SomaSource Leaders are body-centered psycho-spiritual educators, artists, activists, and healers who have an integrated understanding of how to creatively work in developmentally attuned and culturally sensitive ways with diverse people throughout life’s cycles. They all have grown up in the Golden Bridge community and have been trained and certified by Melissa Michaels and the Golden team. Individually and collectively, these SomaSource Leaders bring their unique and inspired initiatives to the world.
Abigail Rita Lubahn
Abigail Rita Lubahn, MA, LPC, R-DMT, graduated from Naropa University with a Masters of Arts in Somatic Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Dance/Movement Therapy. Abigail has worked with NorthStar Transitions, an Addiction Recovery clinic offering Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program running group, individual, couples and family therapy. Abigail also works as a SomaSource Practitioner and independent contractor with Golden Bridge Organization since 2014 and has a private practice located in Boulder. Prior to employment with NorthStar Transitions Abigail worked as an emergency clinician in hospitals, jails, and at a detox and crisis clinic with Boulder Mental Health Partners. She was also trained in various trauma-informed treatment modalities addressing developmental and early childhood trauma. She has worked with international populations using mindfulness-based, creative arts and movement therapies emphasizing in client-centered interventions. Much of her orientation focuses on cultivating radical acceptance and compassion in the recovery and healing process from trauma, eating disorders, personality disorders and addiction. Outside of clinical settings, Abigail also works as creative support staff and as a professional dancer to a Brazilian dance company Samba Colorado and a member of the United Capoeira Association of Colorado. She has participated in facilitating and collaborative creative performance art programs while in the Naropa Graduate Program. She is currently developing a private practice based in Boulder and is continuing to build bridges between various dance communities.
SomaSource and working with Melissa Michaels and Golden Bridge team has transformed my work with groups, families and individuals. I explored internal and external landscapes with the connection to a global community. Deep gratitude and appreciation work with this community.
Alicia Patterson, MA, LPC, R-DMT, LMT is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Dance Movement Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Pelvic Health Mentor. Alicia completed her MA in Somatic Counseling Psychology specializing in Dance Movement Therapy and Body Psychotherapy at Naropa University. Alicia completed Massage Training at the Boulder Massage Therapy Institute and Pelvic Floor Therapy (Holistic Pelvic Care™) training with Tami Kent. Alicia runs a thriving private practice in Colorado offering somatic counseling, female pelvic health mentoring, teaching and consulting.
Alicia’s work is deeply informed by the training and experience received through SomaSource as well as somatic psychology, multi-cultural awareness, neuroscience, trauma & recovery, cosmology, and more. In Alicia’s women’s pelvic health work, she offers a process designed for integrating developmental experience, gender & sexual identity, trauma history, pregnancy & birth, ancestry & lineage, conscious menstruation & fertility, in addition to physiological pelvic floor and organ health. Alicia has been involved with SomaSource for the past 10 years as a participant/trainee and serves in various therapeutic support roles.
Outside of professional development and a constant quest for embodiment, Alicia enjoys live music, great friends, humor and irreverence, partnership, creativity, earthing, and animals. Most of her time is spent in Colorado, though her favorite place to be is at the beach. Her family is in Washington, DC and if she could choose one superpower it would be time & space travel. To learn more about Alicia’s work, visit www.alicianpatterson.com
I stepped into SomaSource on the cusp of one of the most transformational stages of my life. I was introduced to pure fire and a well of grief and confusion in myself. Ten years later, I feel truly clear from the inside out. My time with SomaSource has informed my professional and personal path in countless ways. SomaSource witnessed me while it took years to step into my mission and purpose. This process is not just about dance, it is a multi-dimensional healing trip and has been one of the most fruitful, painful, beautiful, processes I’ve experienced. This journey has fueled all that I create and offer this world. The gratitude I feel for having stepped into this work when I did is endless. This practice and embodiment is a spiritual journey for me that I grow more intentional with every year due to the complex privilege and vulnerability of it all. The expansion I’ve felt as a result of becoming grounded and centered in my body strikes me with awe. Every time I wonder if I am moving on from the dance, it surges in me and in life and calls me back to its eternal creative pulse. Deep gratitude to Melissa Michaels and Golden Bridge for walking this road with me.
Angus Baguinho (they/them) is a Portuguese-American drama therapist and crisis clinician living on the Colorado Front Range. Dedicated to serving fellow queer and trans people through practices of embodiment, nature-connection, and the expressive arts, Angus has been leading LGBTQIA rites of passage programsfor the past 5 years and is currently co-facilitator of Rooted, a program for gender-expansive 11-13yo’s in Lyons, CO. Angus also works at the local 24/7 Walk-In Crisis Center, meeting with clients marginalized by the mental health care system who find themselves pushed beyond their capacity to cope.
As a young person, Angus survived 13 years of ballet training before finding sanctuary in the transformational realms of the theater. With the blessing of their fairy god-uncle and High School drama teacher, Bear Capron, Angus discovered the divine gender playfulness inherent in each of us, learning to bend their walk and voice to express their changing selves ever more performatively and authentically. This therapeutic encounter with theater created a container of community and purpose which allowed for a powerful and meaningful coming of age process. Inspired to bring theater and dance to social justice issues as well as personal healing, Angus self-designed their major Decolonization through Theater & Dance combining Theater of the Oppressed, Playback Theater, Improvisational Dance, and activism while at Pitzer College. Upon graduating Angus attended their first international dance-based rites of passage program with Golden Bridge’s Melissa Michaels, Ed. and became a life-long student of Melissa’s ground-breaking SomaSource work, pairing life cycle development and somatic psychology with rites of passage programming. Angus then spent their early 20s living in Asheville, NC on the ancestral lands of the Cherokee teaching K-8 Spanish and Theater at Rainbow Community School. Here Angus honed their teaching, rites of passage, and applied theater skills, facilitating embodied theater for healing workshops with teenagers at residential treatment facilities, and designing and teaching new rites of passage curriculum for gender-creative Middle Schoolers. Angus’s decision to attend California Institute of Integral Studies’ Drama Therapy program brought Angus back to their home of the San Francisco Bay Area, ancestral lands of the Ohlone, Pomo, and Miwok. While completing their Master’s degree, Angus spent two years working with trans pre-teens, queer and trans adolescents, and LGBTQ adults both one-on-one and groups at the Pacific Center in Berkeley, the longest-running mental health clinic serving LGBTQ clients in the country.
Angus and their partner Jett Cazeaux, a fellow SomaSource practitioner, now live with their heart-meltingly sweet rescue dog, Freya, in Longmont, CO on the ancestral lands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute.
Arisa LaFond, Rolfer™ of Structural Integration, LMT, is an embodied facilitator and leader, deeply rooted in the magic and mysteries of life. The nectar of her devotional offerings arising from these very depths. She has a multi-layered multi-cultural blend to her background and style. Arisa has been trained and cultivated her path as a healer and humanitarian priestess of the heart. She is a licensed Massage Therapist and certified Rolfer™, as well as a movement practitioner through SomaSource and Rolf Movement. She is a graduate of the Hakomi Mindfulness Psychotherapy 2 year program as well as a graduate through Somatica in intimacy and relational dynamics. She has facilitated rites of passage work, movement journeys, intimate relating and teaches children and adults these embodied skills. She continues to refine and reveal her devotional path serving her local and global community. She has traveled around the world committed to grass-roots activism in the collective awakening of the heart, mind, body and soul.
SomaSource and the work with Melissa Michaels has been a profound doorway into the world of embodiment, deeply connected with other points of light weaving a grid, and golden bridges, around the world. Deep bow and high Reverence.
Arlyn Deva Alderdice
Arlyn is a life coach, dance facilitator, musician, teacher, backpacking trip leader, gardener, and mother.
Arlyn is on the path to graduate from Martha Beck’s Wayfinder Life Coach training in 2023. She is a new addition to the SomaSource Leadership group but her work is rooted in 20 + years of dancing in and out of the circle with Melissa Michaels, including being on the art team for the first Surfing the Creative at the Starhouse as well as being on the musical team for the recent Shakti Sisterhood gatherings.
Arlyn is also a graduate of Matrix Leadership Institute’s Facilitator Training and earned her B.A. in Expressive Arts through Prescott College (with an emphasis on leadership and healing). She completed a 9-day School for The Work of Byron Katie and loves the way that properly used thought-work can support somatic work. She has studied herbalism with Alicia Michaelson and drumming with David Alderdice. She gardens, ferments, and makes medicine with the seasons. She loves to backpack and help others explore the wilderness. She plays cajon with an all-female quartet, Mama Lingua, and leads regular dance practices in Western Colorado.
Melissa Michaels and the SomaSource work met my 20 year-old-self with actionable practices, grace, community, and understanding at a time when I needed it thoroughly. It’s hard to remember the time before I had a map to understand my internal landscape (including being able to track the effects of trauma) because it is so integrated into my being and worldview. Now, 20+ years since I first walked into the room, I have followed one true thread after another to weave a tapestry of a life that includes dance, connection, service, embodiment, nature, and as much of my whole self as I can access in this moment . . . which continues to deepen with the years.
Axé is a visionary educator and innovator. They co-create spaces for authentic expression, body reclamation, body remembrance, and healthy sensuality. Axé is leading customizable immersive experiences across the world using dance, movement, theatre, expressive arts, performance art and embodiment practices to help people ground, release, and get free. They are the channel and founder of SOL VIDA, a light energy and movement methodology that fuses the form and freedom of Afro, Modern, Hip Hop + Conscious Dance. Rooted in the African Diaspora—their work is devoted to embodied healing justice centering and uplifting women, QT/BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA, elders and young adults.
Balu Ponnusamy lives in Auroville, South India where he is completing his degree in Culture and Heritage Management. Balu teaches village youth learning to perform Tamil cultural arts, dance, and music, locally, nationally, and internationally. This work is an outgrowth of Balu’s dedication to supporting his Tamil culture’s values, spirituality, and indigenous crafts. He is the creator of the Sound Crew Group, and also the Founder and Director of the Mohanam Community Village Heritage Center.
Balu’s relationship with Golden Bridge has been evolving since 2004 when he made his first journey out of India and began his conscious journey across the great waters of adolescence. The work with SomaSource now informs his work with children every day. He formed the Mohanam Performing Arts Youth Group and Mohanam Village Heritage Centre.
Balu is also the Creative Director and Founder of Auroville Bamboo Centre. His passion for education, natural resources, and social entrepreneurship inspired this vision. His dream is to inspire new generations to be connected with nature and bring change through the incredible potential of bamboo.
Balu is married to Rajaveni. Together, they are the proud and devoted parents of their son, Samaran. Balu is a risk-taker and visionary, dedicated to living in unity and harmony.
Blythe Massey, RCST, PLC, serves clients to have more energy and clarity, less pain and anxiety, and an overall empowered sense of wholeness and embodied wisdom. She provides a mindful, safe container for somatic healing through Craniosacral Therapy and nervous system regulation. Her formal training includes over 1000 hours in Craniosacral Therapy along with extensive focused training specifically for healing trauma and stress. She is a teaching assistant at the highly regarded Colorado School of Energy Studies.
