Rolando Toro Araneda was a Chilean anthropologist, psychologist, poet, and creator of Biodanza, a system of human development that combines music, movement, and emotion to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. He was born in Concepción, Chile, on April 19, 1924, and passed away on February 16, 2010.
Toro's early career was focused on anthropology and psychology, and he worked with indigenous communities in Chile, exploring their traditional dances and rituals. He believed that dance and movement were integral parts of human culture and had a significant impact on our physical and emotional health. Toro's work with indigenous communities inspired him to develop a system of movement and dance that would promote health and well-being among people from all backgrounds.
In the 1960s, Toro began to develop Biodanza, which he described as "a system of human integration, organic renewal, and reeducation affective, based on the activation of instinctual vitality, the affective motor potential, and the integrative power of music and movement." The system is based on the belief that we have an innate capacity for joy, creativity, and connection with others, and that we can tap into this capacity through dance and movement.
Toro believed that Biodanza could help people to overcome their emotional and psychological issues and promote a sense of well-being, balance, and harmony. He developed a series of exercises and dances that are designed to stimulate the body, mind, and emotions and promote a sense of connection with others. The exercises are performed in groups, and the music is carefully selected to promote a particular mood or emotion.
Biodanza is based on five fundamental lines of vivencia (living experience): Vitality, Sexuality, Creativity, Affectivity, and Transcendence. The system aims to help individuals to connect with these fundamental aspects of themselves and to integrate them into their lives in a healthy and positive way. By doing so, individuals can develop a sense of well-being and fulfillment and overcome emotional and psychological issues.
Biodanza has been widely adopted around the world and is practiced in more than 50 countries. It is used in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, prisons, and community centers, and is popular among people of all ages and backgrounds. Toro's work has had a significant impact on the fields of dance therapy, somatic psychology, and human development, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence people around the world.
In conclusion, Rolando Toro Araneda was a visionary and a pioneer in the field of human development. His creation of Biodanza has helped people around the world to overcome their emotional and psychological issues and promote a sense of well-being, balance, and harmony. Toro's legacy continues to inspire and influence people around the world, and his work will undoubtedly continue to be a source of inspiration and innovation for years to come.
Happy Biodanza Day April 19th, Rolando's Birth/Earthday and the day we celebrate LIFE IN THE CENTER.
The lure of dance is big in the US and around the world at the moment given the pandemic and our enclosed lives. Many tune in to watch the proliferation of dance television shows exploiting the often incredible talents of young and old alike. “World of Dance”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “So you think you can dance”, “Dance Moms”, not to mention the proliferation of Tiktok dance posts that have reunited the universe with a click of a the thumb entertaining the masses. More than a few recline at home, living vicariously through a myriad of devices, while secretly wishing to dust off their shoes and give it a whirl.
As seen on the various screens, the range of dance styles are vast; salsa to jazz, modern to samba, ballroom to hiphop. The dizzying difficulty, sheer agility and memorization needed to participate in these dances leave most of us a bit inhibited. It all may seem too much to fathom and quite intimidating to actually get onto a dance floor. We may even believe we have two "left feet" from a previous traumatic dance story we still cling to.
There are, however, dance modalities for those reticent and longing souls, as well as a host of very beneficial reasons to step on the the dance floor. Biodanza is a prime example of a somatic modality that anyone can do. Sometimes referred to as experimental dance movement or “conscious dance”, this is a world where there are no dance routines to remember. It is, ironically, the unconscious that we seek to tap into when doing Biodanza! But that’s another article.
Nothing is choreographed in Biodanza; rather dancing becomes the purest of personal expression through authentic movement. There are no age requirements, no fancy clothes, and generally, no shoes at all. This is a dance that is yours, directed solely on feedback from what your body wants or needs to do when the music awakens it. Children and even full families come and dance together to connect using the Biodanza system. People in wheelchairs or with other bodily arguments will also come, as an authentic dance class is for everyone!
Experiential dance is without rules unlike the complicated dance moves of the shows. If you dance wantonly by yourself, you are a leader of the movement…your own flow. There are many modalities where the goal is purely to dance it out. It feels good, then you go home.
Biodanza is, however, an organized system of rehabilitation for the body, mind and spirit that is facilitated in a group setting. Most important, are the “why’s” to dance in a Biodanza group, and they are many.
