Had the occasion to read an interview with Eve Ensler this morning in the Guardian by Deiken Aitkenhead available HERE. In it Eve is eloquent about the practice of living in our head and not in our bodies. She explains how this absence of embodiment makes it possible for our trials and tribulations to reduce into illness and big and little invasions of unhealthiness. As I perused the comments that rolled in from the article, I was particularly struck by a comment which saw no value in dancing. What difference could dancing make? I am moved to write this commentary in support of the power of dancing.
Dancing we would all agree is this rhythmic body movement to a stimulus in our minds and spirits or made by music and rhythms we hear. All over the planet people dance to celebrate, to grieve, to accentuate special periods of life, to solemnize or to bond communities. There is something so natural about this human movement called dance. It is more than gesture or way of being. It is both generative as well as demonstrative.
I think about years and years of watching the human development process for babies. Watching them go from total dependence to independence in their personal grasp of movement. Their journey teaches us a lot about this thing called embodiment. Almost immediately after birth they begin struggling to control the holding of their head, the motion of their eyes, their hands, their legs, their toes even. Without prompting, they are reaching and streaching toward that next mini gain of control over their tiny bodies.
They scooch and eventually flip themselves over and its on from there. They have successfully made the connection to their body that allows them to know that they are now able to move. A real sense of empowerment develops and also a real challenge to accomplish more with this thing we call the body.
Flipping over often leads to “baby yoga” on the tummy, They can be found arching up reaching for the launch place for first, the sit up and then the stand up. In time, they are able to sit and the pulling up to stand begins. Already they have created humming sounds and rocking movements which just show up in their personality. Some hum themselves to sleep. Others need you to sway them or hum to them or to sing to them.
So now we are ready for the standup which usually happens one day as a surprise to even them. The effort to stand up is preceded by lots of trying and falling down and then one day they don’t fall down. The shock oftens causes them to fall down suddenly and hard and they cry. But, the tears are a deception no injury here, they have learned something else about balance. The pull up, stand and fall ritual goes on for a while until the stand takes. Then the Frankenstein walk is born. This is the funny part, the one step,two step with guarded swaying, stiff arms, and iron will. This too lasts for a short time until one day viola, no holding on, no arms out streached, the walk has arrived.
Soon after, the dance emerges. So now, the hum and the sway is combined often with the bouncing joy of accomplishment. This happens first to a rhythm we can’t understand or hear. It is the joy of accomplishment, the release of the frustration of dependence and the wonderful feeling of being embodied and in control of their own little bodies.
Now, David danced before the Lord, Linus danced in Peanuts, babies dance to express joy and many of us if we would allow ourselves would dance to our hearts content. Dance offers us this opportunity to claim an intentional presence with our bodies for the purpose of being in control there and being lifted by melodies and rhythms that create an intimacy with self that can be awe inspiring and regenerative.
So when I think of ‘One Billion Rising “ and our seeking justice for women all over the world , I reflect on the powerful intimacy of being with your body in dance and also being with others who are being with their bodies in dance. And, I think who would we be if we were always as joyful and whole as we are when we really dance? Dance as a revolutionary act, cutting loose and finding yourself as you lose restriction and connection with memories of hurt and pain.
Shall we dance? You bet we will. Will it make a difference? Absolutely! If you don’t believe us watch the babies give themselves up to the dance and let their model inspire us to want to dance to our hearts content! Got to go now…feet don’t fail me now!