Blythe’s Craniosacral Therapy work is deeply informed by her dedicated practice of 20 years in the contemplative practices of hatha yoga and meditation, along with dance as a healing and sacred art. For 15 years she has been offering private sessions, classes, and retreats. Blythe has a private Craniosacral Therapy and trauma healing practice in Santa Rosa, CA and offers online classes on nervous system health. She can be reached at BlytheMassey.com or on Facebook at @HappyNervousSystem
Blythe is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has made 16 short films for Golden Bridge. “It was a great joy to document the wisdom, beauty and embodied transformation that occurs at Surfing The Creative, and even greater joy to see the manifestation of the gifts that the emerging leaders take home.”
Beginning the SomaSource training just after I graduated from College was life-altering. To enter my 20s with embodied understanding of the full spectrum of feeling, fundamentals in healthy communication in personal and group dynamics, and the capacity for dance and the arts to be utilized for healing expression has been a foundation for both my personal and professional life. To participate in this transformational cauldron with extraordinary humans from around the world has only magnified the felt sense of unity and compassionate understanding for all beings, transcending all apparent differences; what a gift.
Briony is a musician, vocal improvisation teacher, and innovator. Her work is grounded in the body, earth-based spirituality, regenerative culture, and paradigm shift. She has studied Vocal Improvisation and music with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, David Eskenazy in France, and Atul Upadhye in India, as well as with pianists Frank Martin, Julie Wolf, and Huw Edwards.
Briony’s teaching work has a strong healing and spiritual aspect. Briony cultivates a culture of truth, transparency, and mutual support among students, and leads with love. Students call her a “master,” “the Rolls Royce of singing teachers,” her work “life-changing.”
Briony sits in a strong improvisation musical lineage; and intuitively integrates her deep work in healing, personal growth and spirituality with Melissa Michaels, Sobonfu Some, Nunutsi Tenipe, the Network for New Culture, Stepping Stones Project, and the Somatic Trauma Healing community. This fusion is valued by singers! The voice is so tender, so connected to heart and soul; improvisation is so vulnerable, so powerful, that it needs to be rooted in spirituality, healing, loving community, loving leadership, and safety. Golden Bridge and SomaSource Leadership training have helped to formalise some of these aspects.
I realised that when I took my facilitator challenges out to a moonless night and danced a silent wave, that led me from ‘ah! They’re suffering! It’s my fault! It’s my job to fix them!’ to ‘it’s not my fault, and it’s not my job to fix. It’s my job to let them feel what they feel, respect the intelligence of their process, and not shut them down.” Since that night, I’m glad to say a lot of lives seem to have changed for the better in the spaces I hold.
I am so grateful for the wildness, the boldness, the love, the support for vulnerability, grief, rage and sexuality that Melissa brings; the high integrity, the high and constantly questing ethics. When I led my first retreat, I had a plan for the opening. Then when we came to it, I felt, obviously what we need to do is go up onto the mound and call in the directions. We did, and some people cried. Later that night a woman said, “I thought I came here to sing, but actually I came here to hear a woman call in the directions.” A year or two later, a 5Rhythms® teacher came to a retreat. At the end she said, “Your leadership style is a lot like Gabrielle Roth’s.” It was then that I understood that although I was teaching improvised singing, I was unconsciously modeling Melissa’s leadership style. I am deeply glad to acknowledge my living place in an amazing female lineage, to work primarily with women, and to help people heal a variety of wounds, personal, cultural, ancestral, through the voice and the body, through improvisation and freedom, through truth and love. Thank you Melissa.
Cailey Halloran is an acupuncturist and herbalist passionate about working with women’s health and internal dis-ease. Her roots are found in the woods of Pennsylvania as well as the rainforests of Central America, having spent her middle school years in Costa Rica and post-undergrad years in Panama. She believes in the body’s ability to heal and transform through somatic and spirit lead practices. She is an avid yogi, dancer, and lover of live music and delicious food.
The SomaSource practitioner training has been a culmination of a decade of dance and study. It has been a time for deep exploration, learning, growth, and integration. These maps and rhythms will be with me for the rest of my life. They are a well from which I draw upon and use throughout my daily life and work. It is my intention and belief that their wisdom ripples out to all those I meet. I am forever grateful and in awe of this profound body of work. Thank you Melissa. It is truly a gift! I am so honored to be a part of this lineage.
Carley Castro is a Mitigation Specialist based in Los Angeles. Holding a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, she has advocated for people of all ages in the criminal legal system since 2013. Her work is inspired first by personal experience with the criminal legal system and enforced by encountering the life-supporting vision of prison abolition in her undergraduate studies.
Currently, Carley tells the stories of folks sentenced to life in prison as adolescents, to advocate for their return home as adults. She views her role as giving voice to the inherent dignity of each person’s life. She is interested in helping society square with the reality of nuances and the interdependence of self and community.
While in graduate school, Carley co-chaired the Criminal Justice Caucus at the Columbia School of Social Work, and in that role helped put on Beyond the Bars, a national conference on mass incarceration. Carley is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, teaching skills to student attorneys in the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic.
Carley began working with Melissa at 21 years old, just before setting off to college at Soka University of America, by participating in Surfing the Creative. She has since supported in various roles, including MOM (Master of the Mundane) and on the therapeutic support team. Her dream is to weave the worlds of justice and SomaSource, with feet firmly planted in reality and hearts open to the possible.
When I first met Melissa, I was a hopeful 21-year-old holding an ocean of pain and grief. The teachings of SomaSource helped me ground into my work in the world, open to new possibilities, and learn tools that I have been able to use in my personal and professional life. It helped me navigate trauma, loss, addiction, and wild life transitions, so that I can show up for my loved ones, community, and those I serve in a professional capacity in a way that is resonant with my mission here on Earth. So much of what I have cultivated as a life is based on experiences I have had here and are based on these teachings. I have deep appreciation for Melissa and this work.
Carolina is a modern-contemporary choreographer and assistant director. She has worked with Rites of Passage processes in her community such as quinceañeras and most recently, weddings. Carolina is working towards becoming a narrative therapist and practicing intuitive movement, bringing together dance and storyline therapy.
Carolina has worked with coming of age groups who struggle with body insecurities, always working toward empowering young individuals through mentorship. She ran girls groups and facilitated community building activities as well as social and emotional learning opportunities throughout her community and local schools.
Her work grew in the competitive dance world and has placed 1st in the contemporary division.
Carolina’s essence and the way she would describe her work with her students would be as if she is the gardener and her students are the flowers. Her passions lie in healing through movement and song; focusing on youth who, despite their environment, are provided with resources and tools of alternative outlets/healthy self-expression.
Her work has given her the confidence to be a space holder and youth guide, starting from her own stuckness and turning it into breakthroughs. Carolina provides a safe and supportive environment for those she works with.
In my youth, I’ve used dance as my voice and as a leader. Now, I use dance to amplify the voice of others. I am truly grateful to the SomaSource/Golden Bridge community that has welcomed me into this work. My path came to fruition because of the experiences I’ve had and relationships I’ve built through this global family. Thank you!
Chloe (she/her) is in her final year of pursuing her masters degree in Somatic Psychotherapy, along with being a licensed Massage Therapist, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist, Doula, Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist and 4 Gateways Coach. She is passionate about meeting whoever is in front of her with presence and a deep trust in the inherent wisdom and wellness we each carry.
Chloe’s work centers around supporting clients in liberating their life force. She loves getting to discover what this means for each person – whether it be through counseling, bodywork, mindfulness practices, nervous system support, mind-body-heart-spirit inquiry, earth-based practices, and more. She brings a unique blend of evidence-based approaches and spontaneous creativity to each session. Her work is informed by her own commitment to social and environmental justice.
Chloe has worked with newborns to 97 years old, during times of challenge and times of celebration. She has worked in the fields of birth, recovery & addiction, and with people navigating their way during big and small life transitions. She leads groups that support nervous system regulation through attuning to the seasons. She brings a quality of playfulness and joy to all of her work.
She is a lover of starry nights, salty water, guttural laughs, a good dose of irreverence, and dancing. She is an adamant believer in the power of community and delights in supporting people in finding ways to mark moments of transformation.
I experienced and witnessed what is possible when a group of people come together and move through this map of soulful and heartful embodiment. Individual and collective trauma has the opportunity to be witnessed and to move. New possibilities arise. A reclamation of one’s true nature begins to take foot.
This work has been a north star in my life. It has widened my ability to move through whatever life brings with more presence. It has inspired my offerings and given me direction to live into my soul calling. And the community! This community is a constant source of inspiration and support – locally and globally. I am very grateful to have landed in SomaSource when I did. It has been a true gift.
Claudine Migisha comes from the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). While growing up, Claudine suffered hunger and sleepless nights because of civil wars and conflict in her village in the Eastern Part of Congo, known as Rutshuru in North Kivu province. She lived a profound personal journey that began at the tender age of six when she became an orphan. Resilient and spirited, Claudine pursued educational and professional experiences worldwide, inspired by her passion for improving her community.
Claudine holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Africa University (AU). She attended Garrett Theological Evangelical Seminary with a Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling with Chaplaincy. She is also a 2019 MasterCard Foundation Alumni, a 2020 Watson Accelerator Program Alumni, and a Somasource certified leader by Golden Bridge. Claudine is also a Pamoja Kwa Maendeleo certified leader by Coburwas International Organization To Transform Africa (CIYOTA). She holds a Clinical Pastoral Education certificate level 1 as a Pastoral Care counselor from Rush University Medical Center 2022. Claudine is currently building her educational journey in the MSW program within the Organizational Leadership & Policy Practice (OLPP) concentration at the University of Denver. She has actively worked as a community mobilizer and youth engagement program Intern at Golden Bridge/ Golden Girls Global for the past 3 years.
Claudine’s passion is to see women and girls empowered, along with peace through community development. Claudine believes that women and girls in her community possess not only the power to bear children and support their families but also the power to deliver sustainable peace and development in her country. Claudine is the Founder and Executive Director of Nguvu Ya Africa (Power of Africa). Her program empowers other girls and women leaders as the solution to the toughest political and economic crisis facing marginalized girls and women in the Eastern part of the DRC. She is determined to help create a more healthy and peaceful community.
When I came to Golden Bridge in 2015 for the first time, I experienced being in Dr. Melissa Michaels’ class with other students and leaders worldwide. I had no idea what somatic psychotherapy or embodiment or movement meant at that time. And since then, I began self-study as a leader and a social being alongside Melissa’s mentorship. My dreams were of gaining skills and amplifying my voice so I could use it to empower and help other young people in my community. And being Melissa’s mentee and her student has made it possible. Her mentorship alongside that of Golden Girls Global leaders has been a healthy developmental path toward the strong, resilient, and self-driven young woman I am becoming today. Working with Melissa has helped me amplify my voice, my mission to serve young people in my community, and cultivate the ability to network and build strong connections as I work with her step by step in my educational journey and professional career. I am so thankful for the teachings about the 7 cycles of Surfing the Creative Rite of Passage model; they serve me as self-regulating guidelines to come back to my body every day as I navigate life to stay healthy, and focused. Thank you!
Cora is a devoted student of Somatic Practices through movement, honest presence, compassionate curiosity, and nutrition. She is currently in her Masters for Somatic Psychotherapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies to deepen her studies and commitment to aliveness.
She is called to collaborate with individuals and groups to inform sustainable and nourishing tools to integrate body-based therapies. Through this lens, she hopes to create brave spaces in which many peoples can understand the complexity of the macro and micro systems in which they reside and embody.
Nature and community are used as a foundation to guide and orient. She hopes to create bridges between internal and external landscapes as a means to discovering one’s fullest potential and vitality. As more sensation becomes available and internal listening is honed, one is more present to the collective and personal pleasure, grief, nourishment, desire, and trust of needs and dreams. Together, a continuum of life’s cycles and discoveries are honored and integrated.
I have been tremendously impacted by this body of work. My life and being came into alignment through this portal. Meeting Melissa opened me up to a world where both pain and beauty, discomfort and pleasure can exist and be felt. By leaning into my own body through dance, art, this incredible community, and the mere beauty of being seen for my sensitivities, my vitality was rekindled and ignited. From that place, so much is available and possible!
Bridge Builder. Rite of Passage Guide. Writer. Educator.
The descendant of Quaker settlers, British coalminers, and Ukrainian peasants, rites of passage have been part of Darcy Ottey’s life since her coming-of-age journey when she was 13. Now in her mid-40s, she continues the long journey of uncolonizing herself and her people, challenging her own complicity in systems of hierarchy and division. As a cultural critic and bridge-builder, she works to deconstruct and rewild the dominant path to adulthood and offer healing alternatives.
Through writing, teaching, consulting, collaborating, and network tending as Co-Director of Youth Passageways, she helps regenerate ancestrally-rooted body- and land-based, accountable cultural practices to support young people and adults to deepen their understandings of themselves and move toward collective liberation. The leading edge of her work is exploring the ways that these practices can inform efforts to disrupt and provide alternatives to white nationalist and other far-right recruitment efforts towards hate.
Darcy is grateful for her teachers and mentors, including Stan Crow, Gigi Coyle, Melissa Michaels, Sharon Blackwolf, Orland Bishop, Rebecca Chief Eagle, Elder Paul Hill, and her amazing mom, Edith Kusnic. She loves dancing (especially under the full moon), making Slavic folks dolls, and preserving food and plant medicines. She makes her home along the Methow River in Okanogan County, Washington, the territory of the Mətxʷú people and the many beings that survive and thrive throughout the watershed.
She recently published her first book, Rites and Responsibilities: A Guide to Growing Up, published by Lost Borders Press.
My work with SomaSource has impacted me on a cellular level, while also deeply impacting my work with others. The practices and principles that underlie this body of work have been and continue to be essential on my journey of inner and outer liberation. Melissa has been a trusted mentor and guide as I have awakened to deeper awareness of my body, cultivated healing at a depth I didn’t know possible, and found ever fuller expression in all aspects of my life.
Darren Silver grew up in a multi-cultural house near the thick deciduous forests of Virginia. This planted a seed inside of Darren as a young child to find adventure in culture and wildness, as home was a place of deep cultural heritage, and the nearby forests a playground of endless adventure and learning.
As an adult this led Darren to pursue an undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in the Mythology of Initiation. Through academic pursuits and personal devotion to earth-based rites and rituals, Darren undertook the slow learning of asking questions such as, ‘What makes a human being?’ ‘What does a genuine culture look like?’ And, ‘How does our connection to the wild earth cultivate ones gift?’
Following these questions led Darren to study with many teachers, travel to ancestral homelands, engage in indigenous initiation rituals, and later, begin to engage others in the questions that drive their lives while attuning to the natural world through 1:1 guiding and coaching, gap-year travel programs, boys initiation groups, corporate consulting, mythological storytelling, and West African divination.
To learn more about Darren’s work check out: darrensilver.earth.
Deepening into body awareness for me, is a process of calling upon all that holy and soulful and reintegrating this back into the body, into the world of matter. However, getting into such terrain can be challenging and requires skill to navigate the culturally inherent displacement of potent energies that show up as trauma. SomaSource and Golden Bridge, has provided those skills, allowing me to navigate difficult experiences while remaining resourced and connected to the greater world.
Dayna Seraye is a yoga teacher, healing artist and transformational facilitator. She is the co-founder and director of Hanuman Academy and Hanuman Adventures, offering soul-based yoga education and immersions online and in person. She has guided retreats and trainings for nearly two decades and has taught at renowned festivals and conferences throughout the world. Her teaching style draws from her extensive studies in the Tantric and Vedic sciences, SomaSource, the Hakomi Method of Somatic Psychotherapy, the Lifeline Technique practice of energy medicine, Authentic Relating, Health Coaching, and earth-based practices. Her passion lies in supporting people to experience embodied connection – where healing occurs and wholeness is remembered. She has been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal and teaches yoga online at Gaia. Learn how you can work with Dayna at daynaseraye.com
Studying the maps of SomaSource with Melissa over the past many years has been a gift beyond words. In community, I have learned to navigate the terrain of body, heart, and soul and re-weave my connections to earth, humanity, and divinity. These foundational teachings inform all of my professional offerings, and I am deeply grateful for Melissa’s close guidance throughout the past decade of my life.
Dorcus Odera is an Integrative Counseling Psychologist with over ten years of experience serving in diverse roles, including working with children with intellectual disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders, refugee children, and children living in informal settings in Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana. She holds a B.A. in Counseling Psychology from Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya. She is trained in Child Protection: Children’s Rights in Theory and Practice through HarvardX.
Since 2008, Dorcus has founded or helped to found several organizations serving youth in Western Uganda and Kenya. Her projects have offered training and programs to youth in the fields of literacy, social entrepreneurship, peacemaking, and youth leadership and mobilization. In 2014, through the impact of her work with AMFR, she was selected by A World at School to represent her country as a Global Youth Ambassador. In early 2018, she was selected as one of the Emerging African Leaders and trained in “Leading in Public Life” by the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Dorcus leads by tapping into an individual’s potential, bringing out the best in them.
Dorcus has been studying with Golden Bridge since 2015. She serves on the Golden Bridge Social Justice Advisory Team and is also a mentor on the Golden Bridge Support Team.
I landed into the field of psychology by a well design by fate. Psychologists believe that you only serve to meet your inner silent needs. I can proudly say that my healing path was what I was meant to walk in to get healed from my inner child wounded self.
I met Melissa about six years ago, and I have been dancing with her since then. It is on the dance floor with Melissa that I was able to truly get immersed in the healing fire and learned to fully embody my calling as a healer. Her teachings have helped me to approach my work with an open mind and to integrate those teachings in my work with children.
Erica is a passionate and mission-driven practitioner with over 10 years experience building human agency through education. Motivated by collective healing, justice, joy, and social transformation, she leverages her background in human development, experiential and global education, and the expressive arts to facilitate interdisciplinary programs that connect people with the systems in and around them.
As a systems-thinker, Erica takes an integrative approach in her many roles. During her time in Colorado, she served as the Arts Director for an arts integration elementary school, Arts Commissioner for the City of Boulder where she collaborated with and advocated for artists and arts organizations to improve cultural inclusivity in the community, and apprenticed in embodied leadership and the somatic arts with Melissa Michaels and the Golden Bridge community. She recently graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she worked hands-on with professionals from all over the world and focused on international education policy and analysis, cognitive neuroscience, learning design, and organizational leadership. Erica currently continues her interdisciplinary path as a curriculum developer and facilitator for Creative Generation, MIT Sloan, and One World. She fuels her passion and creativity in building meaningful partnerships, snowboarding, dancing, writing, singing, and paddling. She also holds an MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver and a BA in International Affairs and International Journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder.
For me, SomaSource coalesces the emergent and transformational powers of mind, body, and spirit that supports a personal and professional practice of the highest quality and integrity. Melissa’s multifaceted pedagogy includes human development, the expressive arts, and ritualistic rites of passage work that ignites incredible cognitive functioning, instills pathways for individual creativity to take form, and beckons an ancestral quality that is long lost in many modern forms of leadership development. With this combined content, Melissa’s teachings have enabled me to practice with the greatest authenticity and truly contribute towards a world where joy, justice, and equity thrive.
Eve is an intern therapist and a Body Psychotherapy student at Naropa University. Her approach is collaborative, client-centered, and incorporates diverse approaches and routes to healing. Drawing from a relational lens, Eve supports clients to come into deeper contact with themselves, their grief, their sense of connection and meaning, and a sense of possibility. She centers an understanding of how trauma and grief (personal, cultural, systemic) impact the nervous system, basic functioning, relationships, and feelings of aliveness; both in individuals and over generations.
Eve came into this work through personal journeys of grief and loss. She is passionate about supporting clients in navigating this territory and believes deeply in the human potential to heal.
Eve landed in Golden Bridge five years ago as a student and found deep solace and community in the dance and in the teachings. SomaSource continues to guide, anchor, and bring ever-deeper connection and healing to her life.
This dance and community met me at such a crucial juncture in my life. The teachings, people, and ceremony I found through this work have utterly changed my world; bringing me deeper into my own body, emotions, and sense of relationship and supporting me to move into my purpose.
Fahadhi Kiryowa is a Ugandan dance and music performer who utilizes his talent to inspire and engage people all over the world. Through break dance and theatre performances, he shares and teaches leadership skills to young people and adults in order to help them become more socially responsible in their communities. He was a featured artist in the film, Shake The Dust!
In addition to his passion for the arts, Fahadhi is a youth leader. This began in 2015 when he participated in Golden Bridge’s International Leadership Program with Melissa Michaels and friends, starting a whole new chapter in his life. In 2016, he facilitated dance and storytelling workshops at Power of Hope Camp, a program organized by Partners for Youth Empowerment organization. The following year he took part in Project Ponte Berlin Germany, supporting young refugee children in their social skills and emotional development using creative art.
In 2019, Fahadhi earned a certificate in social entrepreneurship from Watson Institute in Boulder, where he was trained on how to address global problems and initiate action to bring positive change. His passion for problem-solving compelled him to go on to complete a Nanodegree in Digital Marketing with Udacity Online course and master his skills in content strategy, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, Display advertising, and Email Marketing. The confluence of all of these passions and skills led Fahadhi to join the GB/GGG Social Marketing Team where he enhances and serves our Global community with style!
Fahadhi took part in the SomaSource LIfe Cycle Practitioner Training, and he graduated in Somatic Life Cycle adding value to his already proven leadership skills.
This work has opened doors of conscious connection with my body and mind, navigating my workflow awareness towards my community. Melissa’s teaching has assisted me in being more focused and in deepening my awareness of the importance of my body, heart, and spiritual soul.
Gabriel Cannon is a Registered Psychotherapist with an MA in Counseling Psychology. Gabriel is a school-based counselor at The Boys School of Denver, a public charter middle school that focuses on academics, movement, and social/emotional wellness. Gabriel has been involved with SomaSource over the past 18 years as a participant, trainee, and serves in various therapeutic, organizational, and musical roles. Gabriel is also a private practice therapist and a mentor (BoulderMentors.com) where he specializes in adolescent transitions, addictions, family systems, motivational techniques, goal setting, mental health challenges, self-expression, and soulful exploration. Gabriel co-leads a yearly, wilderness-based rite of passage program for teenage boys and their families with Men’s Leadership Alliance. When Gabriel is not in service, he is basking in the warmth of his own family system with his wife and son. Together they like to play outdoors: hiking, biking, snowboarding, camping, and playing with friends.
