Why Distractions are a Good Thing (and why dance makes a great distraction). 

We think we know what’s real and what’s not. But do we? 
 

The brain can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. 

That’s why we can be frightened, even traumatized, by scary movies or video violence, why we weep at a heartwarming film (I cried my eyes out at Field of Dreams, big heaving sobs). This is all why we are so easily drawn into what the SE folks call the Trauma Vortex, all the roiling chaos connected to the various events that left us helpless and frozen, angry, or worse. 

But there is another vortex associated with trauma, and it is completely different, in its content and affect. It’s called the Counter Vortex. Like it’s name, it contains everything that counters the trauma—all our Resources, the strengths, skills, and other positives that got us through the traumatic event. And we did get through—because we’re alive to read this. 

We survived because of our our resources. 

But often those resources go uncounted, unacknowledged, unspoken, unseen. Part of wallowing in the good is about recognizing those resources and putting them to work. The Counter-Vortex includes all the dissociation and fluffy pink clouds—or the running like hell and murderous rage—or whatever else it took to survive the moment. Resources connect us to  organization—not of our closet space, but internally, the organization of a healthy nervous system. 

Trauma disrupts the nervous system, disorganizing it. Focusing on resources, on the here and now, on the good, helps us return to regulation (and if you want to think of old trauma like poop that has to come out for us to be regulated, you just rock on with your bad self ; ). 

The great part of regulating the nervous system and discharging trauma is that our capacity for regulation and recovery increases, every time we do so. It is like the way developing a Growth Mindset and struggling to learn challenging skills increases intelligence. Sign me up, right?  

So, what’s a good way to focus on resource? Making ART!

“Studies show that the arts help children regulate their emotions, a critical skill for well-adjusted children and adults. 

Infants who participated in a six-month active music group with singing and dancing had better emotional regulation behaviors than did infants in a passive music group, where music was played in the background while infants did other activities.”

Oh, who’s doing that? We are!

“In another study, children were asked to think of a past negative event. Some of those children then were instructed to draw a house to distract themselves; the other children were instructed either to draw the negative event or to copy another drawing. The children who drew to distract were better able to improve their mood compared to the other children.” https://www.arts.gov/news/2015/arts-and-early-childhood-development-focus-new-nea-research

A distraction is something that takes your mind off that damn red dot. And an equally important concept is that it’s OKAY to take your mind off the dot. We are often so caught up in suffering that we feel it is our duty to do so. Eff that. Our loved ones want us to be well. And our enemies? Living well is the best revenge. 

So?

Next time you feel down, I invite you go draw a house (or do some dance, or play some music, or, hell, just imagine you are ; )

Love,

Alia

PS today is the last day for the Create Dance Art bonuses (and the How to Make a Dance without Steps webinar). You still have a few hours to check them out. Here’s the link: https://bellydancesoul.webinarninja.com/live-webinars/78875/register/

Music! Here’s a playlist from Mahmoud Chouky, a wonderful young Moroccan musician currently living in New Orleans.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKThGaF4nE&list=RDEMwf1hCQmZ-Sfjv-7d3UXRBg

How to Make Dance Class Fun II (and a Giveaway!)

First the Giveaway!

It’s from the Bellydance Bundle, and it’s big. 
-3 sets of all-brass, scrollwork-engraved zills of various tones and sizes
-2 beautiful rectangle silk veils
-1 gorgeous half circle silk veil

All from Turquoise International, valued at over $350.00 USD! Our grand prize winner will dance away with some of the best zils available today and veils that float for hours!

PLUS all the courses have been posted as well as the price. ALL this from one eenie-beenie link ; )

Here ya go: https://aliathabit.com/bundle-giveaway

Now back to our post ; )

How to Make Dance Class Fun II

When I was a kid, people used to smoke all the time, everywhere. Both of my parents smoked, and we were regularly sent to the store to get more cigarettes. Smoking was seen as fun. No one knew about second-hand smoke; even the effects on the smoker were kept from the public. But over time folks learned the bitter truth. Smoking in public has been drastically reduced, our collective health is improved, and we don’t have to smell like an ashtray after a night out. 

Like smoking, the things we say and do can have unfortunate effects on other people (not to mention ourselves). Dance class is one place where we can create a warm, compassionate environment for our students. This is kind of a serious topic, but making your classroom a safe space makes the class more fun for everyone–including you. 

We’ll look at three ways to create a safe space–Focus on Dance, Model Compassion, and Awaken Somatic Awareness.

Today we’ll look at how to Awaken Somatic Awareness.

