Our body sits at the intersection of two worlds.  Looking outward is the rational everyday world that we negotiate minute by minute in order to survive and make sense of our lives.  It is a world of reduction. Our senses filter out everything that is not necessary for our immediate survival and so narrow down our experience.  In addition to filtering our perception through our sense, we also have learnt how to control and limit our connection to emotions and feelings.  The outcome of this narrow experience of the world is that we not only separate ourselves from each other but tragically, also from our self. 

The inner world is also connected to our senses but here they operate below the surface of consciousness.  This means that irrespective of the state of our consciousness at some level we are continually downloading information about the world.  There is a part of us that is seeing the world, taking it in and making sense of it through patterns images and tacit knowledge. 

This inner world guides and influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others and how we act in our everyday world.  We are not conscious of this influence and when we sometimes become aware of it, we call this body-wisdom.  It is no accident that the shamanic traditions around the world have used dance to access this wisdom.  With dance we shift our attention from the everyday normal mode of thinking and being and enter into what Arnold Mindell calls the dreambody.  This is the place where we can access all that lies beneath consciousness.  It is a vast reservoir of knowledge which when we allow to permeate the interface of these two worlds into consciousness, gives us gifts through insight, intuition and somatic knowing. 

When we do not have access to our inner world we are blindly led by it both in positive and negative ways.  Our sub-conscious beliefs and feelings can be both expansive and contractive.  By becoming aware of the inner world we are open to a lot more potentials for experience.  We start to become active in creating our own lives and we start to take responsibility for them.  Life is not something that happens TO us.  Life is something we create. 

To dance is to connect to our inner world.  To dance is to become aware of feelings and emotions.  To dance is to experience our creativity.  To dance is to experience agency.  To dance is to connect with our life deeply and expansively.  To dance is to enrich our experiences.  To dance is to live powerfully.  To dance is to live magnificently.

 -       Christos Daskalakos

 

 RAW CACAO

Information Sheet

The intention of taking the cacao during the En~Trance Dance Journey is to:

  • Open the heart  - feel good – create a sense of euphoria
  • Allow for the release of deep emotional issues (combined with the dance)
  • Open sensitivity and connection to surroundings
  • Release energy increased blood flow

The cacao being offered during the En~Trance Dance Journeys contains:

  • -       Organic Raw Cacao
  • -       Cacao Butter
  • -       Honey
  • -       Maca
  • -       Cinnamon
  • -       Himalayan Salt Crystals

 Raw Cacao: 

-       Made with cold-pressed cocoa beans that keep all the beneficial enzymes, antioxidants, and other healing compounds of the cacao plant intact.

-       Contains:

o   Tryptophan and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MOA) – should not be mixed with some antidepressants – these MOA inhibitors allow more serotonin to circulate in the brain

o   Theobromine similar to but NOT caffeine – this acts in a similar way to caffeine and is a stimulant

o   Anandamine, a mood improver known as the bliss molecule which creates a feeling of euphoria

o   PEA of phenethuyamine which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals

o   High concentration of anti-oxidants/magnesium/and a range of healthy vitamins etc.

Cacao Butter:

-        Vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean

Maca:

-       Root of a plant native to the Andes Mountains

 o   Boosts energy levels

o   Sustained use boosts immune system

 Ceremonial Cacao

It’s thought cacao was first used as a health elixir and ceremonial medicine as far back as 1900 BC by the ancestors of Central America, the Olmec people, before becoming a ritualistic medicine used by the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Signifying both life and fertility, it was ingested by Royalty in ceremonial God worship and in sacrificial ritual.

 Cacao has been used in ceremonial spaces by various shamans in South America.  A traditional ceremonial dose is around 70-80g.  Today you will receive half of that otherwise you won’t sleep tonight.  In any case taking this is not a ceremony using cacao – we are using the cacao, with respect, in order to enhance the dance journey.  It is perfectly safe to take cacao and dance.  However it is important that you…

 

 

DRINK LOTS OF WATER DURING THE DANCE – AND AFTERWARDS!

