Coalessence is stewarded by four facilitators – Zan Akerson, Oblio Stroyman, Paul Deering, & Joanna Cashman. We take turns each week providing the music or hosting guest DJs and holding the container for the dance. In addition, we share a multitude of responsibilities for administrative duties, communications, and other behind-the-scenes work. We come from diverse backgrounds, united by our passion for dance, and a strong vision and commitment to grow the ecstatic dance community in Eugene.
It is my calling to create opportunities for people to experientially know their own power and sense of connection by creating collective, ritualized, embodied experiences and the consistent and dependable containers that hold them. Coalessence has been a true gift in my life in terms of coming to know the gifts I have to offer and helping me step into some of my potential, as I have helped grow and steward this powerful community event beginning in 2009. As I deepen into my path I realize other related gifts that I want to develop and offer to community. It is my passion and a part of my life’s mission to free up and access my own abundant Shakti energy and through this develop a group movement practice dedicated to helping women come fully into their own creative/sexual power. In addition I am in the visioning stages of creating a community bath house in Eugene where people may come together to nurture themselves and experience connection to themselves, community, and Spirit in a beautiful, relaxing, body oriented temple-like setting.
Dance and a connection to the body have always been important to me. Growing up in Costa Rica dance was a central part of social life, and the rural setting helped me to be attuned to my body and the natural world around me . Later, in Santa Cruz, I discovered ecstatic dance at the Dance Jam, and then years, years later as a mama with a toddler and an infant I rediscovered myself through ecstatic dance in Guanajuato, Mexico. Dance was sorely missed in France as I apprenticed on a biodynamic farm, and happily re-found in Eugene, where I have been dedicated to nurturing the ecstatic dance scene ever since. I am particularly excited about dance as a vehicle to access, know, and play with our energetic potential, alone and with others. It is with great joy that I hold space for people to dance in openness, exploration, and unfolding.
Oblio: (v.) dancer, DJ, musician,queer, gender queer, shape-shifter, activist, non-monogamous, unicorn, boi-grrl, Empress, smut peddler, sex educator, Scorpio, professional, mother, maker, writer, lover, cuddlier, artist, human, Superhero, Jew, whale, teacher, student, fierce, vulnerable, space holder, high-school drop-out, M.Ed, Bostonian, Oregonian, scientist, scholar, translator…
I came to ecstatic dance through Contact Improv, which became one of my favorite playgrounds in 1997.. I remember my first official “ecstatic dance” in 2008, walking alone into the WOW Hall to attend Coalessence, I told my friend on the phone “I have no idea what I am walking into, but here it goes.” When I left that day I called them back and said “I will do this every week.” That is exactly what happened.
I have been a DJ since I was a kid. Through records,mixed tapes and mixed CD’s I have written musical love notes and healed heart breaks, created the party soundscape and poignant political statements Now, creating Ecstatic Dance sets serves as a healing modality for me and my community. Music is essential life essence breath to me, and every set I DJ is an offering of my heART.
Over the years I have come to feel that dance is not something I do but rather something I am; rhythmic, in motion, curious and striving to express myself as a creative being.
Pauls formal schooling was first in visual arts, attending the Kansas City Art Institute for three years in the sculpture program, then going on to earn a BFA in photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1987. Later he returned to school at The East West College of Healing arts and becoming Licensed as a Massage Therapist in Oregon in 2001. In 1988 he began studying movement arts after being introduced to his first Tai Chi teacher, Gregory Fong and has been passionate about practicing and teaching movement in the forms of Martial, healing and expressive arts ever since, exploring in the U.S., Canada, China and Italy.
Currently Paul is honored to be a member of the Coalessence Dance core facilitation team and continues to teach Chinese movement arts for health, spiritual well being and as a foundation for his explorations into improvisational dance. Staying connected to his roots in the visual arts, he continues to explore the world through the the lens, documenting music and dance with a particular focus on experimental composers, performance artists and the interactive world of contact improvisation.
Joanna Cashman has practiced the art of contemporary dance technique, improvisation, composition and interdisciplinary performance since 1976. An elder teacher of the dancing path, she generously shares her investigation of dance/movement as a holistic practice that illuminates universal truths about the human experience and offers a rich vehicle for creative expression and personal growth. Her holistic approach to dance often dissolves lines of separation between dance as art, therapy and contemplative practice. Joanna’s background includes a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance performance & choreography from Arizona State University. She has danced in the works of over 20 choreographers and has composed over 30 original dances. She is a former member of the Barbara Mettler Dance Company and other regional dance companies in the United States, including the TA-Yu Improvisational Dance Ensemble, The Tucson Moving Center Dancers, Orts Theater of Dance and Dance Arizona Repertory Theater. In 1987 she performed in an Arts for Peace tour in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev. In 1988 she produced an American/Soviet Concert of Contemporary Dance while in residence at Shevchenko University in Kiev, Ukraine. She has presented her original choreography internationally and is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her creative work. Her eclectic exploration of movement is grounded in American contemporary dance and is strongly influenced by Bill Evans, Daniel Nagrin, Barbara Mettler, Anna Halprin, Joan Skinner and Cliff Keuter.
Joanna received the Bellingham Mayors Art Award in 1993. Her biography is listed in Who’s Who in American Nursing for the therapeutic use of the creative arts in the clinical setting. She has over twenty years experience facilitating dance therapy and yoga therapy sessions in mental health and chemical dependency treatment centers. She has been a guest lecturer/teacher at the University of Arizona, Western Washington University, Pima Community College, Arizona State University and is a former member of the faculty at Evergreen State College and Lesley University.
She is a certified teacher of The Bill Evans Method: A Laban-Bartenieff Approach to Dance. Additional study of releasing techniques, contact improvisation, creativedance, Radiant Health Yoga® and numerous other bio-psycho-spiritual disciplines contribute to her innovative movement vocabulary. She is known for her multi-modal works juxtaposing literary, visual and kinesthetic modalities creating sensory rich textural collages and socio-political comment.
In 1993 she founded Wild Grace Arts, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization as a vehicle for her creative and therapeutic work. She served as artistic director of Wild Grace Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company that provided collaboration and performance opportunities for local and visiting artists. She established the Wild Grace Arts / Center for Yoga & Dance in Olympia, Washington in 1999 and dedicated it to promoting holistic health through the exploration of contemplative and expressive approaches to yoga and dance. She enjoys expanding the context of choreography and performance through multi-disciplinary creative sourcing workshops, ritual theater, community dance ritual events, and site specific environmental choreography projects. She currently resides in Bend, Oregon.