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I love flowers. I grew up on a small flower farm in New England and was surrounded with them as a child. I’m the type who stops and smells them on the street. My favorite flowers are Peonies, Poppies, and Nasturtiums. Peonies smell the best, but you can eat the Nasturtiums, all the parts. I like how flowers make people happy. But the flower industry is pretty horrific if you look into it they have an enormous carbon footprint shipping fresh flowers every day in huge refrigerator airplanes from Ecuador or the Netherlands just so they can die and wilt on someone’s office desk. Buy local.
I like learning about my body, about human bodies and all the amazing science things that animals and plants have figured out to keep life going. I grew up doing theater, then ballet. I went to The Joffrey Ballet Academy in New York City even though my dad said not to. You can’t make money being a dancer, he said. Do something practical. On the last day of my program, the school director told me that I wouldn’t ever make it as a ballet dancer. He made me believe that my father was right. I dabbled a little in theater again. I played the fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof in Lancaster PA for a few months in a grand old theater and Amish people all around. I love Jerome Robbins, but that was enough for me and so I stopped dancing and went to college. I graduated from Parsons the New School for Design with a BFA in Communication Arts which was really graphic design. I thought I could still be creative and make money. Be practical like my father said.
But then I realized I couldn’t sit still at a desk behind a screen all day long, because dancers can’t sit still for too long, and so I left NYC for a summer to farm in rural Maine. I got into the dirt. I got into my body. I was up at 5am every day and in bed by 9pm and I don’t remember ever feeling more alive. That’s when I left the East Coast for San Francisco. My friend needed a room mate and I was ready to find myself.
Six months later I met Anna Halprin. I got a text message from a friend asking if I wanted to go to a workshop of hers at Esalen for six days, all expenses paid. I said of course. I had never heard her name before but I figured if I didn’t like her I’d soak in the hot tubs all day. But then I met her and I felt like a child dancing again so creative and she invited me to study with her in Marin and a month later I was enrolled at the Tamalpa Institute in deep embodied process, dancing again every day.
I’ve made my life about dance and movement education since then. Dance, the body, creativity. I got a Masters degree from Goddard College. I teach movement classes to kids at a Waldorf School. I’m teaching at the Tamalpa Institute now, study somatics and bodywork, and am building my own teaching practice.
I think about my father and my ballet teacher in New York. Making money or being professional are no longer prerequisites for permission to express myself and my creativity, even to identify as an artist. And now I want to turn everyone into dancers. And painters and poets and artists of all kinds. Normal people expressing their creativity. As Anna says, if you can breathe, you can dance. If you can speak, you can sing. I want to get the whole world dancing and singing instead of buying and killing and always being practical. I want one close world one huge world, all peoples - all ages - all abilities - all holding hands, one great circle singing and dancing together, leaping and yipping, all humans one planet — animals, plants one family, soaring and swooping and embracing and stomping; one world, one planet, one big song, feet flying and voices calling..
I want to dance.
Natan is an Oakland-based movement educator who believes in the body’s own wisdom and creativity to heal, teach, and express ourselves. He has studied dance with Anna Halprin and movement-based expressive arts therapy at the Tamalpa Institute with Anna and Daria Halprin, Ken Otter, Soto G. Hoffman, Alice Rutowski, Rosario Sammartino, Dohee Lee, Jamie McHugh, and Adriana Marchione, among others. He has also completed the Somatics Education Training at Moving on Center with Martha Eddy, Peggy Hackney, Carol Swann, Diane Elliot, and Brenton Chang.
A Tamalpa Practitioner, Natan is a Registered Somatic Movement Educator/Therapist (RSME/T) and currently on faculty at the Tamalpa Institute. He holds a BFA from Parsons the New School for Design and a MA in Education from Goddard College. He also teaches Movement at Golden Bridges Waldorf School in San Francisco and teaches public dance classes and workshops.