I was so young when I first stepped into SomaSource, just trying to figure out how I was going to participate in this life… or if I was going to participate. And that first journey oriented me towards an idea, an inspiration, a desire about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. So I set out to do it. And then, I came back around because, with some new skills and experiences, I needed to re-orient. I found, through the more advanced SomaSource Training, ways to bring more fullness, presence, and authenticity to my work and my personal life. Then I got to work. But again, I keep coming back ’round because, in each new stage of my life, whether professional or personal, I find SomaSource to be a deep well from which I draw water that nourishes me for the next mission.
G A B Z Tosi
Gabz 404 is a non-binary transgender Brazilian artist, activist, photographer, and astrologer. They work mainly with photography and video, with a focus on the artistic and documentary areas. He is dedicated to both digital and analog photography, and with the union of these techniques, he establishes in the present a fusion point between past and future. Autonomously, they research how gender dissidents challenge and destabilize the status quo. Check his work at gabz404.com.
Gabz is the founder of Ser Trans, a co-authored visual storytelling project that represents and celebrates the beauty and power of trans and nonbinary people through photographic essays and interviews. It also serves as a collection that preserves the history and memory of the trans community. Ser Trans was launched in 2020, and since then has been exhibited in different places and has published 3 zines about the work.
In his work as a videomaker and director of photography, Gabz co-directed, edited, and co-written the feature “Intransitive: a documentary about trans stories.” The film tells the stories of 8 different trans people living in Rio Grande do Sul, a conservative state in the south of Brazil, and was produced by a team made of only trans people.
Gabz is a freelance astrologer, making one-on-one astro readings for queer and trans clients, and also works as the Audiovisual Creative Director at Embodied Astrology, where he curates and edits images and videos.
They exhibited at “At the Heart of Transgression: Trans Stories in Rio Grande do Sul,” at the Memorial Museum of Rio Grande do Sul, “Family Portrait” at Goethe Institute (Porto Alegre), MAAPA (Museum of Open Art of Porto Alegre); have been awarded by Mídia Ninja; nominated as one of the New Names of Brazilian Photography by Itaú Cultural; invited to participate in 150 Photos for São Paulo and to exhibit at the Festival Foto de Paranapiacaba 2021; received an Honorable Mention in the II Photo Contest of the Habeas Liber Project (UnB); and their work was published in the book “Transitory Bodies: Transmasc Narratives” (Devires) and in the zine “t4t-vol 2” (USA).
Golden Bridge appeared in my life at a moment where I was lost and the organization was critical for me to learn how to use my energy creatively instead of destructively. I am much more attuned to my own calling and am grounded in my body while I understand and attend to my life’s purpose: arts, photography, astrology, and somatics. As a trans person, I find it important not only to learn the language of self-love, but to be able to share this with others, and this is exactly where I am in my life.
Gal Levinson is a dancer, choreographer, and pilates and dance teacher. Born in 1991 in Israel. living and working in between Madrid and Tel Aviv. Her professional training is in dance with a Degree in Dance and Education and Master in Performing Arts and Visual Culture in the Reina Sofía Museum, University of Castilla-La Mancha. She has participated in Surfing The Creative and the Golden Bridge work since 2010.
Gal developed her art creations in different residency programs, presenting them in different festivals. In recent years, she has expanded her artistic world through collaborative works with various artists. Her creations combine performance, theatre of objects, and fine arts practices. In her creations, she investigates different themes from the SomaSource curriculum, including gender, intimacy, adolescence, wildchild, identity, language, and joy. Gal’s intention is to propose different ways of relationship through art and dance.
I came first to camp before I entered my military service. I was 19 years old when I left home and was exposed to bigger narratives and very confused. Melissa, the community, and the practice filled me with motivations and dreams and helped me to navigate and learn my path.
Furthermore, I never thought I would keep dancing after school. Camp reminds me of the essence of dance and my connection to it. I got back into the professional dance field with a basket of inner somatic knowledge, a stronger base in my body and in the dance. That is what helped me go through the professional world of dance in my unique way.
Hannah is a socially engaged artist interested in investigating the place between pedagogy and performance where the art process becomes a social connector, both inspiring the ‘performers and public’ to engage in social issues beyond the theatre space. Her main medium is dance.
Hannah is a certified 5Rhythms® teacher using dance improvisation both at performance level and as everyday practice. She gained invaluable experience as a performer with Remix Dance Company (a mixed abilities company in South Africa), and as assistant director with internationally acclaimed South African dancer/choreographer and activist, Mamela Nyamza. In addition, she has headed up the education program for the Cape Africa Platform (Biennale for Contemporary Art, Cape Town) and has regularly worked with the Iziko National Gallery as a facilitator in their educational programs. She has been lucky enough to teach, learn, facilitate, absorb, perform and create on three different continents with workshops, social projects, community programs, theatre, and festival performances and artistic residencies ranging from Edinburgh, London, Oslo, Denmark, Norway, New York, and Colorado to her home continent of Africa where she has worked in South Africa as well as in Mali, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
I have had a long association with Melissa Michaels and Golden Bridge; enriching & supporting my life both personally and now particularly in my work with young women in South Africa – the SomaSource curriculum is invaluable. I appreciate the creativity of this work that deeply considers difference whilst at the same time transcending difference. Melissa’s lifelong deepest dedication to her work with young people all over the world is what gives this work true integrity.
Jennie Gershater Lopez
Jennie Gershater Lopez, MA, LMT: serves as a Somatic Healing Arts Practitioner supporting and guiding individuals through significant life thresholds since 1998. Included in her medicine basket are Somatic Psychotherapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Soul-Centered Bodywork, and Somatic Archaeology™, all woven with a deep sense of presence and love. Jennie shows up as a Tribal Tender throughout the cycles of LIFE in her family, community and beyond…as the spirit of tending is rooted in her bones. She weaves deep witnessing, movement, ritual, healing touch, the creative process, the natural world and story-telling to support people to remember their inner knowing (body~mind~heart~ soul). Jennie is devoted to the reconnection and reclamation of one’s soul story or larger story in hopes of rippling embodied life, meaning and sense of purpose into the world. Since 2007, she has served as a somatic psychotherapist for Surfing The Creative and other SomaSource programs. She has developed and implemented rites of passage and empowerment programs for at-risk youth from diverse backgrounds and guides programs for women at many stages in their lives. She and her husband are deepening their collective work of holding sacred space for couples and cultivating experiences for the creative expression of these stories to be shared in theatre offerings. Jennie returns to wild earth places regularly to remember her own origin, her own larger story and her own inter-connectedness to the web of life.
SomaSource is beyond a training, it is a way of living life as embodied ritual through the beautiful and heartbreaking thresholds of this wild, precious journey. The teachings that I have gathered from SomaSource training are infused into my cells and travel with me wherever I go. They are woven into my personal life, my family life, my work with individuals, couples and groups. Whether I am supporting a couple preparing for marriage or a new mother who just gave birth or holding space for a grief ritual, I orient through the lens of embodied rites of passage and strive to meet people where they are to support meaningful, well-held, safe, inspired threshold experiences. I am so grateful for the countless ways SomaSource has inspired my personal and professional growth and becoming over the years. SO grateful!
Jennifer Cain, M.ed., E-RYT-500: Expressive Arts and Environmental Educator, Certified Yoga Therapist and Instructor, Wellness Director in Public Education.
Jennifer’s primary interest is in supporting soul education through reconnecting humans with nature and their own inner-soul-nature. She is trained as an expressive arts trauma-informed educator, yoga therapist, and nature guide. She has served as the director of Circle of Life and instructor for numerous city and nature-based organizations such as The Denver Botanic Gardens, University of Denver, and Gateway Apprenticeship through supporting conflict resolution and therapy for at-risk, developmentally and physically challenged individuals, and has worked with people of all ages, spanning a wide array of backgrounds. She holds a graduate degree in Yogic Theory and Educational Pedagogy which she applies directly in her role as Wellness Director for Public Education in Denver CO.
My training in SomaSource work has been pivotal in activating and enlivening my passions as well as supporting the very practical dynamics of being in service in the modern world; the import of Melissa’s work endlessly informs both my inner and outer soul-centric journey.
Jeremy Roske is a multi-talented performer who started his artistic journey at the age of thirteen as a founding member of the Earth Guardians. The group wrote and performed message-driven music to educate, uplift and inspire action on behalf of the planet and all life. The highlight of this time was the Children’s Torch of Hope Tour in 1995, where they performed and spoke at over 40 events in 29 states.
In 2005, Jeremy co-organized and spearheaded the Voice of Youth tour. Traveling to India and New Zealand, his band Rapsody performed concerts and gave workshops focused on youth empowerment through creative expression. That year he released his first album, People Rise.
Jeremy connected with Melissa Michaels in his early teens and became one of the first young males to grow through her work. After participating in her apprenticeship program and serving as a youth leader and musician for a number of the Surfing the Creative International youth programs, he was called out to the world to develop his own body of work and refine his creative expression.
Jeremy’s evolving musical style weaves together conscious lyrics and soulful melodies drawing inspiration from folk, rock, reggae, hip-hop and world fusion. After a long dry spell of not releasing any music, Jeremy returns with his new EP, Seed. Five soul-stirring songs from the heart. The music reflects the past few years of his life and the journey of reconnecting with his passion and purpose; to make music that opens the heart, expands the mind, and connects souls. www.jeremyroske.com
My journey with Melissa Michaels and the SomaSource curriculum now spans over two decades. It has been instrumental in my growth on all levels and has supported me to live with an open heart and channel my creative energy in a life-affirming way. I feel so honored and grateful to be a part of this growing community of embodied leaders devoted to empowered pathways of transformation, self-realization, and expression.
Devoted to creating family and home, Jett is also a dedicated service leader to organizations like Golden Bridge and Youth Passageways.
Supporting through conversations and guiding, Jett loves creating spaces and opportunities for their fellow Queer and Trans Rite of Passage Guides, colleagues, and friends to gather in community, rest with one another, share resources and practices, and develop opportunities for intergenerational mentoring.
Most recently, Jett is devising with friends in Europe, Third Ear Collective, an organic network of relationship for and by Queer, Trans, and gender expansive lovers of Rites of Passage, ceremony, sit-outs, and more.
Close to home, right here in Colorado, they are co-creating with fellow SomaSource Practitioners, Axé and Angus, conscious dance spaces, in nature, for and by QTBIPOC folx. They are excited about this next chapter of curating movement-based rites of passage experiences within the natural world and growing their intimate knowledge of DJ skills and sharing this with their communities.
They continue to be a part of Youth Passageways’ Education and Consulting Collective, a group of guides, educators, activists, and change-makers, connected through a deep commitment to serving youth initiatory practices, advocating for social justice and equity, and honoring place and lineage.
Bringing equity and liberatory work into their rite of passage practices, and sharing ways to mark thresholds and initiatory practices in their Queer and Trans community has proven to be an invaluable map for navigating Jett’s own life and marking transitions in intentional ways.
A Prescott College graduate in Ecopsychology, their work has brought them to Outward Bound, Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, Pacific Quest, The Women’s Wilderness Institute, Rite of Passage Journeys, Youth Passageways, and Golden Bridge. Jett has studied with Joanna Macy and The Work that Reconnects, Bill Plotkin and Animas Valley Institute and for the past seven years with Melissa Michaels and Golden Bridge.