What is Somatic Awareness?

Soma refers to the body. Somatic Awareness is body awareness. In this case, awareness of how movement feels in the body.

Most classes focus the students upon how they look. We use mirrors, we squint at them, and we try to make each move look exactly the same as everyone else’s. But belly dance is not about being a carbon copy. Belly dance is all about the feeling. And the feeling is not just emotional.

It’s physical

Just move your arm. Extend it away from your body, and then bring it back. Notice how that movement feels. Notice the muscles sliding against each other. Notice the joints opening and closing. Notice your hand, its many bones. What else do you notice? 

Now slow the movement down. Do it again, and inhale as the arm open, exhale as it closes. Do it even more slowly. Even more slowly. Even more.

Now check in with the rest of your body. What do you notice? Very likely you feel calmer than you did before. Maybe some part of you is uncomfortable. Maybe some part is hard to even feel. Maybe you feel great. All of these things are important. This internal focus is called interoception. And it has a lot of benefits.

When we feel the dance, we dance better

Belly dance is about having your own style, doing the same movement as everyone else yet with your own special sauce that makes the moves completely yours. This is not a trick we learn, it happens when we bring the dance into our own body and allow it to become one with us. 

Our dance is not like most Western dances. It values improvisation, variation, feeling, and joy. Being a carbon copy is very hard–plus it is unnatural. Having our own feeling for the moves and the music is the most natural thing in the world. But most of us have been taught to discount it in favor of stylization and exactitude.

Of course, we must learn technique. But part of belly dance technique is the magic of micromovement, which allows us to tailor a move’s size, texture, speed, force, and so forth to better express our feeling and the music. It is the feeling of the music, allowing our bodies to follow it thinking or judging. Interoception and Somatic Awareness help us do that. 

When we teach our students how to feel the dance, they learn faster and have more confidence. This makes them better dancers. They don’t need the mirror, because they know how the move feels. 

Somatic Awareness fosters healing

In addition to upping our dance game, somatic awareness is a major component of healing. Using Slow Movement and Breath, as we did above, in particular using Rhythmic Breath, where we breath in time with the music while moving with “glacial slowness,” we have the opportunity to release a lot of old stress, fear, and pain. 

When we move so slowly, we can allow the body to move as it wishes. We become observers of our body’s journey, as it releases stored tension. All of this helps us have confidence in our bodies, confidence in our dance. We can move with authority. We can improvise effortlessly. We practice this ourselves, so we can teach it to our students. 

All of this helps us have confidence in our bodies, confidence in our dance. We can move with authority. We can improvise effortlessly. 

How does this make dance class fun?

Students come to belly dance to feel beautiful and express themselves. When we embrace the Eastern values of the dance, feeling, improvisation, and joy, we enjoy dancing more–we feel more expressive, beautiful, and joyous. When we come away from class feeling calm, happy, and content, we want to come back. That’s fun. 

It’s worth the effort of learning

Learning is hard work, especially learning something new. New things can feel scary. But that feeling of frustration is a sign that true learning is going on. Learning new things increases our intelligence and boosts brain health, plus having new skills feels great.

Plus we get to release stress. All the stress, fear and pain to which we have been subjected in our lives has poisoned us as throughly as cigarette smoke. Interoceptive Dance through somatic awareness is how we clear the poisons. And they don’t come back. As with learning, resolving old anxieties, increases our capacity for resilience. 

That’s one heck of a win-win. 

All my love,

Alia

As it happens, today is the last day for the Early bird Price for Effortless Improv. Effortless is designed for students–and for teachers. You might like to check it out. Details are here: aliathabit.com/effortless 

Why Belly Dance is like–the Matrix?! (and how to get your red pill)

In the iconic film, The Matrix, Neo is offered a choice: The blue pill or the red pill?

The blue pill lets you stay in the cave, living an illusion of life. The red pill–ah, that’s another story. The red pill means opening your eyes to hidden things. It changes your life. Awakens you. Frees you from illusion.

Belly dance is like this.

In belly dance, we have the well-known Westernized version of the dance–stylized, flashy choreographies with an emphasis on appearance and athleticism. There is drilling, a push to perform, and a perfectionist agenda. That’s the blue pill. The illusion. So what is the red pill?

The belly dance red pill is the lesser-known Eastern version of the dance. It values feeling, playfulness, improvisation, and joy. It makes everyone beautiful. It heals pain, brings pleasure, and lights up  the world. No, we don’t get to stride through the lobby blasting high-tech weapons into jackbooted guards. But we don’t have Agent Smith out to get us, either.