 “The body does not lie”, is a saying attributed to Modern Dance pioneer Martha Graham.  At some level this is true.  Our physical body reacts to the stimuli it receives from the environment at a visceral level.  However there is a moment when these sensations are mediated by the mind and interpretation is assigned to them.  This process is determined by our own personality, beliefs and experiences.  And so what we express through posture and gesture may not always be related to our authentic feelings.  Studies have shown that it is possible to perceive the difference between a genuine smile and a fake.  Physiologically we used different muscles for these two which our brains are really good at identifying.

In my experience as a Biodanza facilitator I have come to learn that it is possible to perceive the dances that connect to genuine feelings and those where dancers are just going through the motions.  It is something in the way people move.  Not the movement itself but the quality of the movement.  It can be likened to the concept of ‘marking’ which professional dancers use to rehearse choreography without going full out into performance mode with each repetition.  Another way that I could describe it is that it looks like the person is just ‘absent’.  They eyes are good place to start looking.

When this happens I believe there is a dissociation from feeling.  For conscious dance to truly be conscious and have an impact on the dancer, it requires the technique and strength to elicit emotion and imagination simultaneously.  There are three components to such a dance which would contribute to this.  These are the movement, the music and the intention.  These three aspect correspond to a body including the mind and emotion. 

In movement we engage the body with our sense of kinesthesia creating an experience of ourselves in the world.  Music has the capacity to stimulate feeling and emotion from both internal and external sources.  Intention connects us to imagination giving the dance its meaning.  Through these three aspects dance integrates mind body and soul connecting us to a powerful authentic experience.  To do this we need to be present to all three stimuli.  We cannot mechanically be in our body moving while our mind is elsewhere.  By being present we can align ourselves so that what we feel, think and do is integrated.  This is a place of both presence and power.  At this moment the body truly reflects authentically – and your smile cannot be fake!

~Christos Daskalakos

Sometimes our dance movements come from such depths that we experience a state of mystery.  This usually occurs when an untransformed primal affect is touched – we may then feel spaced out or in an altered state.  In Biodanza we aim to dance into these states by inducing the deepest levels of affects which inevitably are connected to preverbal ‘infantile’ processes.  These we call Protovivencias.

Protovivencias have their origins from different aspects of the psyche and there are three sources for connecting with these.  Firstly we can work from the personal unconscious and allow the personal history of the dancer to guide the way.  The dances we use will reflect five aspects of human development, vitality, sexuality, creativity, affectivity and transcendence.  The healing aspect of these dances is to connect with the primal instinct for each of these aspects so as to transform those that have remained undeveloped or distorted.  These have a healing function.

Secondly we can access protovivencias through myth and archetype.  These dances access the collective unconscious and the patterns of life that find their expression in each of us. These dances are about connection with something outside of us.

Thirdly we can connect with the primordial unconscious which has a transcendent and metaphysical component.  These dances have an existential component which both reinforces but also dissolved the ego.  We are able to experience ourselves as ourselves but at the same time experience ourselves as everything cosmic.

 

Although each of our dances have elements that are personal, cultural and primordial the vivencias that emerge through the body are so immediate that it seems helpful and useful to be aware from which source it is created.  This does not take place in the dance where the experience, or vivencia, is paramount.  Rather this takes place on reflection and integration of the vivencia at a different time.  Built into the methodology of Biodanza is the verbal vivencia, a time before each class when Biodanceros can share these insights and experiences from the previous week.  Here we can start to enter that mystery of dance.

~Christos Daskalakos

Neural plasticity is a central theme in modern neurobiology, it allows the permanent renovation of the nervous system. Some motor and behavioural functions which have been adversely affected by accident can be rehabilitated by the formation of alternative pathways that substitute for those who have been destroyed.  One of the theories is that the influence of an enriched environment can impact neurogenesis.  
 
