Thursday, October 1, 2009

healing benefits of "wavy" dance

There was some heavy furniture that I tried to move, and later feelt pain in my back. It didn't help at all that I didn't have enough sleep for days because the schedule was so busy, and that I was doing a lot of physical labor (paining, srubbing the floor on all 4, etc.) The pain in the back went away, but then the knee hurt, and I could feel the ankle beginning to complain and also the neck wasn't happy. Conclusion: the back adjusted its position to avoid pain, so then the pain transferred. I would try massaging the knee, then the knee was fine but then the back hurt. Then I'd massage the back (by myself).

I then went belly dancing with Aisha of Greece. She is amazing - she told us exactly which muscles to move and which to avoid. After 2 hrs of that, I was feeling a lot better - not stiff anymore, but flexible and relaxed again.

However, I had to do painting and cleaning up (another story) after her class, and so I was tired, achey, etc. with the work and the lack of sleep. In 3 days, I had only a few hours of sleep and was extremely physically active.

The next day, in spite of all that, I went Congolese dancing. We did some yoga, we did some warmups, and then we did the dance, which is very much "wavy", similar to belly dance. The pelvis moves and rotates freely. I was practicing what Aisha taught us in belly dance and could feel how my pelvis is relaxed and moving freely.

I walked out of that class completely fine. 100% feeling 100% good. It stayed permanent.

The moral of the story: THE PELVIS IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

good feeling: healing movement therapy

Yousuff Koumbassa was here teaching a West African dance class for 2 days. The guy is an amazing amazing dancer, the best I have ever seen. The next best dancer imo is Chrysogone Diangouaya, Congolese dancer, but he is a little younger and a little less mature than Yousuff. Yousuff has presence, very deep presence. His class is completely about technique and completely free of any ego. Yousuff is totally present yet he is completely absent from the picture, and the Art is invited and comes in. So that frees us dancers to just Be too, and to experiment and experience the Dance.

The directions we got from Yousuff were: take your time; and feel, have a good feeling, enjoy the movement. "Take your time" does not mean "slow it down". African dance is really fast. How he explained it is: don't push, don't force yourself, let the movement happen. And enjoy it. Have a good feeling.

Dancing with this attitude is extremely healing. I was not tired or sore anymore. Everything just flows. I danced for hours, stayed up late, and still was full of energy. (Little nap in the afternoon and some good food also helps :)

More importantly, I was free to be, and to feel, and to experience myself. Yousuff created space for us. Because he wasn't in the picture but only Art, there was a lot of space for us to engage with the Art. SOmehow I got more connected with my body and with myself, and a lot of things became clearer.

Also, my body was "lubricated" and healed quite well, some neck issues and shoulder issues and pelvic issues got better because I was warmed up and stretched out. I also massaged it myself and got it even better.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

HumanRemodeling youtube list

All the healing music, song, dance, ... there. Let me know if you find something else to be included.

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Some really good fun

Just came back from Congolese drum and dance camp,

Wow - it was awesome. It is so much fun, and also an excellent physical and mental workout, and also - people are so nice. All teachers are Natives from Congo and they give the camp a certain flavor of an African village, and it feels good, that living the Native way.

Music and dance are so kinky funky that it is a phenomenal martial arts and awareness practice. Playing it and dancing it requires paying attention and yet being relaxed, at the same time; knowing your part and yet synchronizing with the rest. It unites body, mind and spirit. One has to be in the groove and just fly with the music. It is an excellent excellent workout. It is also an exercise in community and communication. For example, each drummer plays a different beat and they all have to match. All dancers have to dance the same thing and also move together in lines. Drummers and dancers have to work together. There is singing while drumming and dancing. It is a moving, evolving, tenacious energy. Very powerful and also very gentle.

There is also kalimba playing, which sounds angelic (bush doctor plays this) and so on.

And storytelling - interactive storytelling! audience has to participate - such fun and deep stories. The storyteller dances the story and signs too.

