When I was growing up, I was very shy, and dance was a very intimidating thing for me.  At Jr. High and high school dances I always felt self conscious, and never knew what to do.  Growing up in Japan, self expression in the body was not encouraged; most movement exercises are group oriented and follow a specific formula where everyone follows a routine.  I also was not very in touch with nature, the first time I went camping was when I moved to America with the girl scouts.  All these things combined, I was never confident in my body, and often felt weak, doubting my own strength, and limiting my abilities.
All of this changed for me five years ago when I found the hoop.  This plastic circle has been one of my greatest teachers in movement, drawing out the dance that has been in me all along.  From the first day that I picked up a hoop, I spent hours in the backyard daily lost in my sphere, spinning spirals even though I barely knew what I was doing.  At the time I was going through a tough time, and I noticed that as I moved and hooped I was being lifted out of patterns of the mind, seeing things from new perspectives and healing deep rooted wounds.  Looking back I see how each day I grew in confidence, as I spun new creative ideas came to me, I was forming new friendships because of our common love of hoop.  I know that who I am today, what AyaPapaya has grown to become is a direct result of feeling empowered and growing foundations through movement and dance.
644079_357370614350631_1719396957_nSince that time I’ve explored dance and movement through different tools/types of dance.  The hoop was the first helper I had in my dance explorations, there is something primal and fierce about spinning in circles mimicking the way that our atoms spin around eachother, the planets are in motion, the cycles of life.  However, I believe that you can find this same peace, and strength in movement of all forms, I’ve spoken with belly dancers, pole dancers, etc who all have similar experiences.  All dance forms/flow toys are a tool to get you into your body, and balanced in movement.
When I dance, I feel instantly in balance, connected to spirit, and embodying who I am authentically at my core.  Everything fades away, and all that matters, is that moment, traveling energy throughout my body, and moving how it wants to. As I dance I have had emotional release, broken down in tears, had epiphanies, and instant clarity on tough decisions.  Other times I send love out into the world through my dance.  When I perform, my intention is to consciously invite others to connect with spirit and shoot grace and love into the crowd.
Every time I dance I tap into the strongest, most vibrant, and unique part of me, embodying archetypes, and allowing spirit to flow fully through me. Just as everyone has unique handwriting, in our bodies there is a blueprint of how it wants to move and express itself.  As children we’re so free to explore that unique dance, but as adults we often must go back and remember what that feels like in our bodies.  In tribal/indigenous cultures dance and movement are directly connected to spirituality. Many of us have do not feel the connection of body to spirit in our daily lives, we sit hunched in offices all day, or too busy to listen for what the body needs.  It is absolutely necessary, healthy, for all of us to live in touch with our bodies, and know that your emotions, blocks, are not separate from your physical self.
I never would have believed that I would be teaching fire dancing, or that I would own a clothing/adornment line.  I am thankful every day for the gift of movement, and how it has transformed me, and continues to open doors for me.  This is why I dance.
Next in the Women in Movement Blog Series will be Luna Breeze Performance Art!
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