Dancing with Melissa Michaels & Friends

Women

Women ~

womenWorking with women has always been an integral part of my work. In the early years, I ran groups for adult women focusing on the many ways the feminine is embodied across time and culture, working with archetypal energies through dance, theatre, the poetry, costume, and one’s relationship with the world. Each week, we would study a different archetype, a Greek Goddess, for example, Artemis Athena, Persephone, Demeter, Hera, and of course, Aphrodite. Our work would involve the invocation of this archetypal energy through the dance followed by a creative and deep inquiry into how this energy is working, shadow and light, in our lives. We would then spend the next week deeply tracking this energy in how we live, relate, and awaken into our full-bodied selves as women.

Over the years, my work with women changed. I found myself working closely with women at different phases and stages of their lives.

maidensThe young maidens beginning their journeys into woman hood called me to create girls groups, mother – daughter circles, and menarche welcoming classes and ceremonies. The Women’s Blossom Project was born through this work, places where women of all ages could discover, heal, and celebrate their coming of age processes. This work has brought me into contact with young blossoming women around the world … young women refugees in Uganda, girls in the villages of South India, girls in Bedouin camps of the Middle East, girls in living in townships without water, girls living on the city streets, girls going to private schools, girls of all sizes, shapes, races, religions, classes, and educational levels … all girls with beautiful golden hearts, budding breasts, menstruating bodies, and real life questions about what is happening to their bodies, what their hearts are saying to them, and how can they for them selves during these changes times.

pregnant-mamasThe birthing mothers were in need of education about their changing bodies too. Our Dance of Birth initiative opened women into the rich landscape of their pregnancies and postpartum lives. Women in all stages of gestation and postpartum gathered to explore the energies of birth through the dance, building strong communities of support around women in this major life transition. Fathers and babies also joined in the dance for years.  Blessing Way ceremonies to honor the changing woman’s new stage of life unfolded. I developed this work and over time, The Dance of Birth DVD was born, as was the CD Birth. (The Dance of Birth DVD is currently in revision. Original versions are available for purchase in the meantime.) Children who first “met” in their mama’s bellies are now teenagers in high school. Their families are still close friends. The communities that also birthed through these dances have stayed strong and supportive. Imagine if we bring pregnant women from diverse communities living in conflict zones together … peace will certainly break out!

Shakti-SisterhoodInspired by that vision and the power of woman, I grew Shakti Sisterhood, the body of work I now teach around the world. Highly diverse groups of women come together to make a moving journey through the life stages that every women, regardless of class, race, religion, or gender preference, goes through. In ceremony, dance, conversation, and creative work of all kinds, we meet the parts of ourselves that are Maiden, Mother, Queen, and Crone. Regardless of our age and our life paths, all these parts live in us. Some aspects of these universal facets of women are less awakened or empowered than others. Through our deep work together, women remember, heal, learn about, honor, and awaken to the vast intelligence that is their birthright as women through these archetypal developmental portals.

making-dollsWe make dolls during these moving meetings of women, a process taught to me by one of my great mentors, Tamara Slayton. Each doll is a mirror of the woman emerging through this process. It was always Tamara’s dream that her work would touch women around the world. It has been my deepest honor to help actualize that dream during the past decade since she passed away. Please enjoy our doll library, images of the women and dolls created around the world in our Shakti Sisterhood events.

I have a dream to bring highly diverse women together to help rebuild the fabric of our societies, to forge new, peaceful, and sustainable pathways where life is honored in all ways, from our economics, to our environment, to our educational programs. Accessing and amplifying our vast, fertile, creative, and embodied intelligence is my way of assisting this movement of women as we remember our souls’ call to build a more just and beautiful world … together.

Please join me in this sacred and essential dance.

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