Written by Shelly Randall

Michael Molin-Skelton joins teaching team at Madrona MindBody Institute

Madrona MindBody Institute in Port Townsend is pleased to welcome Michael Molin-Skelton to its teaching team as a Soul Motion teacher.
A modern dancer from Los Angeles who was one of the first to be trained by Vinn Arjuna Martí, the creator of the conscious dance form known as Soul Motion®, Michael now travels all over the world teaching the Soul Motion practice and philosophy.
He is currently in Europe for the month of March, leading Soul Motion workshops in Italy, Austria, Belgium and Poland.
An African-American who leaps social boundaries as easily as he leaps across the dance floor, Michael shaves his head and often wears hoop earrings and flowing white skirts. Dance guru Gabrielle Roth once offered this description of him to a colleague: “He’s black, he’s bald, and he wears white.”
You can’t miss noticing him. And his arrival in Port Townsend is turning heads.
“To have someone of Michael’s caliber, with his international reputation, joining us—it’s a big deal,” says Madrona co-founder Aletia Alvarez.

Passing the torch

Soul Motion is one of the biggest draws at Madrona, a sanctuary for conscious living and the moving arts that this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.
The popular “Soulful Sunday” Soul Motion class on Sunday mornings has the largest turnout of all the weekly classes, drawing between 25-80 participants and averaging 35-40.
The dance is “a facilitated movement journey that stays curious to both freedom and form,” says Aletia, who is also an experienced Soul Motion teacher. She brought the dance form to Madrona in 2007 and has led the classes for the past 10 years, building a devoted following.
“We’re an established dance community, a community that’s taken 10 years to cultivate,” she says proudly. “We’re a group of people who have learned to move together.”
Now Aletia is passing the Soulful Sunday torch to Michael. She will continue to lead the Tuesday morning Soul Motion class, “Movement as Meditation,” and will fill in for Michael when he is traveling, but she is shifting her focus to the business’s development and growing Madrona’s role at Fort Worden’s Lifelong Learning Center.
Madrona’s Soul Motion students have enthusiastically embraced Michael’s facilitation of the Sunday sessions that many consider their “dance church.”

Center for the Soul Motion School

Michael’s move to Madrona solidifies it as a west coast center for the Soul Motion School, as both he and Aletia are on the core faculty.
This means even more Soul Motion apprentices will be coming to Port Townsend for multi-day courses, says Aletia. Madrona’s location at Fort Worden State Park makes it easy to host residential workshops and teacher training programs, with housing and meals provided on campus.
A Soul Motion School leadership program that will attract apprentices from all over the globe is scheduled at Madrona in April and May. June 21-25, Aletia and Michael co-teach “Soul Motion: Foundations,” a five-day entry-level program open to the public.

Trusting intuition

Aletia and Michael are long-time collaborators. They first met in late 2007 at a Soul Motion training at the Esalen Institute in California. After that, Michael traveled to Port Townsend many times for Soul Motion School events.
But it wasn’t until 2016 that his wife came for a visit. Anneli Molin-Skelton was immediately enchanted. Soon after, they sold their house in Portland, bought a house in Port Townsend, enrolled their 5-year-old son Jaylan at Swan School, and began teaching at Madrona.
“It’s such a beautiful community, and a beautiful place to raise a child,” says Anneli. “From Day One, I felt ‘We have found our people here.’”
The Molin-Skeltons are a couple who trusts their intuition. The two met in 2002 at a dance workshop in the Bay Area, and after spending 18 days together they were married in Anneli’s hometown in northern Sweden.
Anneli Molin-Skelton left a promising corporate career in telecommunications to become a dance instructor herself. She teaches a form of conscious dance called Open Floor, which is a new offering at Madrona.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, to raise a family through your art,” says Michael. But, adds Anneli, “We feel blessed and grateful to do what we love.”

Free dance April 2nd

Madrona MindBody Institute invites the public to come dance with Michael Molin-Skelton at a special Soulful Sunday session on April 2, from 10-11:30 a.m. It’s free to newcomers, half-price for regulars, and appropriate for ages 11 and up.

The dance is followed by a welcome reception starting at 11:45 a.m. for the new teacher and his family that includes a potluck brunch. “The public is invited to ‘Come to dance, stay for brunch,’” says Aletia.

