Behold the Goddess in her element. Grounded in nature, surrounded by intentions of sisterhood and brotherhood. Raw and real in her emotions. She is bold in her creativity and free in her movement.
At Lightning in a Bottle, a safe haven to revere and call upon the Goddess* is created from the ground up at a time in history when an environment welcoming of the feminine, is still an extreme novelty. At a time when women remain afraid to walk the street alone in broad daylight without being verbally or physically harassed, when women die from botched circumcision, the very right for her to reveal the upper half of her body is considered a sex offense, this is no small feat.
Yet at San Antonio Recreation Center in Bradley, CA, once a year and for 5 days, this is a reality. Here, the rumblings of resurgence are undeniable. Balance is restored for a weekend, and the sensation reverberates into the daily lives of everyone who attends.
One powerful way in which Lightning in a Bottle facilitates this is through the medium of movement. The practice of Dance as Sacred is a cornerstone of this experience. LIB creates a sanctuary and catalyst for the Rise and expression of a fully embodied Feminine energy*. Each creatrix, not only standing in her power, but calling upon others to do so as well.
The most resonating and direct of these moments was during The Lucent Dossier Experience performance. After the visual decadence of aerialist Alicia Marie, and captivating contortion, the closing number highlighted the purpose of this performance at large. Director of Lucent and Co-Founder of Lightning in a Bottle, Dream Rockwell, took the mic to bellow across the mesmerized audience:
“I AM YOU”
Elevated above the stage and speaking with profound resolve, Dream’s speech was a call to each of us that whatever our heart begs for us to create is possible. Hearing the Co-Founder of this festival insist that we are one was a moment of nearly tangible empowerment in action. Underlining that, performing at an elevated position can be an invitation to each of us to realize our own infinite potential. Rather than to get caught up in worship of what occurs on the stage, to hold ourselves accountable in realizing our own abilities. It is through a willingness to be a messenger of authenticity and to delve deeply into truth that Dream consistently brings LIB as a collective consciousness, even higher.
Today sensuality is misunderstood, embedded in demi-mondes, mired in myth and shame ridden. Yet the women of LIB claim and proclaim their right to stand in their power and in their pleasure, allowing others to bear witness as they open their hearts and tunes into their womb. By doing so, they invite us to do the same. These courageous women give us examples of what empowered femininity looks like at a time when it is all around too scarce.
On the ground level, Tribal Fusion Performer and teacher Zoe Jakes addressed her workshop saying “As a woman, and as a man, you have permission to feel sensual. So feel powerful in this movement!”. She invited each of us to explore the sensual movement of belly dance on our own bodies. Not to shy away from it, but to own it. In her performances and alongside her troupe, House of Tarot, she tapped into a wide range of emotion- leading her audience through the dark and the lighthearted, demonstrating the limitlessness of femininity in an era where this word is too often depicted as 2 dimensional. Her performance alongside Stellamara was as enchanting as powerful in its demonstration of strength, evoking a current of emotion.
Perhaps the most erotic performance we had ever witnessed was Kamali Minter’s fearless, unrehearsed dance of her rawest self before her partner, which she courageously invited all to watch. In her workshop titled, Tantric Lap Dance, she invited each of us to honor our womb space as we practiced tantric breathing and allowed ourselves to be fully seen before a partner. She instructed us to trust our womb to reveal the most pleasurable movement we could experience next and to surrender to it. In watching her brave demonstration, we were each called to rise with our freest dance.
Each performance and experience a world unto itself. Aya Serpent delivered an exotic dance, erotically charged with reverence of female as enchantress. Meanwhile Jacqui Lalita led a workshop titled Sultry World Dance Odyssey. Yoga of Bass took us all on a journey from yoga to dance as we felt bass vibrate the mulch beneath our backs. Paradox led us on multiple journeys of Balinese Monkey Chant, a profound experience of community through chant and repetitive movement.
Of course, Sacred Dance doesn’t end in workshops, nor does it end on the stage. Throughout the course of the weekend, you can witness individuals having their own spiritual awakenings throughout the land. As expressed by Rochelle Schieck, teacher of Qoya, who taught multiple times over the course of the weekend,
“One reason I loved teaching Qoya at LIB is Qoya is based on the idea through movement we remember. We remember our essence is wise, wild and free. In a festival environment where so many people dance all night long, we are all connecting to what we know innately.”
Dance has been intertwined with rituals of the Feminine since as far back as history has been recorded. Yet we have forgotten it. Sold it, commercialized it, burned it, sexualized and soiled it. Today, we must work twice as hard to reclaim it as integral. Not that it needs validating, but that mass commitment to this freedom is necessary to move forward with intentions of balance and liberation of the feminine and masculine energy within each of us. Thus with the individuals who participate- from the performers to the speakers, teachers, and the festival goers- this weekend is infused with this message from the ground up and from the top down. Ensuring that we all meet in the middle. Now it is our duty to bring this back to our communities, hold space for it within ourselves, and create change on a global scale.
*** An important note to make is that when referring to the Goddess, Divine Feminine, Femininity, Feminine energy, it is understood that each individual regardless of gender possesses a spectrum of energy- feminine and masculine. In this article, we primarily honor the women who carry the torch of empowered femininity. However, the role of masculine energy, and men of LIB play an integral role in creating a space of safety, security, and openness for this energy to circulate freely.
Written by Alyssa Aparicio
Alyssa writes to live life twice. As a professional dancer and music journalist, she applies her study of anthropology to the cultural phenomenon of the modern music festival. From SXSW to Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Zoo to EDC, she has traveled extensively performing in and writing about her experiences at the world's most anticipated events. Alyssa is Creative Director & Co Founder of WildSpice Magazine and Art Director of The Carnavalesque Beauty Movement. AlyssaAparicio.com
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