State of Mind with Debra Sloss
State of Mind with Debra Sloss
Therapeutic Movement & Dance - Creativity and Wellness: Part 3

People have been moving their bodies through dance for thousands of years, and there’s a reason. Movement and dance offer many benefits for mental health and brain function. Movement of all kinds reduces stress and anxiety levels—and it also elevates moods. Dance can improve cognitive functions, such as creative thought, memory, and decision making. Joining me for this conversation about the therapeutic benefits of movement and dance are Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky, a licensed psychotherapist, yoga instructor, and dance instructor; entrepreneur and dancer Shankar Hemmady; and arts administrator and lifelong dancer Valéria Miranda.  This is Part 3 in our series on creativity and wellness. You may want to check out Part 1 on “Writing to Heal” and Part 2 on “The Healing Power of Making Art.”

Broadcasts 6/4/23 & 6/12/23

Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, Lisa Herendeen for advance research and Patrice Vecchione for story coaching. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.

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* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource

*Santa Cruz Public Libraries – a wonderful FREE resource for music CDs and dance instruction DVDs.

Dance Organizations – Classes & Experiences
*Motion Pacifica studio and community dedicated to dance as art and cultivating imagination, community engagement and discipline through accessible dance education and presentation; offers over 1500 dance classes each year for students (aged 3 and up) and adults; presenters of Satna Cruz Dance Week.

*418 Project a multi-disciplinary, artist-driven collective and place-maker for over 30 years, supporting emerging artists and diverse communities to create a more inclusive world; offers a wide array of dance classes and many drop in dance opportunities, both led and free form; home to  “Dance Church or Sunday Morning Dance – a place to deepen into dance, to lighten up your heart, and make new friends, where there is no particular set way or form, no right or wrong ways to move  and families and children are welcome.

*Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center (TWDCC ) facilitates a working home for professional world & contemporary dance artists, while providing dance education that is committed to access, equity, and excellence. TWDCC offers educational and outreach programs that allow opportunities for youth and adults to engage with professional dance and cultural artists from all over the world; home of the Black Health Matters Initiative; home of Santa Cruz Dance Circle, a DJ’d community improvisational dance jam, where healing and social change are danced(related to: ecstatic dance, five rhythms, contact improvisation dance, dance church) 

*Salsa By The Sea ia free, weekly, outdoor salsa dancing event held next to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, by the Ideal Bar & Grill; runs all year long (except when it rains); start time depends on the season (later in the summer, earlier in the winter); some weekends are “Bachata by the Sea”, with more bachata music played than salsa;every Sunday, approx. 3-7 pm.

*Swing Dancing by the Sea by Swingout Santa Cruz  – whether you dance East Coast, West Coast, Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jitterbug, Balboa, Collegiate Shag or Blues you will find music, friends, and food while you improve your dancing digs! All levels, and various styles plus a social dance with great ambiance are welcome! Come Join our fun community on Second Saturday evenings at the Santa Cruz Wharf stage (weather permitting)!

*Afrobeats Dance at Woodhouse Brewery – Monthly Afrobeats dance party with DJ Sal. Check website calendar for dates

*Capitola Recreation  – offering a variety of movement and dance classes including Line Dancing, Salsa Dancing, Swing Dancing, Hula Dancing, Tai Chi, Yoga and more.

 movingGround Virtual Classes  a living center for embodied  dance in Los Angeles and a haven for inquiry-based, conscious creative movement play in weekly classes, workshops and events around the world

*Santa Cruz Dance Week  – each year in April the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz, California come alive with dance and music as dancers take to the streets to kick off Santa Cruz Dance Week. Three Hours, three stages, hundreds of dancers! Dancers from across the county participate.

*Cabrillo College Dance  – offers movement courses with a focus on Dance as a Performing Art and Dance Studies; the program foregrounds dance as an academic discipline and values the movement philosophies of many cultures. In addition to studying movement techniques, students learn about dance as a cultural practice and its social functions in education, health, cultural studies, art, history, and the science of human movement; Cabrillo Dance is dedicated to fostering development of the whole dancer, nurturing the body and mind together.

Sweat Your Prayers: The Five Rhythms of the Soul Movement as Spiritual Practice by Gabrielle Roth (1998)  Movement and theater artist Gabrielle Roth translates to the printed page the insights of her nearly forty years of teaching personal and spiritual development through dance. The book is a journey through five universal rhythmsflowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillnesswith personal stories and interactive exercises.

Free moving’ dance has healing benefits for mental health  – Short article and study by UCLA Health, July 22, 2021 that shows conscious, or ecstatic, dance helps those struggling with depression and anxiety.

Mental Benefits of Dance article written by WebMD Editorial Contributors and medically reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

American Dance Therapy Association  – an organization dedicated to the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual;  large collection of dance therapy FREE videos available here.

5Rhythms  – website about this dynamic movement practice—a practice of being in your body—that ignites creativity, connection, and community; can facilitate deep explorations, moving the dancer beyond self-imposed limitations and isolation into new depths of creativity and connection.

The Greater Good Science at UC Berkeley  – free resources including courses, articles and videos on research-based practices for happiness, resilience, kindness and connection; also an online magazine offering stories, tools and tips for building social and emotional wellbeing.

Gabrielle Roth – Power Wave Dance  – video featuring excerpts from all five rhythms featured in Gabrielle Roth’s Power Wave video

What is the 5 RHYTHMS? Lucia Horan Dances a Wave  – Lucia Horan, teacher and dancer, explains the 5 Rhythms® dance practice as she dances the Rhythms. Related, yet in contrast to ecstatic dance, “the 5 Rhythms® is a modality for understanding the human experience through movement.” The 5 Rhythms® are: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, Stillness.

Magic, Everyday Mystery, and Getting Creative   – An “On Being with Krista Tippett” episode interview with Rick Rubin, a creative muse for many famous creatives, co-founder of the record label Def Jam Recordings, former co-president of Columbia Records, and one of the hosts of the podcast, Broken Record. / March 16, 2023.

Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism (CCARE)   free video conversations on compassion and its value for our wellbeing in life and at work.

Contact Guests
*Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky
Find Rachel’s dance offerings here or email her at

*Shankar Hemmady
Contact Shakar on Linkedin

 * Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource