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Play with this: could we agree that life is not about success or things or comfort or pleasure or even happiness? Could we entertain the notion that the goal of life is aliveness?

If that could be the case, what is aliveness for you? How do you cultivate aliveness in your days? Do you notice when your life feels flat and a little, well, dead (which it does to everybody)? How do you reawaken aliveness when that happens?

Aliveness comes in lots of ways including rediscovering the life in things you’ve done/known for a long, long time. That’s what we did this week with Firedance, the rock version of ChakraDancer and one of the first routines I choreographed.

You can find this week’s Aliveness playlists below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Put the music we dance together with other pieces that lift you up, calm you, and challenge you!

But first, here are a bundle of things I know you want to know about:

Susan Facilitating at C’ville Dance Co-Op at Common Ground on Sunday, Apr 1, 10:15-noon
I’m excited to be providing the music and holding the space for the Cville Dance Coop on Sunday, April 1 from 10:15-12noon at Common Ground in the Jefferson School.

If you’re not familiar with the Coop, you can check it out here, but simply put it is a substance free, non-verbal, barefoot, 90 minutes of freedance. No steps to learn, no teacher, nothing but what’s flowing and moving in your own body.

I’m calling this playlist Rebirth of the Fool ~ interweaving the Tarot interpretation of The Fool with the rebirth of spring. In contrast to the contemporary understanding of “fool” as an silly or ignorant person, in the Tarot The Fool represents new beginnings, having faith in the future, having beginner’s luck, improvisation and believing in the universe.

Let’s do April Fools Day (and Easter, for that matter) from that perspective! I hope you’ll join us.
Location (Common Ground, 2nd floor of Jefferson School, 233 4th St NW)
Date/time: Sunday, Apr 1: doors open at 10:15am for warming up, entrance locks at 10:45am, dancing until noon, then closing circle
What to bring: Water bottle, comfortable clothes, optional donation for Common Ground
You can RSVP or ask questions here.

Moodfood for MLK ~ April 3 & 4
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination, Susan and Mary Linn teach this classic routine which includes music with words from MLK’s Dream speech.
Tue, Apr 3, 840-940am at acac downtown
Tue, Apr 3, 545-645pm at acac Square
Wed, Apr 4, 11am-1215pm at acac Square

Nia Freedance First Fridays with Kate at ACAC!
Every first Friday Kate Aust shares a Nia freedance class at ACAC Albemarle Square. Nia Freedance gives you an opportunity to play for a full hour moving your body’s way. We each get to tap into the creative wisdom of our body, emotions, mind and spirit stimulating our own unique movement creativity. The next Nia Freedance class will be Friday, April 6 from 11:25 to 12:25 in studio B.

Nia~Moving to Heal~Joy of Movement classes with Susan Tate moving location
Mondays, 5:30 – 6:30pm & Wednesdays, 12 – 1pm NEW LOCATION: University Baptist Church Community Room G 17 1223 W. Main Street, Charlottesville FREE classes or people with cancer, survivors, caregivers, & Cancer Center staff. Nia is a joyful, restorative movement practice that combines dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts. It is designed to empower your body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Participants are encouraged to work at their own pace. Classes are taught by Susan Tate, Licensed Black Belt Nia Instructor. This class is offered thanks to a generous grant from the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler and the UVA Cancer Center. Registration not required. Drop in any time for these free classes. Parking is free. Contact Susan Tate at susan@susantate.org with questions. Thank you to the University Baptist Church for sharing your space with us.

Earth Day with Susan & Mary Linn ~ April 21 & 23
There is no place like our home planet. In gratitude and honor of the Earth, Mary Linn & Susan will teach a specially-designed class that allows us to both ground and soar.
Sat, Apr 21, 1230-1245pm Nia 101, 1245-145pm Earth Day class
Mon, Apr 23, 1045-12noon

Moving to Heal classes with Sheila Queen Fridays 12:30-2pm at Northside Library
Join Nia Blue Belt and Moving to Heal Instructor, Sheila Queen for a class designed for anybody looking for a gentle movement practice to complement and facilitate healing of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Introductory classes offered at the Northside Libary Meeting room on Fridays, 1230-2pm, Apr 6, 13 & 27. Contact Sheila with questions and for more information at squeen125@gmail.com and 434.882.4129.

