Encountering Balance in Movement

 When I was a child and adolescent and I felt happy, I danced.  When I received a small note, slipped into my notebook, from the boy I liked and for whom my eyes sparkled, I danced.


When I was alone and free in the apartment, I danced.  When my heart was beating, stirring, I wanted my body to follow; my feet to stamp the floor, my hips to swing side to side, my arms to wiggle in space.


And then one day, my body lost rhythm, it was frozen; I walked with stiff arms, shoulders high and breathing half-blocked.  I had lost the sense of my movement.  In the clubs, I looked at the other girls and I no longer knew how I moved.  I no longer knew how to sit, where to place my hands, what to do with this body that I liked less and less.


That’s the moment when I began my studies.  Five brilliant years of studying psychology … my head was filling up while I had the impression that my body was mummified.  License, diploma, first job.  I am an intellectual, that’s certain!


But dancing and the feeling of freedom that it brings me is lacking.  I try then to take courses.  Very quickly I am paralyzed under the gaze of the professional dancer. 


I reflect, reflect, how the progression goes, what’s the next movement, my face tenses up.  Decidedly, this was not how I loved to dance.  A year and a half and I stop, the other’s gaze is insufferable, I must succeed, master the turns and the diagonals, and the more I want to get there, the less I can.


Frustration.  I don’t understand.  I love to dance, why can’t I?  More courses for two years.  I watch the dance spectacles at the city festival and want to cry.

My life turns around work, I satisfy my employers enough, my head continues to fill up, but I have the impression that there is no more body carrying it.  And one day, it all collapses, I can no longer work, my brain has exploded onto this shriveled body.


Several months later, I meet Malaïka, one of those meetings that I know I’ll remember all my life.  In four weeks, I join two of her dance groups, and my body responds in a violent manner, I’m trembling from it.  I return to the house and I can’t stop dancing.  I have the desire to stamp the floor again, to thrust my legs and my arms toward the ceiling, to free myself.


The latest novel by Elie Wiesel, that great defender of man’s rights, is called “A Mad Desire to Dance” (ed., Le Seuil, 2006).  I have just started it.  It doesn’t speak about dancing, yet from the first pages the desire to dance is associated with the feeling of freedom.


To dance, currently for me, is to free myself, begin to breathe again, manage intrusive demands.  It’s no longer about having to succeed, but it’s to let my demons slide down my limbs to try and eject them from the tips of my fingers.  And then, look, after three weeks, I can turn better...One thing is for certain:  I believe I’ll never stop dancing again.       O.L