Beyond the quiet yearnings as you watch the dance shows each week, you should know that dance, like rigorous exercise of any kind, will automatically make you feel better. Your cells will be dancing as endorphins kick in and cortisol levels reduce, taming stress in your life. Chronic stress, left unattended, will eventually compromise your immune system, leading to illness and dis-ease. On the other hand, dances of joy and vitality will leave you energized, cellularly happy and will also help you to sleep better at night. If anyone asks, you can say you are actually dancing towards good health!
Dance can teach us so much. Dancing alone generates a strong sense of self knowing and acceptance. Dancing with a partner builds and nurtures our potential for affective connections. Connecting to others through non verbal gesture links us to the fabric of life and increases our communicative styles. There is a profound healing in the power of the group. Moreover, over 70% of communication is non-verbal and developing these skills can be rewarding and life affirming resulting in positive feelings for you and those around you.
Perhaps, most significantly, the weekly practice of Biodanza just may lead you to happiness. This authentic dance movement induces moments of exuberance that are expressed with the body, heartfelt emotion set to marvelous music.
A weekly practice within the safe space of a group of dancers will guide you to reconnect to a whole-body sense of joy. Studies show that this may just help create a more permanent link to that state. And isn’t happiness that elusive state we all strive for?
Besides, as director of you own reality show, you’ll be in the spotlight every week, as you dance in your joy and vitality. And maybe up to making a Tiktok or two!
Biodanza is available to you in the comfort of your own home, at the moment during the pandemic. Join a new introduction 5 week series happening Wednesday evenings 7:30 to 9pm eastern beginning March 3rd 2021. This series is for those new to Biodanza ages 18 to 80+. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.biodanzausa.com for more info
I am staring at the screen, controller gripped in my hand. I am ready to kill or be killed for that matter. That is the risk you take when you embark upon this mission. It’s daunting, but it needs to be done.
Life is at my fingertips and within my ultimate control. Unless I slip up. Lose my way. Take the wrong turn, deliberate or not.
Death is never far away. It lurks in the shadows around every bend I must take on my path and haunts my pursuits.
Damn this game maker. Did he know how hard this was going to be?
But I am sure that I will be able to re-energize with help. These missions are always full of backstops, no? There will be some potent formula or a magic bean to pump me up again, revive me, set me straight.
I’ve played so many rounds, I should know the hints by heart by now; aware of the clues and who to rely on.
There may be someone else on my team who might be able rescue me in the knick of time. Need to be open to that possibility.
I don’t want to play this alone anyway. I need to see their names on the screen. They have my back. They know how to work the controllers, too, sometimes better than me. Maybe I need to surrender to them more?
I mustn’t give up. I must keep laser focused in the war. I need to use all of my skills that I have to complete the mission successfully. My team is depending on me.
I am depending on me!
Of course, I want to win, come out on top. My goal is always to reign supreme over doom.
I need to survive and see it through to the end. Isn’t that what the game is about?
This gaming habit is an addiction, but it’s helping me to fine tune my creation process, like Pacman diligently and persistently gobbling up the pieces to win great treasure in the end.
I want some treasure, too.
I start to notice the signs of life that give me juice. I go for that. Admittedly, it’s not easy with these battery drawn controllers of mine, but if I recharge them then maybe I can carry on.
To the right, I can get the internal gas I craves; to the left, my pit stop involves accepting some energy intake from another player.
What I have learned is that in this game you need to give and receive to survive. No bones about it. You will lose if you go solo.
To avoid death in this game you need to rebirth yourself by the minute, using your own skills, others and the universe. There are signs. You get better at noticing them. You just need to keep your eyes wide open and makes some choices that put life in the center.
You’ll win if you do this, I promise.
This game, my friend, is a vast web of interdependency and you are not alone.
And may your controller batteries never die.
There, there my love…
It’s going to be alright.
Just rest your weary head on the back of the beach chair and let go.
Feel the water gently washing off your angst cleansing your body and spirit
Bask in the now. It’s all you can count on for sure.
As the gentle waves caress your feet
The pull of the ocean sucking the boogie board to and fro,
You are anchored to this world like the board to your chair.
Let this become your reality today.
Close your eyes and breathe in life all around you.
It smells so new and feels so fresh whispering across your sun kissed faced.
Oh, the roar of the sacred sea, the distant joyful cacophony of the innocent children
Resounding with vitality in your vulnerable ears. Waking your will for life.
Be not absent with your presence, my love.
Send blessings to the children from within your perfect light being.
Lift them and accompany them to their alternate realm resting besides yours.
Where there is no hatred nor intolerance
Rest content in this knowing…that love is an option here or there.
Will you choose love?
The surf continues to surge all around you gathering it’s vital energy.
