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ICMTA July 2020 Newsletter
Dear <<First Name>>,

The last months have been quite a ride. Globally, of course, and certainly for us as conscious movement teachers. For this edition of the newsletter we have invited colleagues from different regions to write about their challenges, learnings, surprises and discoveries in the times of "social distancing".

We hope you will enjoy reading about the different experiences as much as we did.

Fortunately, there is also a lot of other stuff going on too. Since many of us are a little tired of hearing about Corona issues all the time, we have alternated the related articles with other contributions, covering a range of subjects: And we have also included some poetry for you that we found inspiring.

May we all dance in grace and health through these transformative times.

Your Members Circle
(Adam Frost, Jean Rankin, Lora Romanenko, Michael Kuehn)

Let us know what you would like to read about in the next newsletter; please write to

I Really Hated Teaching Online at First

Stacey Butcher, California

It has been incredibly challenging on a personal and professional level ~ mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Not to mention the loss of income from months of workshops and travel having to be cancelled.  Thank GOD we have Zoom, and Sarah Davies who so generously offered to teach us all how to do it! Because of this, I’ve been able to teach classes online. I am so grateful for this, as we need it.

Working on Zoom is a whole different ball game. If I’m perfectly honest, I really hated teaching online at first. What kept me coming back to do it again and again was my own dance practice – dancing in other people’s classes online. Knowing the benefits in my own body has kept me motivated to keep providing places for people to move all that they are feeling. 

The more I teach, the more I get used to dealing with all the details and challenges of this new way of teaching. I do miss working with people in person on the dance floor. I work very kinesthetically – I use my intuition to feel into the people who are dancing with me in order to know how to best serve them. I’ve just had to exercise new muscles and come up with new ways to read people through those little boxes on zoom. Even though it can be hard, I love the challenge.

Another thing I really miss is being able to have people dance in physical partnerships or groups – that’s something that just doesn’t translate online in my book. I do use the “spotlighting” and “pinning” features to partner people, but I miss the organic nature of it. However, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much we are actually able to connect through the airwaves. Again, I’m just having to find more creative ways to create depth and connection.

The reason I keep teaching online is that it’s essential right now. Just when I’m feeling like it’s all too much teaching online, I teach again and see the value and depth for people. People need to move what they are feeling. I’m reminded every day of the power of this medicine we have.

The fact that I can help people move with what they’re feeling right now…that’s all I need.

3 Tips for DJing

Sarah Davies

I didn’t bother much about DJ skills for many many years. I knew the basics in Traktor;  put one track on one side, another track on the other side, and slide the bar over and it sounded good enough. If it sounded wonky (odd or jarring), I’d hide it by talking over it and remind myself “it’s not about the music”! Then, a couple of years ago, after moving into a larger hall and getting more speakers I ran into all sorts of sound distortion issues. I decided to spice up my skills. I took a few lessons from a variety of teachers and I’ve been enjoying learning a few new tricks. I’ve seen on the dancefloor, when it sounds peachy and those moments when the mix goes well – ummm hmmm, it can shine a light on the magic that’s already happening through the dance. It’s not about the music, until it is about the music. The music is a catalyst, a soul stirring delicious tool in your toolbox.  

Here’s my three top tips: 

  1. Buy music in wav format rather than mp3, it is uncompressed and it really makes a difference with big speakers. BandCamp, Beatport and Juno (instead of iTunes) are good. (Also, Bandcamp give more percentage of sales to the musicians). Having good quality tracks in the first place makes a big difference to overall sound quality.  If you do use MP3s, check the bit rate of your recording and try and get the highest available. 128kbps is very compressed, 320 will sound far better. 
  2. Use an external Controller (I was so resistant to this, now I’ve got two!) a super useful way to mix is using the filter knob. A simple method that works well most of the time: cut the bass on the outgoing track (slowly turn the knob left), cut the high on the ingoing track (slowly turn the knob right), as you slide to the ingoing track bring the filter knob to ‘0’, Tra la! Woop woop!. 
  3. Learn about ‘Harmonic Mixing’– it doesn’t always make a difference but oh so amazing when it does. The basic idea is that certain keys mix well with some and not so well with others, and to notice major chords (more uplifting) and minor chords (more somber or serious). Traktor has a wheel system with colours and numbers which makes it easy for us non-musicians, along with a colour corresponding ‘Key’ column in the Traktor interface. There’s a lot online about it, it’s easier than it looks. One article that seems to explain it quite well is here. (see also new features for managing keys in the recent Traktor release 3.2).