Learn more, and watch a video of Michael Molin-Skelton in motion, at MadronaMindBody.com.

Life is often both unpredictable and full of surprises even in the moments when we think and feel that we have both our feet very solidly planted on the ground. After almost two years beginning to build a new life in Portland Oregon we spent two days in Port Townsend where Michael has spent many days throughout the years dancing and teaching Soul Motion, one of the places Michael has always said that he loves. We had two really lovely days not aware of the strings inside being gently pulled in a new direction.

In our awareness for a few weeks prior to this was the knowledge that now as we were completely letting go of the community in Los Angeles we could live anywhere. It felt like something new was opening inside of my being.  A curious question and a new beginning had started to take form.

If you are familiar with Michael and I you might know that when we move towards something we do not hesitate and most times we try to flow with the current which often moves quickly. We followed a deep yes within ourselves directing us towards Port Townsend. It was a pull that could not be denied nor hidden. Even though we had uprooted our family two years earlier and started to feel at home in Portland a truth and calling in the marrow of my bones moved us forward. There were moments of sadness and doubt but much stronger were the solid feeling of hope and possibility.

Our anam cara (soul friend) Aletia welcomed us to Port Townsend and the beautiful community she has held and cultivated for years. From the depths of our hearts we thank you Aletia.  Without you and your constant yes, this would not have been possible. We are tremendously grateful and blessed to be receiving your welcoming and open heart.

We are filled with immense gratitude for the life we left in Portland. How all the wonderful and dear people welcomed us with open arms and became part of our lives for two years. You made this life possible for us. You have given us the courage again to step into the mystery and the unknown following our hearts to a new beginning.

Life works in miracles with so many angels around us who made our transition, one filled with wonder and ease. As we arrived in Port Townsend, Standford and Caitlin, so generously offered their cabin as a refuge and home for our family until we found our permanent home. We are grateful beyond words for your generosity and kind hearts, Standford and Caitlin, and for a new friendship that we all cherish.

From the day we arrived a sense of peace and calm surrounded us all. All the way down to my core I know that this is the right place for us. Here, there is a recognition with many people and I feel at home. We already have new friendships that are becoming dear.  Thank you to each one of you who is making space for us in your lives.

Our dear friends, Margaret and Merilee, who have welcomed us into their hearts and home and makes it feels like we have a new family. We love you and appreciate you both more than we possibly can express.

We are filled with immense gratitude for the beautiful and committed conscious movement community here which makes all our hearts spark. All of you courageous and beautiful beings who show up to be together in the dance again and again. In this vibrant and thriving community we are now finding our place, with so much aliveness and curiosity. We are already in love with this community, that we very humbly count ourselves as being a part of. As David Spangler says “Some people think they are in community, but they are only in  
proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend oneself to encounter and know the other.” Port Townsend is true community.

We share this beautiful and magical little oasis at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula and we all need each other. We are strands in a tapestry we cannot see because we are all part of it. Here we feel the desire to occupy life more fully together. We do so with a true willingness to encounter and know the common unity between us all.

In the beauty and fullness of being a parent I pause every day and in that pause I feel how immensely blessed and grateful I am to live this life here with my beloved Michael and our miracle Jaylan. I love you both more than to the moon and back. Thank you Michael and Jaylan for being the sanctuary I am blessed to be able to pray in and play with.

As David Whyte reminds us to start close in:
“Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.”

Do we dare to take that first step, to have the courage to stand close to ourselves and see ourselves for who we are. To see ourselves in our entirety even if it is uncomfortable or unknown. Can we be still enough to feel and see ourselves, take the risk to get to know ourselves in the most intimate way (allowing ourselves to be seen).

I remember being a child and feeling the need to change myself, to be something that was not a true expression of who I am, only to be accepted. It seems like many of us for many different reasons in our past had the experience of not being accepted for who we are.

We have the resources to change this painful pattern if we have the desire to. We begin to recognize what is happening inside us and regard what we see with an open, kind and loving heart. We start close in becoming aware of what is happening inside of our body and mind without trying to control or judge or pull away.

We give ourselves the chance to be accepted as we are. To turn around and embrace ourselves in all our realness – broken, messy, mysterious and vibrantly alive.

Dare to come with me starting close in taking the first step that we all want to take.