This brute force of nature wills you back to life re-awakening your senses with each crash of a wave;
To be part of the collective conscious left behind with the memories;
To deal with death and the aftermath of hatred and sadness;
To cope with earth and the people who inhabit it.
Such things are not to be understood.
An earthly learning experience.
For this is your journey.
A holy spirit on earth living life in the midst of change.
Are you ready for this indomitable mission?
For this is what is needed now.
A new way to experience life.
Placing life in the center.
Humanity before all.
God is swirling in the details.
Fluid. Persistent. Present.
The unshakeable tide begins to recede.
Yet, the ebb and flow persist.
Therein lies the pulsation of life. A mystery to unravel.
The agitated boogie board becomes still and basks in the sunlight.
Feeling grateful for the reprieve.
Your dance of life.
Kind of one and the same, isn’t it?
Vital forces that can buoy the drowning with sweet harmony.
Offer your presence to the present.
Surrender to what is.
Know that the Sacred accompanies you in life, is all around you, within you,
There, there my love
It’s going to be alright.
If you look around you, you will perceive that there really is so much love in the world.
Focusing on the bad stuff or stating that there isn’t enough of this or that will only just create that same vibe. We don't need more of that.
I know, we are human. It’s easy to complain and whine and even get scared by the culture at large. It's the human response.
Stop what you are doing right now. Look around you. Where do you see love?
Is is the birds in the feeder eating the food you lovingly put out for them?
Is it the cup of tea your partner made for you this morning?
Is it your bank account that keeps you afloat with clients who pay you for your work?
Or maybe someone paid it forward and you got a free something at the café this week.
Look around you. Listen. Reflect.
Spread what you want more of on this planet not the opposite.
Focus on love not fear. It's a big lesson to learn.
Have you every taken hold a hot baked potato and the burn was just too much for your delicate palms causing you to unleash that tuber so fast that it dropped free falling to the ground?
Or maybe as a child you played the game aptly named “hot potato” where if you are the last player holding the potato/beanbag in the circle and the music stops and you are eliminated? Bye-bye… you’re gone.
Both highly unfortunate happenings and leaving one with a feeling of a vortex of loss…to the tummy and the heart!
This hot potato image is one that relates so much to life and relationships in our current disposable society.
The current phenomenon of “ghosting”, the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication, is basically what I refer to as the hot potato syndrome. Don’t like it? Just leave.
It’s such an icky feeling for those left behind.
Want to up level the situation? Reflect about how you can put closure on events in your life that are no longer serving you and be brave enough to do it with feedback and love.
Don’t be the guy or gal who just leaves unannounced. Use your voice to empower you.
I happened upon Biodanza during a very low point in my life. I was seven years into my fourteen year journey in Africa, having given up my secure, independent life in the US and a tenured teaching job that defined me. I had married and had two children, but had lost myself somewhere along the way in the morass of new motherhood and the difficult task of adapting to new and challenging environments in poverty stricken African cities.
BIODANZA, poetry of human encounter
Discovering Biodanza was the product of pure serendipity in the form of a flyer on a gym wall. With trepidation, I made my first encounter, pregnant with my third child, in an outdoor Biodanza class.
I was initially taken back by the personal connections during the sessions, staring into someone’s eyes or holding hands with a stranger during the walking exercise. However, as the facilitator wove specific exercises into each class, I began to develop a comfort level with these connections and in time, a deep desire for this authenticity. The constant pulsation from me to the group and back helped me acknowledge that in my own adventurous and nomadic life, I was indeed strong and quite capable of embracing life’s authentic flow.
Peeling off the layers
With passion in my heart and a newly born baby, I decided to join the Biodanza School in Johannesburg. I was challenged by the level of intimacy that was carefully and progressively introduced. However, I felt safe connecting first with myself. What is that mask I am hiding behind? How is this showing up in my dance? As I began to peel away the layers with self-regulation and feedback, I felt the emergence of the real me within every dance. These are two important concepts reinforced in the Biodanza space. Self-regulation allows you to care for your physical needs in the dance—if you need to slow down, speed up, or even rest, you need to make the decision. Extending this concept to the other dancers, being in communication with them through awareness of their space, gestures, and need for contact is also stressed.
Connecting to presence
Next, and perhaps the biggest challenge, was learning to be present with others. Not superficially present as we tend to be in our busy Western society, but really connected with someone else in the dance. Holding hands, gazing into the “eyes of humanity” as Biodanza creator Rolando Toro describes it, or lying in a warm nest or “puppy puddle” on the ground, I felt increasingly comforted, contained, and liberated from cultural constraints of how we are supposed to relate to one another.