5Rhythms events with Jeffery Boynton ~ Apr 7
I had the good fortune to dance with Jeffery late last year. I’m delighted to see them offering an event this spring! This is an invitation to the dance only you can do. There are no steps to learn, no preparations to make, no prerequisites to participate. Only curiosity, breath, and your presence, moment by moment, a practice of being.

*TOGETHER*: An evening with 5Rhythms® on April 7
Location: Common Ground Healing Arts, Charlottesville, VA
When: Saturday, April 7, 2018
Time: 5:00PM-7:00PM
*doors close at 5:20pm
Cost (by Pre-Registration Only): 
$20 Pre-register by 3/30 thru 5Rhythms App or at www.afterbefore.live/store
$25 thereafter.
Class led by Jeffrey Boynton, certified 5Rhythms Teacher and member 5RTA

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Mar 26, 2018, 1045am ~ Aliveness: Firedance

Reel Around the Sun 8:42 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
The Heart’s Cry 2:28 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe 5:42 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Shivna 3:38 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Firedance 6:04 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Slip into Spring 3:47 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Siamsa 4:28 Ronan Hardiman
Riverdance 5:45 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Andalucia 4:22 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
The Mummer’s Dance 6:13 Loreena McKimmet
Aran Boat Song 5:27 Aryeh Frankfurter & Lisa Lynne
Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (Lament) 4:11 Bill Whelan / Riverdance

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018, 840am ~ Aliveness: Firedance

Reel Around the Sun 8:42 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
The Heart’s Cry 2:28 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe 5:42 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Shivna 3:38 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Firedance 6:04 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
Siamsa 4:28 Ronan Hardiman
Riverdance 5:45 Bill Whelan / Riverdance
The Mummer’s Dance 6:13 Loreena McKimmet
Aran Boat Song 5:27 Aryeh Frankfurter & Lisa Lynne
Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (Lament) 4:11 Bill Whelan / Riverdance

Wednesday, Mar 28, 2017, 11am ~ RockinDancer with Mary Linn

Stairway To Heaven 8:03 Led Zeppelin
Hotel California [Live] 7:12 The Eagles
Beast Of Burden 4:25 The Rolling Stones
Layla 7:06 Eric Clapton
Money For Nothing 8:25 Dire Straits
Counting Stars 4:17 OneRepublic
No Ordinary Love 7:21 Sade
While My Guitar Gently Weeps 3:47 The Beatles
Imagine 3:07 John Lennon

Thursday, Mar 29, 2017, 840am ~ Aliveness:

North 6:49 Afro Celt Sound System
North, Pt. 2 3:02 Afro Celt Sound System
When You’re Falling [Featuring Peter Gabriel] 5:14 Afro Celt Sound System
Ma’ Africa 4:49 Mahotella Queens/Ulali
Braided Hair 4:03 Neneh Cherry/Speech
Passion 5:46 Michael Franti
Daphne 7:03 Eddi Reader/Mahotella Queens/Revetti Sakalar
Persistence of Memory 4:29 Afro Celt Sound System
Inion/Daughter 4:15 Afro Celt Sound System
Devorzhum 6:13 Dead Can Dance

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

reorganizing-2-022417
Utter confusion.
Complete disorder.
In Physics it’s defined as “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.”

Chaos.

The original word in ancient Greek (khaos) meant a gaping void or a vast empty abyss. But mostly, when we use the word now, we’re talking less about groundlessness and more about intense unpredictability, incomprehensible disorder, and absolute confusion.

In Gabrielle Roth’s movement practice of 5 Rhythms, the body goes through movements that follow the patterns in nature.

Flow to

Staccato to

Chaos to

Lyrical to

Stillness.

I was fine with Flow and Staccato. Lyrical and Stillness were totally approachable. But Chaos intimidated me. It felt scary. Teachers warned, “Relax in chaos or get hurt.”

How in the world do you relax into utter confusion?

Chaos is not my favorite feeling and it can’t be avoided. Chaos is part of life. In the routine I’m choreographing*, chaos keeps bubbling up in the music, the movements, even the process. My schedule feels chaotic, too, with much more teaching than usual in unfamiliar settings with unpredictable variables. These days the very world feels deeply unpredictable, teetering precariously on the edge of chaos. I keep reminding myself to relax but…dang.

When I told a friend about all the chaos swarming me, he smiled slyly, “You know about chaos theory, right?”

Um. No. I’m an English major, remember?

