Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Loving the bodies we inhabit. Right now.

 

picture of a white woman looking straight into camera laughing, hair blowing messily in the wind, with the sea behind her

It was a windy evening 

Olivia Vigil and I had come up to Bodega Head to take some shots for the new expandance website (coming soon!). It was a pretty typical Bodega Head sunset in that it was stunning, and windy, and much colder than you think it's going to be. 

I had moved through a lot of ''body stuff'' in the weeks prior to this photo shoot, mostly around the fact that I was about to get photos taken for a dance website, of a body shape that, in the world of dance, we are told is not a ''dancers body''. I'm still unpacking all that that means - the fact that if you're not incredibly slim, with perfect feet and no curves - you cannot be truly taken seriously as a dancer (at least not a ballet dancer; things have changed *slightly* in the contemporary arena). I've also realized how rooted in white supremacy this idea of beauty is. It is a colonialist (think corsets), Eurocentric, racist idea of beauty and honestly pretty unattainable for most people. Even for dancers I've known who trained hours and hours a day for decades. 

So with this photo shoot coming up I decided I'd had enough. I've been working on ''embracing'' my body for *years*, but in order to get through this shoot, I needed to up my self-love game. I needed to confront where I'd bought into this idea. I needed to not just be ok in my body and *how it looks and feels right at this moment in time* but actually embrace and be grateful for all of it. I needed to be happy with my body as it is so that anyone who walks into an expandance class also has the potential to feel happy in theirs, regardless of shape, color, age or ability. Thankfully, I had the honor of working with an incredible photographer who helped me feel at ease, worked out a shoot plan with me, and I'm happy to report that we ended up having a lot of fun. 

This is still a work in progress for me, and maybe it is for you too. Let's keep exploring it as we move through our expandance practice, as well as showing up for the myriad reasons we do. 

I'll see you in class. 

Rachel 

p.s. for more of Olivia's work check her out on facebook
Register for class 
"I’m still reveling in the harmonious sensations after an hour of expandance class” - Charles, UK

55 mins every Friday that’ll get you back in your body and feeling groovy ❤️

8am pacific time 
11am nyc 
4pm Ireland 

“I did expandance this morning with Rachel Wynne. If you have been thinking about doing this, Do It! I am not a dancer, I don't exercise regularly and I have chronic pain. I loved the unconventional warm up she lead us through and the visualizations with movement. Afterwards, I felt relaxed and energized at the same time. Most notably, I was able to release a considerable amount of tension that I was carrying in my body. I did all of this a short amount of time and in a small space.” - B, California 

❤️ you don’t have to be a dancer
❤️ you don’t have to be “fit” or look a certain way 
❤️ all you need is zoom and you 

Friday expandance classes are FREE for Black, Indigenous, and People of color, as well as for undocumented immigrants (regardless of what country you're in). For everyone else, please pay what you can; $5 - $25 suggested. 

Donations can be made via PayPal here

or via Venmo or CashApp ''expandance''
Register for class 

New Instagram!

I finally started an expandance Instagram!

I'll be sharing my artistic and choreographic processes, old and new videos, class reminders and more. (Hopefully, one day, post-Covid, there'll be performance updates on there too again)

Come say hi!
https://www.instagram.com/expandance/

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Class today

*** Free class for the cancer community ***

in collaboration with St. Joseph's Healthcare

Details: 

"Release and Restore"
When: Every Wednesday 5:30pm - 7:15pm (West Coast / Pacific time) 
Where: Zoom 
Cost: FREE

What we do: about 45 minutes of expandance - a mindful dance and movement meditation technique with me (all abilities welcome - I have modifications if you aren't mobile) and then restorative yoga with Sarah, which is easy and deeply relaxing and is accompanied by her sound journey with singing bowls.  If you don't want anyone to see you dance, simply tilt your camera up! You don't need any dance or yoga experience. 

You don't have to be a patient of St. Joseph's. The only criteria is that you are, or have been, on a journey to healing from cancer, and that you'd like a class that will help you feel wonderful and relaxed!

To register, please e-mail the lovely Sharon at Sharon.doughty@stjoe.org and let her know where you are at in your journey, and that you'd like to try our class, and she'll send you the Zoom link. 

"The movement and sound healing class was phenomenal! Absolutely magical...
The instructors were compassionate, professional, kind and so accepting...
I’m overwhelmed by everyone..
This class left me feeling more connected with my body and it completely eliminated my anxiety...I think my healing has begun..."
 - Tina 

"Yesterday I attended Rachel and Sarah’s Release and Restore class for the first time and it was wonderful!" - Kim

A little about the programs here
A little about Rachel here
A little about Sarah here




Thursday, August 20, 2020

Class tomorrow

 

Yes, there will be class tomorrow!*

* All being well...