And there is one other difference. The Matrix red pill led to a harsher, more dangerous reality. The belly dance red pill leads to a more loving, compassionate life.  We get to enjoy our dance more–and bring joy to others.

Um, no brainer, right?

 

Take the Red Pill, Neo

Take the red pill.

Here are a few red pills for your consideration…

Midnight at the Crossroads: Has belly dance sold its soul? is one giant red pill. It shows the differences between Eastern and Western mindsets, the surprising benefits to Eastern style, and practical strategies for embracing soul of the dance. Find out more at bellydancesoul.com.

The 90-Day Dance Party Challenge is three full months of red pill. It’s a daily dose of inspiration, improvisation, and illumination. It’s available right here: aliathabit.com/90Days/

And to kick it off, how about Alia and Amity’s Awesome Winter Weekend? Another red pill, it’s a two-day all-inclusive retreat, February 10-11, filled with dance, friends, food, and fun. Check it out at   aliathabit.com/awesome-winter-retreat

And the Whole Red Pill Enchilada?

Get the Retreat and the 90 Days and get a SUPER EARLY FREE BONUS: a signed print copy of midnight ($45 value) PLUS a month of Alia’s Kickass Creativity Coaching ($185 value). Red Pill your Life!

Kickass coaching includes

  • 1 hour introductory phone/skype VIP Intensive
  • Goal setting, support, and accountability
  • Weekly email exchange
  • 30-minute wrap-up phone/skype call
  • Any month in 2018

WOW!

The Whole Enchilada:

  • Amity and Alia’s Awesome Winter Retreat ($275)
  • Alia’s 90 Day Dance Challenge ($100)
  • A signed print copy of Midnight at the Crossroads: Has belly dance sold its soul? ($45)
  • A month of VIP Kickass Coaching ($185)

That’s $605 worth of awesomeness for only $375.

Click here:

But only for 10 people (or until the Retreat sells out, whichever comes first).

Just call me Morpheus ; )

Love,

Alia

Why Belly Dance is like Narnia (and how we get through the wardrobe)

Why Belly Dance is like Narnia (and how we get through the wardrobe)

The Narnia Chronicles, a classic fantasy series by CS Lewis, begins when a little girl named Lucy accidentally tumbles through an old wardrobe (a closet on legs) to discover the magical land of Narnia. Narnia is peopled by fauns, dwarves, and talking animals, including Aslan the Lion. Lucy is soon joined there by her brothers and sister.

Over the course of seven books, the children have adventures, discover the history of Narnia, defeat evil, and generally become confident, experienced inter dimensional travelers. In the final book, The Last Battle, the children, now kings and queens, along with all the inhabitants of Narnia, repeating the cry of “Further up and further in!” race up a hill, to Aslan’s Country, and the Real Narnia. While there are many fascinating critiques of the series as allegory, it bears up as a marvelous adventure–as does Oriental dance.

Here are six ways that belly dance bears a striking resemblance to The Narnia Chronicles.

1. On the outside, it’s just a wardrobe. Many (if not most) of us come to belly dance attracted to the outfits and the sensual moves. For some of us , that’s enough. And that’s just fine. But there is so much more to the dance….

 2. It’s bigger on the inside. Once you get past those outer trappings, you begin to discover that this little dance has a lot going for it. No matter how much you learn, there is always more to learn. No matter how good you get, you can always see how much better you can be. It is an art form in which the learning curve never flattens.

 3. It develops confidence. Performing with no 4th wall, we learn to enjoy the audience, embrace our personal style, and handle mishaps with grace and charm.

 4. We all become kings and queens. Belly dance is the ultimate in beauty. When we dance, we know we are golden. We radiate our majesty and create a bridge for the audience to a magical realm.

 5. We defeat evil. Fear, anger, and grief are some of humanity’s most crippling emotions. Through dance, we transcend these emotions. Dancing clears the emotional landscape by allowing us to release our cares and those of the audience. Everyone’s misery is lifted for a time, everyone gets to feel the restorative wonder of joy and delight. These shots of goodness help us all to get through the bad times.

 6. We become experienced inter dimensional travelers. Those of us who go through the wardrobe, who go further up and further in, discover a world of joy. Improvisation can bring us to the center of our souls, a place where time, self, and worldly concerns are suspended, where the joy of musical embodiment lifts us and the audience up and out of the every day. From this magical land, we return refreshed, refined, and glorious.

