Reviewed By: Kathy Altman
Kathy Altman, Audrey Boss
Language availability: English
Imagine a world in which communities everywhere had access to conscious movement and dance. A world in which embodiment was fully integrated in every aspect and at every stage of life and taught to children and adults everywhere. A world in which this healing practice supported and fostered peace-making, creativity, healing and well-being for everyone.
This is the world that four movement teachers with over a century of shared experience imagined when they created Open Floor International just over 4 years ago. Since then, over one hundred teachers have graduated from the Open Floor training program and are transforming that dream into reality by teaching Open Floor dance in many different fields: from mental heath institutions to hospitals, refugee camps, prisons, schools, universities, government bodies and corporations such as IBM and Google.
Populations who would otherwise never have had access to embodied movement practices are experiencing conscious dance for the first time with extraordinary results. Students and teachers from around the world are sharing inspiring stories about the healing power of Open Floor. Stories of injured and impaired bodies moving with more ease and less pain. Stories of cracked and wounded hearts mended. Stories of kindness, compassion and inclusivity, so sorely needed in today’s world. Stories of awakenings and insights feeding that primal hunger for connection with ourselves, others and that something else that’s bigger than all of us.
Perhaps one of the major factors in successfully bringing this life changing work more fully to the world is how the Open Floor founders and founding members have chosen to operate as an organization. In a world where the bottom line is often the only concern, OFI has rejected traditional top down hierarchical business models in favor of Dynamic Governance – also known as Sociocracy – a non-authoritarian, collaborative model that reflects the same values of inclusion, equality and radical responsibility they teach on the dance floor.
It is also no coincidence that Open Floor has shunned traditional copyright models in favour of Open Source, making the body of work universally accessible and available for creative remixing. This spirit of trust, generosity and collaboration makes it possible for teachers in training to integrate what they learn and add it to their own skills and talents. As they stand on the shoulders of those who have come before them, they create new possibilities to grow embodied movement as a healing practice…in turn becoming the ground for those who come after to open up even more possibilities.
Although Open Floor International is guided by its Top Circle – the Dynamic Governance equivalent of a Board of Directors – who work tirelessly to shape and steer the organization, Open Floor’s success in furthering the development of conscious dance rests squarely on the community that the founders have gathered around them. Today, Open Floor International can count on the hard work, vision and commitment of the 11 founding members who joined Kathy Altman, Lori Saltzman, Andrea Juhan, and Vic Cooper in 2013 and the 50 working members who have stepped up since then to offer their skills and know-how and create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Open Floor is not only a transformative practice, it is a shining example of how to “do business” – with respect, kindness, vulnerability, awareness, determination and grit.
And there is still much work to do. What will this world look like when embodied movement practices become an integral part of our lives? When emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being for all are nurtured through self-awareness, compassion and belonging to the sound of music? A world where we learn to be true, fluid and whole, not just at an individual level but across families, communities and countries?
This is our mission at Open Floor: to foster the common good being generated by this simple act of collective embodied self-expression. You can get a taste of what this world might look like for yourself on an Open Floor and join in to make this dream a reality. The ripple effect is inescapable. One dance can change someone’s day, one act of kindness can inspire a whole community, one moment of compassion can change the world! Time to put dance on your calendar?
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