Beach Dance Serves up Good Vibrations

Beach Dancing

WE ALL OF US, in our hearts, long to be free. Free from stress, worry, self-consciousness, inhibition. Free to express our individual selves. How that looks for any given person will vary, but there are elemental ways that humans, across cultures, give voice to the uniqueness of who they are. Creative expression: to sing, talk story, create visual representations of one’s world. And to dance—especially to dance.

Though we adults have, in our busy Western culture, lost touch with our dancing selves—except at wedding receptions and nightclubs—there is a worldwide literal movement toward reclaiming the celebration of the body’s desire to move. This is the “conscious dance,” movement, and the permutations of styles, names, and formats are as varied as there are minds and bodies to conceive of ways to move. The threads that weave through most forms of conscious dance are that it is practiced in community, and the movement is free-form; no steps to follow, no right or wrong way to move, no end result. Just pure unadulterated freedom to be yourself.

Like what you’re hearing? Well like this even more: Beach Dance in Cannon Beach, hosted by movement artist and facilitator Lisa Evans, is back for a fourth season.

“I’ve had nine rainy months to collect new music,” smiles Lisa, “and I’m rarin’ to go!”

Beach Dance is a conscious movement form that allows folks to don a tiny iPod Shuffle and headphones, loaded with one lovingly crafted playlist, that is shared by others participating in the session. The group gathers (on the beach), Lisa shares a few words, and it’s ready, set, play! And play is the word, essentially, for what happens next. Immersed in a private world of music, yet linked in community with the other dancers, the mover begins to experiment. To dare to let go, let down, let their creative spirit out. The dance may look big or small—the beach offers a jumbo-sized dance floor—and there is no limitation beyond the participant’s desire and imagination. Dancing outdoors offers a unique opportunity to connect both with self and the natural world, a canvas which itself is perpetually in motion.

Lisa Evans
Lisa Evans, Beach Dance Founder

“Dancing with the elements is about involving nature in the creative process. What happens to your dance when you see an eagle fly overhead? What do you incorporate into your dance? The water, the horizon, the wind, a sandcastle?” enthuses Lisa. “It’s a dynamic environment, unlike a studio.”

One of Lisa’s gifts as a facilitator is that she embodies a deep, insightful spirit and an effortless attitude of spontaneity and fun. Her own journey in conscious dance began at the Body Moves studio in Portland in the late ‘90s.

“The Sunday dance at Body Moves became my church,” Lisa remembers. “Moving in freedom spoke deeply to my soul, it became my practice.” When she relocated to Cannon Beach in 2001, she couldn’t always make the drive back into Portland for that Sunday dance. “I missed it. So I started dancing on the beach.” At first a morning beach run with a Walkman—remember those pre-iPod days?—would incorporate a little booty shake. Gradually her time on the beach became more about the dance than miles logged. And the dance on the beach became her passion.

Fast forward to summer 2008. Lisa and a friend and fellow dancer had been offering conscious dance inside for about a year. And Lisa was hungering to bring others out onto the beach with her to share that experience. She had recently seen herself in photos taken by a visitor to Cannon Beach—a professional photographer who found himself touched by Lisa’s spirit as she danced on the beach. What she saw in the pictures made her realize what others had witnessed in her dance: the joy, freedom, and inspiration to express oneself.

“I knew I had to just do it,” Lisa states, “to offer that opportunity to others.” So she presented an initial beach dance to the newly forming local conscious dance community and friends from around the NW. Fifteen dancers came, another photographer friend showed up to capture the magic.

“That dance was confirmation for me. I knew that this was how I could be of service in the world,” Lisa remembers with tears in her eyes. “I could just see the expressions on people’s faces. I could watch their bodies, hear how they felt and what it was like for them. That first dance helped me overcome my fear . . . is anybody going to get this besides me? Is someone going to love it as much as I do?” And how: Lisa is on the cover of the summer issue of Conscious Dancer magazine, an international publication that serves the dance community.
The summer of 2011 will offer 30 opportunities to get free and funky with yourself on one of the most inspiring dance floors in the world: the North end of Cannon Beach (Chapman Point). And beyond that?

“There’s a lot of beautiful beaches in the world,” Lisa laughs. “And I want to dance on them with others!”
Stay tuned in and turned on to the Beach Dance scene via Reach Lisa at Tel: 503-860-7711 email:

Conscious Dancer MagazineBEACH DANCE FOUNDER AND FACILITATOR LISA EVANS is on the cover of Conscious Dancer Magazine summer issue. The photo was taken on Maui, at a dance retreat presented by Studio Maui; Tribal Spirit and Spirit Body. In addition to dance facilitation Evans also contributes as a writer to the magazine which covers many facets of the ecstatic/free-style dance movement. Subscriptions to Conscious Dancer are available at You can also download on the web.

Portland, Oregon has developed a strong conscious dance movement, with numerous regular studios and halls where people gather to practice and enjoy dance and a dance community. The studio setting (see offers a deeper training aspect, with a limited number of participants, while other locations attract groups of up to 100 people. For example; Sacred Circle Dance comes together on a Sunday morning, beginning with a meditative circle, before everyone boogies out on their own for the next hour -  the music ranging from slow and meditative, to ethnic, drums, electronic trance, hip-hop, classical and everything in between.

Manzanita offers a Wednesday night ecstatic dance night, Wednesdays, 6:30pm at the Pine Grove Community House, 225 Laneda Ave. This group also includes instruments of any sort, and reminds, no exp. necessary. A $5-$7 sliding fee. A dance group in Astoria has taken a break for the summer, but has been meeting for over three years now – begun initially by Lisa Evans.

Portland Dance Sites: lists all the free form and contact improv sites in portland with links to websites:

Beach Dance Schedule:
Fridays 6:30-8pm (a little earlier once September comes—details on website)
Saturdays & Sundays 10-11:30am
Cost: $20 per event
Location: meet at the top of the beach trail at Chapman Point in the North End of Cannon Beach (more details on the website)

Friday night session themes will be announced on the website, Saturdays are a surprise, and Sundays offer a mellower more contemplative dance—though some calories will still likely be burned! Lisa offers a unique playlist for each event. Participants should wear layered clothing and bring what they need to feel comfortable outdoors—water, appropriate footwear etc. and arrive 10-15 minutes before the session starts. Individual iPods and headphones are furnished, plus a refreshing beverage. Cash or check for payment. Pre-registration required.

Lisa also does group events for up to 20 participants. Birthdays, bridal parties, reunions—she is happy to work with specific needs or themes.

Watcha waitin’ for? Come on and dance!

By Elia Seely

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