What happens in an Open Floor class?
In our classes and workshops, we can focus on a particular theme or intention, or work with whatever is presenting itself in the moment.
In any 2-hour dance class there will typically be:
- A period of warmup (guided or unguided) (Open Attention)
- Brief context-setting (Enter)
- Guidance for establishing an embodied anchor (Enter)
- A few guided movement inquiries into the resource or theme for the day (Explore)
- Free time to explore and integrate the material in your own way (Explore)
- Settling and Closing (Settle)
As Open Floor teachers, we are passionate about helping our students resource themselves in movement and fully explore the potential of their unique and precious life. We have found that what really inspires us to transform, heal and enjoy the present moment, is to be embodied – to be present in our body – as we walk, talk, dance, connect, explore and pause.
You will be invited to Enter the body through an anchor – a part of your body – which could be your feet, your belly, your back body, or even your eyes. Once you can really feel that anchor, it’s embodied. Then your whole body can go on a journey.
For that journey, you will be offered one or several movement resources from our curriculum, and supported by a wide range of music to encourage you to explore the material in your own way.
Each teacher will craft their own unique, delightful, fun, sacred, meaningful, healing movement landscapes to serve the exploration of the basic 4×4 weave.
Curious to learn more about the basics of Open Floor?
On the Open Floor, we bring mindful, embodied movement to our lives as human beings.
- The Four Dimensions of Embodiment – Physical, Emotional, Mind and Soul – describe what it means to wholly inhabit our entire selves.
- And the Four Relational Hungers – Solitude, Connection, Belonging and Spirit –describe the elemental needs and passions that call us to move in the first place.
There is no real separation between these aspects of ourselves. We cannot move the body without touching our feelings, activating thoughts, expressing through our one-of-a-kind soulfulness, whether we’re moving alone or connecting with another, the group, or with spirit. We differentiate them only to understand their particular essences; together they comprise an inseparable weave of our humanness.
The 4×4 weave is a dynamic, shifting, playing field of human experience, and is the terrain of all our dances. It is where and how we dance on the Open Floor.
4 BY 4 WEAVE
The 4 Dimensions of Embodiment
Befriend your body
Breathe, dance and sweat to feel fully alive
Articulate your feelings
Develop emotional intelligence
Move and include thoughts, memories, imagination
Make conscious choices for creative and authentic living
Honor what’s really important to you
Discover the ways you are totally unique
The 4 Relational Hungers
Recognize your needs
Create genuine relationships
Be welcomed and find your place
Recognize and rest in what is above and beyond you
Open Floor is a resource-oriented movement practice. Resourcing ourselves is an ongoing process we can use to build resilience and capacity.
Re-source: returning to Source
Resources: provide support, sustenance, fuel
Somatic resources are the physical actions and capacities that support self-regulation and provide a sense of well-being, competency, and mastery. Pat Ogden
In Open Floor, we have highlighted 10 Movement Resources, which we regard as essential movement skills and important life skills for any conscious dancer. There are many, many resources – these are simply ten that we recognize as fundamental.
Moving with a sense of weight, substance, and connection to the earth underneath our feet. Supports presence and resiliency
Finding sensate connection with an internal place of rest and balance.
Brings fluidity and stability
Move confidently, creatively and safely in all directions.
Follow and engage a range of impulses, and know how to quiet, calm and soothe.
Brings balance to the nervous system.
EXPAND & CONTRACT
Inhabit a full range of movement between opening, radiating out and pulling in.
Supports capacity for full expression
TOWARDS & AWAY
Moving closer and stepping away. Supports the embodiment of choice in a relationship. Opens curiosity and courage.
Not holding on, in, up, down, back or away. Supports ability to let it go and let it be
Ability to change shape, transform, and merge with something greater than ourselves
Cultivating the sensation of intention and clarity; knowing your starting point, your aim, and staying in your body for the journey.
A moment to feel, breathe, rest and witness. Supports recharging and openness.
Open Attention – Enter – Explore – Settle
The four phases of our movement meditation spiral are continuous and never-ending. This cycle helps movers and teachers know where they are and how to use embodied movement to navigate their dance well. Teachers offer a combination of structured exercises, verbal guidance, open periods of dance, and supportive music to encourage students through the various phases of the cycle.
In this phase we allow our attention to travel inside and out without direction, noticing and including anything we are aware of – on all levels of sensate experience. “How now?”
In this phase, we focus our attention in a particular direction and walk through a doorway with curiosity, intention, and willingness to investigate. A key aspect to entering is establishing an embodied anchor – moving towards sensation in a specific part of the body. We can also ‘enter’ through an emotion, thought or image.
This is where we broaden, deepen, expand and play with various movement resources and enjoy time and space to explore what is evoked. In a class or workshop there will generally be a guided phase of exploration, and a phase that is self-directed.
Settling is a time of digestion, integration, and re-organization that comes in many forms and textures. Settling helps re-map the nervous system and allows new embodied pathways to be encoded.
Once settled, we return to open attention –to “How Now?” – as we end our session or move into another cycle.
In time, movers learn to listen for their own inner movement cycles and use that awareness to explore and enjoy deepening their dance experiences in open practice sessions. Off the dance floor, movers start to notice their own personal movement cycles in any given day, mood, conversation, task, or moment of life.
Anchors are physical body parts which provide key entry points into any movement exploration. They provide a doorway, a window, a starting point, a thread … that enables us to anchor experience in the physical body through sensate experience. An Open Floor teacher uses anchors to provide focus for a process and a practice, and to explore a wide range of themes. Anchors are coordinates or pathways to embodiment.
As a Mover – An anchor provides an intimate physical focus for movement exploration on all levels. An anchor enables us to feel and be aware of that element in the body, how it moves and what is evoked in all four dimensions – physical, emotional, mind and soul. Anchors give our movement practice both structure and freedom and serve as a tangible bridge from the dance floor to our everyday life experiences and relationships.