 7. We reach the true dance, the one that exists outside of costumes, ego, and competition. We learn to dwell in a land of timeless beauty we can reach any time we close our eyes and go into the zone.

How do we do this?

How do we get through the wardrobe and into the dance? Just as Lucy did, we close our eyes and feel our way through. As we learn to let the music in through our ears and allow our bodies to respond intuitively in the moment, we become ever closer to the secret center, the soul of our dance (we will get into this in detail in the book).

Over time, and with practice, our improvisation confidence and endurance will improve, and so will our pleasure in dance. We are more easily able to go into a zone on stage. Audiences love the freshness and intuitive nature of our dance. We are all whisked above daily cares and into a realm of love and joy.

Nice, huh?
Another world is possible.

To discover it, check out Midnight at the Crossroads, now available for preorder!

All my love,

Alia

What’s your wall?

Sometimes we hit a wall. 

SoHigh2

So high, can’t get over it. So low, can’t go under it. So wide, can’t get around it…

Where is your dance wall?
What stops you, gets in your way, or keeps you from dancing what you feel in the moment? What walls do your students or dancer friends face?

Here are a few things I, and other folks, have struggled with. 

Confidence
Never feeling good enough, creative enough, or anything enough.

Presence 
Getting stuck in one’s head, losing energy, falling out of the zone.

Introversion
Feeling constrained in performance or navigating social scenes.

Improvisation
The feeling in the moment ; )

Not Performing
Why is this such a crime?

Technique
How the heck do I… ?

Age/Looks
We don’t fit the mold, but have so much to express.

Personal Style
How do you find it? Does it take forever?

Finding Spirit in Dance
Is it really all hoodoo?

 

What’s your biggest wall?
How does it affect you?
What would help?

 

Write to me. Or post on the blog. I’ll write back.

Love,

Alia

PS I am once again endeavoring to create a little something new, this time in two weeks. This week is for figuring out what to make. Next week is for making it. It shall be done and ready to roll on May 1. I want it to be something that solves a problem for my dance friends–that’s you. Hence my question. More on Thursday!

How to see the path in front of you (d’oh!)

Well, I found my anchor. 

The Right Anchor

It’s funny how things can be right in front of you–yet invisible. Back a couple months ago when I first got my new phone, I made an alarm for 9am. I set that alarm to ring every day. And it does. I have no idea why I made it. And every day, as I grab my alarming phone, I think, why the eff don’t I cancel this thing? I’m already awake, it doesn’t signal anything.

But I never do. Occasionally I even think, maybe I could anchor my dance practice with that alarm. It’s a good time for me. I am generally winding down the writing portion of my morning, ready to move to on to other things. Then I’d tell myself no, 9am is a time, not an action. Amazing what we tell ourselves, isn’t it?

Then one day, it dawned on me. Well yeah. 9am is a time. But picking up my phone to turn off the alarm is an action. And after I turn off the alarm, I can start my playlist.

BOOM.
So that’s what I have been doing all week. And it’s working! I dance a crazy 20 minutes, laughing and crying, all alone–in silence, because I put in my earphones. I even added a habit to the chain–after I dance my 20 minutes, I clean something. I just keep the music playing and keep going. Now there are empty corners blossoming! I’m probably jinxing this by writing about it ; ). And there will be days (like today), when I have to be out of the house early and it might not happen. But I can live with that. It’s a process.

Process is an important word. We so much want things NOW (or anyway, I sure do). I rarely (hardly ever), feel all energized and gung ho. The grind of process appears as a weight that drags me down, the days/months/years it takes to accomplish anything of merit. But in my secret heart, I know that’s what it takes. Daily effort, daily focus, daily baby steps moving forward.

Daily focus makes huge leaps possible. Daily grind has brought my book to be ready for its second draft. It’s the groundwork, the infrastructure. That’s where I want to focus this year.

I feel ridiculously accomplished each day that I dance. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing. I have been growing my habits for a while now, and looking for that dance anchor. I’ve found it. Even if I don’t have my phone, scheduling is a pretty good strategy all by itself–another thing that made me laugh about resisting that 9am slot for so long.

 Schedule Art. Schedule self care. Schedule fun. Scheduling all the important things we know we need, but never get to, because we are so busy putting out fires day after day after day. Everything is urgent. It’s draining. Let’s get out of the Emergency Room.

What self-loving habit could you create? What pleasure do you already schedule? Where could you tuck in some personal pleasure? Developing a loving habit is like having a secret nosegay. You give it a happy sniff all day long, and feel good.

