Dance Family, happy Friday! Monica here - dropping in to say hello. Blessed full Super Moon, the last one of 2022.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned I'd share more with you about the origins of Ecstatic Dance Dallas and my journey as Founder. It's a pleasure to reflect and tell you how this all started many, many moons ago.
Consider this first section an EDD story time and keep reading if you're curious. Otherwise, our schedule is below. EXCITING things are unfolding at EDD as we keep emerging from pandemic life - dancing our way forward and onward! Follow us now on Instagram. So good!
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost - J.R.R. Tolkien
Twelve years ago this summer I went westward on a quest to dance with as many teachers and tribes as I could find. I traveled by car and tent and faith for twelve weeks hungrily following my intuition and instincts like a north star; determined to discover something I couldn't yet name.
This photo captures the essence of that time - me in California, dreamin' - my curiosity, trust, inquiry, adventurous spirit, bravery, and wonder in full effect. I was in love with the possibilities. I needed this journey. Turns out, I was finding me, but so much more.
I'd discovered conscious dance two summers before with my best friend and fellow seeker, Liz Tucker-Rogers. For her 40th birthday she booked a retreat at Esalen and invited me to go. I said yes. I'd just been through a separation preparing for our divorce, my daughter was leaving for college, I was questioning everything I thought I knew at the time, and I felt I had nothing to lose. I was trying to learn to say yes to myself and what I needed. It was uncomfortable. I honestly had no idea what I needed and felt shattered.
This trip to Big Sur, California felt decadent and indulgent. It was a stretch - way out of the ordinary of what I'd normally done for myself prior. My default as a mom and a wife was habitually prioritizing everyone else - their needs, wants, whims. It felt a little rebellious and edgy to treat myself like this. It was expensive for me at the time and borderline impossible to spend money and time like this. I went anyway.
After saying yes to Liz's invitation, swept up in her excitement and enthusiasm and even her matter of fact way of going towards what she wanted, there was no turning back. Her zest for life was infectious. She LOVES Esalen and was willing to try anything being offered there. So, she had picked the week and booked it, not knowing what she'd scheduled would change both of our lives for the better forever.
She is a yogi, but neither of us had had experience yet with this type of movement practice. We were entering into a whole new world together. The retreat was with two legendary teachers, Michael Molin-skelton and Anneli Molin-skelton - a brilliant, wise, committed couple who had each studied with Gabrielle Roth and other masters on the dancing path. They were and are impeccable. The space they held for us was blessed.
Walking into the dance dome that first night with them on the sacred grounds of Esalen, I'm not sure there are words to describe. This is where Gabrielle had actually birthed 5Rhythms, this was her laboratory in the 70s. This place, I'd learn eventually, was holy. That feeling I had in my body, breath and bones that night - I cannot tell you what happened in words. But ecstasy was alive in my skin and I felt it fully. I cried. Moving, bare feet on that silky wooden floor, hair down and flowing, skin caressed by the Pacific ocean breeze, in that sacred space with my friend and those teachers on that night at that time in my life - it changed me.
After days of dancing all day every day, at the end of the retreat, Liz looked at me and said, "We have to bring them to Dallas!" She was serious. She held my gaze as I looked carefully for how this was a wonderfully wild idea and also not really going to happen. This too felt impossible to me, but she was serious. I saw she didn't waiver. I got on board.
Right away we set about scheduling them; planning months in advance. This was August 2008 and we produced Michael and Anneli for the first time in May of 2009 for a full weekend retreat in Dallas effing Texas. No one was dancing in Dallas at the time like this - it just wasn't yet a thing, save for some occasional offerings at MoveStudio, which I loved!
Facebook events were just at that moment created. We leveraged social media, which was just emerging right then. We designed personal invites and mailed them. We called people and emailed. We placed print ads, sent smoke signals.
Liz is organized and remarkably capable with spreadsheets and timelines and planning ahead and so much more. I'm the queen of inspiration and passion and optimistic yesness - one of my gifts is shouting good news from the rooftops and getting folks to come on over here! We're both creative and resourceful and competitive in the best possible ways. We'd challenged ourselves to do this impossible thing and we were damned sure gonna. Folks trusted us and they had every reason to. We made an amazing team; complimenting one another beautifully in our efforts. It worked.
We filled the retreat fully! Literally sold out the entire weekend through our sheer will, contagious enthusiasm, determination, collaboration, undeniable chutzpah, and luck. We were on fire with the mission and vision. You couldn't tell us nothin'!!! We knew every single body in the world needed this thing we'd found and we understood the assignment to bring it to the people.
We brought it. Michael and Anneli brought it. Dallas was ready apparently and hadn't realized it until right then, I suppose.
After that, we both knew for sure folks - all. of. us. every sacred human. - needed to keep dancing and this ultimately was the vital precursor to the birth of Ecstatic Dance Dallas Community in early 2010, which I'll tell you more about soon.
I've learned so much from Liz about the value of adventure. She's a master at curating, creating, orchestrating, and leaning fully into her birthright of exploration and self care - which I'm continuing to learn, go hand in hand. Liz is a quintessentially brilliant, bold and beautiful Leo.
On this full moon in Leo season in the midst of Liz's birthday month, this is the perfect story to remember and share. Liz and her wonderful husband, Mark (who I also adore) live happily ever after in Colorado now. Telling this story makes me miss them both. I love Mark's world-class coffee on chilly, Colorado mornings. I'll go visit soon.
Happy Birthday, Lizzie! What a treasure you are and what a joy it is to keep dancing this path with you, dear friend. xo
With a grateful heart,