I have been dancing continuously this year and now enrolled in a diploma of contemporary dance and classical Indian dance in India. I always wanted to dance since I was a small girl but I was afraid to choose it, it wasn’t the rational and reasonable choice. So I made a decision. I decided I was not a dancer. It kept at it but slowly this decision kept haunting me, to a point where I couldn’t watch people dance because it made me sad.
When you leave the grid and the conventional way of living for a while magic starts to happen. I became braver and choose dance again.
Here I am, discovering that dancers are not drama queens, competitive, and superficial. We are a tribe that wear our heart on our sleeve. Really, nothing else is possible. You merely can’t dance well, if you don’t feel it – and if you have a hard heart you would probably not choose dance in the first place. For the dancers I met it is not a choice. Because let’s be honest, who would choose an uncertain livelihood like that? There is absolutely no money and very less chances of recognition.
I have started to move my body and every move invites me into that place of happiness that Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” – Csikszentmihalyi, 1990
My teacher says “I learned everything from dance but dance. I learned everything about myself and life from dance, but never dance.”
I am learning that dance awakens body intuition and I am learning to recognize all sensations small or big. No biggie, you might think. But think about it. How aware are you of your bodily sensations and feelings during a day? Mostly, we do things by default, without being present. Stuck in our heads in thoughts about past and future. How often have you actually attended to your toes and feet? What about the little toe can you feel it?
So I started to dance in my thirties. I am stretching my brain and body to learn and explore unknown territory. It is very personal for each individual to invoke on an artistic journey. In the same way the experience of dancing cannot be pinned down to any conceptual form. Dance is strictly inner motivated in the same way as playing is for a little child. Basically, it is you dancing alone in the living room to the your favourite music-feeling.
It makes your heart more vulnerable because you realize how precious and nice this body is and how lucky you are to have it. How it learns very quickly and just want’s the best for you.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” – Csikszentmihalyi
Dance takes me to places of non-thinking. Choreographer Pina Bausch said: ‘Dance, dance or we are lost”. I now understand. It is essential for our survival as a species to enter those deeper layers of our consciousness. It’s when we move being stuck in our heads that creation and new ideas happen.
You now might assume that I am presenting the perspective of the sock and sandals-hippy-tribe. You are wrong. Look at the research of baby orphans in Romanian orphanages. When deprived of bodily touch they would develop severe physical, mental, and social disorders. Or look at trauma treatment. How traumas are stored in muscle memory as stiffness, pain and contractions. Dance becomes an enabler for release. I am guessing that all kinds of artistic endeavours would serve that purpose.
I am now five months into dancing. I move muscles I have never moved. My body is realising and surfacing stress. And I fail tremendously because I am so used to being in my head all the time. Dance is insanely difficult and insanely enjoyable.
Because it is difficult this tribe is caring and loving. They are keeping their colleagues tight. Because together we learn what it is to be human. And we have already failed. I know that in the mainstream world we have to keep going on, because we have to get somewhere to win something. I still don’t know what the big prize is. But I know that it creates a big amount of stress in a lot of people. The thing is, we have failed already, so winning is overrated. Failed in the sense that each and every person that reads this, will probably not be here in sixty years.
So now that we know, that there is nothing to win we can relax and engage more in what we love and a little less in what we should do. Healing our anxieties, depressions and sadness. Getting into the flow in the living room with the nice music.
To be an artist, therefore, is to do what makes us come alive. We are artists when we do the work that makes everything a little easier, a little less flat, a little more honest. – Seth Godin