Dancing On the Edge of Fear with Anne Marie Hogya
Dancing is something shared among all cultures to express joy and foster deep connection. How we move our body to music, especially with others can be very vulnerable and invoke awkward feelings and fear. Think Elaine Benis dancing at the staff party on the sitcom Seinfeld. Like any mindfulness practice dance goes deep and sometimes shows us where we are stuck and need to move.
In this episode of AIR I speak with Anne Marie Hogya, Occupational Therapist and 5 Rhythms dance facilitator about taking risks on the dance floor and the crossovers to creativity and flow in daily life. We also explore dance as a mindfulness practice and how to transform our stuck emotions like fear into an experience of freedom with movement.
- To learn more about Anne Marie Hogya and 5 Rhythms dance go here
- To experience conscious dance online checkout Dance Temple live stream here
You are listening to Awake In Relationship, a podcast about intimacy, community and culture in a time of great change with Silas Rose.
Silas Rose 0:41
Greetings, and welcome to awake in relationship. My name is Silas Rose. So anyone that knows me knows that I love to dance. And I consider myself part of an eclectic community of dancers. Here on southern vancouver island and really the West Coast, there’s been an explosion of ecstatic dance, or what some might call conscious dance, what makes it conscious, really is an intention to create a safe space or dare I say, sacred space, to explore the inner realms of emotion, and leaning into an edge in terms of connecting with others. In this container it’s possible to have a paradoxical experience of vulnerability and freedom. I really believe it’s the perfect medicine for this time. When so many of us are struggling with isolation and fear and uncertainty. It’s really possible to create a sense of the community with others without sharing a word. By simply moving together in rhythm somehow it’s possible to experience a real sense of wholeness and joy, even when it seems the world’s falling apart. In this episode of Awake in Relationship, I speak with Anne Marie Hogya, an occupational therapist, and five rhythms dance facilitator about meeting our vulnerability and taking risks on the dance floor. We also discuss dance as a mindfulness practice, and the connection between dance and daily life. So if you have a regular dance practice, or just love to move your body to music, please stay tuned.
Anne Marie good afternoon, and welcome to Awake In Relationship.
Anne Marie Hogya 2:32
Thank you very much for having me here.
Silas Rose 2:35
So we have had quite the year in terms of dancing with fear, how is your practice been?
Anne Marie Hogya 2:42
My practice has been up and down. And down and up, there’s been a practice the entire time of an internal movement. I froze this year with something, we had a personal tragedy in our family right before COVID. And so there was already a freeze in my body and then with COVID, I was responding in an internal way. And by the time I started to emerge in the spring, I started to put my self into my daily practice of dancing in the morning, and it was transformational to start moving again. And I just reminded myself of the power of motion and the power of, dance and movement to get me unstuck and moving and back into a creative flow.
Silas Rose 3:35
So perhaps a good place to start our conversation is tell us a little bit about some of your early experiences with dance.
Anne Marie Hogya 3:43
So my earliest experience with dance was being five years old or four years old. And my mom put me in a class of a modern dance and it was that class where I felt like a butterfly. So early on, I took to movement, that’s going way back. But really, when I really connected with dance was in the mid 90s. And in the afternoon, I was doing some talking therapy for something I needed to address. And I, in the middle of that I would do a five person dance class. What I found was the connection of doing the talking and then doing the movement, moving in the morning completely shifted me and I didn’t put that together until a little bit later through. I found it was so powerful. And then I started to really begin my exploration of movement as a tool for healing and transformation and freedom.
Silas Rose 5:00
I think for most people, dance is sort of seen as, you know, something fun to do. And I know for myself, for much of my own life, I went to clubs and raves or whatever, I really got into the dance. But it’s really only been more recently I’ve seen it as a practice, as a form of personal development. I know that’s a big part of conscious dance movement and certainly five rhythms, when did the light switch turn on for you in that regard.
Anne Marie Hogya 5:31
Well, I met Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the five rhythms in 2000. And it was this experience where I had been turned on by dance and started to work on my own with, with practicing just on my own and offering it to others. I was living up in the Yukon at the time and offering classes, I called them passionate, free movement. And, and there was something in me that wanted to go deeper with people and I knew where my edge was of leaning. And I read a book, one of Gabrielle Ross books, and was completely fascinated because it was it was this beautiful gateway into just movement as medicine really, in in in a way that I had never experienced before. So I ended up doing a search and found a month long program that she was doing in California and signed up that basically blew me apart. Because what I saw of her, she was such an artist, she’s she’s now passed, but she was such a brilliant artist and catalyst. And, and she would just come in the room and and there were people from all over the world. And it was this, this blend of creativity and art and healing It wasn’t it wasn’t therapeutic, but it was therapy. What I loved about it, it was a creative edge. And I love the creative edge. And that’s what just exploded me to the practice.
