Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Role of Dance as a Writer's Workshop Tool

Duds, all of them. I felt the words running through my head, along with my own frustration. Known as a lively, engaging teacher and facilitator, I couldn’t seem to get the room full of hopeful writers to respond.
The room full of hopeful writers wouldn't respond. Was it the rain?
Was it because it was Monday? Was it because it was raining? Did they eat breakfast? Or were they completely brain dead? I decided to go with the latter, and awaken the zombies. After all, they needed their brains as well as their bodies if they planned to write anything worth reading.

As a writer and dancer, I know what most of the individuals in the room do not. That word and breath are intrinsically connected. That the sacred act of communication and human understanding starts in the body. I take a deep breath, and shift gears. I clear my head, step into presence.

“Okay, everybody stop what you’re doing. Put down your pencils. I’m putting on a piece of music. Pick out one of the instruments, and move around the room acting as though you’re that instrument come to life. 
Don’t think, just move.” 

I have one of the participants turn out the lights; there’s enough coming in the window. I set the ground rules: each person must move around the room at least once; no touching or bumping; be willing to risk. I start the track, and then, because there’s a pause of disbelief, I join in, encourage, direct traffic.

“If you don’t know what to do, just walk around to the rhythm of the music and swing your arms,” I prompt. In about three minutes, I stop the sound.

“Now, return to your places. Share with the others in your group what instrument you chose and how it felt to move that way. Use adjectives and action verbs. When you feel complete verbalizing your experience, begin writing.”

Workshop facilitators have a lot of tricks to focus participant attention. They put candy on the table. They ask you to do something with a piece of string, or to introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you and share the name of a book you’ve read recently. Rarely do they ask participants to awaken the whole body and brain before learning a difficult topic, solving a problem, or engaging at a deeper level. But as a workshop facilitator, I expect nothing less. So, we dance. We write. And we move through the process of creating symbolic meaning systems to be shared.

Formalistic writing is a metaphor for choreography. Logical, it deliberately crafts meaning from a set of available words and images. Often, it interprets that meaning for the audience from a third person perspective, the framing of the piece akin to a proscenium arch. The form of writing, like that of a set piece, is replicable, performable, and audience building. Reading dances becomes an art.

Conversely, spontaneous movement may be more like journaling. The individual moves through the body of emotion, being rather than interpreting. In the moment, the mover releases or embodies meanings stored within the body. The interpretation comes later, formally or informally, as the audience for their insights comes from shared experience through the dance. Sometimes the sharing is verbal, sometimes written. The sharing of experience creates community and communal meaning systems, from which individual meaning may be derived. 

Dance may begin in the breath, but community is found in the rhythm of the heartbeat.

As a workshop facilitator, I have used both choreographed and spontaneous dance to access the inner landscape of each participant in order to increase the ability to create, transform, learn, apply, describe, feel, understand, communicate, support, and manifest. As I have used dance to teach writing, I have also used writing, from poetry to punctuation, to manipulate rhythm and breath. As a writer and a dancer, I seek conscious and unconscious meaning from saturated muscle and sinew. 

Dance eradicates boundaries we didn’t know we had, and erases dividing lines between hearts and minds, cultures and beliefs. Once we dance, words don’t get in the way.

Sherri L. McLendon, M.A., author of The Priestess Scribe, enjoys recognition as a writer, educator, sacred dance facilitator, and divine feminine business leader.

Dance It In! How Expressive Movement Activates Your Ability to Manifest in Money & Business

Activating your ability to manifest whatever you need in material matters of money and business can be as simple as indulging in a bit of conscious creativity, such as making time for expressive dance. When you’re moving in ways that express your soul’s purpose, become increasingly empowered in ways which increase your potential for dynamic success.
Expressive movement is accessible at all ages and abilities.

As a former dancer and professional dance writer, I came to expressive and sacred dance more than a decade ago, looking for a way to experience “presence” without a daily formal dance class.  After years of daily dance, followed by more years of sitting behind a desk writing, editing, and working as a publicist, my body and spirit yearned for authentic movement. I knew my body had become stuck, its life force stymied by inactivity, blocking my ability to manifest. As a certified sacred dance facilitator, I understand

only five minutes of dance is enough to activate our stored energy potential and enhance the ability to manifest in the physical world with grace and ease. 

It’s become my secret to quick manifestation and shifts in personal vibration to enhance my business, particularly with shifting my mindset, making decisions about next steps, and clarifying my work with clients. It could help you, too.

Getting Started
Let’s say you wish to consciously dance in the answer to a specific problem. Choose your music intuitively, then step into a space in which you can move, and close your eyes. Begin by simply breathing deeply, and let your body begin moving as it feels ready. Next, set your intention for your dance. Dance your truth as you move, whatever that feels like.

What Happens
You’ll find music and dance help you bring your inner reality and outer experience into alignment. As you continue to move and express yourself through your body, watch for insights which occur, shifts in perspective, and Divine downloads of all sorts. Or, follow the movement as it flows naturally to create the potential for transformation to occur. As you move, try to forget about how the movement looks, simply connecting with your uniqueness and ways of expression. Whatever comes, just let it flow through you until it’s been fully expressed.

Dance infuses your life and your life’s work with a spark of unmistakable passion.

In your business, you’ll experience a greater capacity to manage stress. You’ll be able to think in new, creative ways, and shift perspectives to find more than one way to shift any situation. You’ll fear less, and act more, gaining confidence and a sense of increasing freedom of choice. You’ll feel centered in your higher purpose, connected with universal mind, more joyful. Your capacity to help others while remaining grounded will increase.

Sherri's integrative collage to initiate manifestation after dance workings.

Following Up

As you feel complete with your expressive dance, consider a way to capture the insights you received. Journaling about your experience, or writing a letter to your higher self, is one option. Another may be crafting a creation collage, working quickly to find and layer images which help bring the desired results out of the mental realm and into the physical world. If you are artistic, you may wish to craft a mandala reflective of your experience, or work in clay to sculpt an image which reminds you of what you’re choosing to create in the world. Consider creating a small sacred space or altar near your work space, and place your creation there to keep you focused and moving forward in the dance of your life.

Sherri L. McLendon, MA, is the original author of the Priestess Scribe content, program and offers. This article was originally published in WNC Woman.