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We have been working on the working out of these elders workshops. The process of feels like a practice of being in the now and working with the now. We may not know the full extent of the history of this project and how it came to be, but we can do some team work around what we are capable of adapting to.

We have some questions:

-what does the community want?
-how can we increase our skill set as facilitators to accommodate this?
-can the translator be an extended facilitator, as in we all take the time to incorporate the process of translation?
-how can we evolve the role of mentor?

We met on November 17th to discuss some of these options.

Karen expressed to Margaret her desire to maintain a common direction towards passing the work on to the four mentees, and therefore wanted to remain in a mentor role rather than facilitator role. She wants the role of mentor to become one more centered on support, because that is what will happen down the road.

She speaks about the need to continue infusing the workshops with fun. Julie and I refer to a conversation we had with community engaged dance artist Naomi Brand about responding to the desires of participants and negotiating compromises. This particularly pertains to the social and joy based reasons why most people dance, and their desire to move to music.

How can we incorporate these dimensions into a meditative dance practice that requires time to feel the benefits? It is an exciting challenge. A transformation of modality is taking place, while we stay connected to the strong foundation that Karen has built.

The next question pertains to class flow. Where can we place these exercises that are more social, and whose purpose is more to mobilize excitement than to become connected to the inner body? How can we be strategic in how we sequence the workshop so as to stay connected to an energy body based momentum and focus?

The answer lies in skill expansion, intuitive listening and practice. Skill expansion takes reaching out and drawing on different sources and histories in the dance world, both personal and communal. Intuitive listening takes tuning into a group at all moments in the workshop, and being keen on changing plans based on how people are responding to the material and each other. Practice takes time and a group to work with.

Sometimes growing pains are hard. The space of transition can feel murky and unknown, and I know sometimes my body responds with fatigue. Dance facilitation is a feedback loop in that way; the energy cycles from participant to facilitator unidirectionally. The transformational process has so much to teach us. It can often be a beautiful relief as we uncover new ways of working together and with the world.

We came out of that meeting with some interesting ways of engaging the participants to ensure that we reach them. We mapped out some things we wanted to know:

-what do you think about dance?
-what has been your pathway to dance?
-what brings you here today?
-what did you expect when you came here today?
-do you have a physical practice (dance, martial arts, etc) that you would like to share/contribute?

These are just a draft. They emerged in order to establish some communication that can lead us towards leading better. Good leadership creates clarity, and thus creates a safe space that participants can interact with.

Karen mentions that our biggest task is getting to the other side of the brain, and that judgment lies on the opposite side of the brain to things like dance and poetry. As long as we stay focused on this task, I believe the integration of new way to bring joy and lightness into the room will be successful.

We conclude the meeting, and Julie and I depart. Mirae and Lindsay teach a slightly shorter workshop, that apparently went wonderfully, and there were more participants than last time. Once I hear from them, I will report more on this process of change and integration!