The Sacredness of Movement in Dance

By Sarah Merfeld, Director of Sustainability and Community Programs

I began practicing Sacred Dance three and half years ago when I moved to Floyd. Immediately, I felt a deep resonance to the practice as if it was what my body desired for years. Dancing in community is powerful, and I eagerly awaited it each week.

Eventually, I began to apprentice with Jenny Finn in the practice of Sacred Dance; she invited me to start dancing everyday. That meant that most days I would be dancing by myself, alone in my house. In the beginning, shifting from dancing with others to dancing by myself was difficult. The majority of the time, I found it to be dull and lackluster. I would get preoccupied by noticing that my plants needed to be watered, or I would want to change the music to shorten the practice. It is through sticking with that initial discomfort of dancing alone, however, that helped me develop an authentic relationship with the practice. Without the witnessing of community, I had no distractions, no one to “show off” for, it was just me. Without the external guidance from a leader, I had to strengthen my internal teacher to guide me through the practice.

I noticed that as I found the power and depth in my solo dance practice, I was able to plumb greater depths when I would dance communally at the Sacred Dance series. I was able to be more present when I partnered with others and I learned more about how I relate to people – both on and off the dance floor. I was able to strengthen my inner teacher, by softening to the guidance of Jenny as she led the practice while also listening to my own inner guidance. These days, it is vital for me to have both a solo and communal dance practice. Each one strengthens the other and there are unique learning opportunities in both.

This Fall, Piper and I will be leading a Sacred Dance study group to supplement the adult Sacred Dance series. Our intention for the group is to deepen our understanding and experience of the practice, so that we can receive the wisdom available to us. Along with readings and embodied exercises, part of this journey will be creating playlists and dancing on your own between our meetings. As with anything, participants will get out of this group what they put in. If you would like to grow your dance practice while receiving support from others, join us!

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