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Luisa’s note: This post is written by Jennifer Blankfein, one of my steadiest dance attendees. I love it because it champions the freedom and acceptance that are at the core of our classes. She expresses this beautifully while sharing the tale of a visitor who came to class and exemplified it all. Enjoy 🙂

No matter how we may reject the idea of a wall … the wall … we all have one. At times we rely on it to protect ourselves so others don’t see our insecurities or know all our secrets. Sometimes we may want to be able to hide in plain sight as we go about our business, without everyone knowing everything about us. 

The dance studio allows us to take down our wall. It provides a safe haven to express ourselves openly and without judgement.

We are a unique and wonderful group; women and man (ha!) of all ages. Some of us have been dancing for a long time and some are new to the class. Some people know the routines and some struggle and may never know them. Some people jump and turn and some don’t, some wear shoes and some don’t, some take up a lot of space and some stay in their small spot, some take a break, some do their own moves, some sing, some smile, some sweat…everyone is safe here. And each of us is an important contributor to our group … when we are together we become one – and when someone is not there others take notice. Our light shines through and our walls are down.

A few months ago Luisa’s class had a visitor, Cameron, join us to dance. Cameron is a handsome, buff, twenty-something guy who decided to come with his mom, Nancy, to the class she raves about. Being a first time dancer, and the only young man in the class, one would think his wall would be up … intimidated, shy and tentative… Wrong! There were no walls there…no first time jitters for Cameron.

I’m not sure if this was because he is a good looking male…comfortable in his skin…young…or if he just naturally feels secure and inherited bold confidence from his momma, but Cameron’s light sure did shine that day. He put 110% effort into learning the choreography, experiencing the freedom of dance and enjoying the rhythm of the music…there was no holding back. His joyful “experience”, like a halo around him, lit up the room for the rest of us…at least for me. Watching him smile and move next to his beautiful and proud mother was so inspiring and energizing… and together their joy was contagious. I’m so glad Cameron felt comfortable with all of us… easygoing enough to take down his walls of protection and security. I’m sure he felt we are open and accepting of each other and maybe that allowed him to express himself and be truly open to experience the joy.

When each and every one of us walks into that studio our light is equally as important as the next person’s light. And together we couldn’t be more bright. THE JOY IS CONTAGIOUS. I vote for no wall!

written by Jennifer Blankfein, October 2016

Wake Up Strong

Last night I found myself on the couch under a blanket, reeling from the shock of this election. I felt paralyzed to do anything save for wallow in fear and disbelief. But amid my despair I had a mantra: tomorrow, I wake up strong.

I must wake up strong because there is work to be done. A large percentage of quality people forgave the hateful speech, extreme narcissism and disregard for ethics exhibited by a wholly inexperienced candidate and elected him President of the United States. As a champion of Democracy I accept AND respect that people voted for change, voted in line with their Party, voted for their upward mobility, voted out of concern for the Supreme Court. But the fact that so many voters tolerated, repeated and supported the inflammatory rhetoric of his campaign … well, there is work to be done.

So today I woke up strong, and, from a place of strength, I made a to-do list:

1. Stand Up for Equality
My political passion is fueled by a desire to stand with those who are discriminated against and oppressed. Today, I especially want to add my voice and actions to the LGBTQ community who have had to fight tirelessly against bigotry, violence and ignorance to gain civil rights and protections that the rest of us enjoy as a given. The incoming administration openly intends to infringe upon these rights.
My feminism has also been fired up by this campaign. We need to elevate our standards of equality and reject these tired, inexcusable double standards of behavior!
So I ask myself, what can I do? I’m researching, but step one: Join the ACLU. Step two: Write more about this. Part of my research today included reading both the Democratic and Republic Party Platforms on these issues. There is a lot to say.

2. Remember: Art is Activism
Throughout our history, art in all its forms has given voice to the voiceless. It enlightens us and challenges us. It holds a mirror up to our humanity, for better or for worse. It is a respite and a resource. It INSPIRES us. It leaves a legacy. Furthermore, the artistic community is the most inclusive community I know; differences are celebrated, all are welcome. I renew my commitment to The Arts as a patron and a creator.

3. Do My Job
As it happens, I am in the business of wellness and individual expression. I need to take better ownership of my work because I firmly believe that if we take care of ourselves, we take care of each other. Peace begins within. Self-knowledge leads to greater wisdom and wisdom leads us to walk our paths with greater compassion. Expressing our individual light illuminates everything around us. I need to do my job and do it well.

4. Look, Learn, Love
Seek the best in others.
Become knowledgeable about the things that matter to me.
Spread the mighty power of love.