I’ve taken a few courses and got advice from DJs. I did Nina Perry’s Sounds Physical’ online course which really helped to understand the science of sound. I did a course Why Does Music Make You Move? I’ve worked with three DJs who come to my classes and therefore already know my DJ’ing. You may have some in your communities, otherwise feel free to contact these if you want individual tutoring, they all offer online sessions as well as in-person: Will Softmore, Iszabel Fairbairn, Charlie Roscoe.

Two of the many books I’d recommend about music ‘This is your brain on Music’ by Daniel J. Levitin and ‘Why You Love Music’ by John Powell.

Above all, I wish you much fun in creating soundscapes, and I leave you with the words of Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” 
I found John Powell's Why You Love Music both a fascinating source of information on how music and our nervous system and psyche connect, AND it is really fun to read. Here is one example: He explains how music, dance and language are deeply interconnected. That is why the only animals that dance to a rhythm are parrots. And then he refers to the above video. Reminded me of things I have seen in a dance class or two... So sweet and innocent!

Michael Kuehn

I feel lots of creativity

Aleksey Kuzmin, Moscow


I feel lots of creativity at current time. I look at freedomDANCE schedule and see that for the first Time in our school's life we offer classes every day - several classes every day!

It's amazing how limitations and challenges lead to more self-expression and self-realization! Our dancers benefited from these pandemic restrictions as now they can dance with teachers and dancers from other cities and countries!

Keep on Offering Online Classes

Anna Andreeva, Saint-Petersburg

Now, as social restrictions are being withdrawn and soon, we will be returning to dance rooms, I will keep on offering online classes as I see many advantages of this format, including opportunity for shy people to join without being seen. Many new dancers came to our classes online - some of them danced with their cameras off at the beginning and later allowed their dances be seen!

Saving time on a road to a classroom is another advantage of online form – as a mom of three girls I appreciate it. And no classroom rent is a benefit for us as teachers too.


Hi there, here's my music pearl:

As a real music pearl I would love to introduce a track named The Song of The Soul by Slovakian musician Maok.

It's ethno ambient soothing music with some flavour of electronics and vocalization. With all these ingredients Maok creates really magical soundscapes that serve beautifully for a settling, meditative part of a dance journey. Or it can be used in the very beginning as some sort of arrival or a tune in track. Here's a track from his album Camino, but there are much more to listen, discover and fall in love with on musician's Bandcamp page.

Enjoy! Lora Romanenko

How We Evolve As Teachers

An Interview with Adam Barley

By Adam Frost


Tell us about your journey in conscious dance 

A: It began in 1988, in an Encounter group with Osho's Dynamic Meditation. 6 months later, in the same group, they put on some music for us to dance to, and I immediately went into a trance state - it was Gabrielle Roth's Initiation. 

I got a copy of the tape and spent the next three years, every now and then, dancing to it at home. Then I came across her book, Maps to Ecstasy. I read the back cover, then stomped around in my living room trying out what she suggested. I realised "Oh that's why this music had such a big effect on me, 'cos it's not just music - she's got this whole thing going on". 

Within two hours of that, I'd decided to quit my job and sell my house. I was 28 and I was going to spend all the time I could doing workshops and exploring this new thing I'd found in dance. 

It was an extraordinary time for me, like having a rocket under my bum. I was doing two hours meditation a day, one hour sitting and one hour dancing. It was great. I loved it. 

I spent two and a half years just dancing at workshops with Susannah and Ya'acov Darling-Khan plus Gabrielle whenever she was here and when I went over to USA.

The money from the house ran out and I was in the red for a month. Then I started teaching and the money started coming back in. It was kind of miraculous really. And that was that, I was teaching the 5 Rhythms and I just loved it.

This was the early 90s. I got a lucky break with a Gypsy singer called Ida Kelarova to teach 5 Rhythms on these 10-day residentials she was running in Czech Republic. It was an amazing education, and soon I got invited to teach elsewhere in Europe. 

What has been your main source of inspiration? 

I guess my own wounding and healing, and a fascination with altered states of consciousness. And this time in history, which I think is strangely inspiring. It's like being on a ship that's going down. And that's motivating; like, fuck, let's get up and do something. 

And Gabrielle - she had an extraordinary magic about her. She was an inspiration to me in a subtle way. Like she was living, breathing inspiration. She was inspiration on legs. 

