Our Friends of Spirit
Youth. Elders. Children. Adults. Birth. Death. All of these sacred sites are key to the natural unfolding of a human life. Yet sometimes, our fast paced lives keep us from really listening deeply to the gifts of each life cycle. And sometimes, we are so fascinated by or stuck in one life cycle that we have a hard time moving into the next. Regardless, time does have a say in the matter. We do get born. We do age and inevitably, we will die. That is if we are focusing only on the body.
Our work together through the dance is obviously focused on the body, yet as we enter the vast landscape of the body, the terrain of bone, blood, organ, nerves, and sensation, we simultaneously can awaken to the wide expanse of consciousness that is not bound by flesh nor matter. The discipline of tracking one’s inner landscape through the body gifts us with awareness of life’s outer mysteries. This includes the movement towards a grounded and refined awareness of subtle forces streaming in from across the threshold. Embodiment practice thus can help us learn to see and feel the unseen world, including the presence of our ancestors.
When I was growing up, death was kept far away. It was something that happened in other families or elsewhere around the globe. We did not really notice the seasonal cycles of death and rebirth in nature. When a family member did leave the body, little time was spent contemplating where they had gone and how we each felt about it.
Times are different now. The youth we work with have faced endless initiations into the mystery of death. Friends have committed suicide. The World Trade Center fell causing many souls to make the great pilgrimage across the threshold. Accidents and cancer have claimed the lives of dozens of parents and siblings of our youth. Their peers have gone to war. In fact, youth are looking at the potential reality that our animals, plants, waterways, and people may not be able to survive the overload of destruction infiltrating our life systems. We now live with death.
With that, I want to welcome our beloved friends of Spirit whose devoted presences often become ever more accessible to us as we deepen into our own sacred ground of being. Our dance community is uniquely endowed with many dear friends who began dancing with us in this world and now, they dance with us from That world. Since the year 2000, over 20 individuals who were intricately woven into our community’s fabric have died. Although their bodies and hearts are not with us, their unbound spirits clearly are near. We have been opened to the majesty of death.
In our dancing tribe, we consider that perhaps we are actually blessed to have met death so fully over the past decade. We have been invited to befriend our greatest fear, death. This opens up the potential to live life with greater freedom and fullness. Simultaneously, we are richly endowed with the Spirit of these beings watching over us. Through the dance, we awaken our capacities to literally feel the presence of our Friends of Spirit guiding, gifting, and guarding us from across the threshold.
As our day to day lives call for ever more consciousness, we notice that the veil between the worlds grows thinner. It is so helpful when we pause to honor our beloved unseen helpers. We need them. All the cutting edge techniques of building bridges within and without may not be enough in these times. We thus open ourselves to the power of our alliance with these souls.
Everyone in the following named group of people has danced with us sometime during the past two and a half decades. Please meet our beloved team across the threshold.
Although we cannot see you, often we feel you. Of course, we miss you dearly. And, we aim to carry your legacies forward. May we do the work in this world that you so clearly inspire from That world.
Amira Kiass loved like few others. She was genuinely interested in all the people around her, always ready to listen and help. She would shine her radiant smile on everyone and every situation. Amira loved her dance community and the dance itself. Amira was a profoundly respectful and devoted student, eager to show up and serve. She always wanted to know how I was too. She was loved by absolutely everyone. Her humor always kept things real. A young woman with a sparkle in her eye who dreamt of creating a space in the city for her friends to have shelter and doorways for creative expression, especially through dance. Amira is sorely missed by all of us, especially her peers, the bright lights born in the early 90s. We love you sweet one and will dance with you into eternity.
Dee Moulton was our first youth camp’s therapist. She served our community as a brilliant healer and as the courageous mother of Renee Sills, our first surfer and finest of yoginis. Dee’s death opened the gateway to the Spirit world for us all. She taught us about the power of love beyond all form. We bow to your unwavering light always, Dee.
Kyle Donovan was our overt link to the 5Rhythms® Community. She adored our unique ways of working and showed up for everything should could, flying in from NYC. Kyle’s deep devotion to our emergence here gifted us with the confidence needed to grow forward together. She was a brilliant skater and lover of all things vulnerable. You are so close, Kyle.
Steve Cannon was the King Of Hearts, benevolent lover of all things that danced. His devotion to our community graced us with a standard for kindness, willingness to transform, and altruism that carries on. He blessed us with Gabriel, his brilliant son, who works closely with us at most of our camps, local and afar. We make good mischief with you by our side, Steve!
Steven Moore was our Eurythmy teacher. He brought in the first teachings about right relationship between movement and conscious child development. His storytelling infused our community with the understanding of how to share wisdom teachings through gesture and sound. We honor the sacrifice you made to be in service all your life, Steven.
Jane Prouty showed up after Steve died to remind us that the dead are everywhere, in the light of the morning dew on the grass, in the ripples of the stalk, and the morning song of the birds. She spent much of her life caring for her son Tylor who taught us all about working with youth with different abilities. Together they taught about the redemptive power of love and that gifts come in many forms. We dance for both of you, Jane and Tylor.
Mark Cenac gifted our community with his devotional presence. Always available to help, no job was too small or complex for Mark. He was busy tracking the electrical circuits in people’s office buildings and in the interpersonal field between people. He was eager to discover how the work worked and how it could be improved to serve ever more people. Your noble masculine ways helped to calibrate our collective field, Mark.
