Through dance, I learned space, energy, rhythm, movement. I had the experience of creation, emptiness, boundaries, earth, and wind. At the beginning, there was this body that I didn’t feel much, a heavy body of which I was not confident.
However, the body and its needs were there. But what did it have need of to exist? To move, to re-make itself? At the time, I was just finishing training in early childhood education which underlines the importance of a tangible approach, to work with the other always resonates with that which we are or have experienced ….
I have anguished memories of gym sessions at school. I had the most difficulties with this class and the worst grades. I never improved. I believe that I should have been accompanied by someone like Malaïka who would have taught me to have confidence and to trust my body.
For years, I rather felt an impression of guilt and a kind of fatalism. It’s my fault if I don’t succeed. I thought that to feel good about one’s body came from something innate. This feeling is probably linked to the experience of my parents. And mine like many others’ did not transmit to me the importance of taking care of oneself, of one’s body, just as the pleasure reserved for a physical activity. It was too expensive, it wasn’t for us.
It’s with this baggage that I found myself at 22 before the mirror of a dance hall. At the beginning, to dance seemed to me a kind of blasphemy. Dance had for me, a value of grace, something very fine, light, blond. And me, I didn’t know how to move. I was obese. I always tried to hide my body in taking up postures which allowed me to hide what I didn’t want to show and which highlighted further my malaise. Me? Dance? A friend had told me that Malaïka was opening a new dance course.
To dance? A small voice murmured that: ‘I needed to do something.
’ Even though I had just started a subscription to a fitness center to which I wasn’t going to ever return because I abhor fitness centers. These are places too trendy about performance and comparison.
It was necessary to begin moving. What a headache!!! At the start, I moved with the head! It took up all of the space and especially all the energy. It was difficult to move … I felt heavy, clumsy, contorted.
It’s by imitation that I was able to advance in this work. Like a small child who wants to be like the big people. I tried to re-do the movements. I think that imitation is very important. It allowed me to think less with the head and to be thus more attentive to my body.
Still now, I proceed in this way but it’s more subtle. At the start, to imitate,
to make it known, to look at the teacher and follow the movement in a mechanical way, but little by little … it’s as if my body was given the same frequency as others’ bodies.
Thus, movement becomes more fluid as well. My body has become aware of the essence of movement, it is no longer destabilized. It’s like a continual dance. I see life with rhythms, beats, starting off, pausing, returning, moving ….
The first times ….
The word time is a significant word. Its importance lies in the notion of process and its learning is unveiled progressively in dancing. What is time? We have cut it into seconds, minutes, hours ….
In dance, I learn to live the gesture in all its duration, whether it’s short or long. When I take the time to live a gesture, to live in it, to unwind it, to stretch myself, to breathe, time stretches out and unwinds, also.
Just as moving consciously to a very steady rhythm, brings to life many “things” in a short time. In the beginning, however, this notion was not a conscious one. Now, in my life, the time passing makes me more afraid. The calm periods are very lively periods. It’s like a stretch. If I breathe, I am conscious.
My body and my mind unwind at the same time as the arm that I stretch. Through dance, I have discovered how I can live calmly. To live in the present moment: before, this phrase seemed to me important, but it was not yet experienced like it is now.
The others and me, me and the others
The dance, it’s also a meeting with the other. I arouse something in the other and the other arouses something in me. I dance with my body, my mind and my emotions. But the meeting does not happen by itself. I needed to have confidence in me, to feel that my dancing was arousing a positive resonance in the other.
To dance signifies knowing how to remain as oneself and to be in relationship with the other. It’s necessary to match the rhythms, the energy, while being oneself and through gestures, movements, looks, a complicity sets in … one can lose and find oneself again. One can imitate oneself in an instant and become one’s normal self again. It’s important to not stay frozen. In the beginning, the fact of meeting the gaze of the other gave me the sensation of revealing my timidity and my fears. Fear of not being accepted, fear that I was being mocked, fear of not succeeding, fear of not being original or interesting, but all that has less and less of a grip on me ….
Slow, fast, whirling … the stop. To leave and come back … the returns …
In learning rhythm, everything was at first passing through the head. I tried to calculate, count, follow, to find a sequence that I could latch onto. To try and place the foot at the right moment, to turn fast enough to catch up with the sequence of movements. Little by little, I learned to let go. To have confidence in myself. To have confidence in myself is also to have confidence in one’s sense of rhythm. Now, rhythm gives consistency to my life.
To breathe. To inhale, to exhale and also to yawn, puff and pant, sigh ….
I learned conscious breathing and I’m still learning it. Through learning breathing,
I grew and I became light and I can feel myself bounce like a ball. Before, I was forgetting simply to breathe, I stayed suspended holding my breath, when to put air into one’s body while doing the movements makes the movement much more easy, more alive. I breathe between the cells, through the cells.
I feel myself crossing over through breath. I can direct it towards unthinkable places. Naturally, I don’t always get there, I meet my blockages as well. The first 20 minutes of warm-up of the course are indispensible for providing breath, and I try to think of it in everyday life. When I stop a moment to breathe, the situation changes.
Thus, I allow the other also to be able to breathe. When I work with babies, breathing is a super tool for staying calm and concentrated. It allows me to not be overtaken by troubles and not be adequate, and to be therefore truly with the baby, calm and reassuring … I’ve often observed that the change in my breathing helped the baby to calm itself.
I have the impression that breathing provides the meeting with the other. It’s not really to breathe at the same moment, but it’s as if there was a cord or link which formed between the two breaths. To breathe is to give and take. To fill up and to empty out. To breathe consciously allows me to bounce.
To bounce on the ground but also, in life …. T.A.