Silas Rose 7:19
So you went on to do the training and become a facilitator. And you’re about 20 years into this?
Anne Marie Hogya 7:28
Well, when I met Gabrielle in 2000. And actually started even a little bit before that in 1999, and met five rhythms teacher at the time, and did a workshop. But my training was in 2007 and 2008. So I’ve been teaching the practice since then. But have been doing my personal practice since since 1999 2000.
Silas Rose 7:56
You put in your 10,000 hours.
Anne Marie Hogya 7:58
Yeah, it feels like it. It keeps on giving really to me like the practice and, and the teaching and the learning and being a student consistently. Even this morning, I was dancing on the beach and something came up that pushs my edge in terms of some technical difficulty and just continuing to learn and, and grow.
Silas Rose 8:23
So much of that growing it’s really about sound and music. And I dabble in DJing myself, so I’ve over the years accrued some some good tunes. How do you approach to music and DJing in a way to create those kind of peak states?
Anne Marie Hogya 8:43
Well, I definitely choose music, that encourages creativity and movement. It can be from any genre, any any type of music, but it’s picking things that actually really move people. So I go a lot by instinct and intuition, the feel of a piece, and when I’m listening to it, it’s like how does it really grab me. And over the years, I’ve just been able to really trust in fine tune when I hear it, hear something that I might enjoy just listening to say in the car or at home. I won’t necessarily use that in a class. So it’s really trusting my instinct and finding something that’s going to evoke something that could inspire emotion, a range of emotion, it could evoke something that that energizes. So I categorize my music in a certain way. So it might be energy or tenderness or passion. It depends on where I’m going and where I want to maybe take people in a particular class or workshop.
Silas Rose 9:49
When I when I first turned to get into conscious dance, I felt very kind of stuck in my head. I think that might be a pretty common experience for newbies. When going to diance Id be judging myself, judging my dance judging other people’s dance, which really, kind of put the kibosh on a of sense of enjoyment, or freedom. So there’s, there’s a lot of self referencing that happens for me personally, I’d like to think it’s getting easier. But what is about dance that makes us feel so vulnerable?
Anne Marie Hogya 10:24
That’s a great question. I believe, when we put ourselves into motion in any kind of motion, it gets things moving. And it’s not only the body, it can be the, the emotion or the emotional body too, and for a lot of us that can be can be exciting, but it also can be overwhelming. And, and so that’s what I think is the power of movement is to be able to actually have an experience where you are feeling something, and that can be really vulnerable for a lot of people also being seen or seeing others can be a really vulnerable place, you know, and that also I find, that’s the power. And the beauty of it is to actually I really do believe we want to be seen, and we want to be seen and see others. So I think the direct dance can really strip that off, where we can just be who we are a little bit more, even if it’s I feel really self conscious and vulnerable. But that’s real and that can be tender and vulnerable and really beautiful.
Silas Rose 11:39
it’s very much a push pull thing, because, you know, certainly after 16 months of social distancing and isolation, we really crave connection, but also fear it.
Anne Marie Hogya
That’s right.and so, what I find is also my work as an occupational therapist, and I work basically, in the community with people and it’s that, which I think is sort of an interface with dance to is that, like any of us, whether we’re in our homes or on the dance floor, it is this vulnerability of coming out and being seen again. So that’s really similar to what has been happening with COVID. When I go see people in their houses, they might be shut up there and haven’t been out and to go to the grocery store that scary for them. Other people, it’s like, being on a dance floor is scary to get back in or it’s exciting. So there can be this push pull and vulnerability and open and close in any parts of our life.
As facilitator, what are some of the intangible qualities you create in the space, that enables that sense of safety, where people can explore movement and connection?
Anne Marie Hogya 12:55
I find that just holding space, I, I really feel a sense of maybe it sounds a bit strange, but there’s sort of like an energetic holding, and not in a in a strange way, but it’s being able to see and know who’s in the space. So I really pay particular attention to that, I think also the use of as a as a facilitator, and I think, you know, just just all facets of my life, I believe in, in welcoming people, and being inclusive. And so I, I feel like that really sets the stage in terms of giving people permission to be who they are, and welcoming them and to normalize what the experience is because just like someone coming in for the first time, and I may have danced for a long time, I still have fears and get stuck in and get in my head. And I think to be able to present that and share that and and encourage people sets a stage for safety. And when I mean safety, it still can be very scary for people and I can’t control what happens on the inside. But I can hold a container to be able to go ‘Hey, I see you’ I’m watching If anything happens that you can’t handle, I can be there to at least witness and support and facilitate if need be, you know, if someone’s feeling like that emotionally caught me or something happened or I’m feeling frozen. You know, if I see something then I might even give some cues for that one person in the room and everyone else benefits and that person doesn’t even know but it’s been able to, to just watch and follow sort of with my instinct in the present moment.
