What You Learned (or Missed) at Melissa's March 24 "Effortless Expression" Workshop

Not even your toughest questions stump Melissa V.
Thanks to Melissa Voodoo for an enlightening afternoon of somatically-informed dance inspiration at 440 Studios.  We started the workshop with matwork, moving through mobility and coordination sequences to connect to our shoulders, hips, and core, then melted away remaining blockages with an intensive session of self-care trigger-point myofascial release using pinkie balls.

Fluid, open, and energized, we moved on to a series of poetic visualization exercises, exploring a part of the "core" that's rarely discussed in dance class -- the internal organs.  While I routinely connect to the physical (and emotional) sensations of belly dance movements rippling through the general visceral area of the "belly," the idea of integrating awareness of specific organs was brand new to me.  Focusing on the liver, spleen, and reproductive organs, Melissa led a short passage of dance movement to massage these areas, then opened the floor to experimentation with the highly metaphoric idea of organ-initiated movement.  I loved the feeling of leading with my liver!  I was surprised, too, at the range and ease of movement I uncovered in my spine and abdomen.  I've never felt constricted in my waist (I am naturally flexible, and one of my early training challenges was actually to make my movements smaller), but I was amazed to see my undulationswhich I've long considered to be "done," and as perfect as I can make thembecome even more deeply articulated.

Intentionality, language, and the poetic aspect of belly dance have always informed my dancing and teaching, so I really appreciated Melissa's use of imagery and her more esoteric appreciation of movement and sensation.  Her teaching, however, was balanced by plenty of straight-up anatomy, so that even those dancers who aren't instinctively wired to "go deep" could use her techniques to unlock freer and more precise dance articulation.  I came away from the workshop feeling tall, tranquil, and excited about using and sharing Melissa's material.  Thank you Melissa V!