Recently, this year you launched ZeroOne. Can you share something about the transition? 

Firstly, I would say I was completely unprepared for the depth at which it catalyzed unresolved patterning from my own birth. It was bloody scary. 

I frequently wished I could just disappear into a hole in the ground. I hadn't realized how shy I am. 

I also hadn't realized how much I was hiding behind Gabrielle's reputation. In teaching the 5 Rhythms, I was teaching someone else's work. And it's been humbling and revealing to launch my own thing. It's forced me to be honest with myself in ways I had no idea I needed. 

What can you say about how we evolve and our work evolves over the course of time? 

Well, evolution just happens. You can’t stop it. In my case, I realized something about an equation called Euler's Identity, known by mathematicians to be the most beautiful equation in the whole of mathematics. I realized this equation is an archetypal pattern - it means something in human terms. And I started dancing the numbers. I learned how to do that from Gabrielle Roth; how to embody any kind of archetypal energy.

Then, about three years ago, I was talking to a friend about it and he said, "Adam, isn't it time you left the 5 Rhythms and created your own practice using this equation? It's so brilliant.”

And I was like, "Well, it is brilliant, I agree, but no, I don't want to do that. I'm so loyal to the 5 Rhythms, I couldn't ever leave.” A whole year passed. It wasn't just that I was so loyal to the 5 Rhythms; I just didn't want to work that hard. 

But then a year later, I was taking part in a workshop and I did a kind of break-out dance; like being trapped in something and breaking out of it. At the time, it felt like something existential inside me and nothing to do with my work. But, 24 hours later I was stepping off a train and I could suddenly feel it - "Oh my God, I've done it. I've chosen to leave the 5 Rhythms and set out by myself." 

Within the 5 Rhythms, I was always growing as a teacher. But it was like growing in a glass jar. Fine at first, with loads of room to grow. And as the years went by, there was less and less room for growth and in increasingly cramped conditions, I could only put out another leaf here and another leaf there. There was always room for one more leaf, but the overall experience was one of feeling more and more trapped. And in that dance, it was like I broke the jar. It just exploded. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

It is my deep belief that we're all doing the same thing. 

Open Floor, Movement Medicine, Soul Motion, ZeroOne, 5 Rhythms, all of it. It's the same thing. And I just long for us to all work together with cooperation and respect and joy. Joy for the dance and what we're really doing, which is devotional prayer through movement. That's a joy.

Dancing Into the Unknown

Paz Diaz de Lemus, Santander
If we learn something with our dancing practice it is how to move, to flow in many different situations, with different music. As dancers we know everything is moving and changing all the time.

So I found these times a good opportunity to go from the known to the unknown. I found myself dancing a music completely new for me.

During these past days, I could see through my students how dancing is a great tool to avoid feeling stuck and frozen in front of the uncertain. I’ve kept my classes online and seen how my students get their confidence and their strength from their dance, like me as a teacher as well. Because online teaching works, of course is different than in person but for sure it works. We can feel a sense of group, not being alone and move with others.

These days have been a refresh for me, a reconnection with the importance of the dance in our daily life. 

How We Saved 30 Tonnes of CO2

Hilde Kloek, ICMTA Climate Emergency Working Group

Sadly, our ICMTA Teacher Gathering in Prague this year didn’t happen because of Covid-19. However, we had a wonderful online gathering instead with lots of dancing, an awesome General Assembly and break-out rooms with different conversations. I joined the room talking about the Climate Crisis. We started exploring this huge topic tenderly, realizing that we are just starting on an intriguing journey. One comment from Sarah Davies stayed with me. She said: “What if we calculate the amount of carbon we didn’t emit by not coming together in Prague?” So I did!

With a little help from my friends, I made a hypothetical calculation of 40 people coming together in Prague from all over Europe and the USA. You can see the calculations in the spreadsheet on GoogleDocs here. We saved over 30 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted! 

Does that figure mean anything to you? 

To give you some context: If everybody had come by train (not actually possible, but just for comparison), we would have emitted 3,81 tonnes. If everybody had come by car (also not possible), we would have emitted 28,6 tonnes. If everybody came by plane, we would have emitted 32 tonnes. You can also compare it to the CO2 emissions in one year for the average European: 8,7 tonnes! 

