Creating Waves Newsletter ~ With Melissa Michaels and Friends
Creating Waves Newsletter ~ SomaSource© in the World

Issue No. 3 ~ Spring 2012

* NEW FILM SHORT *

Melissa's Greeting
Navigating the Edge from Center

Surfers Sharing
Alumni Feature
Elder Honoring
Parent's Perspectives
Somasource® in The World
Alumni Updates
Our Edge
The Horizon

Quick Links
2012 Events
Wild Life Productions
Golden Bridge
About Melissa

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~ SomaSource© in The World ~

            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.

Samll World Dancers

Small World Dancers busy Creating

            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 ~

Meagan Chandler

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.

            The first of these Somasource® tools that has proven so precious in Flamenco Arts Education work is the use of movement, song, and music as a means to healthy creative expression and exploration. Flamenco as a form is a complex language, a structured improvisational conversation between the singer, the dancer, and the guitar that accompanies them both. My work with Melissa has given me a rich vocabulary and open-eyed approach to bringing the joy of movement and music to the children in the schools. Using the natural expressive performance vocabulary of Flamenco, I have been able to give children an opportunity to explore many ways to move their bodies and bold new ways to awaken and use their voices. Flamenco also offers the opportunity to explore a wide variety of feelings, which we do through movement and sound, a terrain I have extensively developed in the SomaSource® work.

Meadan

Meagan Performing Flamenco

            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.

            This, of course, raises the issue of cultural diversity. My time Surfing the Creative® with my brothers and sisters from all over the globe has given me precious experience working with the complexity and glory of our differences and how much we ultimately, as humans, have in common. Flamenco itself is an amalgamation of many very different cultures that all crossed paths in the southern region of Spain over the last several hundred years. It is a brilliant example both of the struggle and pain of oppression expressed, and the ways that cultures can eventually combine and mix to create extraordinary beauty. In working with the kids, I have begun to discuss with them as part of our curriculum what it means to experience diverse cultures. We spend time comparing and contrasting their own cultural upbringings and traditions with those of Flamenco, which in my experience so far has proven to be an amazing way to plant seeds of compassion and an opportunity to celebrate the differences in many cultures across the globe. To be able to share our own culture as well as experience others is another precious gift I’ve acquired through both of these works that I have in my life.

Meagan Teaching

Meagan Teaching

            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.

            Finally, my work with Melissa over these years around the globe and in many diverse settings has given me a keener understanding of the different developmental stages of the growing human being. As I walk into each new classroom, I carefully discern how I might want to focus my efforts to best serve the class I'll be working with. For the younger children, there is an element of magic and playfulness, of adventure, and of the security one can find in the rhythm. For the adolescent classes I draw more on Flamenco's excellent variety of expression, from angst and anger to sexiness and fun, giving them a way to actively engage these fiery parts of the adolescent experience in a healthy and safe environment.

            I remain so grateful for the rich apprenticeship I have to the Somasource® work and for the incredible opportunity to apply it in a very different cultural setting, in service to the future generations.

Meagan Chandler ~ Singer, Song Writer, Dancer, Martial Artist, Performer Par excellence can be reached at (720) 436-1332 or at thrueyesofruby@hotmail.com.


Please Meet Jonathan Davis
~

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

            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.

            After completing the first Surfing the Creative® summer camp in 2000, I went back to the Colorado College to finish my Bachelors degree in Theatre. Over the course of that year I dove deeply into a personal study of Gabrielle Roth’s Five Rhythms™, as taught by Melissa, and began to apply this framework to my work in the theater. I also got to know myself even more intimately, as I began to unpack some of the many things I had uncovered during the month-long rite of passage program that Melissa had led me through over the course of the previous summer. This time in my life proved to be some of the most focused and directed work that I ever did with regards to my personal, in-depth, creative process. At that time, the majority of my attention was specifically centered around my own artistic impulses. In brief, it was incredibly empowering to allow myself the space to explore the depths of my own being through my art, and it was directly as a result of Melissa's support and inspiration that I was able and willing to give myself the space to do so.

            As artists, we often struggle to overcome the fear associated with the very act of creation. Will people like what I have to say? Will my art be received in the manner that I intend it to be? Is anyone even interested? What if they laugh at me? And so on, and so on... This fear is compounded by the societal norms within in which we all exist. Don't draw too much attention to yourself. It's easiest just to follow along and do what everyone else is doing. Color between the lines. You get the idea. In essence, I believe that we all live in a state of constant repression. We suppress our creative impulses for the sake of "fitting in" and many of us complain of a lack of meaning or connectedness in our lives. I believe that we need to start with the young generation of artists to begin to alleviate the cultural drought and creative famine that is currently plaguing our society.

