The History of Dance Our Way Home:
DOWH was co-created in 2001 by Erica Ross and Nan Keyser for Sheena’s Place, a support organization for people with disordered eating and body image issues in Toronto, Canada. For ten years it remained a core ‘body image’ group at Sheena’s.
Over the years Erica, DOWH's director and visionary, continued to hone and deepen the DOWH practice, becoming Erica’s soul work and unique gift to her sisters. Erica infused the practice of DOWH with her personal relationship to life and the lens through which she sees it, and her love for, and relationship with, the Divine Feminine and Earth-based spirituality, and the wisdom teachings of Buddhism and Shamanism, and life-affirming ideas, writings, concepts and teachings.
In the fall of 2007, Erica, recognizing the great success at Sheena’s and the potential of this practice, brought DOWH into the community-at-large, offering it to any woman wishing to dance and to be more deeply connected to herself and to others.
DOWH continued to blossom as a beautiful tapestry of dance, guided imagery, relaxation, art, inspirational quotes and stories, supported by a diverse range of music including sacred voices, global funk, ambient and tribal grooves; offering women a remarkable journey of self-discovery, expression and connection, touching body, heart, mind and soul.
In 2009, DOWH attracted new women into its fold, as Twyla Kowalenko and Mari Rossi became the organisation’s first two apprentices and new DOWH facilitators. The growing team allowed for the creation of its very first DOWH Immersion: Facilitator Certification and Wisdom Path Training, which was held in the fall of 2010. The first training program successfully graduated 10 new DOWH facilitators.
2010 was a year of much outward growth for DOWH as it was also the year that Twyla Kowalenko initiated the Community Outreach Programme and took on the role of its director. With this new focus on communities of women who would not normally be able to access a practice such as Dance Our Way Home, in 2011, the organisation took up a new residence at the Centre for Social Innovation and welcomed its first Intern, Robin Linton.
In 2011, our beautiful tribe of DOWH facilitators expanded again with 10 more women certifying as DOWH Facilitators, in the second round of the DOWH Immersion: Facilitator Certification and Wisdom Path Training. Through the birth of these facilitators, DOWH has been shared in communities across Canada, down into United States and Peru. This fall 2012, DOWH welcomed 7 more courageous and kind women into the third round of training which completed on Dec. 12.
Like an ever-developing spiral dance, the practice and the organisation continue to grow, move and respond to the community of women it touches.
Throughout its journey, the following 10 Principles continue to hold its core: