ShaGa is a somatic movement practice that has developed over the course of 15 years. It is a synthesis of ShaLeigh Comerford’s lifelong movement research that first began with the discovery of Peter Levine’s somatic experiencing and her passion to create healing movement programs for special populations. Her thesis entitled The Power of Identity through Movement created embodiment curricula for individuals with physical disabilities, mental illness, and survivors of trauma. In 2007, she expanded her work with survivors of domestic violence while assisting the development of Gina Gibney’s Community Action Programs in New York City. In 2011, ShaLeigh was personally invited to train in the Gaga movement language with Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel for their inaugural teacher training program. After returning to America, she continued to deepen her movement philosophy as an application for a larger field of movement practices including training professional actors and dancers in contemporary techniques, injury prevention, and recovery. The success rate of physical recovery, expanded range of motion, and technical agility quickly expanded into offering donation-only classes at the growing request of the community. These classes were first available to the community in 2013 and took form as ShaGa. Since launching her company full-time in 2015, ShaLeigh Comerford has continued to channel her lifelong research into a dynamic, continually evolving movement language that serves as the company’s weekly training laboratory.
“ShaLeigh’s ShaGa class was extremely helpful to my healing process from a stress fracture injury in my foot. I was in a boot for months and became extremely frustrated that I was unable to dance. My doctors informed me that I only had a slight chance of healing in time to perform a lead role on pointe in a upcoming performance, but working with ShaLeigh made that goal happen. ShaGa not only gave me the opportunity to move without adding stress to my injury, but I found a relaxation in my body that I had never felt before. I did the entire class on the floor and still felt included within the atmosphere of the class. ShaGa gave me the opportunity to heal and perform sooner than anyone thought was possible.” – Tameika Ramseur
“Movement became a chore for me during my lengthy commitment to intensive ballet training. Over time, dancing became painful, difficult, and rigid. At a young age I found myself struggling with physical injuries and three orthopedic surgeries by the time I was 19 years old. I feel lucky that I was able to study under ShaLeigh Comerford shortly after my last knee surgery. The beginning of my work with ShaGa brought with it a freedom of movement that I had never experienced in dance. After working with ShaGa for a year I can attest to healing .” – Paloma Zabala
“I know from my personal experience that in the very beginning of this teaching, I did not listen to my body. For years I only knew to dance through my pain, ignore it, or keep going because that’s what a dancer would do. With ShaGa I could use the sensations of pain and frustration as an engine without wishing it would go away. It is the opportunity to share what we all have experienced like vulnerability, weakness, desire, and delicacy. We all experience these true moments but rarely get the opportunity to unlock them and use them to our advantage like we can through ShaGa.” – Isabelle Frame
“Now that I’m just training in ShaGa, my body is more capable. I can find a better path to do things that is less painful and more mindful. I use to wake up with a lot of pain in my hips that would stay with me most of the day. Now with the increase of taking more classes, my body is starting to change for good. I wake up with less pain and more mobility, even the amount of energy is more. I’ve found more mobility in my joints and the arthritis pain is less. This is one of the best things that has happened in my life, my career, and my continuous learning.” – Steven James
ShaGa is a guided movement practice based on the philosophy that what we do in the studio can affect our lives outside of it and that inhabiting our bodies allows us to more fully inhabit the world we live in. It is designed for all people of all abilities who want to connect to their passion to move and discover in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere. Evocative ideas and imagery create an improvisational playground that enhances increased sensitivity to our bodies while going beyond familiar limits and expanding our movement potential. As we allow our innate, inner rhythms, we experience freedom inside our movement and inside our minds while connecting our bodies to our imaginations. Class begins slowly and builds to continuous motion. The practice opens us up to more pleasure and the capacity to experience movement as a dynamic, healing force of vitality.
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2020 Winter Schedule
ShaGa Community Class at Reality Center Ballroom: First Saturday of each month from 5-6pm beginning February 1st – April 4th, 2020. All classes are donation only. More information here.
ShaGa Community Class at Living Arts Collective: Third Sunday of each month from 6-7pm beginning January 19th – June 21st, 2020. $10 suggested donation. More information here.
ShaGa at Global Breath Studios: Fourth Friday of each month from 6-7:15pm beginning January 24th – June 26th, 2020. Register here.
ShaGa at Ninth Street Dance: Every Wednesday from 12-1pm beginning January 8th – March 11th, 2020. Register here.