In Biodanza, we use the concept of "positive eco-factors" as categories specifically to enrich the environment.  These are related to the Biodanza class which is supported by music, the group and vivencias which create vitality, homeostasis, pleasure, joy, creativity and an expansion of consciousness through transcendence.

Each dance within this environment becomes an opportunity for extending and creating new neurological pathways.  We do this by modelling alternative possibilities to the dance.  If we were to merely verbalise an instruction then people would stick to what they know, in other words, their habitual neurological pathways.  However by demonstrating different ways of expressing the dance the Biodanza facilitator encourages the participants to try something new or different.  Through this process of creative expression, old habits are eroded and at the level of the brain we are transformed.  We cannot dance and not feel changed!

Often people who have not danced look upon the dancers and ask questions such as, “what does it mean?”  Without the embodied experience they try to understand and translate the movements of the dance into something cognitive, verbal – in fact into a description.  Dancers on the other hand know that while dance is a language of communication it is not often translatable.  Isadora Duncan, one of the pioneers of modern dance early in the last century replied to a reporter’s question with this illuminating answer – “if I could say it in words, I would not have danced it.”

Joseph Campbell, author and expert in the field of world mythology once said that the point of life is not about seeking meaning, it is about the rapture of being alive.  Meaning has to do with the mind.  Being in the body is about experience.  This is what dance teaches us – to be in the moment and experience life as is.  Dance is not about reaching the end, finding a goal.  The dance is the dance and the experience is in the moment.  We find meaning in the dance, not outside of it. 

This is a wonderful lesson to take out into life.  When we talk about ‘the dance of life’ we are talking about living in the moment, flowing through and around our challenges and being creative in each and every moment.  Life itself then becomes our purpose, not some idealised utopian future outcome.  Life now!  Life lived, life danced in all its mystery and wonder.

 

~Christos Daskalakos

Our whole story is written in the cells of our body - an integral part of our human experience.  Everything we learn from the day we are born is through movement.  As an infant when we reach out for food and are rewarded that movement pattern is re-enforced mapping out neural patterns in our growing brains.  This is based on our survival instinct as we need to learn quickly what works for us.  Our ancestors for example did not have the luxury of contemplation when confronted by wild animals.  As an infant we learn to retract and retreat from danger – we run! 

And so, we create our interaction with the world through movement – not just reaching out a hand but our whole body.  Witness the infants using their entire body to move.  Our experience of life is through movement in space.  Foremost we are physical beings and we connect with the world around us through our senses and movement creating meaning and building up our identity.

 

Eventually our movements set into habitual patterns and our experience of life become held within that framework.  If we do things the same way every time, we will have the same experience.  This can be limiting as often people stay with that which is comfortable.  To expand, create and amplify life we can explore new movement patterns – using the creative power of dance to recreate and form new ways of being.  Research has shown that creative dance movements set up new neural patterns in the brain.  This leads to new and alternative ways of being and experiencing life.  In other words dancing in creative new ways can transform our identity and the way we relate to life.

Christos Daskalakos

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”

-       Confucius

Have you noticed that even the most reserved person who is the proverbial wall flower is still fascinated and interested in dance – at least to watch if not participate.  That is because dance is a primal impulse not only to express ourselves but to also experience our very existence.  Kinaesthetic awareness is the natural way in which we learn about ourselves and the world.  This is also the doorway to better mental and physical health.  And what could be more kinaesthetic than dance accompanied by wonderful music?

Biodanza is always practiced in a group so we could say that at least once a week we spend time with friends with benefits – that is the benefits of better health!  Generally dancing can help us lose weight, stay flexible and reduce stress.  Biodanza with its unique methodology adds to these physical benefits the mental health that comes from integrating our identity, connecting with realness to others and changing our endogenous mood to one of joy.

