In late February, I had the pleasure of attending SPARK: A Dating Workshop at Triskelion Arts (106 Calyer Street). The low key event describes itself as a dating workshop that’s “not for the faint of heart, where you get constructive feedback from a group of your peers.” As a single lady, I was definitely intrigued. It sounded like my own private focus group where I could ask questions, get feedback, and gain new perspectives on the exciting beast known as the dating game.
Before taking the workshop, I decided not to have any expectations. I could keep meeting people romantically and platonically with the same tried and true patterns. But, where would that get me? I jumped at the idea of this workshop because whether we like it or not, we’re always changing and our relationships are always evolving. In short, I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about myself and maybe gain some insight into a habit that I might be repeating in my dating life.
The workshop begins with a series of structured ice breakers – to get students comfortable and moving around the room and also for participants to be observed by Minna and their peers. We also broke into small group exercises to practice conversations, speed dating, and regrouped as a whole with reflections.
I’m no stranger to icebreakers and public speaking strategies – from teaching high school and then working in digital media, I’m familiar with professional development and engaging with complete strangers. But it always felt a little different when it came to dating. I was always asking myself the same questions – am I doing this right? Am I meeting a quality person? How am I representing myself to this person? And more importantly, am I being true to myself?
SPARK helped put those questions into perspective and Minna’s unique exercises helped me and my peers put ourselves out there in a safe and inviting space. The workshop concluded with all of the participants giving short speeches about themselves or reading their Tinder profiles. I chose Tinder, because why not? I never read my dating profile aloud–because who does?–and I wanted some feedback on it. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised by my peers’ comments and felt that their takeaways on my prose and presentation was helpful. (Note: you will be critiqued on body language and appearance, but it was constructive, positive, and not negative. My black skater dress and moto boots outfit got mega points with men and women).
When I left the event, I felt recharged and centered – and with new approaches for approaching men and women in bars, parties, and internet dating. It was a positive and eye opening experience and you don’t need to be single to learn from this workshop because it’s all about building confidence and being aware of your own body. And, even one of the workshop students was married but took the class to further build his skills as a small business owner.
Are you curious to learn more? Perhaps you’re thinking of taking a class? Check out this brief interview with Minna Taylor, the founder and teacher of SPARK.
GP: What inspired you to start SPARK?
Minna: I began my coaching career teaching accent reduction to corporate clients. That process evolved, for many of them, into discovering unconscious habits of held breath and disempowered vocalization. Through discovery sessions we were often able to identify this phenomenon as a sincere experience of fearing being undervalued. This was a remarkable revelation that lead many to incredible transformation and eventual career advancement.
GP: Do you have any a-ha moments or experiences that made you excited or fulfilled that you started this journey?
Minna: As a communication coach, I am more interested in what’s not being said and how we unconsciously reveal those thoughts, feelings, wants and needs through non verbal cues such as vocal intonation, body language, and eye contact. We are often unaware of all that we are communicating beyond our words. This workshop is designed to bring the unconscious into consciousness. Ensure the way the public perceives you is how you desire to be perceived.
GP: In such busy cities and places like Brooklyn, so many people complain that meeting & dating folks is just SO hard. Do you think there are certain reasons? Are we miscommunicating or not representing ourselves to the fullest?
Minna: Being single in New York is challenging for two reasons: option overload and lack of presence. We are not giving ourselves the opportunity to be available to prospects that exist all around us! We are distracted. We see something better. We are posturing and living in temporary spaces of inauthenticity. If we all gave gave fewer fucks about what people might think, represented truthfully, engaged more deeply in curiosity, and consistently came from love, imagine what might be available to us.