Elia Mrak

Every child has known God, Not the God of names, Not the God of don'ts, Not the God who ever does anything weird, But the God who knows only 4 words. And keeps repeating them, saying:

‘Come Dance with Me.’

- Hafiz, Sufí poet (1320-1389)

My mission and vision:

I am on a mission to prove that everyone can dance. Everyone deserves joy. And everyone can heal. So I use the power of dance to inspire, educate, and connect people - transforming movement into healing for communities worldwide.

I am a seeker on a spiritual journey.  I am an innovator, passionate about creating opportunities for all people to better participate in movement and dance.  And I believe deeply that the body is the most powerful medium for personal and social transformation. Please read my story below.

What I talk about when I talk about my dance journey:

I grew up in Seattle, doing Seattle things - hiking, skiing, cycling, camping, playing baseball, basketball, and doing theater.  I began dancing before I could walk as my mother rocked around the house to Janis Joplin records with me bobbing in her arms. Later, as a little kid my mother enrolled me in creative movement classes where I got to walk like a crab, crawl like a bear, and make scary lion sounds. Next, I took control of my own dance journey and watched MTV with a VHS tape ready to record all the new Michael Jackson choreography.

I then left dance behind for awhile, and returned to it in college, after giving up my dream of playing professional baseball. I had this void in my life of physical movement. I joined the cycling team, but quit after one year because it was physicality without expression. So one day my friend told me, “Hey, come take a dance class with me. You are always dancing at all the parties, and you told me you loved it when you were a kid.” So I consulted with my 5-year old self for some wisdom. He said to take the class, and I never looked back.

I came to a life cross-roads when I graduated college with a degree in Mathematical Economics and a love for dance. I remember the day I got the call from the hiring manager at the Los Angeles consulting firm. He told me, “Congratulations, I would like to offer you a job at our firm.” I felt nothing. Not happiness, not relief, not pride, not success, nothing. After 5 years of studying for a career, this was not the sensation I wanted to have. It was clear. I couldn’t keep lying to myself. Or anyone else. So I called him back and told him, “Thank you. I am grateful for your offer, but I need to humbly decline.” He said, “But nobody says no to this.” I said, “Well I’m not trying to make history, but it would be dishonest to you and to myself to accept this position.” He said, “Okay, but why?” And I replied, “Because I need to dance.” He paused, and said, “Great! This is LA, you can take dance classes on the nights.” And I said, “Thank you for the idea, but I need to pursue dance more as a career.” And he replied once again, “Yeah, but you know that you can also take classes on the weekends!” And I replied one last time, “Thank you, but I feel that dance is my spiritual path, my calling. And I need to answer that call.” He paused and said, “I understand. Good luck.”

This is all to say that I have always been a dancer. Before I could even walk. I am a dancer in the ancient sense of dance as healing, dance as ritual, dance as storytelling, dance as music, and dance as community. My current practice fuses Contemporary Dance, House Dance, Breaking, Qigong, and Somatics.  I have performed, taught, and directed throughout Europe, Central/South America, and the United States since 2008. 

My Description of my best self in 5 words:

  • Fun

  • Simple

  • Free

  • Sincere

  • Wise

My 5 most influential books:

  • “Dancing in the Streets” by Barbara Ehrenreich

  • “Walkabout” by Bruce Chatwin

  • “Letters to a Young Poet” by Maria Rainer Rilke

  • “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz

  • “Being Peace” by Thich Naht Hahn

My 5 most influential movies:

  • Beasts Of The Southern Wild

  • Little Miss Sunshine

  • Shawshank Redemption

  • Cinema Paradiso

  • All Charlie Chaplin Movies

The more traditional biography.

My Education, formal and informal:

  • I have been lucky to learn from some legendary mentors, including by not limited to: David Zambrano (Contemporary Dance/BELGIUM), Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen (Body-Mind Centering/USA), Peter Shmock (Fitness/USA), Members of the Massive Monkees and Circle of Fire (House Dance/Breaking/USA), Kathy Kain (Touch Therapy/Trauma), Daria Fain (Qigong/FRANCE), and Irene Lyon (Feldenkrais and Somatic Experiencing/CANADA).

  • In 2006 I graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Mathematical Economics and a Minor in Dance.  

  • In 2007 I was awarded the Watson Fellowship, given to 50 graduating senior every year in the USA.

  • I was an assistant teacher with David Zambrano, the world-renowned creator of the dance techniques: “Flying Low” and “Passing Through”.

  • In 2018, I completed the year-long course Touch Training for Trauma Therapists taught by Kathy Kain.

  • From 2016 - 2019 I have studied Body-Mind Movement and Body-Mind Centering with Mark Taylor and Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen.

My Dance work outside of the Dance World:

  • From 2010-2014 and 2016-17, I led workshops for movement professionals and non-professionals at Club ZUM in Seattle, a boutique movement gym.  I was a personal trainer, a professional development director (teaching trainers), workshop leader, manager, and directed projects combining community with fun and movement to make dance and fitness accessible to all. 

  • From 2013-Present, I have collaborated with Irene Lyon in Vancouver, Canada to lead intensive movement retreats that blend Feldenkrais, dance, Somatic Experiencing, and playful movement in a safe and supportive environment.  We will offer our unique workshop “Up & Down" internationally - in Canada, USA, Europe, and Australia.

  • In 2016 & 2019, I was invited to the National Association of Professional Chaplains to give a workshop on embodiment practices to help chaplains with patients and hospital workers.

My Dance work inside of the Dance World:

  • In 2012 I created the evening length piece, “A Talk With Myself” with Martin Piliponsky and it premiered in Barcelona. We have since toured it in Argentina, Peru, USA, and have future tour dates planned in 2020.

  • In 2014, I formed an artistic collaboration with Nancy López Luna in México and the USA.   They toured throughout Europe, USA, and México leading workshops and classes, and offering the dance and theater performances of “Seattle”, “Walkabout” and “Whimsical”.

  • In 2016 & 2017 I was selected as an Emerging Choreographer and Teacher for the Springboard Danse Montreal, an international platform hosting leaders in contemporary dance under the artistic direction of Alexandra Wells.

  • In 2018 & 2019 I choreographed and taught at the Hubbard Street Professional Program under the direction of Alexander Wells.  

My Dance work as Social Justice:

  • In 2012, 2016, and 2017 I designed and implemented the first community-building health/wellness/art program of its kind, called The 40/40™.  This 40-day movement program helped people with lifestyle changes through movement classes, dance, and social bonding.  The 40/40 was offered at Meadowbrook Community Housing in San Diego in 2016, and at a community of elderly and differently abled residents in Atlantic City in 2017.

  • I am launching amoventmovement® in 2020, a non-profit organization with a dedication mission to implement The 40/40™ program (dance classes, community-building, and movement healthcare) for elderly low-income communities throughout the USA.

My Organizational Leadership:

  • In 2019, I have put my flag in the ground and launched Elia Mrak LLC.

  • In 2020, I will be launching amoventmovement®, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing The 40 | 40™ health and wellness program to underserved senior communities throughout the USA.