Dancing contributes to the sustained combination of these benefits which means that we build a stronger immune system contributing to better physical health.  In addition when we are fully in the dance we experience the advantages of feeling positive and good about ourselves.  This means that we access our creativity easier, form more meaningful relationships and develop personal skills such as self efficacy, autonomy and emotional balance.  Who would have thought that dancing with your friends once a week could do all that!

 

……………..By Christos Daskalakos

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create

and be greater than our suffering.”

-      Ben Okri

Beyond words and thoughts our bodies and movements reveal our feelings and emotions residing in the subconscious.  Theses influence our behaviour and shape our life both positively and negatively.  When we are not aware we are at their mercy leading us to experience life as a victim of circumstance.  Dancing can change that as it gives us a way to access and interact with our subconscious integrating the totality of mind into our life. 

We need both; conscious mind is our rational side which operates in the world of language and ideas while the subconscious mind is the place where implicit memory is stored.  Unconscious memories that shape our beliefs, generate our automatic emotional reactions and generally seem to have an unseen power over our life.  When we make the invisible visible, the unconscious conscious we raise our awareness and are empowered to shape our life with more purpose.

Biodanza which is not just free dance uses mechanisms which allow us to access and integrate more fully.  There are two ways specifically in which Biodanza does this.  Firstly there are dance which draw on archetypes making universal patterns and emotions more explicit thus allowing us to connect with those that resonate in us.  And secondly, the concept of protovivencia is dances that allow us to regress to a state of infancy where we connect with the primal and genetic patterns of life allowing us to connect with our instincts.  This unfolding creates greater awareness and expanded consciousness which leads to feelings of authenticity as we are more present – usually in the dance!

 

……………..By Christos Daskalakos

The power of dance to balance and harmonise

“The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.”

 - Mata Hari

Bodies can show feelings and communicate in a way that is different from words.  At this level of communication the body does not tell – it does, in the act of becoming and being that message.  We are able to embody our movement and communicate with others through the dance.  And, we are able to communicate with ourselves the messages that are not cognitive but exist deep in our psyche.  For this we need to slow down sometimes.

Fluidity dances in Biodanza give us this opportunity.  They are continuous movements that develop as waves of constant instinctive transformation of the body.  We don’t strike positions nor do we create repetitive movements.  The aim is to bring together an integration of our sensations of movement with a deeper experience of self.  Fluidity is a movement that does not stop before an obstacle; it adapts and flows around keeping the continuum.  This endless motion and sensation usually slowed down for greater impact, is a search for a dynamic balancing and a pulsating harmony.

When we slow down and allow our instinct to harmonise the dance we connect with our feelings and emotions in a non-verbal way.  The invitation is to feel, embody, experience – without the need to rationalise or interpret.  The beauty of the dance is that lets us enter the state of being – not the state of description which we are so good at doing when we speak about life and not live it.  Thus we can enter a life of harmony and balance.

 

~ Christos Daskalakos

Dancing your magnificence

The power of Biodanza to rewrite our stories

          ……………..By Christos Daskalakos

 “When the music changes so does the dance” - African proverb

How true if we use this as a metaphor for life.  The music that we hear is the incessant little voice in our heads which sometimes is stuck in old belief patterns laid down so long ago we are not even aware of them.  Our mind and body are so connected that these patterns manifest themselves in our body shapes according to Stanley Keleman (Emotional Anatomy) and in our movement patterns which in extreme situations can mean we literally freeze up and display little or no movement.

If our movements and body shape are a product of old beliefs and patterns of the mind then surely we can change that by ‘changing our mind’ – changing the music!  Easier said than done!  So much of the history that has landed on our body is so old that we are sometimes not even aware of it.  It would have also been integrated through an intense experience that involved physical, emotional and mental spheres.  In order to change the patterns we need to enter an equally intense experience and write a new story, change the internal music of the soul.