As a white, differently-abled, genderqueer of European descent, holding both oppressed and oppressor identities informs their liberatory work in the ways they engage with the world. They do their best to chronicle their experiences on Queer Odyssey.
I went on faith that this is what I needed, what my body needed to move through in order to come out, no pun intended, the other side. We simply danced from the beginning. No intro circle, no explaining of your work in the world. Our bodies communicated what we were bringing, what we wanted to release, what we wanted to heal, and what we wanted to become. And for what I had been experiencing, up to this point, that year, to be out of my thoughts, not having to explain anything was sweet relief. Whenever I’d think I had to think my way through something, I would dance. “Just keep moving,” I would repeat like a mantra.
It was on our second full day together that we gave our names to the larger group and with that offered our pronouns (still not embedded in every organization’s culture at the time). This simple act, statement, becoming conscious within many organizations working with diverse and marginalized populations, in my opinion, is essential to our work in Rites of Passage, given we are “in the business” of guiding people towards integration and whole-ing the authentic self. Having always in the past identified as she, her, hers, I found when the circle found its way to me I stepped into identifying as they, them, theirs for the first time. Sensing in my body the relief, release and breathe, claiming my place.
In reflection, I found this declaration, this simple non-binary identification not only a personal act of reclamation, but an acknowledgement of taking my work within the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter Sex) community, over the years, to the next courageous and vulnerable level. Giving voice to the voiceless, those inside and outside the circle, aware of my privilege to be in a space and time to be safe and free to express in this way. Opening a door of exploration, to search edges and build resilience and empathy in community with others.
I am grateful for the space Melissa and fellow surfers created by instituting within the program the simple yet profound addition of asking our pronouns, as well as, participants whose role was to ensure the inclusiveness of all ways of being in the world were present. Lastly, I have always been on alert, challenged when within this work the time comes for Gender Council. Even within my work at other organizations, when we break out into groups, the men go there, the women here, but where do I belong? I found the space to be myself within the Surf when there was a third group identified for Gender and Sexuality. Ours was a small group, but the truth-telling, vulnerability, and intimacy created that night were magnanimous.
And now, seven years later, as I have woven into that original STC experience my SomaSource training, along with weekly practice at Movement Mass, and annual programming Divine Siblinghood, Creative Liberation and so much more. I find grace in the liminal dance of the mundane and divine daily. Incorporation ongoing, I am in deep gratitude to the works of Melissa Michaels & Golden Bridge for moving me towards the embodied queer adult/baby elder and service leader for my community.
I am connected, rooted, and resourced in large part to the guidance, maps, and generosity of Melissa and the Golden Bridge community. I bow in deep reverence and pray I too am able to share and guide others in these deep truths.
Johannah Reimer is a soulcentric educator, ceremonialist, teen mentor, and artist of many trades. Trained as a Waldorf teacher, Johannah has been working with children of all ages for over 16 years and holds a particular passion for tweens/teens trying to meet their developmental needs for mentorship and initiation in a culture that has forgotten how to do so. Currently Johannah has devoted her time to long-term, ongoing mentorship programs for young girls crossing the threshold from childhood into adolescence. https://wakefulnature.com
SomaSource has helped me find health and wholeness in relationship to my body, the past, and my destiny. It has served me in becoming an embodied and soulcentric leader in support of today’s youth!
Jonathan U. Davis
Jonathan U. Davis is an arts educator who graduated from The Colorado College with a B.A. in Theater and Dance. Jonathan has served as a leader in Golden Bridge Programs for 19 consecutive years, where he has witnessed and served in the evolution of this moving community. Since 2008, Jonathan has worked in public schools as an arts educator. He produced over 180 individual shows with casts ranging in size from 40-120 students in each production. He has worked individually with thousands of students over twelve years, and continues to dedicate himself as a public servant to the transformative power of arts education. Currently, Jonathan is completing his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Denver, where he is studying the mechanisms that could transform our public schools by bringing arts education to the center of the conversation about what teaching and learning modalities are best for students. Jonathan is also the co-developer of an international non-profit media collective called Voice of Youth, and has studied percussion with numerous traditional West African teachers. When he is not at work, Jonathan enjoys every moment with his wonderful two sons, Kai and Michael, and his beloved wife, Jessica. Jonathan’s primary goal is to enliven the next generation of leaders through embodied creativity and inspired self-expression.
Now, as an arts educator in the public schools, I place embodiment at the center of everything I teach. This powerful strategy is one that clearly comes from this lineage. The extensive training I received over the years has taught me the critical importance of connection when working with the individuals and groups that I serve in school communities. By creating a space for honest and open dialogue with ourselves and others we can find the deeper truth of each moment that resonates in the collective. Golden Bridge continues to be a conduit for powerful young leaders to find their passion and activate their communities through embodied creative ventures of all kind. I am proud to be and ally and advocate for Golden Bridge!
Kanika Batra was born and raised in New Delhi, India. At the age of seventeen, she traveled to Soka University in California to pursue her undergraduate studies in liberal arts with a Social and Behavioral Sciences major. She went on to do her postgraduate studies in Dance Movement Therapy in Barcelona, Spain.
Kanika is a seasoned shapeshifter and bridge builder. She has a gift for clueing into the needs of a community as they arise and responding in culturally relevant and sensitive ways. Her twenty years of experience doing just that include working in India developing Bridge Programs for rural and urban youth, Arts for Social Change Programs for adolescents, and embodiment and sex education programs for young girls from the slums. She led integration programs for immigrant and refugee women in Spain, along with bringing the expressive arts to classrooms in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Kanika taught embodied leadership courses at the University of Valdivia, Chile, and psychosomatic approaches to peace-building at the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica.
She is currently living in an Indigenous community in Guatemala working with under-resourced children and families. Her work is focused on cultivating trauma-informed and art-based alternative educational opportunities for young and old. She is deeply immersed in the community she works and lives in, and is dedicated to establishing a safe learning container for the children and families she serves.
I began studying SomaSource in 2006. It was my introduction to the world of arts and movement for social transformation, embodiment practices, and an opening to the world.
That was when and how I realized that the world is my oyster, that I am not limited, and that wherever I go into the world, there’s work to do. My SomaSource training informs me on how to be an embodied agent for change. Through my own embodiment practice, I am able to connect with my heart and therefore serve from a place of oneness with whoever crosses my path. On the Golden Bridge dance floor, I was truly met for the first time. My apprenticeship to this work has taught me how to “meet” whomever I am working with, to find the heart at the center, regardless of differences, barriers or challenges, to create a container that empowers everyone.
Keva Victoria is a Yoga Instructor, Dancer, Movement Artist and Global Peace Warrior. She is the founder of Nomadik By Nature and the host of RIZE, a conscious dance experience held at dawn on rooftops, using the Sun as a source of inspiration and healing. Keva holds a BA in Hospitality & Tourism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a background in Events Production and Performance Art. Keva uses movement as a form of healing by creating safe spaces and experiences for people to be present in their bodies.
Keva’s journey of mindfulness and meditation has led her to the Buddhist Practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Her leadership within the Soka Gakkai International of Nichiren Buddhism, along with the support and encouragement of many other leaders and members, has had a strong influence in how she chooses to move through the world. This community has taught her the value of her own life as well as that of others on a deep level. She has also learned what it truly means to take full responsibility for her own life.
Keva founded Nomadik By Nature in 2018 as a Holistic Lifestyle of Embodied Freedom, an Inspiration for Humans to tap their highest potential and create the life of their Dreams, Movement for Peace – Inner and Outer. Though based in LA, Keva continues to exhibit a Nomadik soul through her travels around the world. Most recently, Keva completed the SomaSource LifeCycles Practitioners Training in Colorado and worked as Co-Producer & Travel Coordinator for Golden Bridges 2022 Summer Programming. She continues to be a lifelong student of rhythms under Dr. Melissa Michaels and beyond. Presently, Keva is mapping out future events and retreats to offer to her communities!
In 2014, my heart prayers were answered. I was blessed to be introduced to a dance community of embodied global leaders called Golden Bridge. Unlike anything I had ever experienced, this community provided a safe container for me to dive deeper into the unknown parts of myself through my own authentic movement and other sacred embodiment practices. Much of my inspiration has come from Golden Bridge’s annual summer rite of passage program, Surfing The Creative, where I learned to experience dance as a form of deep healing. This encounter drastically changed the direction of my life and has proven to be a lifelong soul community. Fast forward, after 6 years of dancing together, the SomaSource training brought all those years of study “Full Circle.” I now feel confident and equipped knowing somatics are a foundation of my life’s purpose.
Lalita Shree Maa
Lalita Shree Maa facilitates transformational journeys that ignite embodied spiritual awakening for diverse groups around the world. She is the Creative Director and a founding teacher for Awakened Life™, and has a private practice working with individuals as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Spiritual Coach.
Lalita is a certified SomaSource practitioner and has engaged in formal study and deep practice with Melissa Michaels since 2004. In addition to serving on the leadership and musical teams for Movement Mass and Surfing The Creative, Lalita ran the Small World Camp during Golden Bridge summer camps for several years.
Lalita lives a committed monastic lifestyle, and in 2019 received the title of Mahamandaleshwar, a prestigious title within the Vedic tradition of India, honoring her as a global spiritual leader. She is one of 4 women in the 2700 year lineage, and the only woman from the US to receive this honor. Lalita is also an accomplished artist, musician, and lover of all forms of creative expression. Lalitashreemaa.com
We can meet anything that comes our way in life when we have the capacity to be present and experience it fully. That is what embodiment offers, and SomaSource is an exquisite map that guides to live fully in our bodies.
Leah Beth Maille
Leah was born in the paradise of Mandeville, Jamaica to a strong and wise Tanzanian father, and a sweet and eternally loving Jamaican mother. Together, her parents instilled the truth of manifestation, the power of voice, and an unfathomable love.
Leah began her movement career at the age of 10, and in 2009, she widened her exploration of embodiment practices through the teaching and guidance of Dr. Melissa Michaels. Leah has since been a student of Melissa, with whom she’s presented at the ISMETA and ICMTA Somatic Educators conferences, is a leader in the Golden Girls Global initiative, and is now a SomaSource Practitioner.
Leah understands the revolutionary reality of community and has dedicated much of her life to cultivating and existing within. Leah has founded grassroots organizations, facilitated safe and healing spaces for women and youth, and has held arts affinity spaces for young black girls. Leah is also a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, Holistic Life Coach, and lifelong student of Herbal magic, and uses these modalities to foster an energy of love.
Most recently, Leah heeded the call to become a midwife. She dove into birthwork in 2018 and is working to complete her Masters in Nursing at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. Leah has embedded herself into the Atlanta birthwork community and is blessed to be in deep connections with birth workers and traditional black Grand Midwives. She is committed to the liberation of black bodies, hearts, and souls.
Being a part of the Golden Bridge community has provided me a unique opportunity of support that I am forever grateful for. It is in this network that I have created lifelong friendships and received timeless guidance that has truly shaped the trajectory of my life. Melissa and all SomaSource Practitioners hold a gift of embodiment practices that I am honored to carry with me in my personal and social evolution. I walk in gratitude for the alchemy of this lineage.
Leigh Senna (she/her) is a multidisciplinary sexuality and pleasure coach, right of passage guide, and Senior Teacher for the Tantric Institute of Integrated Sexuality. Fluent in creating the conditions necessary to enter into deep healing and transformative space, Leigh loves catalyzing the remembrance of what it feels like to be fully, vibrantly alive through connection with the sacredness of our bodies’ pleasure.
