Coalessence is stewarded by four facilitators – Grace Llewellyn, Zan Akerson, Oblio Stroyman and Paul Deering. We take turns each week providing the music 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.
I love to dance. I’ve flirted with everything from salsa to modern to swing to Alseny Yansane’s Guinean dance classes (what an amazing opportunity, right here in Eugene!). I’ve been married a couple times too — bellydance, Argentine tango. But I return again and again to my soul’s mate: the practice and the community of ecstatic dance, wherein I find space for everything my body wants to do, for everything my spirit is, and for at least three dozen ways to connect with others. I spent several years immersed in the California Bay Area’s multifarious labyrinth of ecstasy, and then in 2004 I discovered Soul Motion, a worldwide conscious dance practice developed in Portland by Vinn Marti, and I started going to workshops every time I could scrape the time and money together. This practice has opened and deeply inspired me, and after four years of inching my way through a profound and challenging leadership program, I’m honored to be certified as a Soul Motion teacher myself. (Classes: soon.)
At Coalessence, I treasure the opportunity to hold space and to assemble music for the beauty, the love, the sweet ridiculousness, and the depth that emerges each time our tribe gathers.
In my other life, I am in the early stages of a painful and joyful human-being mentorship program operated by my four-year-old son; I direct Not Back to School Camp, a kaleidoscopic bi-coastal gathering of unschooled teenagers; and I occasionally sign copies of the infamous book I wrote in my 20s, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education.
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.