Dance Medicine

“Since ancient times, human beings have used dance as a connecting force, bringing us into relationship with ourselves, each other and the interconnected web of life that we are part of. Guided by drumbeats and song, movement has always been medicine for our healing, ways of being and future dreaming.

Movement Medicine is a contemporary pathway fusing dance with traditional shamanic practice, therapeutic process and creative vision, offering potent spaces for transformation and growth.”

So this was the synopsis for the dance medicine workshop I did a couple of week ends ago.
‘Dance’ as medicine, pretty straightforward right?!
The rules are pretty simple, no talking on the dance floor, no phones, no alcohol, no spectating and staying for the entire duration of the ‘session’ – even if simply sitting / lying down on the floor.

What I did not anticipate, was that we would actually be dancing for about 18 hours in the space of 3 days, nor that I would cry for 20% of that time and laugh hysterically for another part of that time too, nor that I would intensely connect with other human beings and experience a high that I’ve never experienced before.

On my way to the 1st afternoon, I bumped into a colleague in the lift and when I told her what I’d be doing with my week end, she innocently asked what kind of healing it was for.
Without much thought, I said something along the lines of ‘it’s not only for people who need healing, it’s also for anyone who is curious around the practice, like myself.’ As if everyone didn’t need healing of some sort.

You see, as a yoga teacher I consider myself a healer (I do also believe that we are all born healers, but some of us are more connected to that ability). As a result, I seem to struggle to accept that at times, I may also need healing.
In all honestly, I have never been happier and I feel like life just keeps getting better, so on the surface it’s pretty tricky to identify any ‘areas’ that might need any kind of healing. Yet, like anyone and everyone, I have been through traumatic experiences, some that I remember and others that have been buried in the depths of my subconscious.

The beauty of dance medicine is that unlike in therapy, there is no verbal communication. You are not expected to put words to what you feel. You are not encouraged to look back in time or try to make sense of anything. In fact nothing is expected at all other than moving through whatever shows up.

Due to the very nature of the practice I will not attempt to explain how I dealt with what showed up for me. I haven’t even got my head around it myself. But my body knows.

I flowed through the joyful waves of ease and shook out the less pleasant waves of discomfort and even suffering. Although I was mainly unable to understand what was causing me distress, I was able to release it through tears and movement and at the end of the week end I felt lighter than I have ever before.

The 3 days were meant to be held in a music venue in Central London – convenient! . However, at the end of the 1st day, the wonderful facilitators announced that due to some unexpected issues with the venue, we would have to move to a different venue the next day. They were still in the process of securing a venue but we would get an email by 10pm to tell us where we would be meeting the next day. Many people would understandably react negatively to such news, but our facilitators set the tone by taking the news well and encouraging us to see it as part of the experience. An opportunity to accept the uncertainty of life.
Turned out that the issue was simply that our hosts, a classical music venue with great acoustics, were not happy about our base music. Our lead practitioner (Christian de Sousa) told us about his teenage years, when he had faced such confrontations with his mum, a classical music virtuoso who did not understand her son’s obsession with base music. I had never thought about it in this way but base can scare people. The way some of us are able to utilise it to connect to what I can only think of our most primitive selves, is not something everyone is comfortable with.

Day 2 took place in a beautiful Old Town Hall near Limehouse (East London). The venue had high ceilings and an eeriness about it. This was a great reminder that although it is natural to be worried about the unknown, it can be better than ‘the known’.

At the end of day 2 we were told we’d be dancing in another venue on the last day as our current venue was holding an event they did not know about when they booked last minute. Our 6 hour dance ceremony would take place in an old Mosque, initially a Synagogue, which is now a multi faith centre – The Golden Egg. What a beautiful opportunity to celebrate life and diversity. And the cherry on the cake was that this Mosque happens to have an incredible sound system, ideal for our base.

And so we danced, for 6 hours without break. (Fasting was encouraged to all those able to do it). All dressed in one colour. (Most in white, I didn’t have enough white so went for a reddish brown – earthy, my element). And it was beautiful. Together, we took a deep journey into ourselves, we danced with the Elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air) and moved with the creative polarities of Yin & Yang. I felt like I had been on a timeless journey into the depths of my emotions and felt a clarity I can only describe as hyper presence.

I now feel more ready than ever for the journey I have ahead of me. Reassured in the knowledge that the elements are infinite resources I can always tap into, anytime I need to.

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