“Peace Like a River” Movement Mantra

On January 1st, 2023 I woke up early and went out by myself to my favorite bench to catch the sunrise. I was back in Neenah, WI, the city I was born in, raised, and returned to for the first decade or so of my adult life. It was a cloudy AM, so no bright vibrant colors were seen, but I could see the light shift from a darker gray to a lighter gray. While I was there the song “Peace Like a River” came to my mind. The lyrics seeped in to my spirit and I was flooded with peace. I have been thinking of this song ever since, so this morning I brought movement to the lyrics to help build a deeper resonance in my body for this year, 2023. The physical embodiment helps me to really feel the lyrics. The movements are not complicated, it’s not meant to be performative, they are just there to embed the words into my body. When I find myself feeling stuck, frustrated, wanting encouragement this year, I will return to this movement phrase—to channel peace, joy, and love.

Have you ever created movement to help you find a deeper connection and resonance with a thought, phrase, or mantra? If your curious what this might feel like, I added verbal instructions to this phrase to try and move along with me. It may take you a few tries, but it’s not about perfection, it’s about flow, feeling, sensation, and embodiment. No care if you do the opposite foot, or your arms follow a different path than mine.

That which I do physically I more fully remember. To “feel and embody” the words brings me to a deeper connection. A physical practice is and can be more than just working out. It’s a way to find a deeper connection with the vessel that carries us through the world. It’s not something that we do outside of ourselves. Our arm is not a thing, it’s an extension of our being. This is why when I teach I’m conscious not to use cueing “press with the arm” or “reach the leg”. You press with your arm, and reach your leg. It’s not a separate entity, it’s a part of you. When we no longer identify or connect with our bodies we miss out on a greater embodied existence. We lack a physical expression of ourselves to the world and those around us. May you more fully connect to an embodied existence in 2023. If you’re curious about various ways to do this, reach out, I’d love to chat.

Let me know your thoughts down below. Keep curious and give it a try.

Happy New Year, and may 2023 be welcomed with peace, joy, and love.

-Courtney Anne Holcomb, Move and Yield

Sound on for instructions and lyrics. “Peace Like a River” by Beautiful Chorus

Move and Yield Community

It all started with an RV trip…

Now, I realize that this is a very millennial thing to say, but I cannot deny the truth of it. And if I’m being transparent, before the RV trip it started with the pandemic, panic attacks, and having pursued and fulfilled a childhood dream of opening a Pilates studio. After graduating college with a degree in Dance and Spanish, and simultaneously pursuing my Pilates education, I moved back to my hometown of Neenah, WI where I swore I’d never live again…I made an original business plan for a Pilates studio in entrepreneurship class back in high school. I saw the need in my hometown local community and felt I would be remiss to not use my skillset to meet the need in my community. Spring of 2016 I opened Waveforms Pilates, specializing in highly-specific one-on-one training with bodies of all abilities. We owned a beautiful 1941 mid-century modern house, I spent years creating beautiful gardens, expanding my business, and building a movement culture throughout the Fox Cities area. On paper everything was amazing, a thriving business, sharing my passion for movement, building community, and a lovely home. But looming in the background, anxiety and panic began to consume larger portions of my days. 

Starting around August of 2020, I began having a series of small panic attacks. The chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, balancing the needs of myself, my students, and my family, and my growing anxiety started to make life more debilitating. On top of that, my husband had just received a pretty big diagnosis that gave him more insight into why over the past 2-3 years his health and physicality was deteriorating. I have managed minor anxiety throughout my whole life, but the panic attacks were new territory. Intellectually I could talk myself out of the anxiety, but it was always background noise even in the environments I felt most safe and in control (the Pilates studio and my home). The sensations of a panic attack coming on I felt no control over. This was terrifying for me. I lost weight, I lost sleep, I started to avoid making plans, and I began to feel like a shell of myself. Stress had taken over and my body and mind were fighting a constant state of fight-or-flight, with no sign of thriving even though from the outside view everything looked amazing. Rationally the business had never been busier, our finances were incredible, my husband super supportive, and I had great relationships with friends and family, where was the dissonance? 

