School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: June 2013
Dancing for Change

By Simric Yarrow
Dance is change. Dancing involves the whole body in movement. Free dance allows the body to move as it would like to, not as our head might tell it to its not a boot camp or a ballet class. Allowing the body to initiate the movement and the head to witness and be guided by that. Free dance is all about real freedom. Not just doing what the government and the priests tell you to do.

No wonder dancing was banned by various churches, and our collective psyches learnt that dancing round a fire was the ultimate Halloween nightmare. And then what about music with a beat – like those wicked drum things? We are, collectively, slowly but surely waking up from this particular anti-dancing sleep. 

And guess what. In free dance, the body also heals itself. Older people who dance regularly are the only bunch of people whose chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease are dramatically lower than the controls. Better than anyone doing any sports or eating healthily or whatever else. Free dancing is – to quote my two favourite dance facilitators – Movement Medicine. And after attending Ya’Acov and Susannah Darling Khan’s latest 4-day Cape Town workshop, Dancing with the Heart of the World, I can add that dancing is the most incredible way I know of to create community. Beyond words, we all express ourselves in our uniqueness and yet are accepted on the free dance floor. And that’s not where community ends. In the dance we can imaginatively embody and connect with all the elements of life that we are made of – embodiment is the word for our time and yet dance, which is its most obvious and immediately available version, is still not taken as seriously as it should be. Perhaps because it’s too much fun. Because it shows off too much of our true natures. Because it’s one of the most wonderful things we were born for, and so there must be some catch.

In fact some people view it as downright frivolous. When Eve Ensler suggested we all dance against women abuse for One Billion Rising in February, many journalists (of both sexes) criticised the event, asking what good in the long term a dance would be against an entrenched culture of rape and domestic violence. Surely a dance is just a brief moment, and then the serious business must start again. The serious business, of course, in the eyes of the average journalist spending their day at a laptop in one fixed body position, is to do with writing and complaining and making statements and practical linguistic suggestions. Preferably over the third coffee of the day.

Well, my message to the opinion-makers and the politicians is come dance with me, come dance your soul out of your worried skins, then we’ll really talk seriously from the heart. Once you’ve seen that we’re just the same and different, once you’ve seen that I am full of hopes and fears and shame and joy and power and vulnerability and holiness and passion and craziness and love and fury and magnificence and grief and bitterness and tenderness and pain and deep, deep humanity. Once you can acknowledge that we are mirrors. Then clever words and empty statements won’t be able to get in the way of our connection. There will be nowhere to run to. Are you brave enough? I truly trust that you are.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.