Our planet's fever curve

So, what did I learn from calculating this? I used three different calculators and got three very different results. The reason is that burning oil at high altitude actually causes a lot more global warming than burning it on the ground, due to an effect called 'radiative forcing'. So although flying uses about the same amount of fuel as driving alone in an average family car, it causes a lot more Climate Change. This effect is unfortunately a bit hard to calculate so different calculators multiply the CO2 figure by anything from 1.2 to 4.7 times - or even just ignore it altogether, which makes flying look misleadingly 'green'! I chose a calculator recommended by an independent researcher - Greentripper - which multiplies by a factor of 2. What would be interesting is to examine how this 30 tonnes relates to the 1.5° of warming that scientists agree we need to restrict average temperature rise to. I will try to look that up and report my findings in a future newsletter. 

The ICMTA is interested in developing some resources that would help us all as teachers address the Climate Emergency in our work.

Do you think about your environmental impact as a teacher?

And is there anything practical that you do to try and reduce the carbon footprint of your work?

We would love to hear from you with any practical things that you’re doing, however small!

We’d like to put together a collection of examples of the different ways we could each make a difference.

Please do share what you’re doing in this area by emailing us at

We would also love to hear your comments, questions and wishes around this theme. 

Thank you!

Arriving in a New Kind of Normal

Andrew Holmes, London

The situation has been evolving, no? 

In the beginning much of my energy went to cancelling, postponing and re-scheduling workshops. All those beloved children that had had so much care and attention poured into their creation, suddenly gone. And then there was the uncertainty.. When? What? How? No-one had any answers and it felt too difficult to try and find any of my own. So I waited a while.

I don’t have a weekly class, so there wasn’t a community looking to me for support. But I did run an online session for my ongoing group. Simple, familiar. It felt as though the principal need was just to make a connection.. To reach out beyond our separate isolation and re-affirm our togetherness for a moment. 

Now we seem to have arrived into a kind of new normal. The fear is less. the uncertainty more ordinary. I am teaching a monthly class online, just to give some shape and purpose to my days. The ICMTA has provided lots of opportunities to connect through Zoom over the years, so I know and trust our capacity to meet each other in this way. And there’s a whole new realm of incompetence that comes with doing something so technically reliant. I am rising to the challenge, but it doesn’t yet feel instinctive. 

The dancers are hungry for the basic gifts of our practice - grounding, breath, movement, release, a sense of space and being held. I miss the full play of my senses as I teach - hearing the dancers, receiving their energy through my body, the temperature of the room.. And I’m enjoying the diversity of who shows up - dancers from different countries and continents, people I know well, people new to me and some that I haven’t seen for many years, dancers with long-term injuries or from remote locations taking the opportunity to dance without travelling, people I would only usually get to see once every year or two.. 

I am walking forwards on the cusp of the uncertainty. I have workshops still in the calendar for September onwards. Who knows when and how we will be able to dance in the flesh again? I’m looking forward to our collective creativity! It’s been a pleasure to taste the different ways we’ve found to move our work online. 

And when it’s over (if it’s ever over..) I can imagine that I may well continue to teach an occasional class online. It’s good for the environment, it keeps me connected with the communities I can only visit periodically, and it’s inclusive of those who can’t or wouldn’t come to a weekend workshop. 

I hope you’re finding nourishing ways to sustain yourself and your dancers in these unfamiliar days.

On the Spiritual Path

This poem is inspiring to me these days. It speaks to me as a reminder of simplicity as a dancer and conscious dance teacher.
Lora Romanenko
For those of you on the spiritual path, I have a secret.
When you finally sit in all the ayahuasca ceremonies,
When you complete your 16th vision quest,
Have done countless rituals,
and fasted for 10 days...
The answer is: come back to earth and do the work. Right here.
Where you're at.
And with what you have in front of you.
Be a good human.
Be a good friend.
Serve those who have less than you.
Protect the earth.
Protect innocence.
Start with what is innocent inside of you.
Be a good human.
Be kind. Be honest.
Be humble. Forgive yourself.
Yes it is important to heal.
Yes it is important to gain bigger perspective.
But don't get lost in the lust of always wanting something more.
Don't yoke your ego to your spirituality.
Every guru has his folly.
Don't be so quick to give over your power.
Any true teacher will lead you to your own power.
Any worthwhile medicine will heal you until you don't need it anymore.
Don't let your path to liberation become a trap.
Do the work. Be a good human.
You don't have to try so hard to be perfect.
Your mistakes are the greatest teacher you will ever have.
Your love is the most valuable gift you will ever give.
You can relax.
Be a good human.

~ Miriam Elyse

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