That Which is Yes: JourneyDance with Katie Toohil

Categories: Dance, Last Night

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Katie Toohil does all kinds of things I can't do on a daily basis.
A couple weeks ago, I'd expressed some anxiety about attending JourneyDance with Katie Toohil at SYNC Yoga and Wellbeing in Oak Cliff. Dancing, huh?

My own my mom has likened my moves to Elaine from Seinfeld; but, they might be described more accurately as Woody Allen: the Broadway Musical. Further context? I wear suits. And, black. Black on black. I grind my teeth. I power through. I work ceaselessly. I work alone. I've actually drank coffee to the verge of throwing up. I don't really do "relax." I've never so much as stepped into a yoga studio.

Which is exactly why I needed to. Not only would it be a learning experience, one that I could use to push through the multitude of insecurities I've been facing about my body and its place in the world, but it was also a perfect time to experiment with methods of release outside of substance abuse or seething, unrealized and unexpressed, rage. Indeed, it's been a stressful year. And, we're not even through February.

And, since Katie Toohil's the kind of person who, upon first meeting her, you feel as though you've known her for centuries, she tends to make people feel safe and smart and good about themselves. I'd been reading online about her experiences becoming certified as a JourneyDance facilitator, and though I had no idea what that meant, if Toohil felt so passionately about something, I figured it would be worthwhile exploring, if for no reason other than curiosity. As it turns out, JourneyDance was created by Toni Bergins, and it involves moving in a "Shamanic" style, allowing the music to dictate your physical and emotional state. So, I headed over to SYNC last night from 8-10 for Toohil's $15 workshop. While things are still a bit 'up in the air' as to whether JourneyDance will become a permanent fixture at SYNC, the strong turnout and seemingly uniform enjoyment by attendees suggests that there might be more JourneyDance in the near future. I'd sign up today. SYNC would be crazy to turn it down.

The long and the short - I was impressed. I can't wait for another session. Read about my "journey" after the jump.

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It would be disingenuous to suggest that at no point I felt uncomfortable, but for me, that lasted only for a few moments while we stood, waiting for instruction. We began with stretching and breathing, like most exercise programs, and then began moving very gradually, through a series of movements, leading each with a different body part. It was surprising to feel my body being led by merely my wrists or my shoulders or, while I'm slightly more accustomed to it, by my middle fingers. But, then we started moving around the room. Like, toward other people. And, with other people swirling into our own "personal" spaces. That's where it got tough for me.

I distinctly remember as a kid actively disliking recess because of the sense of chaos and disorder it instilled in me. I didn't then - and don't, to a certain degree, now - understand why people don't tend to queue, quietly thinking seriously to themselves. Hi, I'm an introvert. Are we still talking?

But, once I realized that, by simply moving about the room, I wasn't commandeering others' space and that my own space could be opened - if just temporarily - it got easier. Much easier. We moved to the music, warming up, and becoming (or, in my case trying to become) present in our bodies. And, suddenly I was unbound, humming like loose electricity. I imagined cool dirt beneath my feet as we danced around a "bonfire," to a dance remix of Break on Through (to the Other Side) and it was fun. I was unleashed. Dionysus loosened madly upon the world. On more than one occasion, I caught myself doing this:

and it felt glorious. See, JourneyDance isn't "dancing," in the way that I'd initially understood it. There's no choreography. Nothing to remember or to count. There's no judgment. No right or wrong. Only yes.

It's about feeling. Good, bad, hot, cold. Whatever it is you need to feel. It's about remembering to live. And, it's something I need more of in my life.

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