And people listen to each other and have conversations. There is caretaking of each other. Also, it is very healing to be acknowledged and respected like that.

There is not much on Congolese drum/dance, so this is a gem. Here are some links to Congolese: there is a promotional video with a dance clip - the guy is 42 yrs old! the lady even more - dancing/drumming this stuff keeps body young for a long time. Every year there is camp in Hawaii in March, and one in July in N. California, 10 days each, you can come for any amount of time and not even take classes. Some teachers live in Paris, some live in Oakland and teach weekly classes, some teach congolese drumming at universities.
Search for Chrysogone Diangouaya and Hyacinte Massamba - phenomenal drumming clip

If you want to order a CD with drumming and singing, then you will have to contact and arrange to carry his CD. He and his group drum and sing, it is an awesome CD.

THere is West African too - it is a little better known by now, because they got instructional DVDs and CDs. It is very powerful too. with Yousuff Koumbassa - check out his dance dvd in "bio" Moustapha Bangoura and Le Bagatae - check out dance clips

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

West African music

Check out movement and later sound, click on "bio" then scroll down to see the movement in slow motion. Notice the smile. and click on "see preview 1" and this is what it looks like

West African Natives have a very ingrained musical tradition tied to healing, "djeli" families are responsible for oral passing of tradition, music, storytelling, and peacemaking.

I have been hanging out with several of those Natives lately and playing drums and dancing, and there is a definite and very pronounced healing effect and community building. These are very very traditional moves and rhythms, very ancient, and they are designed to "do" something and they do - they somehow put you in a higher state and thus heal.

Africans drum and sing and dance with everything - someone drums when they work the fields, when they fish, for initiations, etc. Not to mention the aerobic workout, sense of movement, presence, concentration, relaxation, freedom in the body, etc. Westerners often think it is great for drum circles and shaking one's butt sexy, but that is soooo off the mark, and this African music just recalibrates us Westerners to being normal again and functional within a community.

In short, this "art part" is a very crucial part of Native living, a magical part.

Right now a lot of West Africa is staying home jobless and just getting drunk on home-made beer. What Africa has to offer is priceless and we need to somehow learn it while there are a few keepers left.

I have tried all kinds of music and dance, but West African has something pure and undiluted, because it is completely illogical and forces you think about each and every step. Also, it is completely free of any games, pretenses, etc, just joy of dancing and being alive and connected to Earth. Belly dancing should be like that too, but it is often reduced to the level of sex entertainment and/or has an attitude of trying the engage the audience and keep them captivated, i.e. it becomes emotionally charged drama and ego food. West African is not sexy at all although it has a lot of pelvic moves and is sexy, but the moves are done with pelvis like they would be done with an arm or head, all body parts are EQUAL. It is very ... Earthy and very One. Also, the emotion is neutral, it is sheer joy. There is no dramas, no games, nothing. Just joy.

Something Sacred and Something That Builds Community is hidden in that music and dance.

And I encourage you to explore it.


We need to wish for these very precious ancient art keepers sincere wishes to succeed and pass the knowledge. These are Native people in charge of what might be one of the few left truly ancient healing things. Please respect and support them and help them Teach.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

the spirit of Africa

An African young man from Guinea gave us an impromptu dance class at the picnic today. The guy is a phenomenal dancer and an excellent teacher. He had everyone dancing to a simple choreography, like four steps left, then right, then turn.

He is Native. He brings what Africa has to offer - a free happy spirit, freely moving body, totally flexible, totally comfortable, and free of any negativity that binds Westerners into stiffness. His spine and pelvis are totally free, his chest is free, when he moves, it propagates through the whole spine, the whole body moves, it is so graceful and very beautiful and very healthy.

