As we continue envisioning ways to integrate healing practices, movement, and dance together, I invite us also to consider the way wellness is tied to community. It may seem obvious that individual practices reverberate outwards, that each of the actions and choices we make individually affect the trajectory of our lives as well as those around us. But let’s consider for a moment how this is tied to healing, too. The more we facilitate wellness and healing in our own lives – not as an end goal, but as an ongoing process – the more it’s expanded in the relationships, businesses, and communities we create.
Emily Rose Cannon lives in Brooklyn, on land of the Lenape people, with houseplants and roommates. Her work primarily takes form as a psychotherapist, movement artist, and occasional writer. She earned her BFA in dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and her Masters in Social Work at New York University.
Ulla Al-Hamad, born 1993 in Magdeburg, is a dancer and director currently based in Cologne, Germany. Through a range of different movement practices, she has created a unique style that fuses Yoga, Contemporary Dance, and Performance Art together. Ulla also works as a director of dance films, in which personal stories are combined with her aesthetic style.
What comes to your mind when you hear the words "wellness" and "healing"?
Emily Rose: Wellness is such a complicated word because of the way it’s used in mainstream culture. It’s often misconstrued, reduced, trivialized... when I think about what it really means to me, it’s about wholeness and integration. A balance between moving from inside, and a malleability to what’s happening around me. Healing is the practice of wellness; It’s taking care of myself, bringing my attention fully to the world and my life, to be in touch with what is happening as much as possible.
Ulla: Wellness is the practice of self-care, knowing what makes me feel good. I don’t think about wellness in a capitalistic sense, as buying something that gives me a feeling of well-being, but rather the small things I do day to day. Healing is a process, something that will happen for the rest of my life.
what kinds of healing practices do you engage with?
Emily Rose: In my free time I do things that make me feel whole, grounded, that help me let go of fear, and process. Writing, playing guitar, singing, moving, walking, cooking, being silly, skateboarding, dancing in my room, biking, talking to friends… it’s everything I do (and sometimes badly, but that doesn’t matter). Perspective is a culmination of our experiences, so it’s important to pay attention to the way we use our time as well as the stories we tell ourselves.
Ulla: My healing practices are small acts of self-care that I do every day. They help me heal not in a sense of solution, but in knowing what makes me feel best. I have a cultivated space in my home where I take time to dance and do yoga. Alongside talk therapy I’m able to go into my own experience of how I feel and what I want.
is dance physically healing for you?
Emily Rose: Dance is healing primarily; I see it as much more than a form to be witnessed. Our minds have so many patterns, and dance has the ability to metabolize the way we think and relate. I’m not saying it neutralizes problems into resolution, but it shifts the current experience. Dance shows us multitudes of truth and reminds me, in a beautiful way, that I don’t always get to know. I experience dance as more dynamic and multifaceted than language; it’s the felt versus the known experience.
Ulla: Sometimes in movement there is a need for emotional release, as though I were encountering trigger points in my body. If something wants to be let out, it’s a space where it’s ok for that to happen. I often add a writing component for reflection. The people who have helped me heal most are yoga and dance teachers, people who share new ways of thinking. It isn’t about going to class just to move the body; we also speak through our souls.
How would you say your healing practices influence your wellness?
Emily Rose: I’m generally not well without healing practices; to me they are inextricable. When I am using them, I feel like the true version of myself (whole). With dance, moving moved me – it’s a familiar anchor, there’s a history, but you can find different textures.
Ulla: They have influenced my relationship with my mother, as well as her personal wellness. We’ve struggled through similar issues, and as I share ideas and inspiration with her, I also see her opening to the idea of daily self-care. This shared point helps us understand each other better. I believe that doing my practices is amplified when I have people to share them with, that we can share our thoughts in community.
What from your own experiences has facilitated healing or wellness?
How do you imagine healing in the collective?
Emily Rose: It’s so imperfect, I’m not doing it so much of the time. But there’s so much fun, vibrancy, and vitality when surprising yourself. Sometimes it’s really difficult to choose what I call “faith over fear,” also recognizing the different levels of privilege we operate from. But I believe that in every moment we get to choose how we respond. It’s scary for a lot of people to hold that accountability, but the truth is, everything is more dynamic and fluid than what we want it to be. Remember that you are so much more infinite and dynamic than you realize, immensely full of possibility.
Ulla: I feel strongly about supportive spaces, such as women’s circles. The connection with other women is what helps me feel strong. That’s where I imagine healing for those who identify as women, for example, but everyone can find their own way if they’re open to it. For some people it might be enough to go to a class and have a space to be away from difficult thoughts or circumstances in their lives. It’s good to have moments where you can open yourself to others, but also knowing if there are times you don’t want to do that, you can find spaces where the body can speak.
You can connect with these artists further:
-Ulla on Instagram at @ulla_alh and view her latest dance film “Deku – Ertrinke im Rum”
-Emily Rose on Instagram at @theinternetversionofemilyrose
Check out Parts One & Two!