Dancing with Melissa Michaels & Friends

Youth On Fire

“Get ready for a dose of optimism when you discover the dynamic work of Melissa Michaels. She’s creating incredible results in young people around the world with her dance-based rite-of-passage processes and leadership trainings.

“In her new book Youth On Fire she distills decades of wisdom learned in the trenches of transformation and mentoring young people from all cultures and backgrounds. Few people dare to traverse the tricky world of consciously facilitating adolescents into healthy adulthood. Fewer still articulate best practices and lessons learned as well as Melissa. The gems she’s uncovered from her life’s work deserve a wide audience—pay attention to this landmark book.”

— Mark Metz, Conscious Dancer Founder; Executive Director, Dance First Association.

“Melissa Michaels is not only a brilliant writer but she writes about a unique and important subject—her work in the use of dance and the expressive arts with a link to social awareness with our youth. These are our young people who will lead us into the future. Read her book and be inspired.”

— Anna Halprin, Author of Returning to Health with Dance, Movement and Imagery and Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance.

YOUTH ON FIRE!

Birthing a Generation of Embodied Global Leaders
Written by Dr. Melissa Michaels

Youth On Fire is currently in a re-edit process. We ask for your patience as this book awaits it full release date. If you would like to personally be notified when Youth On Fire is ready to finally and fully fly, please let us know here.

Like our planet, young people across the globe are heating up. As they come of age, some are ablaze with outrage about the environmental and social toxins they face. Others are barely flickering, having dimmed their light through self-destructive behaviors. Simultaneously, there is an ever-expanding group of youth on fire, collectively illuminating the path from addiction into action, from fragmentation into integration, from isolation into community. What makes the difference?

A dance-based rite of passage process guided by loving mentors and inspired role models can make the difference and has, for hundreds of young people worldwide. Surfing The Creative® International Rites of Passage Process, as developed by Melissa Michaels, sees young people in their true light. By honoring the essential soul birthing that is occurring during the adolescent cycle of life, young people are rising up out the ashes of their suffering, awakening to their full potentials. Within the fabric of a dedicated and diverse community, they are given concrete ways through arts of body, heart, and soul to transform their personal pain into medicine for the world…

(Read more below…)

Melissa Michaels, Ed.D., guides individuals and communities through major life transitions. As a “soul midwife” and mentor to emerging leaders around the world, she has created Surfing The Creative, a rite of passage process that links somatics, youth development, and peace-building. Youth On Fire tells the story of this life-changing work as it has unfolded in diverse settings ranging from inner city schools to college campuses, and from refugee settlements to the United Nations.

Melissa is also the founder of Golden Bridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to our collective renewal through the liberation of the creative Spirit. She is a first generation teacher of the 5Rhythms® and a registered Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist. Her doctorate in Education, Leadership, and Change is from The Fielding Graduate University. She also held a post-doctoral fellowship at Fielding’s Institute of Social Innovation.

Whether she is tending to individuals transitioning from one life cycle to another or to communities in the midst of major change, Melissa dedicates her life to dancing along life’s edges and guiding others as they do the same. Her forthcoming book, Threshold Dancing, will tell the story of how this body of work that she calls SomaSource weaves together the arts of body, heart, and soul to support the journey from birth through death and through the many mysterious, maddening, and miraculous adventures in between. www.GoldenBridge.org

How can young people who’ve known little but a broken, conflict-ridden society find beauty and even hope in themselves? How can they be inspired to befriend their own pain and break through to their own integrity? What magic can liberate their creativity and their love for life? These questions matter hugely. That is why it is very good news for us all that Melissa Michaels’ genius in Rites of Passage work is captured now in her book Youth On Fire.

— Joanna Macy, Ph.D., scholar of systems thinking, Buddhism, and deep ecology; root teacher of The Work That Reconnects; author of many books, including Coming Back to Life; Thinking Like a Mountain; and World As Lover, World As Self

Melissa Michaels’ truths are hard earned as well as incisive, carefully expressed, and wrought with wisdom. The integrality of youth development—with the body as well as mind, psyche, and spirit—is a key element. In her work, rites of passage resonate deep and far, from earth to sky and back. Feminine and masculine at proper relations. How hungry youth are to feel and understand again what rites of passage mean in their bones. This is a book for our time if ever there was one.

— Luis J. Rodriguez, poet, healer, youth justice advocate, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and Hearts & Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times

About Youth On Fire

Youth On Fire: Birthing a Generation of Embodied Global Leaders

By Melissa Michaels

Like our planet, young people across the globe are heating up. As they come of age, some are ablaze with outrage about the environmental and social toxins they face. Others are barely flickering, having dimmed their light through self-destructive behaviors. Simultaneously, there is an ever-expanding group of youth on fire, collectively illuminating the path from addiction into action, from fragmentation into integration, from isolation into community. What makes the difference?

