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Ecstatic Dancing – Beginner Guide

I’ve been dancing since I’m walking. Dancing comes with being a child, right? Doing spontaneous moves, shaking our little bodies to the rhythm of the beats; feeling alive, fully at the moment.

And I grew up. Still dancing, but self-aware of my movements, of how I look and others, would perceive me. No freedom anymore, feeling alive maybe but being imprisoned in my own self-judgment.

It went on like this for a while, until I encountered the practice of Ecstatic dance!

It started in my bedroom, or actually, in every room, I found myself into. Because I took the commitment to dance every morning, as free as my boy wanted to, as long as my heart had something to express, to release. And that commitment went on for 6 months. It’s been a healing journey. I remember myself being completely taken away by some beats, sweating my prayers, crying out my sorrows, bursting out of joy! After each dance, I felt softness and calmness inside. And the connection to myself; trust that I have everything inside of me to go through whatever. I would dance this whatever anyways. I let go of past relationships through the dance, I reawakened my life energy, I connected deeper to my intuition, my guts.

I experienced magic, depth, lightness, devotion, divinity. The healing power of dance and movement became a discovery that I wanted to share, no matter what. I’ve always been a big fan of music, of gathering people together, creating magic, beauty, intensity. And Ecstatic dance would allow me to put that all together and share my heart through this amazing practice.

When I facilitate the 2 hours sessions, I say 2, 3 things about myself, and do few icebreakers for the group to feel more relax. Creating a safe space is one of the “must” for people to really feel they can lose themselves in the dance. And when it’s time to share about what Ecstatic Dance is, I have only a few words to describe it: “people it’s your moment to unlearn how to dance”.

Forget your best moves, let your judgments and inhibitions at the door, and surrender yourself to the dancefloor. Be wild, be still, be crazy, or move like an angel; do whatever, as long as you can connect to your authentic movement. Because the dance has this power; to reveal your true self, the dormant part inside of you. This little child inside that wants to move freely as he used to be.

What I like about ecstatic dance, is the silence that comes with it. Silence is one of its guidelines. Simply to lower down the chatter of the mind, and give more space to our heart and spirit to guide the dance. Not that we cannot connect with other fellow dancers, but we do so through the eyes, through movements and something magical arises from this new way to interact with each other. We feel a part of the whole, of the community. We connect with others beyond the masks; revealing the raw version of ourselves. What a precious gift!

It’s always such an honor to witness what happens on the dancefloor. If people can really let it go; let go of the self-control, judgments, fears, and dance it out, at least for those 2 hours. I’ve seen people in tears; sharing to me how releasing it has been to give space to the pain they carry for so long. I’ve seen shining faces; in bliss, just by trusting the wisdom of their bodies and opening themselves to their gifts and beauty.

If after reading this, you’re still wondering about how beneficial Ecstatic dance can be, please give it a try! Go on Google and search for the closest Ecstatic dance in your city. You’ll probably experience a bit of resistance, but what you’ll get out of showing up on the dancefloor will so worth it! Once I’ve seen this on the wall of a street in Austria; “never park your feet. No matter what, keep moving”! If there is no Ecstatic dance in your city, maybe it’s time to start one?! One way is to click here and take an Ecstatic dance training and learn the skills to facilitate it!

Now what are the roots of Ecstatic dance and where is it coming from?!

First of all – throughout history, dance has been a spiritual, emotional, and community-building activity! It was an expression of personality and culture—an experience of freedom and creativity.

Being reborn in the early 2000s, Ecstatic dance has become wildly popular in the Conscious Community – people who practice yoga, meditation, and other forms of conscious development.  Previously, similar spiritual forms of dance focused on the acoustic: the mellow and quiet. In contrast, Ecstatic dance bursts with energy, drawing heavily on various styles of music and rhythms! And It’s exactly what people love about it! While there are plenty of spiritual practices that promote stillness and static postures, Ecstatic dance reemerged with an excellent way to move the energy in the body and have a release in a very robust way!

To understand the roots of Ecstatic dance, we must venture back in time. The ancient Greeks – followers of the god of wine Dionysus were the first to enjoy Ecstatic dancing. In it, they saw a spiritual component, a way to worship Divine and wild trans-like states in which they could escape their bodies. In time, these dances became ritualistic. Variations of this form of dancing were common throughout the world. Rhythmic drumming and shamanic rituals used Ecstatic dance to connect with the Great Spirit through the body and have served as a form of meditation. Through these intense dances, groups also were forming tight, emotional bonds with one another, which was benefiting communities.

Once, on the beaches of Hawaii, in the shadow of a volcano, Ecstatic dance returned. The beating sun and burning earth were infused into the movements and philosophy of the dance. Max Fathom, who had been part of the Conscious Dance community, stopped by Burning Man, on his way to Hawaii. Hearing the rhythm of the new styles of Electronic Music, he dreamt of combining the two.

Gone was the rhythmic drumming of the Greeks, in came the DJs and their electronic tapestry of sounds. Sonic flares sound through the room. Genres meld and blur. No set is ever the same.

Over the course of the Ecstatic dance journey, the music goes in waves. Starting slow, it builds up towards an ecstatic high—going through various rhythms, yet slowing down again and giving away for a more hearted, touchy vibes. As the music flows, so your body does too; until the community ends the dance together!

In the modern, faced-paced, and stressful world, Ecstatic dance had spread across the globe. Following the first Ecstatic dances in Oakland, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, and Barcelona, the dances have found their way into India and South East Asia. Everyone can benefit from Freedom of expression. You just have to let yourself go!

About Stefania Trtica