Let me know your plans; email or post them here on the blog. The more of us who do this, the more love and happiness we bring to the world.

Love,

Alia

 

 

PS Free webinar on Sunday! Make a dance in an hour. If you are not signed up yet, click here:  http://eepurl.com/bJETD9

PPS GREAT article by Judith Lynn HannaWhat Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance

How to Party like an Introvert

–all night long!

Party like an Introvert

I went to a party this weekend. It was my friend Nathalie’s 40th birthday–a truly badass woman. I drove 7 hours to get there (and 7 hours back–in the rain). The guest list was small. Everyone there would be a rockstar. There was only one problem.

I’m an introvert.

I am the gal at any party sitting in the corner reading the bookshelves. I like being alone. I’m quiet, shy, and reserved. How was this to work?

The din was unbelievable; upwards of 50 people gabbed and laughed in happy groups at top volume. Gah! But the space was beautiful; a high end salon converted into a cosy nest of sparkling lights and sparkling drinks. I found a comfy seat, settled in, and checked out the scene. I saw some great clothes and a lot of interesting-looking people.

But I wasn’t talking to anyone. Plus I was exhausted, because 7 hour drive. This was not working for me. Hmm.  I thought about leaving, but the drive home was too daunting. And I was so looking forward to this. I loved Nathalie. I was honored to be among the invitees. I wasn’t going to back down. Then I remembered my #1 party rule for introverts. 

The #1 Party Rule for Introverts: Wait it out.
The riff-raff will all leave after 2 or 3 hours. The cool people stay. You stay, too. Your real people will be there late.

So, okay, I would stay.  I would find a way around this. I looked around more closely, and noticed several people sitting alone, like me, watching the room and/or checking their phones. More introverts. Clearly we were all in the same boat, lost and uncomfortable, yearning to be part of it all. Maybe we introverts can’t do much for ourselves, but we can do things to help other people. A strategy revealed itself…

Party Rule #2: Befriend Other Introverts.
I turned to the nearest phone-studying woman and introduced myself. Hi, I’m Alia. Hi, I’m Nina. And then the magic question of the evening, How do you know Nathalie? I introduced myself and Nina to the gal on my other side, then pulled in the one next to her. Pretty soon our small group were all chatting. Score!

Rule 2 has a postscript: Change Your Location.
Get up, walk around, and hold up the wall in a different corner. There will be other introverts over there, and you can then chat them up, too.

I know, you don’t chat up people strangers. But the truth is that you do. All the time. When you are comfortable doing it, you don’t notice. Gaining any new skill, however, requires a level of discomfort. It’s scary. Learning is, by nature, going outside of one’s comfort zone.  But then you have a new skill, so hey. The first time you do this, maybe even the second or third, it may feel very uncomfortable. But think of being able to enjoy a party and make new friends. Win!

I did one other thing that was important. At this party, the decree had been no physical presents. But stories, poems, and performances were welcome. We had all been asked in advance to present something live or write a love-letter to our birthday girl. There was even a sign-up sheet at the door. I signed up to dance. Which brings me to….

Party Rule #3: Take one risk.
When my name came up, I jumped up, raised my arms in a victory Power Pose, handed off my cued-up phone, and put on my zils and hipscarf. And then I danced, in a small room, with 50 people who were far more badass than you can imagine (the past president of Planned Parenthood, a gal who saved Roe v Wade–twice, the ceo of the fastest-growing woman-owned business in the usa, artists, movers, shakers, one and all–and me).

Nathalie40
I got Nathalie, her best friend, and her party co-hosts up to dance.

Yeah, I got up and danced for them. I chose one song, both upbeat and trad (Fatme Serhan’s Tahtil Shebak, if you want to know). I made a point of connecting with individual people. I got Nathalie, her best friend, and her party co-hosts up to dance.

I wasn’t even at my best. I was bloated, tired, and stiff. None of that mattered. I brought the joy. That’s my job as a dancer, and I did it. And for the rest of the evening, people came up to me and complimented me on my performance. And I went up to other people and complimented them on theirs. More friends.

We introverts dread parties, small talk, and meeting people in general. Inundated with extrovert business advice, like give your card to 10 people at every meeting, we’d rather stay home. So we need other ways of going about our business. The above 3 models all work wonders. Because, for introverts, here’s the most important thing of all.

You won’t meet everyone, but you will meet the right people. Most people, frankly, are not worth your time. They are superficial, petty, and insincere. They are exhausting. Why bother with them? Introverts have magical strength and powers. Slide under the radar. Be choosy.

Meet the right people. 