Leigh has spent the last 6 years apprenticing in the divine feminine mysteries through the Priestess Presence Temple and School of Sacred Arts, and also serves as faculty for the school.
She is currently developing an online coaching program for women to reclaim their arousal as a source of nourishment and vibrancy that will be opening Fall of 2020.
You can find her at email@example.com, Instagram (@leighsenna), and Facebook.
You can find her dancing wildly and laughing often, chasing geese and planting trees on her permaculture homestead in the Pacific Northwest, committed to the art of mothering and partnership, and trying to do as much as she possibly can to offer beauty and liberate the feminine on this shared earth we call home.
Melissa Michaels showed up as an angel during the hardest year of my adolescent life! There is no way I would be where I am today without the enduring presence of this right of passage curriculum and community. From a wayward, numb and apathetic teenager who just lost her mother and had nothing solid to stand on, to a vibrant, vivacious, embodied leader championing the liberation of women, I owe my deep gratitude to the power of right of passage in my own becoming, and the brilliant technology of dancing ourselves alive in this chaotic, confusing world. The 15 years I’ve invested dancing with this community lives in me, and continually informs how I show up in my work with women.
Livia Shapiro, MA, is a yoga teacher, movement leader, somatic psychotherapist, and writer. Known for her sincerity, directness and humor, her teachings help illuminate the spiritual path as deeply human and body-centric.
Her work helps both dedicated students and open-hearted, geeky teachers of yoga grow their ranges of motion and emotion through steady asana practice, somatic-embodiment education and discovery, as well as body-centered mentorship/counseling.
As a Somatic Psychotherapist, she works holistically helping women heal from trauma, repair relational wounds, and rewire their nervous systems so they can live more vibrantly and powerfully in the lives they choose. She walks with women in the journeys of pre and postnatal thresholds including; fertility, conception, miscarriage, abortion, birth and early motherhood.
Livia holds a masters of Somatic Counseling Psychology from Naropa University in Boulder, CO and is a registered psychotherapist with the state of Colorado. She is a certified SomaSource Life Cycles Practitioner. Prior to her graduate studies, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Vermont focusing on Psychology and comparative religion.
SomaSource is the developmental map through which I see myself in my own life, and the lens through which I locate creative ways to work with students and groups.
Lucia Rich is an NYC based collaborative theatre artist and educator, devoted to the practice of embodiment through performance and teaching of the expressive arts. She has an MFA in Lecoq Based Physical Theatre from London International School of Performing Arts, specializing in creating new works of clown, puppetry and physical theatre.
A life-long lover of movement, Lucia has studied professionally in both traditional and contemporary dance forms. Movement has always been a home-base, beginning with thirteen years of improvisational dance training with Juliette Daley (former All-American gymnast). Teaching improv to children early in her career inspired Lucia to design arts curricula for students of all ages. She has taught at The New School, Professional Performing Arts School, Manhattan School of Music, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and the University of Connecticut, among others. Lucia has performed across the US, in Canada, and around the world, including London, Edinburgh, Bulgaria, Turkey, France, and Germany.
Grounding ever more into her creative Flow, Lucia strives to surrender to the beat of her own heart in her dance, home, and professional life. She lives at the tippy top of Manhattan with her husband, his piano, and their two beautiful children.
Mashol Rosero received her Master’s Degree in Dance from the University of Paris 8, and has been professionally dedicated to art, culture, and dance for more than 15 years. She is an artist and body pedagogue with a somatic, social, and integrative focus.
She is currently a teacher and researcher in the public education system in the Dance Career Department at the University of the Arts in Guayaquil, Ecuador, her native country.
In her own way, Mashol has grown and fed many types of movement, from contemporary dance to capoeira, aerial dance, gumboot dance, circus, Arab dance, improv dance, yoga, 5Rhythms®, and pilates. She has also had experience with theater, music, film, and photography.
Today she has a passion for floor work and improvisation and interdisciplinary work.
Besides maintaining her work as an artist (creating and pedagogy), she has focused on exploring and sharing the possibilities that dance has to offer, the movement and art for human development, and personal and spiritual growth.
She is a certified leader and mentor-in-training of the Sufi Dances for Universal Peace. She also shares circle dances and conducts new leader trainings.
For many years she has led women’s circles.
She has danced with and co-created with various companies and projects in Ecuador and France.
She has been invited to share her pedagogical work in the United States, Europe, and Asia, passing through Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium, France, Israel, and Turkey.
Having Melissa in my life (for more than a decade), has been a great gift, a journey, a deep encounter with myself, an opportunity to weave my internal world with my external world. SomaSource has provided me with the tools to become a mind and soul-centered mentor and leader; to be able to walk a collective social change using dance, movement, creativity, and art.
Meagan Chandler is a performance/ceremonial artist, singer/songwriter, and embodied arts educator. She performs and directs a rich array of original works and cultural forms and teaches people of all ages and walks of life across the U.S. and around the globe. Meagan grew up in Surfing The Creative Youth Leadership Programs, studying these maps since her teens, and has served on the leadership team for 17 years. She is a playful, cultural shapeshifter and dedicated change agent, dipping into darkness and light, seeking to inspire authentic expression and the spirit of inquiry everywhere she goes, so that the creativity needed to grow a healthy and sustainable world can arise in the generations to come. In 2013 she released her first original album, Sensual. She enjoys living a creative life outside the box, in love with and in service to this mad, gorgeous world. www.meaganchandler.com
My SomaSource training and it’s rich tool set has grown me deep roots into the flourishing potential of this beautiful earth, strengthening my trunk so that I may offer enduringly all that I can to the change that must happen for humanity to find health and balance with the greater world, and sending precious nutrients to my many creative branches reaching out toward future generations, striving to offer fruit and seeds for cultural re-sprouting.
Melissa Walker (she/her), founder and director for the Embodied Relationships Counseling Center, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Dance/Movement Therapist, and Somatic Sex Therapist. She completed her master’s degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology at Naropa University in 2009 with a specialization in dance/movement therapy. As a Golden Bridge therapeutic team member since 2008, Melissa has been honored to serve a community of leaders and soul-searchers as we dance our collective somatic healing work together.
Melissa is the author of Whole-Body Sex: Somatic Sex Therapy and the Lost Language of the Erotic Body, published by Routledge in 2020. Weaving together somatic psychotherapy, dance/movement therapy, and sex therapy approaches, this uniquely interdisciplinary and practical book offers guidance on how to strengthen connection with pleasure, receptivity, and ecstasy in an embodied way. Filled with questions, guided experientials, and map-building practices that help readers learn more about themselves, this book is essential reading for sex therapists to navigate the vast map of sexuality to create true health and sexual evolution.
Additionally, Melissa served as vice-president (2012 – 2014), then president (2014 – 2016), for the board of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association and as adjunct faculty at Naropa University teaching Professional Orientation and Ethics in the graduate Somatic Counseling Department 2016 – 2020.
Melissa is an edge-walker, a mother, and a partner dedicated to living an embodied and inspired life.
Melissa Michaels and the many inspirational leaders within Golden Bridge have provided an opportunity for me to refine my skills as an embodied psychotherapist as well as a sacred space for me to do my own personal healing work. Within these rites of passage intensives, I have been a witness to the most profound personal and collective transformations. The SomaSource program has provided me with the deep landscape that serves as the foundation to fully embodied and socially-just leadership.
Miranda Gerzon, Lic.A, MAOM is an alchemist, acupuncturist, and healing artist. She is the founder and owner of Indigo Acupuncture, specializing in Japanese Style Acupuncture. Since her youth, she has known movement and dance to be powerful healers, potent gateways to blissful liberation, divine connection; and to also be at times very challenging for her. This inner knowing led her to Melissa’s work in 2012 and to years of deep excavation and exploration into the realm of embodiment. The awe-inspiring power humans have to grow, transform and heal energizes her work as an acupuncturist and as a way of life.
She holds a Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from The New England School of Acupuncture and a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Social Change from Clark University. She has found that the study and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine to also be a powerful resource for body awareness, embodiment, and spiritual development.
Miranda is here for the embodied revolution towards a more peaceful and just society. With devotion to staying connected to her aliveness, she strives to be someone who can create space for people to feel truly seen.
Olivia Barber, MA, E-RYT500, YACEP, is an interdisciplinary educator committed to building a peaceful and thriving world. With over 2,000 hours of yoga and somatics training and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Spirituality, Mind, Body Institute, Olivia skillfully integrates applied neuroscience, modern psychology, and ancient body-based practice to create transformational learning experiences. Most notable is her work with creating and teaching mental and emotional wellness programs for The Nueva School and THINK Global School. Additionally, she spent several years as a lead trainer for Breathe For Change – a justice-based yoga and social-emotional learning training program specifically for educators.
Outside of these roles, Olivia has organized and facilitated workshops around the globe on the neurophysiology of trauma, embodied emotional literacy, somatics, and social justice. Inspired by redwoods, novels, and the ocean you can usually find her dancing barefoot in the sunshine or curled up with a good book.
My work with Melissa and the SomaSource community has profoundly shaped who I am as a human and practitioner. I have experienced deep healing and transformation on the dance floor, which, in turn, has given me the maps and skills needed to support countless others on their journeys towards healing. Through my training with Melissa, I feel empowered as a practitioner, grounded and integrated as a human, and connected to a global network of embodied leaders. Deep bows of gratitude to this community of life-affirming practitioners leading the way towards a healthier world!
Rachael Bonaiuto, MA, LPC, BC-DMT is a board certified Dance/Movement Therapist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Somatic Educator, and the founder of Embodied Wellness, a fulfilling private practice in Boulder, CO. She joyfully works with individuals and groups to support deep trust in the body’s wisdom, honor inherent movement toward wholeness and cultivate body-mind-spirit alignment. She is particularly called to guide women through the profound and important portals of various life transitions. Rachael weaves into her therapeutic work her life-changing experience overseas – as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. This exploration, along with her most transformative journey into Motherhood, deeply informs her capacity to facilitate change, support diversity and fluidly dance with the edges of expansion and contraction. Rachael also teaches Authentic Movement, the contemplative movement practice at the heart of her work, at Naropa University, where she began her study and training in 2004. She has been blessed to study the SomaSource maps with Melissa Michaels since 2011. Rachael engages in the dance of life with her sweet family – her endlessly compassionate husband and their two precious children. www.embodiedwellness.org
My SomaSource training has provided endless and ongoing gifts, including a deeply satisfying experience of somatic integration, soul alignment, connected community and embodied wisdom that extends beyond my wildest dreams of what’s possible. The resources and education I have received from this training inform my work in private practice, support how I show up as a mama, offer orientation to my daily life and provide the ever-important reminder of my heart exploding love for the dance.
Rachael Brody (she/her/hers), MA, R-DMT, LPCC is a somatic psychotherapist, ritual guide, movement facilitator, and co-founder of her private practice, Heartseed Health, in Boulder, CO. She has a masters degree from Naropa University in Somatic Counseling Psychology and Dance/Movement Therapy. She believes in the power of creating space and opportunity for intimate, loving connection with the body as an entryway to the innate magic and wisdom within.