Fast-forward to January of 2021, my husband and I both came home from work with the same thing in mind. Is this what we want the rest of our lives to look like? A successful business, beautiful home, comfortable life, but our mental and physical health suffering? Sometimes in life we are called to say goodbye to things, even when they are good. Just like the lyrics from The Fray’s song “All at Once”, “sometimes the hardest things and the right thing are the same.” There are seasons to life and a boldness often required. A braveness to look within and continue to ask questions what might be best for oneself? Even if it’s not easy. We didn’t want to be people who stuck with something that was good, even though it no longer felt right. We wanted to step into a life design that could include prioritizing our personal health and wellbeing. We felt confident that there was a new place, a new chapter, and a next iteration of what our future could look like to be explored. My family and I entered into the great unknown with a lot a bit of blind faith and a whole lot of trust.

After our conversations together and a few months of getting some affairs in order, May 2022 we sold our home and most of our possessions, and June 2021 we sold our successful brick-and-mortar Pilates studio to our dear friend who had been an instructor at the studio for over two years. We wanted to hit the road on a year-long sabbatical to take time for pause and re-evaluation. Spending part of our thirties to rest and restore our personal health and wellbeing, and look deeper into what we wanted our future life design to not only look like, but feel like. Cherishing time with one another and re-discovered what makes us come alive. We started by living in community with some dear friends, transitioned to the road traveling full time in an RV, and then bought a condo and settled into the beautiful lakefront of Sheboygan, WI. 

Move and Yield Emerges

Move and Yield emerged out of this journey and the self-discovery of what I found provides me with the most fulfillment: movement, yielding, nature, creative expression, and community. 

Move and Yield is a community initiative that was born out of my own need to slow down and find joy in all aspects of my life. As an entrepreneur and small business owner I found myself full of purpose, but lacking in fulfillment. The fast-pace of modern society left me feeling worn out, full of anxiety, and with little time and space for listening inward to what my body and mind truly needed. I longed for delight, connection, and expression.

The focus is on encouraging people to move more, connect to the natural world, find creative expression, invest in community, and spend thoughtful time in yield. When we race through life it passes us by, and joy gets lost in the spaces in between. Slowing down the modern pace of life is essential for helping us connect to self, build meaningful relationships, and contribute to the world. Nature provides a perfect backdrop to take us away from the many distractions and stressors of modern life and helps connect us to the vastness of the world. So many of the movement meet-ups and events will exist in outdoor spaces.

Move may seem obvious, in our modern sedentary-laden culture, but what do I mean in terms of yield? In life we must slow and listen in order to know what our bodies and minds truly need. When we stay “busy” we are robbed of the ability to tap into self-awareness and connection. When we are disconnected to self it’s extremely difficult to connect with others, and to sense our connection to the greater world around us. This in turn makes our purpose feel lacking and our lives feeling empty. The feeling of life in a “hamster wheel” is not an enjoyable outcome of our efforts. Yielding is a process of slowing to help us tap into an embodied and full existence, and to help us discover what our true inner desires in life consist of. Slowing down to take notice of all life has to offer. And savoring and prioritizing the experiences that bring us alive.

Move and Yield is a community that provides curated content and classes that balance moving more and yielding to reconnect and slow the modern pace of life. All of these things encompassed and focused on the themes of both moving and yielding more in our day-to-day lives. 

Drawing Inspiration from:

  • Pilates, functional fitness, intuitive movement, dance, and play 
  • Building variety, frequency, and awareness in our movement practice
  • Connecting to nature and spending time in outdoor spaces
  • Teaching compassion, capability, and kindness to ones body
  • Thoughtful introspection and turning inward to discover our inner desires
  • Moving the spine in all directions and exploring movement possibilities
  • Beauty that surrounds us in one another, nature, and within ourselves
  • Simplicity, sustainability, and minimalism
  • Curiosity and creativity about what our artistic expression is in this world
  • Daring to play to access joy and delight in life
  • A holistic approach to wellness that considers mind, body, and spirit
  • Setting intentions in our movement practices and lives

Community Offerings:

  • Online Pilates-informed movement mat classes
  • Bi-monthly book club meetings on themes surrounding Move and Yield 
  • Small group movement series
  • Movement Meet-ups and classes in natural settings
  • Instagram inspirations and content @courtneyannemoves
  • One-on-one sessions, virtual and in-person
  • A newsletter with articles, musings, tips, and upcoming events
  • Adult modern dance/embodied movement classes
  • A combination of virtual experiences and in-person experiences for people to join from near and far

We are being called towards movement and yielding.