He is not aware of it because it is natural to him, but he also teaches a sense of total comfort and joy, and delight in doing the same thing over and over again, and entertaining oneself with making each move different and creative. He kept so many people busy and having fun for about 1-2 hrs, just simple dancing together in a very simple but engaging coreography. It was completely delightful and truly the old fashion sense of fun and togetherness. He didn't need any props, special effects, nothing. He made up the games for us to play and we all spent time playing and having fun. For example, he'd ask us to clap our hands at some moments, then he'd change the dance to turn the next time, then we would charge forward, then come back...

In short, what he is teaching is healing - no boredom, no showing off, no games, no need to have it hyper or escape to drugs, tv, etc - just being happy with one has right at the moment. True freedom.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movement Therapy

This weekend there was two classes by a famous West African dancer, Abdul Kamara (hopefully the spelling of his last name is correct). Anyways, he is a fabulous dancer, with a spine that ondulates and moves fluidly; his whole body moves in a way that is extremely elegant and graceful. It is a combination of flexibility, muscle strength, and grace. African dance is like that. It is healing.

The sound of drums is also quite hypnotic, and puts one into a different space, where we cannot "think" in an ordinary sense. In that space, we have to Think and be Aware and yet totally Surrender. The dance is such that it is possible to do it only when we Think with something Higher inside us, when we are totally Alert yet completely Relaxed. It just flows... being in the moment.

I had such experiences today, and it was amazing to fall into that groove. That groove is something that is our birthright. It is an active yet meditative state. The state in which everything is clear and every moment lasts an eternity. Have you experienced such states?

What I experienced today was that feeling of turning the control to the body for the things it knows how to do - it knows how to jump, move, turn, etc.. The mind just interferes when it tries to control the body. In our ordinary life, the mind interferes a lot. That's why we don't move our bodies properly and that's why we end up with pain.

Another thing I experienced today was operating without that control of that ego that always thinks, judges, calculates, etc. My mind was very active, yet quiet, allowing me to do all the acrobatics necessary for the dance and to enjoy it.
It felt like I was flying on the drum music, like a kite on the wind made by the notes. I could feel the drum music inside me and It was moving me. I didn't have to think - my body knew exactly how to move with that music. The Thinking that was happening was just to tell me: ok, now the coreography says we move left and turn twice. But it wasn't "thinking" in a regular sense. It was more like ... some inner coach that was very discreet and quiet and accurate. And then I felt the music and moved with it.

The feeling was of being inside my body. I know it sounds rather strange to think so highly of being inside one's body, but: when was the last time you were inside your body? It's not something that happens all the time! Most of the time, we are stuck in our head. So, being in my body today felt marvelous.

So, feeling inside my body, it felt like I was occupying an enourmous amount of space. What I noticed is that my world view shifted: instead of constantly monitoring my environment for external threat and danger, I was on the inside of my body and staying there. My attention was inside me and outside of me, not only outside. That is a subtle but important difference. I was PRESENT.

And since I was Present, everything felt different. The sense of space, sound, other people, etc. - everything became more enhanced, more vivid, and somehow closer yet the space became much much larger.

I was just dancing for the sheer joy of it. I didn't care what I looked, what other people thought, I just *d*a*n*c*e*d, moving my body and enjyoing the sense of freedom in my whole being.

It is very difficult to describe this - just go out and do it. Try dancing with the drums and totally relax into it, and you will find out what I mean.

Watch "The Visitor" movie to see what drums does to stiffness :)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Belly dance as aerobic and stretching exercise

Because my parents were here and I needed to escape somewhere to do something for ME, I ended up going to the belly dancing class by Tito Seif. Tito is very famous belly dancer from Kairo, Egypt, and stopped here only for 2 days because he came to grab one of the local dancers and take her to Las Vegas to dance with him in the shows. What a chance! We seldom get big names, UNLESS they want to come to vacation in Hawaii. Plus, I never read the newspapers and by chance I saw the article on his class just a few days before the class.