With at least two fires relatively close to us here in Northern California, smoke in the sky and ashes falling like flurries of snow, it's natural that we are on high alert. Many of us have packed our ''go bags'' much earlier in the season than we usually would, and quite a few of our friends to the north have already been evacuated.

It looks like, so far at least, we're ok here in Sebastopol, so I'm planning on going ahead with class tomorrow. Please register if you're planning on attending, so that if we do need to evacuate and thus cancel, I know who to e-mail about class. 

REGISTER HERE for the Zoom link:
https://bit.ly/NewExpandanceRegFri
This class is FREE for BIPOC, U.S. green card holders and undocumented immigrants
Everyone else, donate here:
https://www.paypal.me/expandance
CashApp / Venmo: expandance
$5-$20 *or whatever you can do*

At high stress times like these, it's super important to look after our nervous systems. To breathe, to center, and to move our bodies. I hope you can join me tomorrow to do all the above and more, so that we can move through whatever the world throws at us grounded in trust, with grace and compassion for ourselves and each other. 

See you tomorrow, 
Rachel 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz3J64XhKLI&t=24s




 
Young white woman in black dress dancing in a dance studio

 

Wednesday classes for the cancer community are ongoing


Please share with friends


"Release and Restore"

When: Every Wednesday 5:30pm - 7:15pm (West Coast / Pacific time) 
Where: Zoom 
For: the cancer community 
Cost: FREE

What we do: about 45 minutes of expandance - a mindful dance and movement meditation technique with me (all abilities welcome - I have modifications if you aren't mobile) and then restorative yoga with Sarah, which is easy and deeply relaxing and is accompanied by her sound journey with singing bowls. If you don't want anyone to see you dance, simply tilt your camera up! You don't need any dance or yoga experience. 

You don't have to be a patient of St. Joseph's. The only criteria is that you are, or have been at some point, on a journey to healing from cancer, and that you'd like a class that will help you feel wonderful and relaxed! We have a lovely, friendly group coming each week. We'd love you to join us.

---
In other news, my dear collaborator, friend of 20 years and co-founder of expandance, Laurie Schneider is undertaking a solo artist-in-residence week at Shawbrook Dance in Longford, Ireland this week. If you're interested in her process while she's there, follow her on Instagram here
 
Photo of a white woman dancing in a white dress, backlit in an urban alleyway
Laurie Schneider. Photo by @rahpetherbridgephotography

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Friday expandance classes continue on zoom

 Hi friend, 


It can be so easy, can't it, when the world is so different, and tough, to show up for ourselves and give ourselves some love and care. This is just a reminder that just showing up is 90% of it! To that end, I hope you'll join me for expandance tomorrow. Show up for the choreographer inside your cells! 

A note on registering for classes: 

Please remember to register! You can register for several weeks in advance if you like, just please make sure you're registered for the dates you want to attend class. Otherwise what can happen is we have people in different zoom rooms and things can get messy. Thank you to those of you who register! It keeps everything nice and simple for me!

Register here: https://bit.ly/NewExpandanceRegFri

Thank you!

Friday expandance classes are FREE for Black, Indigenous, and People of color, as well as for undocumented immigrants (regardless of what country you're in). For everyone else, please pay what you can; $5 - $25 suggested. 

Donations can be made via PayPal here or via Venmo or CashApp ''expandance'' 

"I’m still reveling in the harmonious sensations after an hour of Expandance class .

Firstly, The combination of rhythm, self awareness and gentle movement had me right back in my conservatoire days of ballet and Tai Chi.  I was applying principles I’d had endorsed 40 years ago!  [I’m a professional singing and violin teacher, not a dancer.]

Secondly the cleverly focussed, embedded thought element had me working on a joint that had recently let me down.

The base of my left thumb is now free enough not to cause pain when playing my violin. A little more regular focus should have it completely freed-up.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Rachel’s teaching to anyone…. Lovely stuff!"

- Charles, UK 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Friday zoom classes

"You know, it's amazing, Rachel, how this practice brings so much peace, softness, and light"
- Helen, TN, August 2020
Join me in the morning for expandance
Fridays
8am
55 mins

Register here for the zoom link: https://bit.ly/NewExpandanceRegFri
FREE for BIPOC and undocumented immigrants
Donation based for everyone else
or Venmo: expandance


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Answering a few questions about expandance

Good Thursday, comrades. In this video I answer a few questions about Zoom expandance classes. If you have more, just let me know!

