Dance can turn you into a delicious cake

23 August 2019

This is an excerpt from my journal during an Open Floor workshop called Basic Sanity with Andrea Juhan in Mountain View, March 22-25, 2018

It’s overcast. It rained last night in Mountain View, California. Early in the morning, I sit in a corner of the dark dance floor next to a pile of pillows. I’m overcome with tears of recognition. This is home—dance, transformation, an altar, and a smooth, worn wooden dance floor. The wood feels buttery and satiny under my bare feet. It’s worn by years of dancing, like a rock worn smooth by a stream. It’s worn by years of dancers’ sweat, tears, drool, hopes, fears, thoughts, and dreams. It feels so rich and full and I am overwhelmed.

As I sit in my corner, I see the volunteers in their sacred scurry as they prepare for the dancers arrival. I see the teachers sweetly talking and smiling behind the desk. I notice the lights have been turned on in the space; the heat beginning to warm my stiff fingers. I see students arrive, embrace, chat, stretch… I can feel the space transforming from dark and resting to alive and welcoming. I see all the things that I would do to create more order in the space, like sweeping the floor, rearranging the pillows, and keeping the dance floor silent and sacred. But I’m not in charge and I surrender to the messiness, or at least I try.

I think about where I was just a decade ago—trying desperately to find contentment through avenues that could never lead me there. And here it is. It seems simple, but it’s not easy. When I release the myriad of judgements I have, I find more similarities than differences. I find kindness, friendship, and yes, even love. I feel full.

I feel like a runny cake batter that, before being baked, needed containment and the protection of metal walls. But I’ve been baked. After three days of dancing, I now feel more like the fluffy, delicious cake that can stand on its own without the walls. And I am delicious.

Donna Carroll

Donna Carroll is the founder of Ecstatic Dance International and cofounder of Ecstatic Dance Oakland. She is a social entrepreneur who believes dance and music transform lives.

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