© Cliona O Conaill
Open Floor is a conscious dance practice and a fast track to embodiment. Being embodied means becoming aware of your whole body, not just your head, and being present to the experience of being in your body. Not easy. But dedication to the dancing path can take you there.
By practicing letting go of the mind, releasing physical tension and emptying the melting pot of emotions, the body starts to unravel into a sweaty, moving prayer. Over time we allow the body move intuitively, and eventually, we reach the stamping ground of our authentic self, beyond the mould we made for our self to fit into society.
Your dance may be cathartic, messy, wild and abandoned, or timid, tight, small and internal – and anything in between. What’s important is that it’s your dance.
“Conscious dance is a way to access what my body knows but my conscious mind is not yet aware of. It has given me the capacity to move spontaneously and intuitively,” says Jess Glenny, Moving Body Teacher, Facilitator, Therapist and Open Floor Teacher.
What is Open Floor?
Open Floor (OF) is a healing, dynamic and juicy dance meditation practice and a safe space for personal inquiry. It is a laboratory to explore what it means to be human, in a body, in a constantly changing relationship with our self, others and the environment.
OF aims to awaken and inspire our whole being by bringing our attention to four different aspects of embodiment, thoughts, emotions, sensations, and our experience of spirit. By expressing what we find in moving shapes with our body, we start to unlock habitual patterns of movement.
Rather than creating a new kind of movement, Open Floor articulates the fundamental principles of all embodied movement practices – “breath, gravity, centring, expansion and contraction,” quotes the website.
“I have been greatly inspired by the Open Floor teachers. There is a wholesomeness to their approach that I trust… and the dance floor is where I find my personal medicine,” says Eadaoin NI Challarain, GP, physician in Palliative Care and Open Floor Teacher.
What to expect?
OF classes are normally two-hours long and follow a spiral Movement Cycle with four stages – open attention, enter, explore, and settle. This cycle echoes the natural phenomenon of activation and settling, for example the sun’s daily journey through the sky, intensifying at noon and diminishing until sunset. OF teachers stretch the physical movementrepertoire of their students and encourage everyone to follow the wisdom of their body. The philosophy is that everyone can dance, if they want to and there is a welcoming culture of inclusion.
Why do it?
Dancing OF gives dancers resources that they can use in their daily lives, for example being more centred and grounded. OF also increases our self-awareness, emotional intelligence, improves our relating, and helps us cope with life situations more artistically and gracefully.
OF, also called mindfulness in movement, increases our capacity for presence. With practice we learn to witness our thoughts, emotions, sensations and spiritual experiences.
The dance floor is a microcosm of real life. Sometimes situations and people who trigger us on the dance floor are reflections of situations and people in “real life”. Bringing objective awareness to these reactive parts of ourselves can help us discover the underlying cause and we may find our vulnerability, our open heartedness and our compassion.
Where did it come from?
Open Floor International was co-created by an international group of experienced conscious dance teachers in 2014. Its founders Kathy Altman, Lori Saltzman, Andrea Juhan and Vic Cooper, share a century of experience in teaching conscious dance. Open Floor has expanded to incorporate a wealth of other modalities from its many members including meditation, body psychotherapy, Gestalt Awareness Practice and healing.
When I started dancing Open Floor after 15 years of other conscious dance practices I felt that I‘d landed in an expansive, spacious new landscape. I was also amazed to discover new movements in my body. Dancing OF has been incredibly liberating.
Find Out More
• For info classes see: http://openfloor.org
• Clíona O Conaill is a freelance writer, founder of Earth Beats and an Open Floor Teacher. Earth Beats is a conscious dance inspired by Open Floor, earth wisdom and 20 years of personal and spiritual development. Sheteaches in Greece and online: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.earthbeats.co.uk
• Jess Glenny, Moving Body Teacher, Facilitator, Therapist and Open Floor Teacher London, www.movingprayer.co.uk
• Eadaoin NI Challarain, GP and Open Floor Teacher-in-Training in Sligo, Ireland, email@example.com
Next month get the low down on the global phenomenon of conscious dance.
© Cliona O Conaill