Sit still. Breathe. Repeat to yourself “May I love and accept myself completely. May I love and accept myself just as I am.”

Jaylan and I are celebrating you pappa Michael on this day as well as every moment. You are an amazing father who from before birth has tended and supported Jaylan like no one else ever will. The way you stand beside Jaylan to experience the world through his eyes and speak up for him when he does not have the voice himself. You inspire and teach me how it is possible to father a child in a gentle and respectful way. In moments when my patients fail and I am not able to be the mother I long to be you are right beside me reminding me to see the truth in the moment. Your unconditional love and support reminds my heart that life is a true blessing. We love you more pappa Michael.

it is the dead of winter in los angeles (yeah I know, high 72 degrees-low 59) and 16 month old jaylan is toddling around in our front yard… naked.   a nondescript car drives by, slows and backs up. a window rolls down and a woman leans over from the passenger seat and bellows, “that is disgusting, indecent and obscene…” (I will edit the rest and not even mention her calling the police).   fast forward to a summer day in portland (yeah, high 72…) and a now 2 ½ year old jaylan is toddling around in our front yard… naked. a woman walks by stops, smiles and says, “that is the most beautiful outfit I have ever seen”. need I say more about knowing we have found our home.

it was though a chaotic transition. after enduring several escrow bumps and bruises along the path of transplantation from los angeles to portland and being homeless for over 2 weeks (special thanks to dear friends heather ehlers and anna marti for opening their homes to us) we landed on somewhat solid ground, were up to our neck in boxes and ‘gasp’ were without the lifeline of the internet . it is astonishing to me how untethered, aimless and listless i became without the solidity of a home combined with the loss of teaching 4 classes a week. and even with all the chaos it felt so right because anneli is on one side of me and jaylan is on the other. nothing ever feels wrong when i am touching and being touched by them.

I am filled with immense gratitude for the life I am leaving. the soil of the los angeles community has been rich and fertile, a blessing in ways seen and unseen. we have been held and supported by an intimate circle of extraordinary men and women who hold the high watch for jaylan as his godparents. a wider circle of women channeled the primal feminine through prayer and ritual as anneli labored through love to give birth to our little king. we have been challenged and cherished by men’s groups and women’s groups to consciously dig into the dark places of our wounds because that is where our true gifts are to be found. and each and every one of you who has passed through the door of one of our class offerings in los angeles has touched and moved us in ways that continually stirs our souls and sings in our hearts. each of you has allowed us to live our ‘high dream’ and it is you, living in our heart, which gives us the courage to step across this threshold into the mystery of the unknown to begin again in portland.

I am filled with immense gratitude for the life I am entering. i have the great fortune to now call portland my home. I am reveling in the hallowed ground where the extraordinary dance artist vinn arjuna marti birthed, honed and continues to breathe life into the shaping of the movement artistry lovingly and commonly known as soul motion. as I humbly begin again teaching this work in portland I feel myself being pulled along by a strong undertow of the current began by arjuna so many years ago in his studio body moves. I am honored to be standing on the shoulders of this man I call my teacher and am constantly striving to live up to and live in to the platforms and points of view of soul motion both on and off of the dance floor. as I make my way into this thriving and flourishing movement community I can see and feel the echo of arjuna on every movement floor; from the intimate and sacred offerings of soul motion teachers winky wheeler and paula byrne to the ecstatic dance floors of the sacred circle dance. all owe a great depth of gratitude to the man I heard gabrielle roth once whisper about, “he could be the reincarnation of nijinsky”.   I publicly and privately thank arjuna for the tilling of the soil here in portland and the fruits of that labor which I now reap. and thank you to the every day citizens of portland who have so open heartedly welcomed, embraced and nurtured us as a new family and to john william johnson for anchoring me when I felt ungrounded.   thank you to portland itself for constantly being in the top 10 for greenest places in the world to live, for being a forest masquerading as a city, for being a place where you are not shunned for walking and for being a place where bicycles are respected and regarded on the road.   thank you anneli and jaylan for being the temple I am blessed to be able to pray in and play with.

 

and finally I would be remiss if I did not mention I have yet to meet anyone here in portland who watches (or will admit to watching) portlandia.

 

blessings in the current,

michael

 

 

 

Fear is shaking my nervous system. Thoughts racing through my brain; I know I should have taken the child CPR class, this cannot happen, i will not lose my little child, am I loosing you my dear one?  My worst fear is right in front of me.  I dial 9-1-1 and wait for them to pick up the phone.