So, wow. That was an amazing class, and I noticed a definite improvement in all my dancing, including the West African dance I regularly go to. Tito was an incredible inspiration because he is so creative and has so much fun while he dances. He just smiles and dances and makes up all kinds of funky moves. It is always different.
*****A GOOD TEACHER MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.****** Somehow something of his schine rubbed on me.

Also, it must be that belly dance is in my blood, my genes are from there and the dance is definitely familiar. What else can I say! I can listen to that music and it all makes sense and sounds cool. It is helping me transition to listening to pure West African music, which is definitely more ... jazzy.

West African music is pure drums and to me it is harder to just listen to it if I am not dancing or drumming. Somehow it requires more participation than just listening. It is ACTIVE music. Also, it sounds more like jazz, the syncopations and the pauses are definitely less predictable. That is what makes traditional African music so cool and so healing. It turns off the logical mind and turns on the higher mind. It requires total relaxation yet alertness. Also, there is absolutely NOTHING sad in African music. It is ALL just happiness and joy. That is definitely a gift to the world. Coming from the chronically melancholic, sad, self pitiful, whiney Eastern Europe, I SUPER highly appreciate the happy, grounded, centered tone of African music. It heals! It connects to the Earth and to one's body and Self.

I concluded that listening to music and being able to SING ALONG is a prerequisite for dancing. That's why Middle Eastern is helping me with African, because African has nothing but drums, and I needed to learn to sing along just drums. It's a learning process, definitely, for a totally white westerner like me. I grew up listening to very linear melodies (that I always found boring). Luckily, we had some middle eastern influence and there was drum music in all kinds of funky beats, like 7/9, and I always adored listening and dancing to that.

So, all this curvey, circular, wiggly, zigzag music is a fabulous exercise. It requires moving the whole body. Check out the articles on dance therapy.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

being famous; belly dance as therapy

This weekend I attended a belly dance workshop with a very famous and very good Egyptian dancer, Tito Seif. He flew in from Kairo, taught for 2 days, and performed.

Wow! First, he is a very good dancer, technically and "artistically." His dance flows and has flair. Second, Tito is very professional, keeps on the high-energy smile, and that plus the high quality dance keeps the audience totally mesmerized. No matter what is happening - cranky assistant, music stops, class that doesn't get it - Tito keeps on dancing and smiling. Third, he is a fabulous performer. The video clips on youtube cannot convey this quality. As he performs, he engages the audience, and it is apparent he is having fun. His mastery of music and dance and this playful creativity with the audience (asking people to clap, etc. in a very cheerful and charming way) makes for a very memorable performance.

This guy is famous. So, it made me think: is he famous because he is one of the few humans who can actually ENJOY HIMSELF, actually dedicated to something he loves, actually sacrificing to do that - teaching students which aren't perfect, etc. But nonetheless, doing what he loves - dancing - and enjoying it. LOVING IT.

The other thing that struck me is how therapeutic belly dance is. It adjusts the pelvis, stretches the spine, and exercises the entire body in a balanced and healthy manner.
I tell all my clients to try belly dance, hula, african dance, maybe salsa, and of course yoga and maybe tai-chi. All those exercises work the body all over in a balanced way.

Stretching the pelvis is the main thing.

Personal preferences determine what we pick. Belly dance is dramatic. For people who love flair and drama, who like to act, who are sensual, who love to play seductive, who love to show off, to deck themselves out in glitz and glitter and beauty, this is it. A safe outlet for all those tendencies. Also for people who have issues with their bodies. Belly dance is not terribly demanding physical workout, you don't need major muscles, but some muscles and a lot of flexibility.
Hula is for quieter types who enjoy more spiritual exercise with more gentleness, less emphasis on showing off, and more team work. Hula is not terribly physically demanding, but is a great workout that works.
African dance is for very athletic, muscular, sturdy types who need a heavy, relatively acrobatic (jumping, swirling, running) workout in a community setting.
Yoga is for really instrospective types. Tai chi wu or yang style as well.


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