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What is a session of Ecstatic Dance like?

During the ecstatic dance experience we usually dance bare foot or in soft dance shoes. We start with a brief guided meditation involving breathing, stretching, shaking, and gentle yoga-like movements to help everyone become more heart-centred, connected with their bodies, and fully conscious of their senses.

Then the dance music starts: participants are encouraged to start close to the floor, laying or sitting and allow the body sensations to guide gentle and slow movements; we stretch, bend, and flow to the music as we wish. Most people dance alone and there is no expected style. The music ramps up over time from slow and gentle to wild and crazy music with drums. As the music changes, we allow our bodies to move, taking inspiration from the music, the feeling within our bodies, the facilitators gentle guidance and the other dancers around us.

We dance with our whole bodies, stretching, jumping, spinning, and stretching out our arms and fingers. Some shake all over, some spin occasionally, or endlessly. Some lay on the floor, writhing to the rhythms or doing a kind of flowing yoga dance incorporating yoga style postures. Some who practice martial arts perform Tai Chi-like movements. Most are smiling, often with eyes closed, feeling free to release themselves to the dance in this safe space. Everyone gets hot and sweaty. Most wear layers and strip down to minimal clothing due to the the extreme (but effortless) exercise that happens in the trance.

Participants often feel very free as this is a space they feel safe in.
No talking is allowed and there is a clear sense this is not a “pick up” event. Women dancers articulate that this is essential to a successful ecstatic dance.

There is a feeling of innocent expression and exploration - this is a place where we can return to the freedom and fun of our childhood. Occasionally, after a peak of frenzied dance, whoops of joy, cheers, and rhythmic clapping fill the room. Most people are there to dance on their own, according to their mood and intuition. Sometimes, couples will dance together, or contact improvisation dancers will come together spontaneously from time to time, but participants then drift apart to dance on their own again.


The dance can feel like a celebration of freedom and community – a modern human tribe. This is true “ecstatic dance.” It offers an easy form of meditation, which allows you to just let the mind drop away while your body takes over. Dancing is the effortless route into mindfulness – silent meditation can often feel like hard work – but following dancing it is possible to drop into an spontaneous state of mediation.

Towards the end of the dancing, the music slows right down and people once again move slowly and flow through the final gentle minutes, some sit in a still meditative state or stand with arms raised in a state of ecstatic surrender. Then, we all rest (some lay down) for five minutes before forming a giant closing circle. Those who wish to hold hands in the circle of do. People are encouraged to exclaim single words or short sentences describing the experience. “Healing,”, “love”, “connection”, “gratitude,” and “freedom” are often heard. This is done in no particular order and there is no requirement to speak if you do not feel inclined to do so.

It is a deeply healing experience for the vast majority of the dancers. And it’s a meditation where the mind takes a break. It’s a chance for “embodiment” meditation. Hugs are commonly given and accepted before, after, and even during the dancing.

Dancers such as regular, Terry, often describe how the benefits go on long after the dance and impact their life beyond the session; "I always come away from the dance so full. I feel the tingle for days afterwards. Because of the dance, I find that I have mindfullness of myself and others."


Kind words from previous participants

More about 'Full Spectrum Dance' ecstatic dance sessions

The history of Ecstatic Dance

Find out more about Landa's journey with ecstatic dance

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This form of dance can facilitate grounding, release, self-expression, freedom and a connection to the natural ecstasy of life.

 

 Landa Love 2020