Tomorrow and every Friday

8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 4pm Ireland & UK

Register here:
(takes 10 seconds, and you'll get an e-mail with the Zoom link)

https://bit.ly/RegisterExpandanceFri
FREE for BIPOC & U.S. immigrants
Donation based for everyone else.
Donate here:

https://www.paypal.me/expandance
or
CashApp / Venmo: expandance

Suggested donation $5-$25

Apologies for the lack of captioning

Thursday, June 18, 2020

How do we know what our bodies need?

How do we know what our bodies need?

Sometimes our bodies whisper to us - maybe with a yawn to let us know they're tired. Maybe with a signal to the brain saying ''I'm thirsty'' if we're dehydrated.

And sometimes, when we don't listen for a while, our bodies need to get loud in order to get our attention. That can show up in the form of ailments, pains, muscle spasms, the ''back going out'' etc.

What if we started listening on a regular basis?

When I first started expandance (the dance company) with Laurie Schneider and Alicia Christofi Walshe, many years ago in Ireland with grant support from the Arts Council of Ireland, we were in the studio 5 days a week doing our expandance practice. From that practice, we created choreography and went on to perform those pieces at various theatres and festivals in Ireland and New York City.

And for those first few years when we worked together, something interesting happened.

None of us got injured.

In a full time working and performing dance company, do you know how rare that is? All because we were listening *deeply* to our bodies every day, and responding to what they needed.

That is why I now teach expandance practice not just to dancers, but to everyone. I know from experience the power of listening, and of moving from that deep listening place.

I invite you - if it's been a while since you did expandance, or if you've never tried it - to join me tomorrow for class. You can tilt your camera up while we are dancing if you don't want others to see you. It's a beautiful, freeing practice. You don't need ANY dance experience, or even a lot of space.

Here are the details:

Every Friday

8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 4pm Ireland & UK

Register here:
(takes 10 seconds, and you'll get an e-mail with the Zoom link)

https://bit.ly/RegisterExpandanceFri
 
FREE for BIPOC & U.S. immigrants
Donation based for everyone else.
Donate here:

https://www.paypal.me/expandance
or
CashApp expandance

Suggested donation $5-$20 *or whatever you can do*

* Calm your mind and clear mind chatter

* Find those places in your body you're holding tension and let it go

* Get grounded and centered

* Feel more free, easier in the body and mind, and more uplifted
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow! I'll open the room 5 minutes early so we can all get settled.

Keep moving, my friends,
Rachel x

P.S.

I'm also teaching Release and Restore (expandance and restorative yoga, with Sarah Jenness) every Wednesday at 5:30pm PDT through St. Joseph's Health. This class is FREE for the cancer community - patients, survivors and caretakers. Please register with the lovely Sharon at Sharon.doughty@stjoe.org and just let her know where you are in your cancer journey. 

Listening within; listening without


It's important to listen to our bodies.
It's also important to listen to people who have been oppressed for hundreds of years.

Here are just a few of the people I'm listening to and learning from online:

https://www.instagram.com/rachel.cargle/

https://www.instagram.com/thenapministry/

https://www.instagram.com/janayathefuture/

https://www.instagram.com/iamrachelricketts/

https://www.instagram.com/urdoingreat/

https://www.instagram.com/philipattar/

One documentary that was particularly helpful to me was ''13th'' on Netflix, and this video (posted this week by @janayathefuture) is beneficial in learning more about racial structures and belief systems:

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBbY19ABa54/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Feel free to share with me any BIPOC authors, speakers, and artists you know and are learning from. 
Twitter
Facebook
Website

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Registration link for expandance Fridays

*** expandance Fridays **

Every Friday

8am Pacific / 11am Eastern / 4pm Ireland & UK

Register here (takes 10 seconds, and you'll get an e-mail with the Zoom link)

https://bit.ly/RegisterExpandanceFri

Donate here:

https://www.paypal.me/expandance

or
CashApp expandance

Suggested donation $5-$20 *or whatever you can do*

* Calm your mind and clear mind chatter

* Find those places in your body you're holding tension and let it go

* Get grounded and centered

* Feel more free, easier in the body and mind, and more uplifted

"Rachel's capacities and tools are among the most impactful and transformative I have ever experienced." - A.H., Portland, OR