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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Meet Conie

Points of Light Music (PLM) invited each curator to answer some questions about the Dances and this retreat and we'll be doing a deeper introduction weekly.

Here's Conie, the third of four. 

PLM: Tell us about your relationship to the Dances. How and when did it begin? Is there a highlight experience you could share?  

clb: My relationship with the Dances began at a low musical point in my life.  I had studied music at the undergraduate level and afterwards was accompanying many and singing in big choruses, but feeling unsatisfied.  In late 2006, I met my vocal coach and community singing mentor, Barbara McAfee, and started to attend her Singing in the Light song circle on Sunday afternoons.  It was there that I met Francis Gurtz and Colette Miller who would invite folks to join them for the Dances of Universal Peace later the same evening.  I finally attend my first Dance circle at Pathways in Minneapolis on a Friday night in early 2009.  

As someone who grew up steeped in hymns and was never still singing in choir, I quite literally was floating on air to find an activity where we all sang and danced and prayed together.  

There have been many highlight dancing experiences for me.  Attending the Parliament of World Religious in Nov 2018 and dancing Love, Serve, Remember with the dance Originator, Shivadam, leading and so many people in not a very big space and having So. Much. Joy. flowing. 
Another was sharing the Spirit of Peace dance at a prayer vigil after the Charleston 9 shooting with members of a local African Methodist Episcopal church in attendance.  Although it's not a partner dance, it ended with me facing a women from the other congregation and us bowing to each other.  It was such a moment of intimate compassion in seeing each other.  

PLM: This retreat is organized in an unusual fashion with Morgan selecting emerging dance leaders to co-create the retreat around a theme and inviting other dance leaders and musicians to contribute to the vision. What excites you to participate in this retreat as one of the curators?  

clb: My excitement for this goes back a bit.  In 2017, I was attending a retreat with Murshida Tasnim in Madison.  During a break, I found myself walking the outdoor labyrinth on a gorgeous late September day, and deciding to lay down in the middle.  There I realized that if I felt the need to deepen into my next level of musician and dance leading skills I would need to create and organize opportunities for that to happen.  This was a year after being certified in the LEAD program Morgan organized with Radha Tereska Buko mentoring us.  

Earlier that Spring, Morgan had organized another dance mentor, Anahata Iradah, to come and deepen our musicianship skills in retreat.  By the end of that I was imploring Morgan about what was next, though I had no idea that would include me as co-organizer and dreamer.  

So after Tasnim's retreat, I reached out to Morgan with some ideas of creating a space for musicians and dance leaders to lead a bigger group than they might have the opportunity to do at home, to play for other leaders and groups, and to lead a circle with musicians.  She wanted to work with the theme of Life Purpose and the elements, so we continued to bounce ideas back and forth, contemplating who the other curators should be, how we would attune the curators and the other musicians when we were in the same space, and such.  

I see the Dances as a microcosm of the Life Dance in which we all
participate.  Navigating our insecurities of knowing the song and movements, supporting each other compassionately, leading confidently with beauty and inspiration, adapting to the needs of the group and self ... these are all metaphors and models we can take into everyday life.  Organizing and curating this retreat with its extra layer of musicians and dance leaders coming together with unknown gifts for a common goal is a practice of trusting in the collective effervescent we are desire.  

PLM: Each curator has selected an element and will be holding intention and vision for it during the retreat. Which element have you selected and what are you looking forward to sharing?  

clb: I will be holding the Water element.  It's known for its compassionate and loving qualities.  Especially in this retreat with the focus on JOY, I'm looking forward to helping us all increase our capacity for complexity, the holding of our pain and that of the world's as well as developing our love in thought and action.  

Burnout is common for social movement leaders because they sometimes think they must put all their energies into the cause without regenerative measures in place.  Joining together in song and dance we remember why we're doing the work in beautiful ways that fill our heart and community cup.  Tending our own hearts is the first act of self-care and softens the soil for joy to leap forth.  

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