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October, 2020. Written by Project Leader and Grant Recipient Valerie Chafograck of Dance Sanctuary
Expressions of gratitude and deep connection resounded among all who attended the Movement Liberation conscious dance workshop on Sept. 19, 2020. With the generous support of CommonGoods Network, 26 self-identified Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) joined to create a safe space to explore the theme of “We Are Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams.”
Main facilitator Valerie Chafograck and guest facilitator Dominique Cowling guided the attendees’ exploration — alone and together — through free-form movement and facilitated inquiries, eclectic music, stillness, and silence. They began with an invitation to meditate and ground the group space.
“Grounding in the moment is important for BIPOC, to our roots, energy, and ancestry,” Valerie said.
At the conclusion of the workshop, Valerie invited everyone to form a shape that embodied their truth in the moment. The image provided along with this report helps to illustrate an experience of grounding, connection, and beauty that the participants shared in their own words via the group chat and in post-workshop interviews.
Arisika Razak, 71 years old, values being in spaces that honor people of color, where she is often the oldest person. Arisika was surprised by how much she has enjoyed the online format, after the pandemic forced an alternative to in-person events.
“What Valerie has been able to do is to bring the sense of the field energetic to the on-screen format,” Arisika said. “That takes a lot of skill.”
The use of the spoken word, poetry, and meaningful music and inquiries helped foster a network of trust during the Zoom conference, enabling the possibility of transformation and healing for the group.
“Being in touch with spirit, the body, the heart, I feel that really strongly even through this format,” Arisika recounted. “I may feel it more strongly online.”
Conscious dance invokes a special sort of mindfulness where bodies can entwine and harmonize in powerful ways that feel very natural when sharing the same physical space. To facilitate this interaction during some parts of the online workshop, Dominique and Valerie invited everyone to pair with a partner and gaze upon each others’ heart region as opposed to the face. This small change in perspective had big implications, opening each person to trust in their own heart while sharing in the landscape of dance communion.
For Amy Chang, the duet helped her to “explore shedding Hawaii location ethnic identity and reclaiming my own DNA blood Chinese heritage in a more empowered way.”
CommonGoods Network’s mission connects well with the work of Movement Liberation in creating safe spaces in which BIPOC can regenerate their roots, and cultivate wellbeing and resiliency within a supportive community.
Entering the space, it was clear that the effects of the pandemic weighed on everyone. By the end of their time together, descriptions of “low energy” had transformed into “energized.” Those who entered feeling alone expressed a sense of inclusion and belonging to a community. The distance of disconnection gave way to relaxed bodies and spirits connected in the field. Departing together, grounded in the wisdom of their ancestry, the group went to offer blessings to the world in all directions.
Thank you, CommonGoods Network, for supporting our work and our shared vision of a more brilliant and inclusive future.
We are so glad to have been able to support Valerie and her meaningful work, and look forward to continuing the relationship. If you are interested in supporting this inspiring project, please donate and let us know!