Through directed exercises and experiments you will work to investigate your own self – sensing what is there, learning about the terrain of your sensations to alter stress, find new-or-forgotten ways to move, develop your ability to listen to yourself + others, and expand your creativity and capacity for connection + communication in movement and in life.
At the kernel of this class you will be working with paying attention – to the quiet, subtle, internal. The work is similar to or informed by: martial arts, contemporary dance, theater practice, superhero powers, ‘Jedi’ mind, meditation. You will work hard. And probably laugh. You will talk very little. You will do solo work and work as a group.
Some classes are tailored for work with performers. Some classes are designed for everyone – suited to all shapes, mobility and experience. All classes work with similar elements. Please see my SCHEDULE for specific class descriptions.
ABOUT SOMATICS: “Somatic approaches emphasize sensory awareness (paying attention to sensing)…in somatics, kinesthetic awareness functions largely as a potent agent of change – a powerful means of altering habit…Just as the mind organizes the rest of the body’s tissues into a life process, sensations to a large degree organize the mind. They do not simply give the mind material to organize; they are themselves a major organizing principle.” – Glenna Batson
“…experience never shows up apart from our being embodied and situated in the world.” – Evan Thompson. My hope in this work is to bring forth the experience of connection – to FEEL, to sense one’s inter-relatedness with others – that we are perpetually organizing, informing and being informed by those around us, with the world around us.
Stephen Fulder – “In other words, we bring to our journey a directed mind, and our practice, whether meditation, body work, yoga, tai ch’i, breathing, music dance or whatever, is to direct it to a place where no direction is needed any more. To some extent this happens naturally, by itself. Because even in a most controlled step by step teaching, our experience will certainly be mixed. We may be in the midst of hard work getting somewhere, such as trying to concentrate on the breath, when suddenly the breath itself just invites us in to explore the territory hidden there. We get up from a very achievement-oriented striving exercise, and just feel the sense of being alive, the sense of the morning, the mood of lightness, the moments of not caring where exactly we are. As we practice, we become more and more friendly with the wild and wonderful surprises of the present moment. The landscape tends to take us over. As we progress, our consciousness and heart themselves learn to love the freedom of the open road, of going no-where. From that place the milestones on the road are just another interesting pile of stones.”
Staci Haines – “The word somatics comes from the Greek root soma which means “the living body in its wholeness.’ It’s the best work we’ve come up with in English to understand human beings as integrated mind/body/spirit, or a psycho-biology. The understanding is that people are not mind over matter (‘If I think differently I will be different’), nor matter over mind or spirit (‘a change in chemistry or medication will wholly change my experience’), rather we are all of these things combined – we are thinking and conceptual, we are emotional, we are biological, and we are spiritual. Somatics approaches people as this integrated whole, working with all of these aspects of who we are…
Somatics…integrates the body…as the essential place of change, learning and transformation. You can think of it like muscles having memory and the tissues having intelligence. We have learned a more objectifying or dissociated view of the body as a pile of bones, and tendons…Somatics looks at the body as a place of evolutionary intelligence and learning…the mind and body are never really separate (a mind cannot live without a body and visa versa)..When we reconnect the vast intelligence of the body with the mind and spirit, powerful things happen.”
ABOUT ME: In studying-working with movement, dance, performance and healing practices, I have found that teachers have unique ways of communicating about sensing and awareness. Each one arrives with their own strengths and weaknesses as they share the knowledge of their own experience as movers, as humans. If it seems that my way of engaging with this work fits your curiosity, great! I look forward to meeting you.
My experience comes from over a decade of working as an artist in performance and improvisation in music and theater, from study at ISLO (Finland) Education in Dance and Somatics, through much personal-family experience with mental health and psychotherapy, contemporary dance workshops and through self-directed research, and meditation practice. I am from the US and have worked in many countries and cultures.
My strongest, earliest influence in this work comes from working with horses. I was able to ride, free of any bridle, rope or restraint; the communication between my horse and I was such that he would gallop, stop, or do fancy ‘footwork’ on request, all through the subtlest of communication. I developed a particular and keen awareness of non-verbal communication. Most importantly, as opposed to ‘breaking,’ forcing one creature’s desire upon another, I learned to find calmness before delving into further conversation.
My degree in Cultural Anthropology worked as a doorway through which I entered the world of art making. In my mid-twenties I began independently studying music, learning to compose and play in Brass bands under the guidance of my expert friends. Also, I began to paint, make puppetry, theater. Through theater, particularly my time working with Peter Schumann, I fell deeper in love with movement, dance.
This love, combined with a longstanding interest in healing work, led me to ISLO’s Education in Dance and Somatics, learning from Malcolm Manning in particular. I read continuously in phenomenology, neuroscience, cognitive studies, restoration from trauma/oppression, the experience of agency and empathy in relation to free (improvised) movement in solo and in groups, and hold a great interest in implici knowledge (intuition) arising during meditative states – especially as this is felt/experienced in a body-base of heart and gut, and the relationship between meditative insight and affect/affective bias. I’m a daily meditation practitioner, I take a variety of somatic workshops and dance classes as often as possible, and study bodywork incorporating sexual healing/learning through Joseph Kramer’s school.
I come from a family which has struggled with many *mental health difficulties including depression, anorexia, schizophrenia, alcoholism, compulsive eating/shopping, childhood abuse trauma, and other difficulties which evade psychiatric or psychoanalytic diagnosis. Through this, I have had experience as a patient and as a first line of support within the structure of psychiatry and psychotherapy. From my personal experiences and research – I simply find more overall vitality, ease and support in mindful movement practices.
Sources which I have found to be especially helpful and inform my own work include: Dr Ginger Campbell, Dr Gabor Mate, Tara Brach, James Baldwin, Pema Chodron, Madness Radio, Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Peter Levine, Art, and – especially – Movement and Nature.
*Typically during my workshops I do not address mental health specifically. However, I firmly believe that this work can significantly foster mental well-being. If you are interested in a workshop or private work, with a focus in mental health, I would be honored to hear from you.