 

The Biodanza Vivencia, (vivencia= Spanish for experience) is created so that it extends beyond any mechanical physical dance which we may engage in as a fall back pattern.  It challenges us to connect not only with emotion and feeling but no less the cosmos itself.  The story Biodanza would like to imprint on the mind is that we are nothing less than ‘Sacred’ because we are part of Cosmic Life.  From an experience like that which would be the ultimate Vivencia – how could we ever allow the old stories to keep us small?  We owe it to ourselves to dance our magnificence!


 

Dancing with friends improves health

A gift of Biodanza classes

“When the music changes so does the dance” - African proverb 

Group dancing has been part of humanity from time immemorial. Gathering round the fire the clan united, sang, danced in rituals of healing and worship.  Through the dance we expressed our identity as the clan, we expressed our understanding of the cosmos and we expressed our relationship to each other, the world and universe.  For perverse reasons we have lost this opportunity except in organised groups.

It is natural for us to dance and as humans we are naturally susceptible to music - when we hear a good beat it makes us want to dance.  Although music has an emotional content it is that primal beat that gets us in the chore of our being.

In Biodanza we work with three aspects of music, rhythm, melody and harmony.  Rhythm, the primal beat, allows us to experience our presence, our identity and our vitality.  This has socialising and healing benefits as corroborated by a recent scientific study. (Synchrony and exertion during dance independently raise pain threshold and encourage social bonding)  In Biodanza we encourage this with dances of rhythmic coordination and synchronicity such as walking in pairs with another; following the rhythm of another.  These dances begin to induce communication and empathy with our fellow Biodanceros creating social bonding.

 ~ Christos Daskalakos


 

 

 

Dance freedom – or free dance

The structure of Biodanza

By Christos Daskalakos

 “We are free but we are not free.”

 A common mistake is to assume that totally unstructured free dance will elicit feelings of freedom and self expression.  Actually given the opportunity to dance freely participants in a class will usually resort back to their patterns of movement governed by habits of behaviour.  ‘Free dance’ in this context refers to dancing where there is no discernible structure – usually any movement, at any time to any music.  Biodanza on the other hand while having a structure encourages dance freedom by challenging the very movement patterns that keep us locked into our habitual way of being.

 Biodanza is interesting because it is not choreographed dance and movements and yet it cannot be described as free dance because it has a structure. However the structure and form of Biodanza is not founds in particular set movements, performed in accordance with a certain aesthetic or technical aims. The structure in Biodanza refers to the conditions that are created to enable participants to enter vivencias with specific intentions through dance.

 It is important to note that Biodanza is a process. The class is carefully structured along a curve of experience which integrates and harmonises the dancers physically and mentally.  The dances are planned in a progressive order so that we can reach higher levels of evolution.  These dances, therefore, do not have an isolated value in the sense of a list of dances compiled in some arbitrary sequence.  They are organised to generate a ‘process of change’.  For this reason it is important to experience a class in its totality from beginning to end.  This progressivity continues over the course of many classes and so committing to a group over time is important in order to reap the best benefits from the dance.


 

Love is Radical

The power of Biodanza to heal relationships

……………..By Christos Daskalakos

 

             <<We can define the feeling of love as the supreme experience of contact with LIFE.>> Rolando Toro Araneda

Biodanza is radical - it was radical when it was created in the 1960's and it has endured over the years and is still radical today.  Whereas many may think that being an anarchist is to throw petrol bombs at the establishment – being an anarchist is looking into the eyes of another person and acknowledging them as a fellow human being.  That form of anarchy is much more powerful and more of a threat to the establishment because when we connect as human beings and allow the common bonds of affectivity to grow between us - can we then go to war, can we then compete and revel in the destruction of the other?  

Human love unleashed is radical.  The greatest threat to the current world order is that we follow the path of love not hate.  Unfortunately our societies have been really good at alienating us from each other.  The first step is to heal the relationships between each other and then slowly spread out into the world with the message that we are all connected.  Biodanza does this with dances that gradually and powerfully re-educate the heart allowing us to access affective connections.  

