Yoga, movement, and healing go hand-in hand. Yet for some of us, it's easier for us to move in a yoga class than it is to move on the dance floor. Natasha Blank, the founder of Get Your Dance On talks to us about all this good stuff and more!
MBG: How did you first come to dance? How did you first come to yoga?
NB: In the only existing video of me as a kid, I'm about 12 months old, bouncing up and down to my parents' African drumming records. I was always moving. I could only memorize vocabulary words if I was dancing around the living room. My mind just worked better when I was in motion.
I took my first dance class when I was 10, and I started doing yoga around 14 or 15 to be more flexible for dance. My tap dancing math teacher was the one who convinced me to go. After a four year break from both in 2003, a friend took me to Bikram (which I now refer to as the gateway drug to yoga), and I went to Burning Man for the first time. The playa brought me back to dance in a new way - no more ballet bars, fluorescent lights, or pink tights - just me, the music, the desert, and an atmosphere made for self-expression.
How did the idea for Get Your Dance On come about?
Brooklyn Bowl asked if we wanted to do some kind of dance thing before they opened on Saturday mornings in December 2009. The first one was 10am in the middle of a snowstorm, and 9 people showed up. But I was a year out of school, developing my Integrative Health Counseling Practice and needed to do something connected to dance, so I kept doing it.
As an Integrative Health Counselor and Reiki Master how have you seen dance/movement heal and affect people?
I would never have believed in the power of movement as much as I do now if I hadn't experienced it first hand. I originally got into holistic healing because I had all sorts of weird health issues. I studied nutritional healing endlessly, became a Reiki Master and had some pretty profound healing experiences through both, but I didn't fully heal until I started dancing again - and things really shifted when I began studying Gabrielle Roth's 5Rhythms. I've seen free form dance practices like 5Rhythms help heal eating disorders, digestive problems, physical injuries, chronic tension, thyroid problems - it catalyzes change in the way we relate to ourselves and the world. We cannot truly move freely unless we break through the blocked and dysfunctional patterns that hold us back every day. Movement brings us back into a fully integrated place, and that's the most healing place we can be.
How are yoga and dance related / what are the similarities? Why do you think the two are so powerful when combined?
They both have the potential to bring us home to ourselves. They create the space in our minds necessary to bring us back in touch with the natural intelligence of our bodies, and ultimately with each other and the planet. Yoga is amazing because it systematically threads our minds back into our physicality, and works our attention in very specific ways. I love doing yoga before dancing because I'm already fully in my body, and I can get on the dance floor and just go. Letting loose in the dance takes the integration achieved in yoga a step further, because we're no longer being told how to move - the natural intelligence that lives in us is moving us.