Emerging from sabbatical with fresh insight

This is my next iteration of life and I’m certain it will not be a final one as I value the importance of continually looking within and reassessing. Does this no longer serve me? And then the bravest part of it all, being willing to exercise boldness when the answer to that question is “no”, but the road to change looks insurmountable. The big steps that each have a hundred little steps required that feel like they’ll never end…but the risk of staying put feels all the more mountainous. What helped was not looking at the situation as loss, but an act of letting go. Loss is something that happens to us and is not within our control. But the act of letting things go is a process that we exercise purposefully. A willingness that we cultivate within ourselves and do with permission and recognition. I’m letting this go because it no longer serves me, and freeing myself to the future possibilies that await me. Move and yield is full of possibitilies, aligns with my values, and I believe has a lot of value to offer to in these modern times. I cannot wait to share more with you in the months and years to come. Stay tuned. <3

-Courtney Anne Holcomb

Follow the instagram account @courtneyannemoves to join the dialogue and find access to classes and offerings here on courtneyanne.org and by signing up for our free newsletter here.

To see adventures from the road on our RV trip, check out my page @moveandyield on Instagram.

Installation at the Trout Museum of Art

I am delighted to be one of the local artists selected to have my work exhibited in the 41st Annual SECURA Fine Arts Exhibition. This show exhibits works from 116 of Wisconsin’s finest artists of varying mediums. My piece, resisting phototropism is a dance for camera work that I created Fall of 2020. The work is installed on the third floor of the Trout Museum of Art. On June 5th, 2021, my husband Estin and I were able to attend the opening reception for the show. The exhibit can also be viewed virtually through the link below. To see the show, visit the Trout anytime from now through August 15th, 2021. I hope you enjoy the show. There is so much talent to be seen from Wisconsin artists around the state. Support your local museum and local artists.

June 5 – August 15, 2021
Main Gallery
In-Person and Virtual Exhibition

More information below:

https://troutmuseum.org/event/secura-fine-arts-exhibition-41/

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I decided to release a video dance short. This piece, “Spring Thaw” includes all that Wisconsin Springtime has to offer. Tulips, sun setting, green grass, and that charming snowfall. Music is “Unforgettable” by Sundae + Mr. Goessl .

I hope you enjoy my new work.

-Courtney Anne

A New Work: A video dance made during the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s been an odd year to be a performing artist. It’s also been an odd year to be a human. I’ve had more available time that ever this year to reflect on what my artistry is, what my personal aesthetic looks and feels like, and how I want to continue to share myself with the world. Enter this new work, created in these times, from these times, for these times.

A new camera dance work was in the making. This video dance premiered November 25th, 2020, and can be viewed here. Excited to share with you what creating has been like over the past 9 months.

The project was created by me this autumn, in true isolation fashion. No crew or other dancers, just me. My husband synthesized the music for the piece. All the video footage was self-shot using my iPhone, and the video clips edited and composed at home with iMovie. The setting, my community garden plot in Neenah, WI. The sunflowers, vegetables, plants, all grown and tended by my hands. A true, homemade project, that just is a reflection of our current realities, and that I hope speaks to you.

Creating is the part for me; the sharing is the part I hope feeds you. I hope you enjoy my new work “resisting phototropism”. Thank you for taking time to view. Consider messaging me to share any thoughts, reflections, or feelings on what comes up for you after viewing. This provides me with creative fuel.

–Keep pressing on, Courtney Anne Holcomb

For more insight into this work, you can read about a brief reflection I wrote and published in FSM. Magazine in the November 2020 issue .

LAUNCHING: Dance Bright Workshop Series

Over the years I have worked with hundreds of dancers on both technique, choreography, and conditioning. I’ve said a lot of the same corrections over the years, seen a lot of the same injuries, and witnessed the gap in traditional dance training to teach the HOW TO of many corrections. The purpose of a dance class is to keep the class moving, which means there is not always time for teachers to break down body mechanics and explain the corrections they may be giving. That is why I’ve designed the Dance Bright Workshop Series.

