Sober raving is one way to describe ecstatic dancing, a form of freestyle movement that is said to facilitate healing. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Sober raving? The rise of ecstatic dancing

Free form movement encourged in these judgment-free spaces

By Kendra Crighton

Black Press

For some people letting loose and dancing freely is something that only happens at an underground rave after taking illicit drugs, but what happens when ravers grow up?

Ecstatic dance has become increasingly popular throughout Vancouver Island, with workshops and studios popping up in downtown Victoria and on Salt Spring Island.

“Ecstatic dance took about 10 years after the rave scene to become a thing. People were maturing in the rave scene and wanted something a little more easier going,” says Alex King-Harris, a local DJ and facilitator of ecstatic dance. “It’s a free space to dance in for people looking for the kind of dance energy similar to a festival or club, without the drugs or alcohol.”

READ ALSO: African rhythms, dance performance to help out Sierra Leone charity group

Although to outsiders it may just look like people flailing around on the dance floor, King-Harris – who has a background in music therapy – explains it’s much more than simply gyrating limbs.

“There’s so much great neuroscience out there now that when the mind is fully synchronized with the body, there’s a healing that takes over. You become more open to connecting with other people so their connection can be authentic and real – that in itself is also a healing experience.”

Jaz Snider, co-founder of Dance Temple Victoria, says the freestyle movement is for people of all ages and all backgrounds.

“That’s one of the most important aspects of it, that people are encouraged to move however they wish while being mindful and respectful of others in the space,” says Snider.

It starts off with a guided meditation leading into a facilitated movement to get you “warming into your body.” As the music gets more intense so does people’s dancing.

READ ALSO: What’s different during an all-boys dance class

“It’s difficult to truly articulate what it looks like except to say if you’ve ever seen tribal dancing in African villages, it’s more like that than random chaotic movement,” says King-Harris.

Snider agrees, adding the movement isn’t just for your body but “it’s movement for the heart and soul as well.”

According to Snider, one of the most important aspects of the dance style is cultivating that safe space where people feel free to move how they want in order to stimulate a healing response.

“With this particular form of dance it’s allowed me to really tap into my creativity and be in touch with my body; it helps me feel my feelings more fully and to be more accepting of those as they come to the surface when I’m moving,” says Snider.

“I can go into an ecstatic dance session feeling a certain way and then emerge afterwards feeling completely different – often much lighter and clearer.”

While the community is continually growing, Snider says an ideal candidate to test out ecstatic dance would be anyone that liked to dance that maybe hasn’t had the opportunity or the confidence to dance publicly.

“They might be really surprised in a really positive way to discover themselves in this environment and what can emerge,” says Snider.

Classes take place every Sunday morning at the Dance Temple Victoria or Monday and Thursday nights at Salt Spring Dance Temple.

“Usually when we do a show it’s usually 20 to 30 new people and then the regulars that come around a lot,” says King-Harris. “For me that’s been the power of music and movement is the ability to pull people together and find a commonality without words.”

For more information on where to dance ecstatically in Greater Victoria visit Dance Temple Victoria or Salt Spring Dance Temple on Facebook.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Dance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jen Hodge conducts an online concert during the pandemic after returning to B.C. from New York City. Photo courtesy Claudia Nobauer
Canada Recovery Benefit won’t replace the magic of live performance, musicians say

Cash will help, but its the audience connection that most performers miss — and crave

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancouver Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

Gatineau artist Michèle Provost visits the Malaspina Galleries during her artist residency on Gabriola Island. (Photo supplied)
Gatineau artist the first to take part in new Gabriola Island artist residency

Michèle Provost to create art book reflecting on the positives of aging

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Kent Laforme looks through the sound tunnel, or visual portal, carved inside the 25,000-pound marble sculpture that could be installed at Cattle Point. (Screen Shot, Oakbay.ca video)
Stone Takaya sculpture could soon ‘howl’ at Cattle Point

Oak Bay inviting public suggestions for 25,000-pound marble sculpture

The Sid Williams Theatre marquee is once again proudly displaying upcoming events. Photo supplied
Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre reopening in a limited capacity

Theatre has been closed since March due to COVID-19

Nanaimo-based ceramic artist Joe Lyons is presenting his first solo exhibition, ‘Poppin Bottles Soda Distraction,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts from Oct. 26 to Nov. 12. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-based ceramic artist showcases variety of bottles in first solo show

Joe Lyons presents ‘Poppin Bottles Soda Distraction’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts

Toronto poet Robert Priest is presenting an online reading on Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy Allen Booth)
Nanaimo spoken word society presents online reading by prolific Toronto poet

Robert Priest to dip into 40-year catalogue for upcoming Zoom reading

Nanaimo singer Elise Boulanger releases her new single, ‘Cigarettes et rosé’ on Oct. 11. (Photo courtesy Laura Baldwinson)
Nanaimo singer releasing new single inspired by overheard conversations

Elise Boulanger to unveil ‘Cigarettes et rosé,’ accompanying ukulele tutorial video to come

Most Read