Jonathan Drumming with Students

Jonathan Performing With His Students


            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.

Jonathan with Students

Jonathan And Students

           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.

            In addition to teaching with Melissa in Surfing the Creative® this summer, I will be offering a summer camp for elementary school age artists during the first & third weeks of June. The camp will be a well-balanced mixture of drumming, storytelling and visual arts. This will be the 7th annual summer camp that I have offered for our beautiful, young creative visionaries of Boulder, CO. For more information, please call or email at 720-404-2466 or rootsrhythmtribe@gmail.com. In addition, I am available for a variety of private services, including mentorship, drum lessons, and family-centered adolescent rites of passage ceremonies.


Please meet Tara King ~

Tara King

Tara King

            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.

            My personal apprenticeship and colleagueship with Melissa has informed and helped me develop programs that incorporate and facilitate somatic and art based education, ritual, and community building. The life cycle work that I have done personally with Melissa has helped me remember, through the body and soul, that I am carrying ancient, time-tested ways of supporting women in all phases of their fertility and young people as they come into their fruitful, creative capacities as sexual beings. Single parenting two daughters into adolescence has also greatly informed the work I do, as I have followed their developmental progress and needs closely with my work in the world.

Tara King

Coming of Age Artistic Activity

            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. 

Tara Teaching

Coming of Age Council

            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.

            The classes and workshops I teach are: She Who Is Becoming (Coming of Age education, ceremony and celebrations for young women stepping into maidenhood and the elder woman who are supporting them); Healthy Sexuality classes for middle school and high schools (public and private school classrooms), and classes tailored for mothers in all phases of parenting including Moving Mamas, movement classes for pregnant and post-partum women. I serve those in the process of birthing their babies and also those who are learning to let go of their children and embrace their pre-teens and full on adolescents, as well as young people in the transition of becoming.

            My intentions for the educational process are many. I would like students to walk away feeling confident in their understanding of their own body, connected to themselves, each other, their larger community, and with a deep sense of well being. I offer developmentally appropriate, factually accurate, interactive, artistic and engaging presentations that combine information with activities. I aim to ensure that students are involved in the learning process and leave each class or workshop with practical information they can use. I intend for this work to create choices for young people in regards to self-care, fertility and sexuality.

            I have heard from young people over the years that this work is important. Mainly I hear feelings of relief. There is great relief in response to knowing a safe space is being held for young people where they can gather accurate information pertaining to all aspects of growing up. There is great relief in having an adult whose job it is to listen to their concerns, answer their questions honestly and give them resources for negotiating the many changes they are living. I hear over and over again about the yearning for more time in their day for this type of education about self and how to relate to those around them.

            I will continue to develop pathways for further education and honoring as we Come of Age in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s…as an elder.  I look forward to further co-creating with Melissa, including grounding our programs for birth professionals along with deepening our work with parents and others working with youth, encouraging inspired and appropriate ways to support young people in becoming healthy and whole beings. I intend to keep offering healthy sexuality programs for adolescents that are more widely available beyond the circle I am in now.

Tara King, M.A., Educator, Dancer, Mother, Coming of Age Facilitator, Birth Guide can be reached at (720)-495-8775
or at honoringtransitions@gmail.com.

She Who Is Becoming
~ Coming of Age ~

An Afternoon of Education and Celebration
For 6th & 7th grade Girls and their Moms (or Special Elder Woman)
Sunday, May 6th, 11:30am - 2:30 pm

Additional evening just for the moms
Wednesday, May 2nd from 6:30 - 8:30pm

Through Conversation, Creative Expression, and Ceremony,
we will explore the emotional, physical and spiritual
changes occurring during puberty and early adolescence.

~~~~~~

*Discover the ways our natural rhythms and cycles link us to Nature
*Gather information regarding the female fertility cycle
*Research ways our fertility cycle connects to our creativity
*Honor the ancient welcoming of young women into the circle of womanhood by their elders

~~~~~~

For more information, please contact Tara King, M. Ed.
honoringtransitions@gmail.com ~ 720-495-8775
Location: Wild Sage Community House, North Boulder

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