* NEW FILM SHORT *
What is SomaSource?
SomaSource® is a 7-phased body-centered transformational process that guides individuals and groups out of inertia into action, from groundlessness into embodied leadership. This process that I have developed works like an accordion, in that it can be expanded or contracted to serve in a variety of settings, from after school boys and girls groups, to elder care centers, to long term rites of passage programs for people in varying ages and stages.
For the past two and a half decades, the SomaSource® process has grown through the intimate dialogue between the creative energy moving through me and the apparent needs of the people around me. When my girls were very young, we ran Small World Dancers, creative arts after school programs and camps for elementary school aged children. We developed body–centered ways to introduce children to the natural world, the creative process, and their relationships with themselves, with each other, and with the diverse peoples in our community and around the world. This work was the seed, holding the blueprint for everything that has emerged in these past 28 years.
As the children grew, we birthed curriculum to meet the developing needs of their lives and those of their peers. There were the years that we addressed issues around maturing bodies and social dynamics in the classroom and school-yard. During the tween years, we ran girls groups and supported the fathers to do the same for the boys. Our Coming of Age work emerged just as my eldest was entering puberty. We wrestled with parent-child dynamics in the adolescent years, along with developing curriculum to address body-image, fertility, conscious touch, healthy communication, and budding sexuality. As the communities of young people grew around us, we saw the need for working with issues of identity, personal destiny, structural inequality, and global issues across borders of all kinds.
In due time, we will be offering full trainings in the SomaSource® body of work so that ever more people can dance directly with the many communities around the globe seeking safe and stable ways to build connection, within and without.
Please see our 2011 Newsletter for a glimpse of how SomaSource® is already touching lives globally.
And below, please enjoy the descriptions of the rich work that Meagan Chandler, Jonathan Davis, and Tara King are doing with young people across the United States. Each of them have taken the SomaSource® curriculum and shape shifted it in ways that allows them to authentically give their gift to the people entrusted in their care. I have utmost respect for each of them as embodied educators. Not to mention that they are such fun to work with!
Please meet Meagan Chandler ~
Since 2002 I have been deeply apprenticed to SomaSource® transformational programs with Melissa Michaels. I want to share one of the many ways in which my work with these programs has manifested itself in other parts of my life and work. About six years ago, I began working for an arts education initiative called Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana's Project Olé. This New York based not-for-profit is dedicated to bringing the art of Spanish Flamenco to the far corners of the United States. As I have been dedicated to this culturally rich art form for well over a decade, I was added to a team who has gone each spring to North Carolina, traversing the state from one end to the other, from its urban centers to its most remote regions, teaching Flamenco in the schools to children and youth of all ages. I have found that my time and experience in the rich environment of the SomaSource® programs has given me a profound set of parallel tools for my work with Flamenco in the schools in North Carolina.
Another tool is the use of rhythm as a unifying force. In Surfing the Creative®, I have watched year after year as groups of people from vastly different backgrounds, sometimes without even spoken language in common, find a powerful ally in rhythm to forge the precious human connections we all need. Similarly, Flamenco is held together and rooted by rhythm. It is the common language that all people who study the art form use to communicate. I have come to deeply trust the way rhythm inspires children of vastly different backgrounds to engage in the creative process together. From the African American Step culture that is prevalent in Eastern North Carolina, to the Irish clogging that inspires the West half of the state, there is an eagerness and spark of excitement that accompanies a group of children or youth coming into rhythm. It gives us a common language.
All of this accumulates for me into an opportunity to practice the building of community and healthy relationships. Through the dance, the song, the music, the celebration of cultural diversity, and the common language of rhythm, I watch as one classroom after another becomes its own supportive and collaboratiave unit. We address conflict and difference, we create beautiful things together, we strive to make sure everyone has a place that feels just right for them, a way to participate that is authentic. Each time, I am amazed by the way these young humans support each other, hold each other accountable, and walk through the intense, exciting, sometimes frightening terrain of performing a new form together. It is a mini rite of passage, and I feel so very privileged to be able to serve their unfolding process.
My name is Jonathan Davis and I have been working with Melissa Michaels in Surfing the Creative® and her other programs since 2000. During that time I have learned a wide variety of techniques for drawing out the creative spark and helping people of all ages to become more fully integrated in their body, heart, and spirit.