Dan Thomas was our community’s trauma specialist and the primary therapist for many surfers for years. His expansive, still center gifted our tribe in finding ours. Dan was fearless in the face of hardship and masterful in his truth-telling. Dan, we bow to your majesty and to the somatic and relational intelligence that lives through us in your wake.
Janet Turner was an inspired role model for us, “a sharecropper’s daughter who learned to read as a great–grandmother”. She believed in every young person’s capacity to turn their lives around. She did. Everyone could. We actively work to build bridges across race and class divides to honor your life, Janet.
Tamara Slayton opened the door to the mysteries of early adolescence, infusing us with her coming of age maps and tools for positively supporting young people and their families during the long journey of adolescence. Tamara seeded our work’s development like no other, believing in us, challenging us, and practically providing creative tools for having the hard conversations across ages around sexuality, Spirit, money, and power. Tamara taught about the power of communion with the dead. She also gifted us with a profound understanding of the sacred nature of life. We carry your medicine around the globe, creatively bringing your universal teaching to the edges, Tamara.
Siri supported our dances with his potent drumming during our work in South Africa, helping us understand the universal nature of our work. We shared a native language, rhythm, allowing us to recognize each other immediately as allies. Together, we were able to assist the dancers in unpacking massive waves of unresolved grief and untapped creativity. His drum-beat held strong ground for people in major transformational process. We see what was hidden around your people, Siri, and will continue to help bring your stories into the public light.
Seyril Schochen is the Grand Mother of this tribe. She blessed everything we created and celebrated every step of our journey from the most personal to the most global. She carried each and every one of us in her consciousness, with unwavering love and interest. She was a true elder, living a simple life and focusing on her yoga. We shine with and for you, dear Seyril.
Bill Sell taught us about the process of day to day mentoring with youth. His quiet warmth invited every young person into a field of sanity. Bill left us with his beloved family, two of whom dance ~ Tamara, his beautiful wife, and Caroline, his deep daughter. Bill, we respectfully integrate your spacious ways of being with and serving others.
Rachael Kessler gifted us with maps and means to come together in community to talk about things that really mattered. She offered her tools, her wisdom, and even her home to our youth and adults emerging onto the world stage as leaders. Rachael modeled to us the power one person can have in reframing a generation’s thinking about education. In your legacy, we aim to do the same with somatic learning that you did with social and emotional learning, Rachael.
Edina Preucel gifted us with the Techno Cosmic Dances, inviting us to show up as an intergenerational tribe together serving our local community in Mass. Her ecstatic embrace of each of us gifted us with a sense of value and place. Edina’s beautiful daughter, Joanna, now dances amongst us, radiating light with no pretense. Edina was generosity incarnate. We hold your dignity as a guidepost, Edina.
Bhavana served generations of Tamil women and youth through her Village Action Initiatives in Auroville, South India. One of our earliest inspirations, Bhavana understood the nature of human unity and lived it every day of her life. She was a mentor to many of our young allies in India, a role model to 100’s of Indian women, and a long-time devotee of Mother. Her care for our work with women and youth deeply blessed us as we found our way across oceans and cultures and class. Bhavana, we carry your courage to journey into new frontiers and your steadfast dedication to a life of service close in our hearts and in our daily deeds.
Blye Nell traveled from South Africa with a team of young leaders to participate in one of our 5 Week Surfing The Creative Camps. A tall standing tree with deep roots, this gentle man also brought with him the courage to face the shadows of his people and poetry that wove the majesty of Africa throughout our journey. With humility and brilliance, this man quietly tended to the youth, his family, and his own vast inner landscape … Daily inspiring us all. Blye, thank you for teaching us about the expansive medicine of stillness.
Douglas Brady was a loving and attuned somatic therapist who danced with us through youth camps, a year-long training, and many special events. He gifted us with his sensitivity, humor, his bad-boy innocence, and his love of beauty. When he generated his love, people felt deeply seen and uniquely nourished. His therapeutic touch was refined and always orienting towards the many languages of love. We are blessed to travel now with Shyam, Douglas’s son who carries the Brady healing lineage forward. Douglas, we will carry your Shamanic healing ways forward in our hearts, always.
Gabrielle Roth gifted us with our primary doorway into the Dance … The 5Rhythms®. Her lifetime was dedicated to developing and delivering this powerful map for transformation and awakening. Although most of our community studied the 5Rhythms® through Melissa, Gabrielle’s wings of inspiration and intelligence gently reached around our community as we birthed ourselves and our shared mission. Gabrielle set the grid for the power that one person’s vision and manifestation can have in shaping culture. We bow to you, Gabrielle, in eternal respect and gratitude for your fierce dedication to your body of work and to the endless ways that the 5Rhythms® have shaped our lives.
David Blair was a man of great honor and devotion, inspiring 100’s of young people to be their bright, creative, and loving selves despite all that life presented them. We were eternally blessed in the dance community to receive one of David’s final teachings in his life. Mr. Blair joined us for Life Cycles 2013, presenting on the subject of Rudolf Steiner’s Four-Fold View of the emerging human being. Inviting us to consider the mysteries behind the obvious development stages of a human’s life, David opened up the Spiritual world to us all in a humble and palpable way. He took us to a place of vast Stillness through his presence and his movement leadership. We will carry his laser loving kindness and openness into our work with the young and the innovative.