Silas Rose 14:52
Can you describe what a typical kind of class or session might look like?
Anne Marie Hogya 15:00
The whole time right now I’m doing some some series of sessions on the beach. So it’s to headsets because that’s right now the adaptation for COVID. But, whether it’s in inside or outside, I’ll be playing music that I’ve mixed. Or I might mix live or all premix in the case of being outside right now. So I’ll have music playing, I’ll have some prompts for people, sometimes I’ll stop a class and just give maybe a theme or something that that we’ll be working on. And generally in a in an hour to two hour class, that’s what will happen. And we’ll go through a wave of music, which means we’ll rise up, and then we’ll come back down. And then at the end, there’ll be some quiet, and maybe there’ll be a little bit of check in at the end. But that’s generally what will happen, what will happen in a class. So people will have a facilitated experience, but also have this real freedom to dance the way they want
Silas Rose 16:04
What do you think are some of the common fears and people who show up or maybe it’s another emotion, not just fear, what do people come in the door with and is it a consistent theme right now?
Anne Marie Hogya 16:15
That would be definitely personal for everybody, from personal experience, because it’s my own life journey is here, it can be a struggle to be in a group. So sometimes it says self consciousness of being in a group being seen being you know, that fear of being judged, the fear of not looking, you know, dancing in a certain way, or they look across and see someone say dancing in a certain capacity or, or what they think is like they’re a good dancer, and then they may not feel that themselves. And I’m really clear on, it doesn’t matter how people move. Everyone’s a dancer, and it’s a personal journey, and there can be so much going on when there’s an outward lack of movement. So those are some of the common pieces, I think there’s also the place of people coming in and, and just not knowing, like, I don’t know what this is going to be like, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes people come in with the day or I know people will be dealing with others in their lives who are dying or, or going through conflict in their personal life. And they’ll come in, you know, in a variety of states and there’s permission to just be who they are in the space.
Silas Rose 18:24
How do you manage your own expectations, judgments and fears?
Anne Marie Hogya 18:30
Oh, yeah, I handle it by just being with it. In the moment. It’s a perfect example, this morning, something came up as I said, there were some technical difficulties. And it was so beautiful to just still be with that. And and go, Okay, here it is, I trust my instinct a lot. So I just go, okay, you know, I’m gonna do it I need to do to sort this out. But I also my particular style, and way is to be really honest about that. So I’ll say, ‘hey, we’ve got some technical difficulties, or look at this, this, this happened’ and I’ll be really honest with that, and I, I find the process of revealing number one, it normalizes it for others, it gives permission ‘for not getting it right’ and I’m doing the little quotation marks as I do that, not getting it right. And it also, it also just gives me that freedom to go Oh, okay, that’s that in the moment. And let’s, let’s get back in. So that’s what comes up. I also find how I manage is, I really at this point along my practice and in life, I, I really do things to take care of myself and ground myself and in terms of, you know, putting myself in motion so, so it could be if I’m scared or frozen or something comes up, then I actually start dancing. You know when it can be right in that moment, and then I get myself unstuck. And sometimes I’ll say, I’m just, you know, I can’t think of the right word I’m going to say, I’m just going to move here, and I’m going to drop that. So there’s that honesty, that putting myself in motion, and also just taking care of myself and trusting, trusting my instincs.
Silas Rose 20:17
I’ve definitely been in leadership capacities in different settings, you know,be it facilitation or teaching, one of the things I get hooked up around is, is really around mirroring, you know, that I interplant, that people are not getting value from what I’m offering, or someone has a reaction, then I start to react, and then it just becomes this some intense feedback cycle.
Anne Marie Hogya 20:42
That can happen regularly. And I find where, especially in movement, where I’m looking out, and someone may not be moving to what im offering as Im facilitating, and so, I also will go through things in my head of like, you know, just trusting again, trusting that that particular person has their particular process and all and all, sometimes, again, just for the group will say, it doesn’t matter what this looks like, and so all all work with that. And I know enough now that whatever it looks like, out there on the dance floor, I have no idea what’s going on in the inside. So they might have be having an incredibly profound experience or not. But it’s not for me to judge that. And to interpret that, because when I do that, I find that then I’m, out of my out of sorts in my body. And so then I just try to come back in and go, how can I come right back here and again, go back to the practice, go back to my breath, go back to my body, and get back into that peace of trusting, trusting and also not trying to be in this place, have a little bit less attachment to what the outcome is, and just be of service really, like come back to that, that I’m here to be of service. And if if people are moving, then that’s the main thing, whether it’s internal or external.