Over the last decade of my life, I made my living doing a variety of things. All of my professional experience up to this point has been loosely organized around Performing Arts and Education. This career path, and the legacy of my family (my mother and father are both life-long educators) led me directly into the public schools. I am currently working as the Performing Arts teacher in a public elementary school called The Studio School. We are an Arts Magnet School in Northglenn, Colorado, and I am proud to say that we have one of the most unique elementary level Performing Arts programs in the country.
I started at The Studio School in 2008. I was the first teacher to be hired and I have played an instrumental role in helping to establish the school, while building and developing my own program. Over the last 4 years I have: turned an elementary school gymnasium into a fully functional theater space; created a fully integrated curriculum that focuses on creating self-empowered young performers through an embodied method of teaching theater, dance and music; advocated for my program with the school district and garnered nearly $100,000 worth of funding for my program; and, most recently, I was awarded a $10,000 grant from Glee and Fox Television through the Give-A-Note Foundation. All this was done during an absolutely dismal time in our country's economic history. In brief, I have learned to work magic within the public system. I have created a truly beneficial educational environment for our future leaders to gain tools for life through an embodied modality of arts education.
I came into Melissa’s work as a young mother pregnant with my second child. I danced with Melissa a few times before my second daughter was born and then entered into a 9 month long personal study with Melissa when my daughter was almost 1 year old. My experience with the work, with Melissa, and the dance community has been varied and consistent over the last 14 years. The practices of embodiment have truly saved my life numerous times and offered me a solid foundation for me to grow as a person, deal with the intensities of single parenting, and the ups and downs of life, and thrive in many personal and professional ways. The circle of community that is created through Melissa’s work has supported me in every aspect of my life. Many of the dearest and nearest people to me have come through this dance community. What started on the dance floor naturally evolved into deep friendships, over time supporting each other with our children, loving each other through life transitions, and striving to continue to find our way into right relationship with one another. This model for community has impacted me profoundly and served my family greatly.
I work with families, women, and teenagers in a variety of contexts in our community. Over the last 18 years, I have worked with families as a birth and parenting educator and doula; taught women of all ages about the fertility cycle; and in recent years co-created Coming of Age studies and celebrations for youth participating in Surfing The Creative® Rites of Passage Programs and the broader community. I have held Moving Mama dance classes giving pregnant women an opportunity to dance throughout their pregnancies and into the early days of mothering. I also teach health classes for middle school and high school learners, incorporating teachings about being an adolescent in this culture, the developing brain and the impact of substance use, alternatives to drugs, and all aspects of healthy bodies and emergent sexuality. I especially like it when I can work with families over time, working with parents, the family unit and their growing children at a variety of developmental phases – through pregnancy, birth, and again at the birthing of the adolescent at puberty, and during the middle school and high school journeys. Much of my work has focused on women in all phases of fertility and cycle awareness. I have a great interest in each person’s experience of puberty, our early sexual experiences and the impact this has on later life, our relationship with our body, to our sexuality and within our intimate relationships.
Through movement, inspired art projects, and conversation, I offer opportunities to weave the ancient knowledge of our cycles and rhythms into our modern understanding of personal reproductive capacities, creativity, sexuality and fertility. One of the main pillars of my work is about tracking our cycles. Following our cycles is a way of learning about our natural rhythms, which are always changing. Becoming curious researchers about our cycles creates a broader sense that our capacity to create goes way beyond our ability to produce. Whether we are a woman pre-conception or a mother birthing her 3rd child, or a maiden who has just started to menstruate, the female cycle is balanced and supported when information is shared and one is empowered to understand what is happening in the body at any life transition.
Although my consistent work at this time is centered more around healthy sexuality for middle and high school boys and girls, The Menstrual Mandala, a variety of classes dedicated to informing, supporting and celebrating a woman’s conscious embrace of her internal rhythms and cycles is at the core of my work. Regardless of what group I am working with, I offer opportunities for youth to mature as balanced individuals through a combination of developmentally appropriate education and information, kinesthetic experiences, specific skill building, artistic experiences, body-centered self care practices, conversation, ceremony and celebration. Age appropriate information combined with tools for self-development, offer an opportunity to articulate hopes and fears, all celebrate becoming.
Design by Dayna Schueth/Solua Designs