We can move to create connection in chaos

On a Sunday morning, I find myself quarantined in my West Hollywood apartment, itching to move and shake and find ways to create connection in chaos. My mom, who hasn’t been able to return to her home in Tel Aviv due to the stay-at-home orders, has converted my living room into a studio apartment.

Seeking serenity and a space of my own, I shut the door, throw open my bedroom window, blast my music, put on a blindfold, and let my body heal through dance. I am only one of many. By now, most of us have seen the stir-crazy balcony renditions of song and dance in various parts of the world, such as Italy, Spain, and my place of birth, Israel.

In an effort to form connections with neighbors amid isolation, people from all over the world are taking to their patios to put on an uninhibited show. The Conscious Dance movement and the concept of Movement as Medicine have been part of my life for nearly two decades now. And now, more than ever, my biggest breakthroughs come when I get up and dance. In these times of uncertainty, I come upon a bold realization: Dance often represents a desire to be free.

It’s pure kismet that my participation in OneDanceTribe’s global virtual retreat comes right at this time when people are stuck at home, yearning for a sense of movement and freedom.

A Virtual Healing Opportunity

In this time of separation and social distancing, OneDanceTribe saw an opportunity to heal. OneDanceTribe is a global community committed to furthering the Conscious Dance movement’s reach. As a diligent Shamanic practitioner and Conscious Dance facilitator , I am honored to be co hosting and co-facilitating in their upcoming four-day live online Conscious Dance retreat, OneDanceTribe Global 2020, from May 21-24.

This passionate and proactive response to crisis is typical of OneDanceTribe’s founders, Amara Pagano and Pier Paolo de Angelis. Every facet of this retreat has been carefully coordinated and thought-out by the husband-wife team, who have committed nearly 20 years to the advancement of the Conscious Dance movement.

Amara & Paolo, founders of OneDanceTribe. Photo Jan Frommel

“I think it all comes down to one word, which is ‘transformation,’” explains Paolo. “And when I speak about transformation, it’s not in the sense that there’s something wrong that we need to transform, but because ‘transformation’ in my language is the equivalent to evolution.”

Paolo pictured at last year’s live and in-person OneDanceTribe retreat. Photo Jan Frommel

This is precisely the theme of OneDanceTribe Global 2020: to unite teachers, dancers and healers around the theme of transformation. This transformation can refer to a personal evolution or an external manifestation of one’s deepest desires.

Megha Nancy Buttenheim, founder of Let Your Yoga Dance, hosts a OneDanceTribe workshop. Photo by Ed Fabry.

“I know that right now in the world there is cacophony going on, but here, the work, the dance, the movement of all of us together is really raising our consciousness to quite unknown heights,” reflects Megha Nancy Buttenheim, founder of Let Your Yoga Dance and a OneDanceTribe co-facilitator. “I hope to dance with OneDanceTribe forever and always.”

OneDanceTribe facilitators pictured together at last year’s retreat. Photo by Ed Fabry.

With round-the-clock sessions hosted by 25 international teachers, Amara and Paolo have managed to attract participants from every continent to this online retreat that covers 24 different time zones.

Vincent Martinez-Griego, founder of SoulMotion, hosts a OneDanceTribe workshop. Photo by Ed Fabry.

“Just being with colleagues, being able to enter into an equal space and sharing our triumphs, our terror, and the ways in which we approach movement… is a bonanza,” says Vincent Martinez-Grieco, founder of SoulMotion and also a OneDanceTribe co-facilitator. “It’s a richness I look forward to every year.”

Opening up to Change

Prior to the introduction of OneDanceTribe’s global virtual retreat, I had been reflecting extensively on the uncertainty and sudden changes that overwhelm us all right now. When COVID-19 arrived on the scene, I was in New York preparing to open up a Conscious Dance Movement Center under Integral Yoga, where I acquired my teacher training.

This dream was halted. Yet, in the wake of its pause, I’m discovering my own new beginnings. I’ve centered my focus on my East Gate program and its accompanying jewelry line, The Winged Ones. Ironically, this program dedicated to helping others discover their new beginnings has reached its peak potential during a new beginning of my own.

Furthermore, it’s allowed me to dive head-first into preparing sessions for OneDanceTribe’s upcoming retreat. In addition to dreaming soulful themes for the workshops I’ll offer, I’m preparing once again to offer one-on-one SoulHealing sessions based on the wisdom and teachings of the East Gate.