We are sitting together sharing the last pieces of our dinner. We are playing, talking and enjoying ourselves. Then the ring that you are playing with is in your mouth and is slides down your throat. First you cannot breathe. You are crying. Michael is trying to gently and desperately assist you but neither one of us know exactly what to do. We should have taken that child CPR class. I know we should have.

Every second feels like an eternity. You are gasping for air and you are breathing. You are talking. The woman who is still talking to me on the phone is saying to continue to watch your breath while the paramedics are on their way. She tells me to stay calm. I am in general a calm person but while facing my worst fear of losing my child I am everything but calm. Breathing and watching you. You come into my arms and I feel your strong heart beating against my own heart. My fear of losing you is imminent. Now your body is trying to get the intruder out of your system. You throw up. First air. Then in a puddle of mucous the ring comes out. The nightmare is over.  You are calm and so composed like nothing really serious has happened.

My body is fighting inside the chaos after fear and adrenaline overflow. I love you more than you ever can know. I wanted you more than you every can know. I am reminded of the impermanence of life. How fast who we love can be taken away from us. I am reminded of how close death is. That every moment I have together with the two human being that I love more than anything is so precious. I am crying. The fear leaving my body. I know I cannot protect you from life and everything that can hurt you. Thank you for not leaving me.

A few minutes after this chaos you are continuing to eat while pappa Michael is reading a book to you. Like nothing has happened. Maybe a little more tender and always utterly vibrantly alive.

Jag älskar dig min kära lilla son.

 

 

Our journey as parents is immensely wild and vulnerable. We are committed to parent from our hearts and we are making a difference, we stumble and we try again. Our hearts expand and open in ways we thought were never possible. Being a parent makes us realize that we would do anything for this little human being that is filled with so much life and joy. It is not sacrifices we make, it is a change made out of respect and love. We are continuing to embrace our new life as a family with a small child and want to live our life to the fullest where it is most right for us to root and flower.

Daniel Stern says “Change is never easy. You fight to hold on. You fight to let go.”

With a pained heart that at the same time is yearning with the possibilities of beginning again our life is changing magically and drastically. It is time for us to move into the current of change and move our family to a new place. We are taking it one step and a time starting with the first step close in. Being able to give a child an environment where nature is close in, a smaller town where our home is minutes away from everything we need, is a privilege. We are blessed and we know it. In every way possible we open our hearts and bow our heads in gratitude to our life and every being that blesses us with their presence.

We are leaving the life that we know. We are leaving Los Angeles and starting over in Portland. A town where we feel our whole family can root and flower. This is very exciting for us and at the same time painful. Please share both our excitement and our pain. We are beginning to close our life here and begin anew. It is a great adventure for us all with new possibilities to be together and share our lives in a different way. Yes, we are talking to you. Know that you are never alone. Know that we are in this together. No matter where our physical bodies are.

The soil of this Los Angeles community has been rich and fertile for us, blessing us in ways seen and unseen. We are held and supported by an intimate circle of extraordinary men and women who hold the high watch for Jaylan as his godparents. A wider circle of women channeled the primal feminine through prayer and ritual as Anneli labored through love to give birth to our little king. We have been challenged and cherished by men’s groups and women’s groups to consciously dig into the dark places of our wounds because that is where our true gifts are to be found. And each and every one of you who has passed through the door of one of our Spiritweaves offerings has touched and moved us in ways that continually stirs our souls and sings in our hearts. Each of you has allowed us to live our ‘high dream’ and it is you, living in our heart, which gives us the courage to step across this threshold into the mystery of the unknown to begin again in Portland.

We are loving each other boldly. Daring to take the risk it takes to open. To open into a new life.

We are ending with words from Anaïs Nin ” Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

Know that we are not leaving. We are arriving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we deeply appreciate that you have allowed us into your life.
we celebrate you and the movement moments which have brought us together on this journey.
our prayer is that we continue to walk the bridge that connects the
disparate parts of ourselves, walk the bridge that connects us to each other, to all others and where finally we remember that our spirits are
woven into the all one.
we invite you to wander with us into the center of who we are,
to dance our truth together.

our new website is now meeting the world.

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