Deepening this ability to be authentically present with myself and others also allowed me to connect more profoundly to the Divine. When I dance now, I am filled with the presence of the numinous and feel this awesome energy in dancers with whom I ignite on the dance floor.
As a wife and mother of three, I am more connected in mind, body, and spirit ways that replaced the distraction I felt before. I look people in the eyes, focus on them, and don’t answer my ringing phone or look away with disinterest. I can say that I know what it truly is to be present with someone and I know that each moment of life is sacred and precious My “poetic encounters” now extend beyond the dance floor and spill over into my daily life.
Biodanza, the dance and blessing of my life...
www.biodanzausa.com for more on the dance of life
When it comes to dancing, people think about ballroom or putting on ballet shoes or doing choreographed steps in jazz. It's hard for us to think of dance that goes beyond aesthetic standards, and even more unlikely to envision a system of dance designed specifically to induce existential modifications in life.
Well, that's precisely the innovative proposal of Rolando Toro Araneda with the Biodanza system which is relatively new in the USA but spreading organically.
To create this system, Rolando Toro, a Chilean teacher,
anthropologist and psychologist, researched ways to humanize medicine and to create system health advocates (facilitators) beginning in the 60's.
Through his anthropological studies he noted that dance had always been used since ancient times as a tool of communication and commitment and expresses deep emotional human meaning.
A vehicle that generates communication and unites group members, establishes rites of passage and celebrations, dance can evoke and translate many dimensions of deep and revealing humanity.
This is the greatest invitation of Biodanza : the dance as movement full of meaning with integrated movement.
Integration means that mobility, perception, affectivity and
behavior are part of a single whole. Integration…to do, say and feel the same action,thought, feeling and not to say one thing, but do another, etc. The simple act of achieving integrative consistency is healing in itself and the possibility of acting with faithfulness to your own feelings can lead to profound and magical changes in your life. The idea is that this consistency can incorporate and expand many possibilities in our existence.
This consistency is gradually achieved with the process of regular Biodanza classes every week.
The primary purpose of Biodanza is, thus, to generate integration:
Existential Level: integration between feeling, thinking and acting, seeking consistency and spontaneity in everyday actions.
Physiological level: integration between body parts and creating homeostasis in the body by dissolving tensions, creating regular rhythms, integrating one’s emotions. Biodanza classes address a respect for the body, dissolving stress and aiding you to shed poor physiological functioning generated by a hectic lifestyle.
Existential Level: integration between the individual and the group, rescuing the possibility of creating affective bonds, carefully dissolving competitive and defensive patterns of communication.
Biodanza does not mean simply to dance, but rather to let your movement express its truth.
This movement is what leads to experience. Experience means being in touch with everything that's happening in this moment here and now: How I feel, what I think and how I act. This contact with the present time gives you the possibility to become aware of your own needs and desires. This is a seemingly simple process, but often lost within our educational standards and the rhythms that are imposed by our hectic urban lifestyle and cultural dictates.
Biodanza is an extremely broad system and difficult to explain in a few lines, but to recap, we propose that through dance, listening to your body and feeling your feelings, you can generate real integration: feel what you feel, communicating authentically with others, moving in existence to meet your needs while respecting the cycles of life.
Only your body and your movement can connect to its own depth.
No doctor, guru or confidant can do this for you.
Biodanza uses the sacred body along with music, movement and heartfelt emotion to shift towards integration and a fuller expression of our uniqueness.
The actual experience of a class of Biodanza is the best way to understand its life changing effects.
Join us in Maryland for the dance of life!
Getting out on the Biodanza dance floor connects you immediately to LIFE from the first song.
The rhythm is beating like a heart.
Other shiny humans are present.
You are breathing in the air of first-time excitement or the knowing of the bliss to come.
Connecting to the sacredness of you and of life weekly in the Biodanza space creates movement in the universe that only the collective unconscious can feel.
We Biodanceros become more emboldened to speak up for life, defend it and fight against the injustice that prevails with each dance we make.
Feeling like you can't do that just yet?
Join us in Maryland every Thursday evening at 7:30pm and let the magic of you begin.
Are you willing to take the next step to a higher consciousness?
It all begins with you. On the inside.
Then we spread our essence outward.
And the collective will follow suit.
And if enough of us awaken to our true nature, we can make a difference.
One person at a time. One heart at a time.
Biodanza, the poetry of human encounter.
"small talk about rEVOLutionary