Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 2010 Newsletter Mailed 9/1/2010

Subject: Ecstatic Dance Spokane - Dancing this Sunday!

Ecstatic Dance Spokane September 2010 Newsletter
Ecstatic Dance Spokane
September Dance Begins This Sunday!
Ecstatic Dance Spokane
Dear Ian,

On the eve of autumn, our hearts are full of goodbyes to another beautiful summer. We feel a quickening in our bodies as the morning air chills, and something quietly begins to call us to dance our full hearts.

Ecstatic Dance Spokane begins its fourth season this Sunday morning, September 5th, as a devotion to Saraswati, daughter of Shiva, goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts. Autumn is known as Saraswati's time. The name Saraswati comes from "saras" (meaning "flow") and "wati" (meaning "a women"). So, Saraswati is the symbol of knowledge; she flows (or grows) like a river and her knowledge is supremely alluring, like a beautiful woman.

Let us bring the spirit of Saraswati into our dance this year, making of ourselves deeper, more flowing beings, tuned to the change that constantly asks us to "awake."

This year, we plan to have a website up (soon), a new Facebook fan page, and our search for a dedicated movement space continues. Stay tuned.

In Heart Fullness,


P.S. Our banner shows off the new postcard designed by Diane Sherman to help get the word out to new folks. Many blessings and much gratitude to Diane!

Gramaphone Saraswati
Gramaphone Saraswati

Sunday Morning Dance Church - 1st Sunday
September 5, 2010
Doors open at 10:30 am.
Spokane Yoga Shala
505 E. 24th Ave
Spokane, WA 99203

This dance begins in silence and movement, with no opening circle. There is a closing circle for sharing. Dance Church celebrates the remembrance of embodiment as human beings. Bring a Friend!

Suggested Donation: $10

Saturday Night Dance - 3rd Saturday
September 18, 2010
Doors open at 6:30 pm.
Spokane Yoga Shala
505 E 24th Ave
Spokane, WA 99203

This dance begins with a warmup period for stretching. At 7:00 pm, circle is called for declaring intention and creating sacred space before moving into dance for approximately 90 minutes. A closing circle for sharing completes the evening.

Suggested Donation: $10-$15
Ian at 509.990.6434

Coeur d' Alene Ecstatic Dance - 2nd Saturday
September 11, 2010
Doors open at 6:30 pm.
Opening Circle at 7:00 pm
Harding Center
411 N 15th St
Coeur d' Alene, ID

This dance begins with a warmup period for stretching. At 7:00 pm, circle is called for declaring intention and creating sacred space before moving into dance for approximately 90 minutes. A closing circle for sharing completes the evening.

Suggested Donation: $10- $15
Contact: or
Jill: 208-772-6240 or Faith 208-704-9728

Gratitudes and An Announcement!

Thanks and blessings to everyone who participated in Sara's "Like a River" workshop in early August. The collective experience of the weekend showed me again how the practice of conscious movement creates deep personal connections with both Self and Other.

Many, many thanks to Sara Pagano for her passion, her fierce devotion, and her insight into Flow. Many, many thanks to Duncan for his support and music, and to Trudes for the altar, and to both of them for their love of the work. Many, many thanks to Sara M for her capacity and grace in holding the space.

I know that many people had conflicts with the dates and couldn't make the weekend, so....

Sara's coming back! Mark your calendars now! She will be back the first weekend in December for a followup to "Like a River." I'll be sending out more information shortly!
With Love,

Ian Cunningham
Ecstatic Dance Spokane

Quick Links

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Like a River" - a Flowing 5Rhythms Workshop with Sara Pagano

At Burning Man in 2008, I first experienced the 5Rhythms Wave at the RhythmWave dance camp. I had been facilitating ecstatic dance events in Spokane for about a year, and the discovery of the larger world created by Gabrielle Roth changed my life. I felt a deep soul calling to deepen my movement practice and share it with my community.

The experience led me to my first 5Rhythms event at Waves Studio in Olympia, where I danced in the 2009 New Year with Sara and Amara Pagano. I was captured by the open heart energy of the community and felt a deep kinship that continues to grow. Sara became my first 5Rhythms teacher, and now she's coming to Spokane!

In 2005, Amara Pagano wrote this about Sara on the Wave Studio website:

"Sara Pagano is one of those rare people who is able to listen beyond what is known and see unknown possibilities. She is a visionary who has fallen in love with the work of the 5Rhythms, and has dedicated her life to bringing this dance practice to the world. More importantly, Sara has discovered her own dance, her own body in motion, and she has taken this off the dance floor and into the world. She is very creative and passionate in sharing both the discovery of the dance and the possibility of living the 5Rhythms as a physical and spiritual practice with her students."

Sara will be here in Spokane in three weeks to present "Like a River," a 3-day dance retreat that explores the ground of the 5Rhythms, Flowing.

Sara Pagano on "Flowing":

"The river is more than metaphor; there is an actual current of energy running through our lives, always wanting to carry us downstream, in continuous fluid motion. The problem is, we get caught up resisting the flow, stuck in eddies and log jams, bumped on rocks or falling over falls. Life is full of obstacles, and we oblige them. We dis-connect from our deepest original nature, the energy of fluid motion. What would it be like to know intimately our own unique expression of Flowing, in our bodies, in our hearts and minds? What would it be like to navigate fluidly within the river of our own life? To meet every obstacle with the ease and grace of fluid energy?