 

Sometimes when I invite people to come and dance their first question is "will I have to dance with other people?"  And even more fearful is the prospect that they may have to look at each other.  That is the sadness of where humanity has fallen – separated from each other and ultimately the price we pay is separation from ourselves.  Biodanza is always done in a group setting which encourages us to relearn how to connect with our own feelings, to acknowledge and communicate with each other and take part in dances that unify and encourage healthy relationships.  For many, a personal challenge but if we want to create a different world we need to start somewhere.  And somewhere is that place where our feet gently start to connect with the rhythms and pulsations of the Dances of Life.


 

Dances of Power

Tapping into the subconscious

...........By Christos Daskalakos

 

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life

and you will call it fate.” -  C.G. Jung

Dance can provide you with a way to access and interact with your subconscious integrating the totality of mind into your life.  The mind is a unity and incorporates the self aware conscious part and the creative subconscious - reservoir of wisdom.  The memories of our life experiences are stored in the subconscious where they are embodied and influence our behaviour and, whether we would like to take responsibility or not, create our lives just the way we intend.  This happens because life experiences are imprinted onto the subconscious and create a subtle belief system which navigates our life.  Although all experiences are recorded some have more influence than others – usually these are those that have some intensity associated with them, a trauma or another intensely emotional experience. 

 

We cannot change the influence of the subconscious using the conscious mind – we have to reprogram and reorganise the subconscious another way.  Jung for example proposed active imagination and there are many creative modalities that allow us to access the subconscious in therapy.  Biodanza works by reprogramming the memories of a lived experience with a new one by creating vivencial moments through the dance.  These are intense experiences that replace old patterns.  Intensity in this instance is not melodrama but merely the creation of a moment of such presence that it includes out total experience.  Because our subconscious memories are embodied we use movement, music includes the emotions and the dance creates an experience in the here-now.  It is in this moment of exquisite focus which we call ‘vivencia’ that we can access the subconscious to heal, reprogram and renovate ourselves.


 

 

The Seven Powers of Biodanza

……..By Christos Daskalakos

Biodanza is more than dance. They manner in which it differs from most other dance forms is that it does not focus so much on what the outside looks like – the steps, the choreography or the performance. According to Rolando Toro Araneda, the creator of Biodanza, it addresses the totality of the human being. It is more than just exercises – it is a re-education in love, connection with humanity and deepening the experience of life. 

The dances emerge as an expression from within. The moment when a dance emerges other than from our cognitive self is called a Vivencia. It is a deeply felt kinaesthetic experience which takes place in totality in the here and now.

Biodanza is based on sound scientific principles of human sciences and has a therapeutic and transformative power. Rolando Toro attributes the positive effects of Biodanza to a number of positive eco-factors in the class which he calls the Seven Powers of Biodanza. The interrelationship of these Seven Powers which is based on the theoretical model of Biodanza has an extraordinary impact which is a result of the specific way they are used and combined to produce a Vivencia.

The Seven Power of Biodanza are:

  • The Power of Music
  • The Power of Integrating Dances
  • The Power of the Vivencia
  • The Power of Contact and Caress
  • The Power of Trance
  • The Power of Expanding Consciousness
  • The Power of the Group

Each has a transformative effect and if linked to each other, following a scientific theoretical model, they constitute eco-factors with extraordinary effects, able to have an influence on genetic programming lines – the Five Lines of Human Potential.


 

We learn, we forget, we re-learn

Biodanza and the concept of Protovivencias

By Christos Daskalakos

 “The moment of conception is a unique moment for a unique being to be created like no other in the universe.”

 Biodanza has a strong theoretical model and methodology as the basis from which we practice.  This is supported by academically accredited research principally through the University of Leipzig, Department of Applied Psychology.  What may then appear as a simple fun class – which it is meant to be – is actually a well constructed vivencia* which has as one of its intentions to induce states of being connecting us to what we call protovivencias. 

