Of all of the different services I offer, my favorite thing of all is to dance and drum with humans of all ages. The classes I facilitate hold a flavor that feeds the soul even more than they benefit the physical body (but they do both rather beautifully). I teach GROOVE and POUND (and yes, I already realize it sounds kind of dirty, especially when you put both of those words together). GROOVE is a dance class that unites people on the DanceFloor in very simple, choreographed movements while inspiring them to dance the moves in their own unique way. POUND is a high energy way of channeling your inner rockstar using slightly weighted drumsticks and lots of plyometrics and bad-assery. The classes I offer for adults looks very different from the classes I offer children and the elderly population, but they all bring very similar responses. They have a creative and expressive quality that opens doors for great fun and a deeper connection to your mind, body and soul. The best part is, if you’re not ready for all that mind/body/spirit connection, you don’t have to go there – you can just have a deliciously fun time sweating and being awesome in a room full of other awesome, sweaty people. Honestly, what’s not to love?
While it’s the most fun ever in my opinion, I often walk away from a class knowing I’ve made a difference in someone’s life and that keeps my spirit full on the best and worst of days. One of the environments where I get the most visual, verbal and intuitive confirmation of this in the assisted living and memory care units at several senior living homes where I teach. I see their faces when they are drumming and dancing. They could care less whether or not they are jamming out to Queen, Pit Bull or Frank Sinatra, I know they feel alive and engaged and shouldn’t every human being have that privilege while being on this planet?
We don’t need to wait for someone to give us permission. We don’t need to wait for good times to have something to dance about. In many cultures and throughout history, human beings have used dancing and singing as a means of comforting or empowering themselves to keep going through hardships most of us have only read about. We can use it to mourn, to celebrate, to feel sensual, to express emotion, to tell a story…the list goes on. We sometimes forget that an 85 year old still wants to feel sensual and free (unless you are 85, then it’s a given).
We forget that someone in their golden years is grieving one loss after another – loss of abilities, loss of friends and other loved ones, loss of respect from people who only see a fragile frame and don’t see their rich history that took them this far, declining senses that once brought them pleasure, the loss of perky breasts and smoother skin, etc. And we expect them to just sit there and suck it up with a smile. If you want edge-of-your-seat entertainment, come visit me in a few decades when my kids try to take my driver’s license away from me. It will be EPIC, I promise!
I know that what I do has a powerful impact, but it’s not rocket science. All I really do is come into their homes heart first and show them what it looks like to use movement to get free. The burdens of brutal judgments – whether self-imposed or otherwise, are stripped away in that 30 minute time block. And when the class is over, the last part of this weekly routine involves me giving each of them a hug and making eye contact. Sometimes, I pause and just gaze into their eyes for an extended period of time and I’ve noticed something interesting about that simple act. Older folks will just gaze right back. Most people find it terribly uncomfortable and might look away or giggle to deal with the awkwardness of a wordless dive into the eyes. Not so for the elder, the most professional of all humans. They look back and smile or sometimes cry because someone took the time to look them in the eye and see their soul and their story.
How often do we forget to look “into” someone instead of “at” someone? We all want to be seen, heard and known. What would it take for you to look “into” the eyes of someone you are used to merely looking “at” today? How might that change your eyes…or theirs? What could it show you? Maybe nothing. Or maybe everything. There’s only one way to find out…