Sage Brody and Heather Bilotta know that we were born to dance. At their recent Shake Your Soul® retreat, they brought inspiration and freedom to their guests in the form of integrative dance, meditation, and mindfulness. We sat down with Sage and Heather for a fun, fast-paced rapid-fire question and answer session about dance, fear, and the Art of Living Retreat Center.
SB: Dance is feeling what moves you in any way, and that could be a micro movement! It could just be my heart pulsing.
HB: I feel soul the most in my body. So soul for me is the sweat after a good dance, the pulse of my heart, my feet on the ground.
SB: Something that comes from deep inside that you may not even know is there – but then suddenly it is!
AoLRC: Lack of inhibition.
SB: Lack of inhibition is trying what might feel scary, and just seeing where it goes…
HB: And feeling the fear, and doing it anyway! I think for us, so much of our dance practice is about making room for the love of it, the joy of it, the sensuality, the groundedness, the spirit, but also making room for the awkwardness of it.
SB: It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to look good, and it doesn’t have to be a specific kind of expression. It’s something that’s fundamentally yours.
HB: Not caring about looking good is so important in the realm of yoga and dance, because we can have so much pressure for our bodies to look a certain way, to have a perfectly pointed toe or ankle, and we want to take dance away from that and back into the human realm, where it’s about spirit and connection.
SB: And as you move, and certainly in a group, connection is so important – to the ground, to spirit, to heart, and just seeing where that goes – not knowing where it’s going to go, and letting it happen.
AoLRC: Sacred dance.
HB: For me, sacred dance is about honoring tradition and those that came before us. Every spiritual and religious tradition has a dance. Shake your Soul is taking all of that, and putting it in the blender, and taking a combination of feeling our bodies and offering what comes from that, while honoring our ancestors as well.
SB: And we love all of the textures of world music – one song could be Balkan, one could be rap, the next song could be African drumming, and we love to explore how to honor all of these traditions and still express ourselves authentically while doing it.
HB: We welcome nerves!
SB: The person who stands on the side and watches for the whole thing is just as welcome to our class as everyone else. You know, nervousness doesn’t really go away. But we honor that resistance or fear.
HB: Just like a meditation practice.
SB: Fear, nervousness, resistance, excitement – they all have a place, and they create a space to exist within and to come forward with what’s real for you.
HB: For me it really happens on a body level. I tend to feel everything very physically. So for me, it’s really about how I can allow my body to hold the sensation happening as I experience emotion, rather than constricting physically against it.
HB: Humans are designed to hear and respond to music, and our job is to help you remember that.
SB: You get to be you while trying on different ways of being and moving that you may not be familiar with, and feeling into that natural place.
HB: It’s like that quote – “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that.”
AoLRC: The Art of Living Retreat Center!
SB: There’s this incredible energy at the Center.
HB: This beautiful space, well-maintained with staff and volunteers who were here to serve heart and soul. Seeing an organization living their practice and really moving from the heart – it really makes our job so much easier, and makes us want to come back again and again and spread the word.
AoLRC: Anything else you’d like to add about dance?
HB: For me, there’s a real naturalness to it. When I hear music, the first thing I want to do is move. Letting myself do that feels like a real gift to myself, and then to others when I teach.
SB: And for me, it’s a way to come out of what can be a really busy mind. So many of us live in our heads, and dance is a real invitation to feel our bodies, and to experience an act from that place rather than the habitual way we are in the world.
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