The 5Rhythms map how energy flows through our bodies and through our lives. This 5Rhythms dance workshop explores the foundation of the 5Rhythms, Flowing. Over the weekend, we will dance ourselves into our own expression of Flowing, one step at a time, so that we may know the grace and beauty of our deepest true nature, just like a river."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Madness Dance

March Madness - Ecstatic Dance at Spokane Yoga Shala - Saturday, March 21st

At least in the country where I live, March is perenially marked by Madness, the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, when 64 teams play consecutive rounds to determine a single champion. We are caught up and carried in the grip of this madness, and it is a real marker of our collective experience and culture. What an incredible dance the game of basketball is! Many of us are captivated by what we can receive, yet our participation is limited, and like with so many of our collective rituals, we participate passively, absorbing the physicality of the competition through our virtual medium of television. So, in my thoughts about what ecstatic dance is, what it means to me, I've been thinking about the relationship between ecstasy and madness, crazy wisdom, and inspiration.

At the same time, we mark in March the Spring Equinox, the earthly moment of equipoise. This is a moment of grace on the planet, a moment of balance between the face of the Sun and the face of the Earth, yielding equal lengths of night and day. We celebrate equilibrium, and the eternal return. In the Christian calendar, the equinox is marked by Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Annunciation means the event of the angel Gabriel's visitation and announcement to Mary that she will bear the incarnation of Christ. In Wicca, the equinox is celebrated by Ostara, who is personified as the Goddess of the Dawn, and also marks the reunion of the Goddess and her lover-son, the Horned God. In the Medicine Wheel, the eastern direction reveals the Morning Star Lady, who heralds the sign of first light, the coming of the sun, beginnings, illumination, and clarity .

The word equanimity describes a peace of mind and abiding calmness that cannot be shaken. In my imagination, the Equinox represents the Earth and Sun in equanimity. Equanimity is one of the cardinal virtues, described as the state of living in complete harmony with our environment.

Then, there is madness. In Phaedrus, one of Plato's Dialogues, Socrates makes the distinction between two types of madness: mental illness, based upon a physical imbalance, and divine madness, or "theia mania," the enthusiastic state of "being-beside-oneself," which is a gift of the gods. Socrates describes four types of divine madness: the possession of prophecy (Delphi), the possession of trance (Dionysus), the possession of inspiration (poetry), and the possession of love (Aphrodite). In his proof of the divine origin of love, he develops a proof for the soul's immortality, discusses reincarnation, and the force and power of love. He speaks personally of his own daimon, or "divine something" that acts as a messenger of the divine, warning him when he is about to do wrong. Socrates says, "In reality, our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, which indeed is a divine gift."

Ovid tells us that Dionysus, the god of ecstatic dance, traveled to the Mediterranean and the land of the Greeks, from India. In the East, the tradition of crazy wisdom runs deeply through Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Zen. The roots of divine madness are derived from shamanic experience, and the experiential understanding of the non-duality of existence. That experience is the bhakti way, the way of love, devotion, and surrender to the Divine. Ecstatic Dance is a form of bhakti yoga, a meditation on Lila, which can be translated as the playground of the gods.

The breath of the god, "inspiration," transforms us. Through the breath, the movement of our soul, we are the embodiment of the divine. The in-breath informs us of the possibility of union. When we dance, we can feel this possibility. It is a moment of equipoise. Ecstatic Dance, in its many forms, contains the practice of opening ourselves to the crazy wisdom of our bodies, so that we may experience the harmony of who we really are.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Dance of Lights, A Dance of Fools

"A Dance of Lights, A Dance of Fools"
Winter Solstice Ecstatic DanceDionysus

For six days in the northern hemisphere (where we live!) at the end of December, the sun ceases its slow southerly dance on the horizon and appears to rise and set in almost the same spot. Solstice: from the Latin sol stetit, meaning "sun stood still." From the ancients, we know that this is a primordial moment of change. Will the sun begin to move again? What will move the Great Wheel of Life? Will the Rhythm end?

As each year ends, as the drama of change completes its annual cycle, our human hearts feel more deeply connected to the collective theater of grief, grace, and gratitude than any other time of the year. Our sorrow meets our joy, our sacrifice dances with our passion. The Sun dances with the Moon.

A long, long time ago, our ancestors followed the cycles of the moon. Tribal cultures had no need for solar calendars. As civilization became more complex, the need for a solar calendar (His-story) developed. The lunar year was 354 days, the solar year 366 days. So, at year's end, the twelve days between were set to observe a bridge between the solar and lunar calendars. These 12 days belong to no calendar. It is the time of No Time.

Eventually, these 12 days became the 12 Days of Christmas, but long before the Church aligned the Christ story with the Ancient Ones, the days around the solstice were feast days honoring the gods of change. The Greek festival of Dionysus (Lord of the Dance!), the Roman festival of Saturnalia (Saturn = Father Time), both echoed through the Middle Ages in the European Feast of Fools, when the common folk could mock the rich and powerful, social hierarchy was reversed and the rules could be broken.

So much moves through us this time of year. I often have felt bound by the pressures of the holidays and stress of so much to do. This year feels different. This year, I will dance with the Sun and Moon.

Where & When
Spokane Yoga Shala
505 E 24th Ave
Spokane, Washington 99203
December 19, 2009
6:30 PM - 9:00 PM