A dance-based rite of passage process guided by loving mentors and inspired role models can make the difference and has, for hundreds of young people worldwide. Surfing The Creative® International Rites of Passage Process, as developed by Melissa Michaels, sees young people in their true light. By honoring the essential soul birthing that is occurring during the adolescent cycle of life, young people are rising up out the ashes of their suffering, awakening to their full potentials. Within the fabric of a dedicated and diverse community, they are given concrete ways through arts of body, heart, and soul to transform their personal pain into medicine for the world.

Youth on Fire tells the story of this process, which is unlike any other youth program around the world. Melissa not only understands the importance of helping young people develop their inner lives but addresses this need in both traditional and contemporary ways. Her programs bring youth together from every continent on the globe, some who have not yet found their spiritual foundation, with others from all of the major religions. Through universal practices, she teaches youth how to deepen their connections to their bodies, and how embodiment is a powerful doorway to one’s soul and spirit. This work consistently gives youth non-dogmatic opportunities to find themselves and their common ground, all the while honoring their diverse lineages.

Youth On Fire describes the process, protocol, and practices that weave together to successfully create this multi-cultural learning experience. Beginning with an intimate look at the ways that young people are disconnected from life within and around them, this book takes the reader on a moving journey through the specific developmental stages of this modern dance-based rites of passage experience. Each chapter describes the theoretical underpinnings of this creative and life-giving way of initiating youth into adulthood. It describes specific somatic and secular ways in which this kind of process unfolds in diverse environments. Woven throughout the book are intimate stories and authentic photographs of young people who have positively navigated through the demanding terrain of adolescence during Surfing The Creative®.

The book begins with Melissa’s description of her own adolescent journey from a state of high risk to dynamic wellbeing. Through her challenging yet inspired story, the author was left with a clear knowing that the children of the world were calling and that movement is their universal language. She was guided to raise the children that would help raise up generations to come. Each aspect of her adolescent crisis and awakening served as a launching for her body of work, as described through the rest of Youth On Fire.

Topics that are specifically addressed chapter by chapter in Youth On Fire include:

~ The birth of the soul in adolescence and how rites of passage processes throughout time have been designed to meet that critical developmental mandate.

~ The architecture of traditional rites of passage processes and how the author has found a way to translate this design into a contemporary process that can meet youth around the globe, in both wilderness and urban environments.

~ A detailed overview of the 7 cycles of the author’s arts based rites of passage process that has been enacted with young people around the world.

Woven throughout Youth On Fire are the case studies of diverse youth who have journeyed through the 7 cycles of this rites of passage experience. Their stories breed hope, revealing the unique power and potential of attending to the spiritual development of adolescence in these creative time-tested ways. It also shares the stories of how youth from historically conflicted religions, classes, races, genders, and cultures have practically and powerfully grown bridges of sustainable peace through this somatic and creative process. It reveals a movement that is happening, the building of a global network of youth dedicated to movement based practices that support spirit-based action and collaboration.

As one youth leader states, the work revealed in Youth on Fire is a dance of consciousness rising around the globe. This book offers to tell this timely story.

Available February 2017: Youth On Fire by Melissa Michaels

Golden Bridge Presents: Surfing The Creative® Film Short (A 12 minute film that tells the story of this work with youth around the world.)

Book Review by Darcy Ottey

Melissa Michaels’ new book Youth on Fire is relevant—and in fact necessary—for any of us engaged in initiatory work in any way with young people. The body-centered approach Michaels has pioneered translates decades of somatic theory and research into rites of passage as they are consciously practiced today. In fact, her work is the first contemporary dance-based rites of passage process serving youth around the world.

I was first exposed to Michaels’ approach as a participant in the Global Passageways gathering she co-hosted in 2008. Having come from a wilderness-based rite of passage background, I had little context for movement-based processes as pathways of initiation. This book distills decades of study and practice to their core essence, making Michaels’ hard-won wisdom and insight widely available. The language is delicious: soft, lush, engaging. This book is very readable, while at the same time could function effectively as a textbook-type introduction to body-centered rites of passage.

Another key feature of this book is that it is a truly cutting-edge. Her narrative rests on a foundation of contemporary, global youth culture with all its many shades and manifestations: images, poetry, quotes, and stories of the young people touched through her “Surfing the Creative” process are found throughout the text. What she describes is a process that has clearly emerged out of her personal biography, training, and the raw material of the people, places, and moments that have shown up, grounded in a body-centered approach. Her love of young people rings through on every page. Meanwhile, the specificity of her narrative is sure to inspire some new experimentation in your own life and work.

At the same time, this book clearly draws on the wisdom, experience, and insights of many, over generations. Michaels impeccably references the sources of the ideas, activities, and concepts she draws upon. She highlights those upon whose shoulders she stands, and in so doing models effective recognition of those that have come before.

Do not put this book down until the end! The last two chapters offer new frameworks that anyone engaged in tending the hearts, minds, bodies, spirits, and souls of young people will want to read, highlighting all the while that Melissa is tireless in her work, continuing to tread new ground even now. Passing the baton to the next generation and dynamics of diversity are a few of the fiery topics she addresses. As soon as I finished this book, and I began to hungrily await its sequel!