In chaos theory, he explained, the utter randomness and confusion is actually a way of reorganizing. Self-organization theories in a wide range of disciplines – from physics and biology to computer and social science – demonstrate that chaos is a way of finding an organic and highly stable order. Let a whole gaggle of things happen higglety pigglety, and new patterns and possibilities emerge.

I’m no scientist. I’ve just told you the sum total of what I know about chaos theory. And yet, as a dancer, this idea of self-organization makes sense to me.

In Nia, we use a huge assortment of movements to train, condition and heal the body~mind. The practice is based on 9 different movement forms and we energize those forms with 5 Sensations of Fitness (Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Strength & Stability). We take movements at all different speeds and ranges of motion and we take them through the three planes of high middle and low. We use sound and breath to strengthen the core and move energy. We use emotion and expressiveness to enliven movements from the inside out. We use form to gather our collective attention and to break habit. There is also a boat ton of freedom. A Nia class in full swing can definitely look and feel chaotic.

It’s actually one big reorganization project.

All those different movements and patterns and speeds opens new possibilities. I reorganize my muscles: the ones that are tight and sore and the ones that haven’t been used. I reorganize my bones and joints by lubricating them and nudging them into better alignment. I reorganize my mind to pay attention, to invest in what matters most: what’s happening in this precious present moment.

Sometimes the most healing thing we can do is shake things up and allow them to find new patterns. The notion that life is solid and unchanging is an illusion anyway. Why not relax and find a new order out of chaos?


* The new routine is called Love Warrior and I’ll be launching it on March 3 at an event to raise money for 5 Charlottesville refugee families (this is a special event routine and not one I’ll teach in my regular classes). You can get the details here. http://www.susanmcculley.com/special-classes-events/ I hope you’ll come.


If you enjoyed this post, I’m delighted and I hope you’ll share it.

You might also enjoy these two:
Dragonlily (or the Dance of Mobility and Agility)

and
Stability Within Instability

space cloisters“How do you catch a unique animal?” “Unique up on them.” – favorite childhood joke, okay, actually, just a favorite joke

I’m at a loss.  I’ve been thinking about writing this post every day this week, and still I’m stuck.  It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration.  Actually, there are a number of ideas, maybe even revelations, on the edges of my awareness.  I feel them like interesting animals in the woods just beyond my vision.  I can hear them wandering around, nibbling casually.  I bet they can see me with their amused, curious eyes.  I know that they would be supercool to see and get to know, but they are just outside my reach.

Have you ever felt like you’re on the edge of something?  Like there is a story you want to tell but you’re not sure of the plot or the characters only of the exhilaration of the telling?  A break-through you can feel but can’t articulate?  That you are about to step into unfamiliar terrain?  Ever have a feeling that something exciting and special is possible, but it’s just the feeling?

One route is to get all kinds of frustrated — to push and force.  Part of me wants to make it happen, make it appear.  I’m nothing if not determined, and in the face of an elusive something, I can go after it like a cat (or charging rhino).  Do a workshop, read a book, talk to a teacher.  Do.  Something.  Now.

If I really was tracking a shy, exotic creature, though, it’s unlikely that the whole Charging Rhino Technique would bring her any closer to me.  If I really wanted to get to her, I would be still and give her space to come to me.

Gabrielle Roth, the late founder of 5Rhythms movement, taught that everything needs space to grow.  Every plant, every person, every movement, every relationship, every company, every country.  Everything needs space.

Space is The Body’s Way, too.  A healthy body has space.  Joints need space to move.  Muscles need space in which to contract and release.  Lungs need space to move oxygen.  The heart needs space to pump fresh blood to the cells.  When the body contracts or condenses, it stops working smoothly.

Pushing and forcing rarely work well – take it from one who has done a good bit of pushing and forcing in her time.  Pushing and forcing squeezes and tightens and needs to be balanced with space and release.  It’s not an accident that “spacious” is my One Little Word this year.  I’m doing my best to make space in my body, in my conversations, in my calendar, in my practice.  You can do it right now.  Stop reading.  Make some space between you and your computer.  Take a breath and notice.

Making space is a different domain for this charging rhino, but I have to admit that it feels good.  And what’s more, when I make space, whatever I need shows up.  The sweet, elusive animal steps out from the trees – and sometimes she lets me stroke her neck.

This week, let’s make space:  in our bodies, our movement, our thoughts and see what happens, see what we discover around us and in us.  Whether you are dancing with me or dancing through your life, find ways of making space in as many ways as you can.  And let me know what you discover, what changes, what doesn’t.  I would so love to know.

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