Denver Ecstatic Dance
What is Ecstatic Dance?
Ecstatic dance is free-form movement to music in a group setting. It is the unfiltered, unmitigated movement that we train ourselves at an early age to ignore. Unlike the performance arts, ecstatic dance is only for the benefit of the participants. It is the dance you do "when no one's watching.” It’s movement for the sake of movement, and there’s no "right" way to do it. The only parameters are that the participants follow through with precisely what their bodies naturally want to do.
That sounds scary. Why would I want to do that?
Self-care has become a popular topic—if not obsession—that challenges us to direct more time towards healing activities. Dance of any kind is self-care, as it tends to every part of your being—mental, spiritual, and physical.
Ecstatic dance is a joy-filled end in itself. Dancing is a receptive, harmonizing, and responsive act. In dance we embrace our bodies, interact with the musical, human, and spacial blessings around us, join these blessings on their own terms, and contribute new creation in return.
At Fratres Dei, we believe that dancing is one of the greatest human behaviors, because it seamlessly unifies the body and spirit. Our hope is that through ecstatic dance, the conversation between your body and spirit will inspire even more avenues of spiritual growth.
Physical movement boosts mood. This type of bodywork allows you to connect with the movements your body wants to do, but our rigid daily routines do not allow. Free movement is a way the body can release endorphins and improve mental positivity without the physical demands of more challenging exercise.
Ecstatic dance provides a way to express yourself and to interact with others in a nonverbal manner. While the majority of human interaction is based upon conversation, ecstatic dance allows for its participants to curiously consider other methods of communication. Not only does this feed the imagination, but it also serves as a refreshing and unintimidating communal platform for those with verbal disabilities or social limitations.
The group setting of ecstatic dance serves many ends. Throughout the session individual participants move freely, and therein is a mutual invitation for everyone else to move freely. Observing a companion’s lack of inhibition inspires further inhibition in the observer. Dancing as a group also serves to keep each individual’s energy up (though lying motionless on the floor is welcome!) much in the same way that group exercise classes create an accountable, encouraging environment.
Connect with Nature
In the same way you may go on a reflective hike to marvel at nature, in ecstatic dance the dancer may marvel at the work of nature that is their very self. Through this practice the dancer may better understand and luxuriate in their natural self and better understand and luxuriate in their ecological context.
Yeah, but I don't dance.
"Dance" is a beautifully loose term. Dance is simply movement, so if you have a pulse, you're dancing. If you can inhale and exhale, you can dance. At the end of the day, ecstatic dance is about getting in touch with your body. While you'll be encouraged to not hold back from any movement you feel inspired to make, the final product does not have to be proper dance per se. To quote a Fratres Dei Ecstatic Dance attendee:
"Ecstatic dance does not necessarily require dancing. During my session, I sat, stretched, and took a short nap. Leaving my session, I felt refreshed and that I had reconnected with the divine in a physical way."
The beauty of ecstatic dance is that it removes a lot of the factors that would make you nervous to freely dance. The room we in which we meet for our Denver ecstatic dance is completely private, so you won't have to worry about people peering into the room while you dance. Also, in the same way that it's less nerve-racking to sing in a choir than to sing a solo, the fact that everyone else around you will be focusing on their own movement makes the entire experience feel less conspicuous.
Ecstatic dance may be out of your comfort zone. However, thoughtfully accepting and overcoming that discomfort and embracing new challenges can be beneficial both spiritually and mentally.
Ok, so what happens at the Denver Ecstatic Dance?
You do not have to prepare for ecstatic dance. We suggest you wear clothes that allow free movement. You may bring a water bottle, a drum, flow art materials, etc.
We like to create a space where each person is free to make the experience what they would like it to be. There are opportunities to connect with others, and Rachel will lead some centering and reflective exercises, but it is all optional. If you'd like to keep to yourself that's 100% ok, and if you'd like to connect with everyone there that's 100% ok.
Here's what to expect at each session:
We start seated in a circle. Rachel will explain what ecstatic dance is, what the guidelines/house rules are, etc.
Rachel will say that the room is a confidential and judgement-free space and that you are welcome to discuss your own movement with anyone but to please not talk about anyone else's movement outside of the session.
Everyone will then be invited to find a space in the room to lie down, and Rachel will lead a guided meditation to help you turn your attention to your body and spirit.
Rachel will then put the music on, and it will play for about an hour. During that hour, there is no verbal communication. The only instruction is that you follow through with exactly what your body would like to do while remaining conscious of the safety of others. That can mean repetitive movement, dynamic movement, lying on the floor, anything! You are free to interact with others through movement, and you are free to keep to yourself if you wish.
The music is a mix of world music, instrumental, electronic, indie rock, and more. We always welcome requests, so if you'd like to submit a song to be in the playlist, we'll be more than happy to include it.
After an hour of free movement, we meet again in the circle, and anyone who would like to share something about their experience may do so, but there is no pressure to share if you don't want to.
Rachel will send everyone home with some questions to reflect upon in the moments or days following the experience.
More questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (720) 534-9491.