 Protovivencias are those perinatal learning experiences.  They are powerful and decisive moments in our development – the first things we learn.  The learning that takes place at this time is what I would call, ‘innocent-learning.’  It is the development of our human potential based purely on instinct.  ‘Innocent’ because it is free of any judgement, consideration or expectation.  The foetus and baby are not able to filter out their needs which are primitive based on pure instinct.  For example a baby responds to hunger instinctively - it cries to have that need met.  It cannot and does not stop to wonder whether it inconveniences mother; or maybe it ate recently and might be considered greedy; or, set about calculating an exchange for the food it receives.  The smiles and gurgling are part of a purely instinctual self expression of pleasure.  Slowly as the baby grows it interacts with its environment and soon learns that certain behaviour will elicit certain responses from those around it.  And so the interaction with the outside world is slowly formed.

 If the outside world is supportive the baby will develop and express its instincts in a healthy manner which will lead to its development and give full expression to its identity.  However we live in an environment that places more emphasis on co-operation and soon we learn to compromise and even suppress aspects of ourselves in order to fit in and be accepted.  Sometimes this is so severe that it leads to complexes that shut down or distort our expression of our human identity.  We need only look around the cultural and religious taboos associated with sexuality and food and other human behaviour to see examples of the restrictions they place on basic instinct.  In some cultures dancing is forbidden, in others kissing in public is illegal, and so on.  


 

 

Balancing Act

Dancing our way to Harmony

By Christos Daskalakos

 “I do not live within my body, my body lives within me.”

Many talk about dance connecting body and mind.  The truth is that they never were separated, it’s just that we are not always aware of the impact the one has on the other.  Our moods are often determined by the state of our body, and what we think can influence the way our body interacts with the world around us.  Dance gives us the opportunity to become aware of this connection and so integrate body and mind – finding harmony.

Biodanza through its carefully designed methodology creates classes that have as one of their aims to bring harmony to both our body and mind through carefully balancing and stimulating a full range of experience.  Stress for example in our lives is often experienced at one extreme – highly active and intense as we strive to cope with everyday life.  No stress on the other hand would lead to a meltdown where nothing ever gets done.  A balance which is the right kind and right amount of stress allows us to operate effectively in the world. 

The class structure in Biodanza permits the dancers to experience both active and deactivated states and bring both body and mind into finding a balance.  The activation dances in Biodanza physiologically stimulate the sympathetic nervous system while psychologically these states of vitality are experienced with positive emotions of euphoria, joy and well-being.  But the class also includes those dances which stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to connect with restful moments where psychological states of regression, connection and harmony are experienced.

A carefully crafted Biodanza class will allow us to dance our way to harmony effortlessly and with fun.


 

 

Altered states and inner experience  

The concept of Vivencia in Biodanza

By Christos Daskalakos

 “A person’s energy can tell you more about them than their own words.”

When someone doing Biodanza says they are ‘going into Vivencia’ they usually are referring to the suspension of a cognitive-controlled state as they enter into a state of being that sometimes feels all-consuming and at the same time very expansive.  This is what we call Vivencia which is an experience lived with great intensity by an individual in the here-now.  Intense feelings are brought about through the stimulation and integration of all our senses, emotions within a kinaesthetic experience.  Vivencia is the cornerstone of Biodanza methodology which looks at very precise methods to induce integrative Vivencias which are capable of expressing our identity, modifying our lifestyle and bringing biological order.

Rolando Toro Araneda, creator of Biodanza in formulating his theory looked at many sources one of which is German psychologist Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911).  Dilthey’s idea of ‘Erlibnis’ is closely related to Rolando’s concept of Vivencia which is the state of being Biodanza tries to induce through its dances.  Erlibnis literally means “what has been lived through, and describes an inner or lived experience which Dilthey proposed as a way of understanding human behaviour.

