April 2024
A Decade of Dancing
Ecstatic dance in a welcoming community

For ten years friends and strangers have been gathering regularly for shared celebration of rhythm and camaraderie. Born from various other groups, CommUnity Sol Dance began ten years ago this month and welcomes dancers of all backgrounds to come together and let loose in a whirlwind of friendship and movement.

Founding team member Kent Mattern recalls an event that helped set the group in motion: “There was a festival over at Watson Lake called the 3D Festival — Didgeridoo Dance and Drums. There was a group of like six or seven people in a little circle with blindfolds on, and there was a DJ, his assistant, which was his girlfriend, and a medicine man, and he looked at me and threw a blindfold at me. I put the blindfold on. Then he led [us] through a guided [dance] with that DJ. There was wind, blowing moisture and thunder, but I couldn’t tell what was in the music or what was in the weather.” Mattern may not have known it at the time, but Leta Liberick, another founding team member, was also there that day, and this experience would help align the path for the group that is now CommUnity Sol Dance.

The group’s name strives to convey the message in several ways. As Liberick explains, “CommUnity has the uppercase U for unity after my friend Janae Silverwolf, who used to  be a very known dancer in town, and she always wrote ‘community’ that way. She passed away eight or nine years ago, and I love having that piece of her in there. Sol is the sun in Spanish, and we [represent] the four seasons, … dancing with our souls. We want our souls and our hearts to lead. We’re also dancing on the soles of our feet.”

Every Monday night in the Crystal Hall atop the Elks Performing Arts Center, everyone is invited to take part, regardless of skill level or experience. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice taking your first tentative steps onto the dance floor, there’s always a welcoming atmosphere and plenty of encouragement to go around.

“We start at seven and we have half an hour of warmup,” explains Liberick. “There’s music playing. People are arriving and hugging. Music stops. We have our opening circle, share the intention of the space and create this container of safety for people to explore and express, and then we start a playlist, which is an hour long and starts out really mellow. We use the metaphor of the seasons for our playlist. We start out in winter and move up to spring, and then summer, then fall and back down to winter again. After the playlist is done, we get together and have our closing circle and kind of do a go-around for those who want to share and wrap up the evening, share your name, and then we share about any community events that are happening that people want.”

The music may be different every week, within a few specific guidelines. It begins and ends with an instrumental piece. Lyrics in English are permitted in 25% or less of the songs in a given evening’s playlist. There may be some popular songs in the set, but this isn’t your typical social dance.

Says Liberick, “We’re just creating this container so they can cry. They can dance, they can lie in the corner, they can do yoga, they can do contact improv, we just want people to do what feels right in the present moment.”

There are few rules for the dancers. No phones are allowed on the dance floor, no talking is allowed during the dancing, and you may only dance with a partner with their express (non-verbal) consent. The team wants to keep the rules to a minimum, allowing everyone to express themselves in their own way. Admission is by donation, with a suggested amount of $5-10, but this is not required.

The tenth anniversary celebration will happen on April 29, and everyone is invited! Mattern and Liberick agree they have a lot of fun surprises planned, including introducing a new sound system.

Here’s to a decade of rhythm, laughter, friendship and free expression, and to many more years of dancing with heart and soul under the starlit domed ceiling of Crystal Hall. Happy anniversary, CommUnity Sol Dance — may the music never stop, and the memories never fade!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.