intention is what counts, and we’re all equals in keeping it positive.
May your dance be nourishing and filled with good vibes!
Much love till next week,
Dance First Member Spotlight :: Dance, Play, Thrive - With Nancy Trunzo!
Nancy is truly a multi-dimensional figure in the world of art and movement. Having made a name for herself in the realm of Belly Dance, she has gone further to become a sought-after personal trainer, life coach, and group fitness personality.
One of the things that Nancy is famous for is her super-valuable e-newsletter, which I highly recommend you subscribe to whether you reside in the Bay Area or not. It’s filled with tips, ideas, and inspiration that’s useful to anyone wanting more health and well-being in their life.
As a personal coach, she works with clients all both in-person and all over the world via video chat. Here’s what her client Adriana has to say about working with her: “Nancy is a caring and talented coach who understands the complexities and variation bodies come in!”
When you visit her website you’ll find some very unique and valuable health & wellness and mindfulness freebies that will serve you well and help you get to know her better.
Nancy says: “I’m a mom, a dancer, and a creative who loves educating people about the ways they can manage the speed bumps of everyday life. I am passionate about exploring situations with a playful mindset, using dance and movement as a means for self expression, and making the most out of the resources that are available. I’m thrilled to share them with you!”
A former Girl Scout who love cosplay and costuming, she started out on a path to a career in agriculture and has an equestrian background competing in events around Northern California among the many elements that round out her skillset. She also keeps an active “Radical Thriving Blog ” and hosts a “Radical Thriving – Revolutionary Health & Fitness” Facebook Group that you can join today. And if all that’s not enough, she’s got an amazing Etsy Shopwhere you’ll find her unique and remarkable creations!
She’s known for her talent as a dance leader. Rachel C. says: “ I love dancing with Nancy! Dancing in her bellydance troupe Urban Flowers, has been a fun and healing journey. She is a wonderful dance teacher, and her style is very nurturing… Thank Goddess I decided to go to Nancy’s classes. She holds a space where all people are encouraged and supported to be the best dancers possible. I found a place to dive deep into the arts, and be part of a healthy community of women. If you want creative inspiration and challenge, while being nurtured and encouraged I suggest youDance, Play, Thrive!”