 The creation of a Biodanza class uses music, enunciation and movement in specific ways in order to induce Vivencias which evoke intense perceptions of being oneself.  They induce intense feelings of being alive as they include both instincts and emotions.  Like Dilthey’s Erlibnis, Vivencias do not require an understanding at a cognitive level – there is no need to elaborate, rationalise or interpret a Vivencia.  The altered state induced by Vivencia is a valid way to acquire knowledge.  This experience which borders on the mystical is what facilitates a connection both with an inner wisdom and with an outer expansiveness – connection to our cosmic origin.  The dance becomes the vehicle to altered states of consciousness facilitating a natural evolution towards greater integration. 


 

The Bushmen say , “Life is a dream dreaming us”.

 

Many use the metaphor of dream or illusion for our reality. This is not a nihilistic perspective.  It is an invitation to look beyond what is in front of us to recognise and connect with the mystery and wonder of life.

 

We experience the world in terms of our own personally constructed dreamscape.  The scientist, the artist, the child, the adult all have their own internal dreamscape that shapes their world.  This inner dreamscape creates the outer landscape we inhabit.

 

When we recognise this and work to recreate our dreamscape – life – the landscape changes for us.  We cannot enter the dreamscape rationally.  The shamanic journey is to suspend the rational – in the words of Carlos Castaneda “to stop the world” – and to enter into an alternative consciousness.  One of the ways to do this is dance, specifically trance dance.  This is where Biodanza touches the shamanic journey.  We use trance and regression to induce vivencia, letting go, suspending the rational to enter an alternative consciousness.  The shaman enters this space to negotiate and reorganise the world – to bring back healing and wisdom.  The Biodanceros enter vivencia to reorganise and renovate themselves.  However there is another aspect to consider.

 

How did we create the inner dreamscape in the first place? At a cosmic level we created the perfect experience for the purposes of this life.  The true shaman takes full responsibility for their world as it is now.  In practice our culture, our parents, our education and our religion are some of the things that shaped the dreamscape and when we are not conscious of this it becomes a self imposed prison – call it the Ego.  The shaman uses nature as the gateway between these worlds of the inner and outer.  Deep connection and reverence to nature maybe because there it is possible to find the place before culture – the world of instincts.  In Biodanza we talk about protovivencias, the place before.  We use dances and ceremonies of the four elements (nature) and archetypes to access the world before.  Shamans use archetypes which manifest in different forms in different cultures.

 

Our journey is not to engage with these cultural forms.  Our journey is to distil the essence of the shamanic journey – it’s a meta-journey.  And so we enter the dance.  Not the dance of forms and conscious movement but the spontaneous dance which comes from the soul.  The dance of the soul which yearns to navigate through the dreamscape and arrive in a new landscape of mystery and wonder.  Note – ‘navigate’ not ‘engage and change’.  But that is another discussion.

by Christos Daskalakos

 

Vivencia - Vivencia is “an experience lived with great intensity by an individual in the here-now covering the emotional, kinaesthetic, and organic functions.”  (Rolando Toro Araneda, 1968)

Definition of Biodanza - " Biodanza is a human integration system of organic renewal, of affective re-education, and of re-learning of the original functions of life..."

With so many factors contributing to the stresses we face in our modern society, it's a wonder any of us can sleep at night. Not only does stress impair us psychologically, it also has an effect on us physically. That's right - a lot of the money you may be wasting on jars of creams, non-invasive procedures and makeup could be saved by simply avoiding stress.

Sounds good enough, right? The problem, as you are well aware, is that stress isn't something that's easily avoidable in our day-to-day lives. Commitments and kids and careers and relationships and finances all mean that keeping calm and healthy isn't as easy as just saying it.

Luckily, Biodanza exists to help this happen.

The system stimulates your body's chemistry in a positive way, by allowing for a biochemical and neurological change to occur. This leads to enhanced relaxation and future adaptation to stress. In fact, studies done by Dr Marcus Stueck of the University of Leipzig (http://www.biodanzarenskyclad.co.za/english_ausdruckA5.pdf) show that regular attendance of Biodanza led to marked improvements in various measurable stress indicators.