Silas Rose 22:21
It seems like there’s kind of a mutual softening or opening that’s happening, one of the things I really appreciate about your classes is you take a lot of risks, where you’re encouraging people to lean into their edge, whatever that might be for them. What do you hope that people will discover on the other side of that edge?
Anne Marie Hogya 22:37
I see life is this opportunity, and especially in the five rhythms practice to be in relationship with ourselves, with the other with the group and in movement. Specifically, when we get on the dance floor, there’s this beautiful opportunity to keep learning, some people don’t like being with themselves. Some people don’t like being with others, or that scares them. When I say don’t like it can be that that can be really scary. Some people can like or dislike being in a group. So I think those pieces and and if people, me, encouraging people to take brave steps really can help, I think just give information and, support people in other parts of their lives taking brave steps into into relationship with in themselves or in the group.
Silas Rose 23:31
Let’s talk a little bit more about that, do you see a crossover from ex[eroemces on the dance floor and what people encounter in daily life?
Anne Marie Hogya 23:43
Absolutely, I see the I see the dance floor as real life but what we come in with, and if we can sometimes break free of things in and move things around. It really influences other parts of our life. And, and when I’m stuck in other parts of my life that can come into the dance floor, this has been my whole journey with dance my whole two decades plus, is that I’ve seen myself shift and change so much. It’s not that I’m better than I was before. It’s more that there’s more and more revealing of who I am as an essence and confidence and, and freedom in being who I am. And I find that that’s what happens on the dance floor is that there’s a crossover when we take those steps and when I can, you know through humor and through openness and through just being authentic and real myself. If I can encourage people to do that, which I do in all parts of my personal life and personal practice my professional practice. I’m assisting people in taking steps taking risky steps in a low risk situation because really going onto the dance floor. is low risk, it is really low risk, although internally it can feel very dangerous and high risk. So in life, and on the dance floor, I’m encouraging people to take low risk and it builds confidence and competence in other parts of their lives
Silas Rose 25:18
You also have a mindfulness meditation, how has that informed your dance?
Anne Marie Hogya 25:23
I see them being beautifully, beautifully complimentary, like really powerfully complimentary, what I see is, is dance being a moving meditation, this practice being a moving meditation, and a dance. Whereas when I’m sitting, there’s so much moving inside. And it’s me, actually moving with that, sitting still, like just being aware and sitting with, with all say, my emotions, and my racing thoughts and, and my wanting to, to move or feeling anxiety in my in my abdomen, when I’m sitting. When I’m dancing, it helps me tolerate being human, and even celebrating being human more and more. So I see them as really complimentary. I also find that interface of, of the stillness, not necessarily that meditation can be stillness, but I can be still with things that are going on and be grounded a lot more in life. And that influences when things come up on the dance floor, or when I’m teaching and holding space, as we talked about earlier, me looking out and maybe something happens in terms of my technical situation, I can hold, I can hold that, that distress, even though I might feel distressed about it, I can hold my ground and witness myself and continue moving forward without freezing.
Silas Rose 26:49
We are 16 months into this COVID journey in, it really just kind of seems endless, that we don’t know how long we’re gonna be in this kind of limbo state. And certainly, that’s put the kibosh on many dance opportunities, unfortunately, and I know that you are adapting, how do you see dance helping us get through this pandemic?
Anne Marie Hogya 27:10
I haven’t transitioned to being online, like a lot of my colleagues, I’ve seen so many people adapt and change. And that’s been fantastic. So people have been able to, to continue to move. So I think that’s one way that things have shifted, it has really opened up the ways that the creative ways that we can connect and move as well as now shifting to the outdoors, like myself and a lot of colleagues, especially in the Victoria area, I think that is a huge potential. So when I say that there’s headsets, headphones, and you can hear the music through the headphones, and you can hear the facilitator speaking. So it’s this amazingly intimate experience, but someone can be like 300 meters away, such a far range away having their own experience, and they can still participate.
Silas Rose 28:14
And you’re very much immersed in a natural environment,
Anne Marie Hogya 28:17
Yes, outside. Absolutely. You don’t have to do it outside but, but a lot of us have been doing it outside. So so it brings a completely different element. Yesterday, I had rain for the first time it’s been a hot and sunny summer, not so helpful for our province of British Columbia with forest fires. But it had been raining yesterday. And at first I was like, oh, rain what are we gonna do here. And it was fantastic. We got to be in the elements dancing. It was it was beautiful. So I think there’s a lot of ways, I think there’s a lot of opportunities to just get really creative and support people in continuing to heal, thrive, expand and connect with themselves with others. And and ultimately if people want is to be of service in the world, just by getting back into their own bodies.
Silas Rose 29:28
That’s probably a great place to end our conversation. Thank you so much.