Like you ; )

Love,
Alia

PS Coming this fall: Dark Star: How Introvert Artist

Goodbye, 2015

 ChaosWhat a rollercoaster.

 

There were great highs–the 90 Day Dance Challenge. A Mardi Gras road trip with Tamalyn Dallal. Teaching in Egypt for Leila Farid. The Small Product Lab. Sufi Camp with Dunya McPherson. Ziltastic. Open Heart. Effortless. Performing at Amity’s birthday party. I took some classes, too, and met some wonderful people.

There were also some lows. Life chaos ratcheted up, week after week. It was pretty scary. I ate carbs, freaked out, and felt helpless.

What lesson am I to learn from all this? Maybe it has to do with the irony of being completely undone by stress while writing about belly dance as a venue for stress relief. It would have been easy to dance for the lousy 20 minutes a day that would help me stay together. But I didn’t do it.

How does stress do this?  How can we know exactly what would help, have it free, easy to do, and yet not do it? This response does not serve me.

So now what? How do I keep myself together and do what I need to do?

 

Something is brewing in my head. It has to be simple. It has to be consistent. It has to work. It’s probably going to involve video, so it has to be dead easy.

I’ll be back with a plan. Simple, consistent, effective. A daily dose of serenity. You might like to join me.

Are you in? 

Love,

Alia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance Magic Webinar

Hola, beautiful!

Ready for a free LIVE webinar?

Box of rocks_0(3)
Sometimes making dances is like sorting a box of rocks.

How about one on making dances? Lots of holiday haflas coming up! How do you quickly make a dance so you feel confident–without having to remember all those steps?

Ta-daa! Presenting

Dance Magic

Quick, easy ways to make a dance without setting a single step. 
In fact, we will make a dance right on the webinar!

This will be on Thursday, Dec 17 at 3PM EST (see that in your time zone: https://goo.gl/tJs7UB).
Yes, there will be a recording!

Sign me up!

(We will only use your addy for the webinar (unless you also choose to get Alia’s fabbo newsletter). Pinky swear!)

Save the date! It’s gonna be a hot one!

Love,
Alia

Here’s that link again…

Dance Magic me!

How thankfulness in dance brings joy and peace into our lives

Amity+Alia
Alia and Amity at the birth of Amity’s new studio

In the USA, we have this powerful myth of the first Thanksgiving. The first pilgrims came to the shores of this country, escaping religious differences in England. The ingenious peoples kindly took pity on them and invited them to a feast. The pilgrims were so grateful for this kindness that they commemorated the feast as a national holiday.

Today, laden tables will be set in every home that can afford it (even the virtual genocide of native folk hasn’t dimmed the glory of Thanksgiving). Each person at the table may even be pushed to to name something for which they are thankful. Which they will do, however sulkily. On other days, though, most folks focus on what’s wrong (of which there is always plenty).

What if we highlight what’s right? There has recently been a lot of research that highlights the power of good–of thankfulness and gratitude in daily life. Folks who prioritize the positive feel happier and more at peace with their world. The impact of terrible events recedes, and love finds a foothold in their hearts.

We can bring this practice into our dance with marvelous effect.  Kenny Werner, the author of Effortless Mastery, said, you can be the most miraculous player in the universe, never hit a wrong note–but still not be free. He said, the only way you can be free is to love your playing *even when you play badly.* When you hit wrong notes, make mistakes, and generally suck.

Freedom means loving yourself–and your art–no matter what. How radical is that? We are so conditioned to punish ourselves, dismiss compliments, and obsess over our flaws. Where is our thanksgiving?Where is our gratitude for the joy of creating art with movement, this marvelous dance that offers us joy, solace, and a pleasurable, self-loving relationship with our bodies?

What if we let this year be different? What if we choose to reflect upon ourselves with kindness and love? Our dance will not suffer. It will not grow less. It will grow more, as our dance, too, becomes more loving and filled with joy. As we fill ourselves, we fill those around us. The whole world wins.

What if you write a love letter to the dance? To your teachers. And to yourself, as a dancer. Tell yourself all you have accomplished, how beautiful you are, and how much joy you have brought into the world through dance. Write one today–and every week for a month. No negatives–just the good. Replace negative thoughts with love and affirmative warmth.

Next time you dance, what if you just enjoy yourself? Enjoy the pleasure of your moving body. Only do what feels good, what feels easy, what your beautiful body enjoys. Allow yourself this pleasure, this happiness.

It’s a dance of joy.

Let’s enjoy it.

Love,
Alia