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When and where did Ecstatic Dance start?



The origins of ecstatic dance are difficult to

pinpoint since various cultures throughout history have incorporated dance as a form of spiritual practice or celebration. However, the contemporary form of ecstatic dance that we know today has its roots in the 1960s and 1970s in California.


In the 1960s, a group of dancers led by Gabrielle Roth began to explore the connection between dance and spiritual practice. They developed a dance practice called "the 5Rhythms" which involved moving through five different rhythms - flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness - as a way to access a deeper sense of self and connect with others.




Around the same time, other dance movements were also emerging in California, including the "contact improv" form of dance and the "ecstatic trance dance" practiced by the Esalen Institute. These practices emphasized improvisation and free movement as a way to connect with the body and express oneself creatively.





Since then, ecstatic dance has continued to evolve and spread throughout the world, with different communities putting their own spin on the practice. Today, there are countless variations of ecstatic dance, and the practice continues to grow in popularity as a way to connect with oneself, others, and the larger community.


Now, ecstatic dance can be found all around the world with some locations becoming hot spots with large communities. There are many cities around the world where ecstatic dance has become popular and has a strong community. Some of the most well-known cities for ecstatic dance include:

  1. San Francisco, California: San Francisco is considered by some to be the birthplace of ecstatic dance, and it remains a hub for the practice with regular events and a strong community. However, most believe that Ecstatic dance grew from the grounds of Big Sur at the Esalen Institute.

  2. New York City, New York: New York City is home to a vibrant ecstatic dance scene, with regular events and a diverse community of dancers.

  3. Bali, Indonesia: Bali has become a popular destination for ecstatic dance, with many retreats and events focused on the practice.

  4. Berlin, Germany: Berlin has a thriving ecstatic dance community, with regular events and workshops focused on movement meditation and free-form dance.

  5. Sydney, Australia: Sydney has a strong community of ecstatic dancers, with regular events and workshops focused on the practice.

  6. Additional hot spots of ecstatic dance include Oakland, CA, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, CA, Aztec, New Mexico, and Denver, CO

These are just a few examples of cities where ecstatic dance has become popular, and there are many more around the world where the practice has taken hold.


Learn more about current ecstatic dance offerings in the central coast today.

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