Her work is centered around nourishing women and mothers who have found themselves at the threshold of burnout, prioritizing other’s needs over their own, and are desiring more connection with themselves, their wild and divine soul’s purpose. Through loving relationships and presence, movement, play, art, symbolism, myth, and dreamwork, Rachael supports clients in deep reconnection and reclaiming of truth, self-love, and power. This way of reconnecting is intimately woven with the cycles of the earth; the food and medicine that is growing locally and offering the most nourishment, the ebbs and flows of the moon, our moods, and menstrual cycles, the dynamic inbreath and outbreath, quickening and slowing that comes from attuning with the seasons.
Rachael began her journey dancing with Melissa and Golden Bridge in 2011 and the transformative container of the dance and SomaSource map has informed her work ever since. It has been truly a gift and honor to serve on the therapeutic team at Movement Mass since 2018.
Rachael is a devoted mama and partner, recovering people-pleaser, urban farmer, earthworm lover, and bread baker.
Rachel Reynolds has been dancing all her life. She has been studying body awareness, embodiment, and dance therapy modalities since entering Naropa University in 1995. She graduated with a degree in dance with a minor in psychology.She is also a certified yoga instructor and has taught group classes and private classes to all ages and abilities.
Eventually, Rachel went back to school to become a special education teacher. Currently, she teaches high school special education classes. Rachel also teaches dance in the integrated PE class.
Her passion for movement and helping children come together beautifully in her career as a special education teacher.
Rafael Martinez, MA, LPC is a steward and craftsman of the heart. He creates compassionate fields of contact to catalyze and empower individuals and groups.
Rafael’s healing framework has been shaped by his own personal journey in mediation work, youth development, documentary film production, cross-cultural encounters, juvenile justice, energy healing, mysticism, movement-based rites of passage, Surfing The Creative, traditional medicine, and social entrepreneurship. Rafael has been passionately committed to youth healing and creative evolution for over fifteen years. Originally from Queens, NY, a second generation Colombian & Dominican, Rafael graduated from Naropa University with a Master’s in Somatic Counseling Psychology in 2013. Rafael became a Certified SomaSource Practitioner in 2017 and has been on the therapeutic support team for Golden Bridge since 2012. After graduating Naropa, Rafael started his therapeutic practice working with students in East Oakland and training in restorative circles, trauma awareness groups, and expressive art-interventions. Rafael has since continued his work with youth in Durham, NC. He is currently facilitating trauma-based awareness groups for Spanish-speaking youth in Durham Public High Schools. Rafael lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his cosmic soul partner, Aimee, and their beloved son Sebastian. Rafael and Aimee proudly co-own Temenos Psychotherapy PLLC.
SomaSource provides a rich, innovative, and comprehensive training, community, and platform for supporting the creation of transformative spaces and embodied processes for youth seeking rites of passage. As a facilitator, my ability to support the container across a broad range of contexts has been strengthened by this body of work.
Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish has developed a pedagogy that synthesizes mindfulness, embodiment, social justice, the environment, mentoring and ritual & ceremony for over a decade. As a core candidate Assistant Professor In Naropa University’s Interdisciplinary Studies department he teaches foundations in contemplative learning and theory, diversity and social identity and sustainability. He also focuses on the equity dimensions of the environment through courses in food and environmental justice. He serves as a freelance educator, lecturer and consultant on the links between social justice, sustainability and mindfulness for universities, outdoor organizations, non-profits, government and businesses.
Ramon is a certified practitioner of SomaSource and longtime leader/facilitator in the Surfing The Creative International Youth Leadership Camps, having helped usher hundreds of young people through contemporary threshold experiences. As a previous board member of Youth Passageways and a current board chair for Frontline Farming, Ramon is committed to the revival of rites of passage and community regeneration and resilience.
SomaSource has given me a template and a benchmark for social creativity and relationship. It has shown me what is possible when come together with embodied awareness and intelligence. It has given me a method to explore the inner terrains of body and soul and helped me to find my feet in the dance of life.
Rebecca’s passion for social justice, mental health, and the arts informs the work she seeks to do in the world. Committed to dismantling systems of oppression through the body she aspires to work with marginalized communities using somatics and art to support personal and communal development. A graduate of the California Institute of Integral Studies with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, she is exploring what higher education may support her work as an embodied leader and artist.
A devoted mindfulness practitioner, student rabbi, and artist, Rebecca Schisler is on the core faculty of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and has taught classes and retreats with Or HaLev, Awakened Heart Project, Orot, Wilderness Torah, Pardes, and Mindful Life Project. She was previously the Director of Student Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel, and co-authored the Mahloket Matters Schools Curriculum with the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators, integrating social/emotional learning with skills for constructive conflict. Rebecca is passionate about integrating ancestral wisdom traditions with innovative approaches to personal and collective healing and liberation. She teaches Jewish spirituality as an embodied, transformational, and accessible path, with relevant and timely wisdom for all. Learn more at rebeccaschisler.com and check out Rebecca’s art at imaginalstudio.art.
Many of us have forgotten how to trust, truly care for, and speak the language of our bodies, which share intelligence with all living beings and the earth herself. Through this work, I have experienced the way that learning the body’s language and honoring its rhythms and cycles brings healing to my being on every level – body, mind, heart, and soul. I’m infinitely grateful to Golden Bridge for the community of extraordinary allies I have found here, and for teaching me the importance of embodying the world that we are yearning for, even as we work towards creating it.
Renee Sills is a certified Somatic Movement Educator (SME) and a registered yoga therapist with IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists). She has completed over 1000 hours of certification and training in yoga, rehabilitative movement, movement re-patterning, and Body-Mind Centering®. Renee is a graduate of the Somatic Movement Educator program through the Kinesthetic Learning Center and The School for Body-Mind Centering, and continues to study and assist in BMC℠ programs. Renee studied intensively with Melissa Michaels from 1995-2001 and was a participant in the very first Surfing the Creative summer program. She served as an assistant/facilitator for the programs in 2004 and 2010 and is delighted to be returning this year. Renee currently lives in Portland, OR, where she teaches regular classes in yoga and anatomy, and offers individual sessions in yoga therapy and movement re-patterning. Renee teaches workshops and retreats throughout the year both in the US and abroad, and is on the faculty for 200-hour and 500-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) trainings. Learn more about her at www.reneesills.com.
Rina Kedem is an environmental peace builder, and entrepreneur who develops and directs cooperation projects with Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians for the past 18 years. Her work is guided by a wholesome perspective including social-economic and environmental wellbeing of communities, and tangible, long term peacebuilding opportunities. Personal transformation and the importance of connecting inner and outer peace work are present in the spaces she creates. Embodiment, movement and somatic experiences enable and care for such transformations. Her work is supported by international and national conflict mitigation and development agencies as well as government ministries.
She started engaging in peace work after life-changing experiences in the land of Israel-Palestine while marking hiking trails and learning about the people of the land and their narratives through personal encounters. She realized her love of nature and peacework are a productive combination. Rina studied at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and received her undergraduate degree from Prescott College in Arizona and holds a Master’s degree in International Community Development from Hebrew University. She is currently working on her PhD in community development and transboundary environmental cooperation in the Department of Geography and Environment at the Hebrew University.
Rina co-manages the Jordan-Israel Center for Community, Environment, and Research at the Arava Institute, in collaboration with the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center. She also directs cooperation with Jordan on behalf of the Eilot Regional Council. She teaches various courses and lectures on her areas of research and field work, such as a Master’s course about conflict and development at the Hebrew University.
Rina’s past professional experiences include outdoor and environmental education and curriculum development, teacher’s trainings, youth facilitation and mentorship, academic teaching, project advisory, resource development, and management of multicultural events. Rina co-developed unique initiatives such as EcoME center (a center for peace and ecology for Palestinians and Israelis) and GEN Israel (The global ecovillage network) and has an extensive network of communities and projects around the world that focus on environmental and social change, peacework and development.
Melissa and the maps of SomaSource informed and shaped my personal and professional being. I learned how to harness and work with my wild feminine power, warrior being and passion for the world. I became part of Melissa’s leadership team and worked with her for over 7 years. During these years, we brought Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis from the Middle East to Boulder and created spaces for truth, reconciliation, peacebuilding, growth and transformation.
SomaSource maps inform my peace and cooperation work while creating bridges between the inner and outer realms as well as working with personal and collective trauma, namely in conflict zones.
I am grateful for all that made this work possible and accessible for me and so many others and to all those who we touch through the lineage of SomaSource, for the benefit of all my relations.
Sarita Rivard Guerrero
A bicultural, trilingual native of both South and North America, and nomad of thirteen years, Sarita is a bridge between the many worlds to which she belongs. ‘Kindling for the Fire’, a project founded in her belief in creative expression as a tool to heal, transform, empower and ignite, is the fruit of her lifelong study to what she calls heART Activism. Kindling aims to facilitate creative dialogs among people of diverse and often “opposing” backgrounds, therefore weaving a sustaining tapestry of connection and solidarity across the divides.
Sarita has guided Rites Of Passage journeys in Argentina, Bolivia, Perú, Nepal, and India. And is the author of Caminante, Bridger of Worlds, published in 2010. In 2018 she published her second book, Sweet Water Tsunami, a complex work chronicling her descent through the hell of losing her beloved life partner, and the art of being broken open by life’s complexity, rather than broken to pieces. She has been involved with Golden Bridge since 2010. Much of her healing and initiation into embodied leadership is owed to the profound container of this community. She is deeply devoted to her apprenticeship in this sacred work. kindlingforthefire.wixsite.com/shop.
I relate to my SomaSource training as one would relate to a compass and a map; One requires a lifelong practice of orienting to what is true through my own embodiment. The other guides me in ever-changing terrain by providing a lineage of wisdom, tools, practices and principles to reference when I need council.
Siri Gunnarson (she/they) is a mentor, wilderness rite of passage guide, intimacy coach and council trainer. A deep believer in ‘nature as teacher,’ Siri is deeply moved by the sense of belonging and wholeness accessible through contact with the natural world. Siri is passionate about love and community, liberation and equity, embodiment and movement, and permaculture and water.
A bridge person and pollinator, Siri has moved with purpose between places, projects, organizations, and programs with transformational vision including Three Creeks, Tamera, The Ojai Foundation, Ways of Council, SomaSource, Naropa University LeapNow Gap Year Program, and Beyond Boundaries: an intergenerational ‘response team for our times’. Currently, Siri serves on the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council and the Guiding Council of the School of Lost Borders. With their practice of deep listening, Siri is currently facilitating council with nonprofits having hard discussions about boundaries, difference, and organizational development. Siri holds tender hearts on thresholds, leaning in where there is harm, offering space for repair and community care.
Visit Siri at rewildingrelationalrites.com
I came to Golden Bridge in a time of grief and confusion and found such a depth of support in the embodied and creative practices and pedagogy of SomaSource. I fell in love with Melissa’s enthusiastic teaching, the community of practitioners and the healing balm of the shared learning and movement… I am so grateful for the ways this work has enriched so many aspects of my work and life, thank you!
Taliza Mizrahi holds an MA in Somatic Counseling Psychology and specializes in serving Tweens, Teens and Young Adults through a combination of Creative Arts Therapies, Group Work and Youth Mentoring in her private practice BrightPath Youth Empowerment. Tal Liza has been dedicated to youth development and mentoring for the last two decades – since she was a teen herself! She is passionate about supporting youth and their families in the often-complex transitions from childhood to adolescence, throughout the rich teen years, and through the journey out of adolescence and toward a healthy, embodied, and inspired young-adulthood.
