What is Ecstatic Dance?

and what is not ecstatic dance

Throughout human history, people have practiced some form of dance as a way of altering one’s consciousness and connecting with nature, other, and self. The modern day movement of ecstatic dance brings us back to these ancient practices, with the influence of Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms practice, conscious dance movement meditations, yoga, and somatic therapies flourishing today. It is a free-form dance practice where participants can gather to dance to music without the need of following the instructions of a leader. In Ecstatic Dance the music is the leader and participants are free to weave their way through the different soundscapes.


In its most basic definition ecstatic dance is a free-form dance movement inspired and led by carefully crafted music with the intention of creating a healing journey. The music follows a wave form, starting slow, moving to a peak, and descending into stillness. No dance experience or partner is necessary or needed. On one hand it’s a perfect outlet for those who think they “can’t dance” because they were taught that to “know” how to dance is to move in a certain way. On the other hand it is a luscious playground for experienced movers and dancers craving for a free space to express amongst community.

Ecstatic dance is an environment without observers, judgements, posturing, attitudes, conversations, shoes, alcohol, fragrances or smoke. A space where everyone can feel safe to be spontaneous, try new things and push their edges. This is the dance you dance when nobody is watching. Allowing your body to move freely without judgments or concerns for the “grace” or beauty of the dance, just getting lost in the dance into a space of no-mind.

Ecstatic dance is an inner/outer journey, an authentic moving meditation where presence and ecstasy can be experienced. It creates a direct body-mind-spirit connection, allowing our body and inner guide to be our own teachers. It’s about being fully present, transparent and real with oneself and others, discovering our own true dance, using this movement and energetic experience to release stuck patterns in our bodies, emotions and mind and being able to move beyond separation and experience true union.

Ecstatic dance is a spiritual practice. A safe space to explore healing through divine communion, individually and within community, without the iterations of the mind while talking and drinking, common in the nightclub scene. At ecstatic dance you have no one to impress, our attention is focused in ourselves not in others so you can be utterly yourself, getting down, letting loose, allowing your emotions, dreams and prayers to dance themselves, freeing your mind and body while connecting with yourself, others and spirit in a safe and healthy way.

Ecstatic dance empowers people of all shapes, ages, sizes and backgrounds to freely express themselves; the liberating atmosphere creates a melting pot of acceptance and the fearlessness with which others move gives permission and courage to dance without inhibition. Everyone is welcomed.

Ultimately, the experience of ecstatic dance is what you make of it. At AMC our intention is to hold a sacred free-form dance floor where all are free to be their authentic selves within a loving community. At our dances you will find bodies express, spirit connects, boundaries melt, boredom dissolves, creativity births, playfulness delights, hope emerges, prayers are heard, beauty flows, communities collaborate, ritual is reinvented and unity resonates as the beat deepens within a musical tapestry of world rhythms, weaving us together as a world that moves in harmony.


Ecstatic dance is many things, however there are some important distinctions to make in what it is not. Ecstatic dance is not a party, however it certainly can be fun and celebratory. It is not therapy, but it can be therapeutic and participants can experience release from trauma through it. It is not “cool”, it is a committed practice for movement and embodiment. It is not a performance, though we may feel expressive or inspired by the expression of others. It is not a dance class, still we can learn new ways to dance simply by free form exploration. These things aside, ecstatic dance is ultimately what you make of it!