Though the virtual medium isn’t a new expression of my one-on-one sessions, the idea of connecting with and helping people from around the world thrills me. Since its inception, Amara and Paolo have envisioned OneDanceTribe as an outlet where all the forms of Conscious Dance (and its sister practices of yoga and meditation) come together. As someone whose life has encapsulated all of these components, I’m riveted by the journey that awaits me as a facilitator for their retreat during which we can collectively create connection in chaos.

The Story behind the Movement

Amara and Paolo didn’t simply stumble upon this shared purpose to create a Conscious Dance Movement that unites the community. In fact, the two have remarkably different backgrounds. For Amara, the journey to enlightenment began at a young age.

Amara and Paolo at OneDanceTribe

“I always loved movement,” Amara recalls. “As a child, I grew up dancing quite a bit… I delved deeply into the dance. I wanted to do choreography.”

At 15 years old, Amara was accepted into a prestigious performing arts high school in Philadelphia where she felt set to fulfill her destiny. Her parents, however, did not share her enthusiasm, and extinguished her hopes of enrolling.

This didn’t stop Amara from revisiting the idea in her adult years. At the age of 18, while attending Evergreen State College, she was able to design her own program for exploring movement as a healing art.

It was during her college years that Amara began to realize her purpose for Conscious Dance. At the age of 20, she began an apprenticeship with Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms approach to movement and dance. Her apprenticeship with Roth took her around the world, honing her skills as a 5Rhythms teacher.

Amara Pagano dancing on the beach for Azul. Photo Yolanda Pelayo

She opened the first movement studio dedicated to conscious dance in Olympia, Washington, and eventually moved to Hawaii where she met Paolo. It is in Hawaii that her own body of work Azul began to form and eventually led to the creation of the School of Azul.

“I took a different route to [Conscious Dance],” Paolo says. “I came to the movement starting with yoga and meditation. I was living in New York City where I had an [event coordination] business, and I was very miserable. Very successful and very miserable.”

For Paolo, the introduction to mindfulness practice came from a consultant who invited him to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for a weekend. It turned out to be a weekend that would change the entire course of his personal and professional life. Six years after that experience, he found himself in a two-year stint as Chairman of Kripalu — a career move that defined his future endeavors.

Pier Paolo de Angelis at OneDanceTribe Europe

With his long-established business acumen and newfound knowledge of mindfulness-based education, he decided to open his own institute in Maui, where he met Amara and first experienced Conscious Dance as a mindfulness practice.

“Having come from an experience of yoga and meditation, I had some of the tools that I needed to find that movement was actually a very complete vehicle for self-exploration and healing,” Paolo adds.

From there, the two embarked on a journey that would lead them to the founding of OneDanceTribe. Parallel to the development of this community oriented work, Amara nurtured the birth of a new School of conscious dance called Path of Azul. Azul is a path of personal transformation that utilizes movement as a vehicle for awakening love. Amara and Paolo host a variety of Azul workshops, retreats and trainings, in addition to OneDanceTribe events, encompassing various modalities and forms of Conscious Dance, such as 5Rhythms, Open Floor, Soul Motion and Movement Medicine.

It is this mission of theirs that aligns with the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga, who stated: “Truth is one, paths are many.” With this goal to unite the various forms of Conscious Dance under one umbrella, Amara and Paolo encourage their students to embrace acceptance — of each other’s beliefs, healing processes, and experiences.

After several years of teaching this philosophy in their workshops and events, in November, 2019, Amara and Paolo gathered the global Conscious Dance community in an online Conference that reached 14,000 people in 124 countries. For those who can’t afford to take in-person classes or travel to retreats, they bring the practice to their homes — all in an effort to convert Conscious Dance to a mainstream mindfulness movement like yoga.

“It’s healing some of the separations in the [Conscious Dance] field and helping us to understand that we’re actually stronger when we come together,” Amara says. “It highlights and celebrates all our uniqueness, all our differences, all of what makes each branch special. The motion of coming together is very powerful for us to learn. We are one planet, we are one Earth, and we need to figure out how to work together.”

Dance in a way that Creates Connection in Chaos at OneDanceTribe Global

Join Parashakti at OneDanceTribe Global from May 21-24, where she will host virtual one-on-one healing sessions and facilitate online dance workshops. If you’re interested in learning more and signing up, click here.

In the Spirit of transformative experiences, she is also offering 50% off her East Gate program and accompanying Winged Ones pendants for those in need of emotional healing during COVID-19.