Dancing Human: Keshia Mahan
Saturday, August 12, 2017
By The Philly Tribe
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Keshia Mahan

Philadelphia, PA


In what year was your first class with The Philly Tribe?

In 2014, I took a 5Rhythms class with Douglas Drummond.


What was your relationship to dance/movement before taking class with The Philly Tribe?

I have always had a love for dance. Every kind of dance form intrigued me though I never took any classes. There was just something that felt so majestic, strong, and original about it. For a few years growing up, I did dance with a church dance group. Other than that, my sister and I danced along to the radio in our room or taught ourselves the choreography from music videos.


What keeps you coming back to class regularly?

I don't just keep coming back to classes because I am a tribe-holder and I prepare the altars. I have seen how much classes have impacted my life on a physical, mental, and (dare I say) spiritual level, as well as the sense of freedom that accompanies me when I am on the floor. There is an astounding feeling of community and it feels like something would be missing from my life if I didn't come regularly.


In what ways does this dance practice influence or inspire your non-dancing life?

Often, I find that things come up or I see a similarity from my life that has been translated or brought to my thoughts from the practice. It often shows me things about myself so plainly that I can't help but see them. For example, in my non-dancing life I have a desire for a deeper connection with people, allowing them to see me for who I am, yet I also have a habit of hesitation and tendency to observe things, people, or situations first. When I’m on the dance floor there are times I want to connect with people in the dance but a fear of showing myself sometimes makes way. In those moments I can so plainly see how that is something that comes about, allowing me to change or work on that aspect of myself. It's a practice that has taught me to be in my body and not in my head, that there is safety in my body, wisdom and knowledge through a different way of going about in the world.


Tell us about a specific Philly Tribe class or workshop that you thought was especially powerful.

There was a workshop called 21 Gratitudes that was especially powerful for me. I had such a profound experience. I was then five months pregnant with my second child and found that my dance had begun to shift because my body was rapidly changing, thus needing to be mindful and conscious in my new temporary body. In this workshop, there were so many things to dance for and so much ritual involved, I had almost danced beyond myself.

The first two days were filled with rituals but seemed to be preparing us for the third day. Day 3 was especially potent for me because the entire day, every single thing we did was to be a part of the ritual—and that was the way in which I wanted to live my life. I wanted to view and feel as though every single part of my life was sacred, and this was a way of showing me how to take this into my every day. I remember needing to step to the side to drink some water and making that a part of the ritual. I began weeping from all the thoughts and prayers flooding my heart. Let's just say it was an extremely powerful workshop for me that still sits with me daily.


Is there anything you’d like your fellow classmates to know about your dance-floor personality, preferences, or quirks?

I wear glasses and I take them off when I dance. By doing so, I can’t see details in people’s faces unless close to them. So sometimes when dancing it’s not that I’m avoiding eye contact, I’m just not close enough to see your eyes but I can feel your energy. So, even though I may not actually be able to see that someone might want to partner with me, I can feel them looking. That’s usually how my partnerships form on the floor.


Tell us a little about your current life off the dance floor.

As I am writing this, I will be the mother of two in about two weeks. Both my children are already my sun and my moon. Besides being a mother, I like to create in many different forms. I enjoy figure painting and drawing. I have been a model for a clothing line as well as nude model for painters. I enjoy pole dancing for the athleticism and artistry. I do something that I call unconscious writing, where I stop, take a moment, and then begin writing without thinking. I have been crocheting for 13 years and although I make scarves, I enjoy crocheting dresses. I make pants and skirts that I dance and live in. I like to collect books and I really enjoy research. (My life calling might have been to do some kind of research work, actually.) And a not-so-guilty pleasure but definitely a secret that people don’t know is that I am REALLY competitive when it comes to playing board games—REALLY, REALLY competitive. Although I will play it cool and laid back, I’m always aiming to not just win but crush the competition.


Is there anything else you’d like to share—personal accomplishments, struggles, epiphanies, questions or stand-out life experiences that have helped shaped who you are today?

There are a few things that have really shaped who I am. Having children is certainly one of those things that will change your life and allow you to see yourself in a way that you might not have thought possible.

Another experience is when I decided to leave a small college that was close to home to go to a large university that was farther away than what felt more right for me. I transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). It was the school I originally looked at when I was applying to colleges while in high school. I never actually finished the application and applied to Mount Olive College (MOC) instead. After three semesters at MOC, I knew my time there was over. The school was just too small, too religious, and had nothing more to offer me, so I decided that my original desire to go to UNCC was what I needed. It offered more space, more opportunities, and more freedom. It was hard to tell my family that I was leaving. While at MOC I was 30 minutes away, always at hand’s reach and always home; Charlotte was on the other side of the state and wouldn’t allow for the same way of being. Despite my family’s agony of wanting me to stay and their own feelings and reasoning why I shouldn't go, I did what I felt was right for me and left home, going to a place that I somehow knew was where I needed to be for that next part if my life. It was one of the first times in my life that I really wanted something outside of my family that I was willing to go for, no matter the cost except my own happiness and intuition. Actually following that intuition, standing up, and doing something that I felt I needed to do and really be on my own taught me so much about myself. It allowed me to stand on my own two feet and become stronger from within. Not only did I receive an undergraduate degree that really meant something to me, but it was the place where I began to flourish and figure out who I was and who I was becoming.