My name is Stefanie-May Hammoudeh and I am here. I was born on the desert lands of Jordan and currently find myself on very different soil in Scotland. I am of mixed heritage with Irish, Palestinian, English and Turkish blood; a delicate dance between my inner desert dweller and forest nymph.
I have lived my life thusfar never quite feeling here nor there and the search for belonging has often felt perilous. The search continues; to embody root and through this, to spread my flowering branches to the sky.
It hasn’t always felt safe and I’m learning to nurture an environment of safety for myself I can then carry with me into the spaces I hold.
The closest I get to the unshakable truth that Love is all there is and that I belong and that I am here, in body, mind and spirit is through the body.
Ironically this can also be a place where I dissolve into the everythingness, and the dissolve opens the door to infinite possibility.
I have found and continue to find home in music, song, voice, movement, dance, theatre, the outdoors and nurturing community. Ritual and ceremony inform my everyday and I have a deep respect for our return to our ancient indigenous ways and wisdom.
I grew up around music and dancing amidst family and countless Middle-Eastern weddings where music seeps through the culture and I began to play the piano and sing at a very young age. It was my safe place and the space where I could unapologetically be and express. Not so long after, I discovered the Stage and although it terrified me, I was hooked.
Some years later, after moving to London to study English Literature and Film, I began to perform both in an amateur and professional context and soon after this, I was offered a place at the Manchester School of Theatre where I completed three years of intensive Acting training.
The theatre and Performing Arts very much form the bedrock of where I find myself today and continue to largely inform and inspire what I bring into a space; a spirit of play, creativity and curiosity.
Improvisation teaches us to take the “Yes AND…” approach; we take what we’re given and allow it to unfold… It’s something I carry with me to remind myself and something I aspire to continue bringing to spaces; can we say ‘Yes’ to what’s here and then see? Without diminishing our ‘No’ or our ‘Maybe’, but just staying alive to the shape-shifting possibility at our finger-tips right here and now…
photo credit : Olivia Olla Palmer
My practice of the 5Rhythms over the years and participation at Buddhist circles and retreats have been other landing places for such exploration; re-remembering impermanence, reverence, being-with and Sangha or Tribe. Gabrielle Roth, the founder of the 5Rhythms map would say, ‘Close your eyes, feel your feet, and find God’.
The 5Rhythms then led me to explore other conscious movement practices in the Somatic field; Emilie Conrad’s Continuum being one , along with a variety of other exploratory Somatic Movement spaces drawing from different traditions; from Butoh and `flamenco to Somatic Touch and authentic movement to Contact Improv and Clown that allowed for some potent dives, incorporating sound and voice-work also.
I completed my Still Flowing Yoga Teacher Training in 2021 over the course of a year; a practice which I feel so beautifully holds the form as well as the formless; a Trauma-informed Somatic approach to Yoga and Mindfulness.
This is where I first came across Somatic Experiencing; a body-oriented approach to working with trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. I am currently in training to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and have completed my first year with SOS Internationale.
Somatic Experiencing is another major component that underpins how we explore in the spaces I facilitate.
I feel grateful for the insights that continue to unfold as I deepen in my practice and learn from my mentors and teachers; sometimes it feels like the deeper I go, the less I know, and what a relief that is.
It fills my cup to hold space and to step into being of service wholeheartedly; not having ‘figured it out’- far from it- but open and ready to learn more and play my part in our collective healing and remembering.
If you heed the call to this deeper remembering underneath it all, I look forward to journeying with you, and, Welcome.