Green Space movement classes offer a healing experience for stressed-out New Yorkers

Photo by Barbara HerMor

Healing is defined as the process of becoming sound or healthy again. Lots of New Yorkers who have been suffering from terrible anxiety, depression, and PTSD – especially after the pandemic – are searching for ways to heal so that they can live fuller and happier lives.

Local creatives and dance enthusiasts have been enjoying Long Island City’s Green Space, located at 37-24 24th St., for years. Its founder and executive director, Valerie Green – a choreographer, performer, and teacher for 20-plus years – has been shaking things up with unique movement workshops for non-dancers and offering greener pastures for those who are struggling emotionally.

Photo by Mourad Zaynab, Lebanon

Participants can benefit from the healing powers of motion through a variety of ongoing therapeutic sessions that can help release their stored negative energy – caused by stress, trauma, depression, addiction, and other issues.

“These offerings are designed to integrate movement, feelings, emotions, and images,” Green said. “The classes feature somatic (meaning body-based), expressive movement exercises, leading participants on their own personal movement journey within a nurturing and safe, individual or group environment.”

You can take these classes at Green Space’s home studio in LIC, as well as on Zoom.

Indeed, there’s a strong connection between motion and emotion, and these workshops are rooted in Green’s philosophy that all bodies can benefit from dance.

Photo by Barbara HerMor

Save your spot and take part in the newest healing series. Artist Process Groups https://www.danceentropy.org/artist-process-group offer ongoing movement sessions that address everything from PTSD to anger, body image, depression, shame, self-esteem, and addiction. Participants engage in expressive work, along with group dynamics that promote physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth.

Classes run on alternate Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Jan. 31, 2023. (Upcoming dates: Nov. 22, Dec. 6 and 20, and Jan. 3, 17, and 31).

In a previous statement, Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership, said: “Valerie Green and her creative ventures, Dance Entropy/Green Space, are hugely impactful on the cultural landscape of Long Island City.”

It’s a known fact that moving one’s body through exercise, walking, running and dance creates higher levels of dopamine in the brain. Keeping active and trying to stay positive while dealing with life’s challenges is key to achieving a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, along with practicing meditation and mindfulness.

“When using the language of movement rather than words, a different kind of image or emotion may arise, which bypasses the controlling and censoring mind,” Green explained. “Words label what we know. Expressive movement reveals the unknown. For example, sensations, feelings, emotions, and images that have long been buried can be revealed. Furthermore, when emotions are repressed, they can affect the immune system and cause pain and illness. This movement work is aimed towards finding a physical expression of buried emotional wounds/pain to offer processing, release, and healing. Participants find grounding in inhabiting the power of their own presence, integrating physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth.”

Another innovative workshop, called “Skimming the Surface” https://www.danceentropy.org/skimming-the-surface, has been running since 2013 and partners with other not for profits to work with trauma survivors. Participants experience an hour and a half movement healing journey, aimed towards release, expression, embodiment, self-awareness, and consciousness, while one on one sessions in “Core Energetics” https://www.danceentropy.org/core-energetics work with movement, touch, breath, and vocal expression through physical and emotional exercises. “These workshops target various forms of trauma and how it becomes embedded in every aspect of one’s life, while also embodied in every muscle and organ of the body,” Green said, noting that the newest series is a “Process Group,” which culminates all the above offerings into an interactive, dynamic group format “that supports individual processing of wounds.” 

You may also experience inner healing through a special choreography class. “Enter the Body” offers tools to stimulate the mind and body to improvise and generate new ideas, while guiding participants in breaking old habits, finding new pathways, and discovering one’s own movement conceptions.

Green, a longtime Sunnyside resident, has been teaching master classes and workshops to dancers here in New York, nationally, and in several countries, for years.

“I spent the early part of my career traveling frequently to the Balkans, teaching, choreographing, and performing in war-torn nations. This pursuit was a response to understanding my own identity in relation to this part of the world, my Serbian background, as well as that of others,” Green said. “In the workshops and performances there, I aimed the intention at creating movement as a response to the reality of the participants. The dancers were processing or rather not processing, intense emotions. I brought these feelings to the surface through movement, invention, creation, and performance.”

That experience was followed by Green’s outreach work in local communities with at risk youth, those with chronic illnesses, immigrants, senior citizens, and trauma survivors, in addition to her projects with aspiring/professional dancers.

“In my own choreographed solo dances and work on my professional company Valerie Green/Dance Entropy, I found a safe space to be able to express myself fully,” she continued. “I realized that over time, I had created my own unique way of working with movement and the release of emotions while cultivating an ‘expressive movement’ program. Personally, I expressed through dance and movement concepts that I didn’t have words for, or did not have access to even knowing what was buried down deep inside me.”

This exploration led Green on her healing journey, as well as certifications in body/mind fitness and Core Energetics, a form of somatic psychotherapy. Besides teaching modern dance techniques for dancers, called “Dance Your Frame,” she told QNS that her interest in this stage of her career is “gravitating to unearthing the unknown that resides inside each of us.” 

All workshops provide a holistic mind/body experience and are tailored to a diverse population of people. Depending on which offer, class sizes are individual or up to fifteen people. Currently, Dance Entropy, Green’s not-for-profit organization, is partnering with other not-for-profits servicing vulnerable populations throughout New York City, with a focus on Queens.  

“The participants I work with are people of all ages, demographics, and nationalities. Many are working through deep trauma. And some may want to get in touch with difficult feelings, fear, grief, anger, shame, or even joy, that are maybe held underneath the surface struggling to break free,” Green said. This work supports unraveling family or origin issues leading to addiction, depression, PTSD, anxiety and more. Sessions may also include cultural, historical, and intergenerational trauma impacting one life.

“Doing deep inner work is helpful for anyone, always, although, after the pandemic, pre-existing struggles, wounds or issues were heightened and brought to the forefront of people’s realities,” Green continued. “Everyone has something to work on, whether they are aware of it or not. Deep down, we all want to fully be ourselves [sic] and seen for who we really are. Doing deep inner work is hard and one of the most challenging things you can do. But also, one of the most beautiful things one can do for themselves.” 

Rates vary per class. Some programs have funding and are offered free of charge through partnerships. There is also a sliding scale for those in need of financial support. To learn more, please visit DanceEntropy.org, call 718-956-3037 or email info@DanceEntropy.org.