Dance Bright is a workshop series that focuses on movement education and intelligent strength and conditioning specifically for dancers. The purpose of Dance Bright is to help dancers improve their body awareness, better understand their anatomy and alignment, and learn about proper muscle recruitment and release techniques.  These workshops dig deeper into specific concepts and corrections that come up often in dance classes, but that a dance class setting doesn’t always have time to fully explain or explore.  Dance Bright will help close the gap between what dancers are told they should be doing, and how they can do it.

Workshops are 2 hours and 15 minutes in length and combine an element of lecture, movement exploration, strengthening, and stretching.  The series is designed for dancers ages 12-adult.

Join us for our first workshop in the Dance Bright series, “Understanding our Hips and Core”, Wednesday, August 21st, 1:15-3:30 PM, located at Waveforms Pilates, 210 S. Commercial Street, Neenah, WI.

This workshop explores pelvic placement/alignment, proper core function and use, strengthening strategies for our hip stabilizers, as well as release techniques for tightness in the hip area. Through a combination of lecture, movement exploration, strengthening, and stretching, students will leave with an understanding of how to align and stabilize their hips to support the dynamic movements required while dancing.

Cost of workshop is $59 and includes a pinky ball and Franklin air ball for dancers to take home with them to incorporate the exercises and stretching strategies they learn at the workshop.

Pre-registration and payment is required by August 12th, 2019. Seats are limited! To reserve your seat or for question, reach out to Courtney Holcomb via phone (920) 740-3085 or e-mail to info@waveformspilates.com

The Dance Bright Workshop Series was designed by Courtney Anne Holcomb.  She is a professional dancer, choreographer, PMA®-Certified Pilates Trainer, and owner of Waveforms Pilates in Neenah, WI.  She received a BA in Dance, and brings over 15 years of dance and fitness instruction, 9+ years of Pilates training, and professional performance credentials.  She’s worked with dancers ages 2.5-adult to help improve their technique, alignment, confidence, and expression through movement.

Find the event on Facebook!

Vocal Motion!

Working with show choirs always brings me back to the days!  I was a Neenah High School Act II, and Vintage member, and my fond memories of competing all of the Midwest for show choir was a highlight of my high school time.  This Fall I got to work with New London Middle School’s show choir Vocal Motion, and choreographed their competition show for this coming season–student empowerment with songs like “Brave”, “Cool Kids”, “Roar!”, and “The World is Ours”. 

An opener,  one boys number, one girls number, one ballad, one closer, and ONE extra song later, we had a whole show of choreography!  I had so much fun coming up with the movement and working with them over two-weekends, and it brought me back to my “glory days”.  For the record, I was a dancer who could carry a tune, not a singer who could get by on the dancing.  We called ourselves dancer-singers, not singer-dancers.  I wish them the best luck for their competition season this year! 

New London Middle School Vocal Motion is under the direction of Ms. Katie Levendusky.

Badger State Girl Choir has…Gone Country!

I had a great day yesterday working with the Badger State Girl Choir.  They had their annual summer choir camp, and in honor of their upcoming “…a little bit Country!” music Fall concert, I taught Line dancing to the middle and high schoolers, and square dancing to the little 2nd-4th graders.  Playlist included: “Mountain Music” by Alabama, “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, “Mountain Rag” by Al Brundage, and “Arkansas Traveler” by American Square Dance Group to name a few.

Concert will be Saturday, October 17th, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church, Neenah, WI.  There may even be some dancing!

A “Thrilling” Marching Band

October 6, 2014

It was the first week back at school for Appleton West high school students and that Friday, I came in and met with the marching band for the first time.  Working with marching band director Michael Ross, we informed the students that this year they would be DANCING during their homecoming half-time show (some were more excited that others).  Third song in their set, Thriller, a classic, would be their chance to set down their instruments, and move.  

Choreographing this segment was a new adventure and challenge, as all of the movement would have to work in marching row formations, and move back and forth in a way that would not cause the musicians to step on their instruments or their neighbors.  Another challenge, working with 97+ band students, freshman-seniors.  I got my first look at marching formations drafting sheets and learned that in band you always start with your left-foot stepping first.  Pictured below is our dress rehearsal.

Their performance at the homecoming game Sept 26th, at the Banta Bowl in Appleton was great, the crowd went wild, and they received a standing ovation, with fireworks at the end and all!  So proud of my band students, some of whom now even call themselves dancers to their director.