Tal Liza has a special focus on teen girls and loves creating safe spaces for them to come together to learn tools for embodiment, empowerment, authentic connection with self and others, as well as healthy self-expression. She is a trained dance/movement therapist as well as a devoted SomaSource leader and long-time mentee of Melissa Michaels. Tal Liza Serves through both traditional psychotherapeutic modalities and mentoring, as well as diverse movement-based approaches. She loves using creativity to open up new possibilities for every young person’s Bright Path forward.
Tara King, M.Ed. is a mother, grandmother, advocate, doula, mentor and educator. Over the years, Tara has worked with women of all ages encouraging a healthy embrace of creativity, fertility and sexuality and facilitated many coming of age workshops for young people. She has worked with families in the birth and parenting cycle and supported the transition from maiden to mother with understanding and wisdom. Tara is a long-time student of the SomaSource work as created by Melissa Michaels and was in the first apprenticeship program in 1998. She has since served on the faculty many times in different capacities in support of Melissa, SomaSource, and Golden Bridge. Tara currently advocates for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and families whose adult children have special needs. She teaches accessible, adaptable yoga and movement for every body and offers self-care, movement-based classes for caregivers. Tara has two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
SomaSource is a beautiful laboratory of alchemical collaboration that creates a time-tested, supportive and specific container for uncovering one’s potential. Through the process of learning and accessing intelligent, real, usable tools and resources, I have been able to turn potential into action.
Tess Eckert is a social worker, educator, and expressive arts practitioner, using dance and other creative modalities for community-building, youth-empowerment, and conflict transformation. Tess has employed her passion for the arts & social justice throughout her work across various sectors; from mixed-ability dance companies to running silent discos for elderly people living with dementia, to mentoring young Indigenous Australian women and co-creating dance theatre performances with diverse migrant women. All of her projects have been ways to share and transform stories of oppression and resilience through creative embodiment.
As a person with mixed Indigenous and European lineage, central to Tess’ work is an investigation of how to create a sense of belonging, safety, and responsibility in and between our inner and outer landscapes, specifically as it relates to healing settler-colonial violence against the sacred feminine.
Tess has a Master of Social Work with a concentration in American Indian & Alaska Native communities.
I came to Golden Bridge in a time of grief and confusion and found such a depth of support in the embodied and creative practices and pedagogy of SomaSource. I fell in love with Melissa’s enthusiastic teaching, the community of practitioners and the healing balm of the shared learning and movement… I am so grateful for the ways this work has enriched so many aspects of my work and life, thank you!
Tess Howell is the founder of Wild Moves-dance in nature, an accredited 5Rhythms® Teacher, a Spirit Rock trained Dharma and Yoga facilitator, an artist and art therapist, writer, and an accomplished contemporary dance producer.
Tess was the first person to use “silent disco” headsets to facilitate conscious dance classes outdoors in areas of wild beauty. She uses dancing outdoors as a map to support people in exploring the billion miles of unexplored wilderness that lies within them. Her Wild Moves events have taken over 3000 people to dance outdoors, letting them be nurtured by nature with no noise pollution to the surrounding environment.
Tess has a BSc in psychology, a Post Grad Diploma in the Use of Arts in Therapy and Education; and is a trained creativity coach. Tess spent 15 years producing contemporary dance and worked with some of the UK’s most successful and highly acclaimed physical theatre companies.
As a writer, Tess is a truth-teller and a weaver of wild words. She has been published by Women Who Roar, Elephant Journal, and the EarthPathways. She also leads a series of gently guided meditations for embodiment and authenticity on the Insight Timer App. Tess teaches on the Embodied Facilitators course exploring how you can bring body awareness into big-business. She is also part of the training team for Embodied Yoga Principles – a modality that takes yoga off the mat and into practical applications of how we utilize our physicality to transform our everyday lives.
Inspired by Melissa’s map and her SomaSource training, Tess set up a dance-based rite of passage programme for contemporary city-dwelling young women to explore how creativity, community, and connection can make our lives more meaningful.
Tess relishes and cherishes space, sky, sea and stillness.
She finds refuge in dance, the dharma, bunnies, badass bass lines, and beautiful boots.
She divides her time between Brighton UK and Northern California.
Melissa’s SomaSource maps have massively shaped my own life, and also deepened the somatic-intelligence and integrity of my teaching practice. Melissa has been an incredible role model for me. She is a fierce force in motion- an embodiment of potent possibilities. She mentored me through setting up a SomaSource inspired dance rite of passage program for young women in the UK, where we worked with young women intensively over three months to explore what arriving into contributing adulthood might mean to them. I’m grateful to be part of the SomaSource facilitation family and to have come across these potent pathways to transformation.
Vusi Makanya is both the founder and Executive & Artistic Director of KwaMashu School of Dance Theatre in Durban, South Africa. Vusi has over twenty years of professional performance and administration experience in dance, dance theater, and dance education. Over the past 15 years, Vusi has been running his organization in collaboration with various national and international guest teachers. He is deeply woven into the fabric of the SomaSource community. Years of cross-pollination have inspired communities around the world.
Vusi graduated in Choreography and Practice of Dance Teaching from Phenduka Dance Theatre as well as Dance in Education at the University of KwaZulu Natal. He has been nominated on various occasions as Most-Promising Male Dancer. In 2010, he won Best Choreography Work in the FNB Stepping Stone Dance Umbrella Festival. He has been recognized as an INK Excellence Community Development Artist (INK: Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu).
Vusi has performed, choreographed, and conducted dance workshops for performing companies, schools, colleges, and universities in Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe. Vusi is a well-known artist on the Golden Bridge Creative Liberation stage, each year moving onto new frontiers in creative leadership and performance. Vusi continues to create new works wherever he goes. He is currently sourcing funds to build his own Dance Theatre School in the KwaMashu.
Seven years ago, I was given an opportunity and I dedicated myself to the SomaSource training with Melissa Michaels and Golden Bridge’s values and teachings. When I first encountered Melissa, I knew there was something about her, a strange feeling, and I knew I wanted to know more about Golden Bridge. I was in a chaotic stage of my life with 2 suicide attempts. Melissa came to me during the right time in my life. Melissa invited me to join her on the Summer camp, Surfing the Creative, joining with the mighty global leaders. I could feel my dream unfolding within my grasp. It took me less than a minute to say, “Yes!”
“Through the SomaSource training, I have accessed the innermost part of myself. This has come through my training with Melissa Michael and the observation of my practice. My choreographic experience hangs in a balance between what to express and what is withheld. I feel physical intensity (desire) a forceful drive to come out through safe space, dreams, and desires of experience, and bring them clearly into the light of day. An example of this is studying with the SomaSource Leadership Series and Social Justice Series and deep weaving in the SomaSource Training.
Xoli Fuyani has dedicated her life to teaching conservation. As an environmental educator for Earthchild Project, she offers EE programmes to primary schools, with a particular focus on guiding young people to a safe sustainable green future.
Xoli is a certified 5Rhythms® teacher and offers the dance as a bridge to connect under-resourced communities to the wider dance community. She facilitates dynamic, fun, and transformative spaces for young women with an aim to stimulate the girls to find their voices and courage by equipping them with mentorship and leadership training.
In 2020, Xoli officially founded Black Girls Rising (which has been in existence since 2015 under Earthchild Project). Their mission is to Inspire and empower Black Girls from marginalised communities to be Bold, Brave, and Rise beyond their circumstances. Black Girls Rising creates a community where girls are seen and given space to amplify their voices. They expose girls to new possibilities by breaking down barriers, giving them a window to dream and tools to realize their dreams. For more: https://www.goldengirlsglobal.org/projects/black-girls-rising
The work with Melissa Michaels has been my compass, guiding and supporting my work with groups and young women in South Africa. It’s been a key in my growth and transforming in all aspects of my life. SomaSource training and resources has helped me in fostering an including community and leading through serving others.
Yolanda Demétrio is the Founder and Director of Espaço Aberto Art Studio, the 1st Dance school of Art, Culture and Children’s Literature in the Rocinha Favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Having been born to a family with limited financial resources but abundant riches in the form of immense heart and culture, she did not have many opportunities. Despite her challenges, she discovered art, which is her lifelong passion.
At the end of her adolescence, she went to live in Favela da Rocinha which was full of the dance forms of Classical Ballet, Jazz, Afro, Samba, etc. Dance led her to discover the world through training and professional dance in Barcelona, Spain. She has participated in several courses and workshops in Guinea, Bissau, Africa, Morocco, and France.
After returning to Brazil she opened a Dance School in Rocinha, Espaco Aberto to rescue her students who were involved in the favela in drug trafficking, prostitution, and drug use. Over the years, she has been developing her work and has always had the need to have her own space to create. Her mantra is: “Breathe, sleep and wake up with dance.”
In 2015 she met Melissa Michaels through her mentor Celia Macedo. Through her exposure to SomaSource and 5Rhythms®, she learned to deconstruct all of her professional education and felt reborn in her dance.
I have been so inspired by being a part of this wonderful Golden Bridge Community! I feel adopted by Melissa Michaels and all her team. I feel safety, solidarity, and family. I have been making my dreams come true and today I am a mother. I am a blessed woman. My life is filled with light. I am a teacher, a director, and an advisor. I thank God and the Universe for directing me every day, so that I, as a community leader. I can transform lives and bring dreams to reality for the marginalized communities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Yuko Lawrence, MA, LPC is a somatic therapist at Trilogy Holistic Mental Health Center in Denver, Colorado. She has been part of SomaSource for 10 years, starting as a participant in the rites of passage program, Surfing the Creative, and then working and training as part of the therapy support team for Golden Bridge. In her work as a therapist, she combines her training in SomaSource, Somatic Experiencing Trauma Work, mindfulness practices, and Gestalt parts-work. She guides clients in an experiential, present-focused journey to uncover and integrate forgotten parts of themselves.
Yuko spent years living and working at a meditation retreat center in her twenties and traveling the world. These experiences, along with the SomaSource training, taught Yuko about working with emotions, the way trauma and painful experiences are stored in the body, and how to access one’s true Self. These experiences ultimately led Yuko to her work as a somatic, mindfulness-based therapist, where her training in SomaSource informs her work with clients every day. Yuko has also worked as a grief counselor and as a mentor with young adults on the autism spectrum. Yuko developed a framework for applying somatic principles to grief counseling and has presented her framework to leaders in the field. She also facilitates a practice called Social Meditation that teaches us how to use meditation
principles for deeper connection and authenticity with others.
When I found SomaSource, I was living at a meditation center and had learned how to find emotional blockages in my body through mindfulness, but didn’t know how to release them. It was through Surfing the Creative that I truly started to understand how much wisdom the body holds. I learned how to listen to my body and allow emotional blockages to move through my system. I also discovered a sense of power and trust in myself that I didn’t know was possible. I learned that each of our emotions has something to teach us and that when we harness their wisdom qualities, true vitality and aliveness is possible. I found my voice. I found my strength. I touched my true power through SomaSource and it is this experience that I am constantly drawing upon in my work and that I am also guiding my own clients to discover in themselves.