Inside the Dance

Fire Woman

This morning I was gifted the opportunity to dance with 2 generous, curious and open women, who held the space for me to be both teacher and student.

I shared a mix of music, from the haunting I See Fire (Ed Sheeran) to tribal Reconfluence (Bob Holroyd) to perky What Do You Say? (Haley). We moved to percussive Summertime (Chris Coco) and underground Intruder (Collide) with the focus of Sensation.

For myself, I was listening for the sensation of effort. When am I using more effort than I need to? When am I creating tension that is unnecessary and even detrimental? When and where am I “holding”?

When I find myself faced with a move that is part of existing choreography or choreography I’m creating and the move or moves and my body do not seem to be a fit, I have to look and see with new eyes – with fresh self-awareness. Is this movement new to me? Do I need to give myself more time to learn? Is this movement that I can take apart and move through its constituents for an unhindered view? What if the fit is no better upon reassembly? What if the fit does not improve as the move is utilized. What if pain arrives associated with this move? I have a choice:

1- I can stop doing the thing that doesn’t seem to fit and figure I just wasn’t meant to do that.

2- I can keep doing it and see what happens.

3- I can stop doing that thing until the pain goes away and then bring it back in later on.

4- I can go inside the dance and see if I can’t have a better view or a fresh perspective and make a choice based on what I uncover.

Recently I found myself performing familiar movements but in ways that felt jarring and physically uncomfortable. I’m a pretty stubborn human, so number 1 didn’t even cross my mind. Number two resulted in a bit of frustration and more pain. I skipped number 3 (for now) and this morning, choose number 4.

I learned that my low back/pelvis-shoulder relationship on my right side is different from the same relationship on my left side. Not only is arm movement from my left shoulder more fluid and relaxed, but the connection with my spine and pelvis more responsive and alive.

I learned that I can take stiff, sharp, percussive, quick, start-stop movements, slow them down and soften them so that I can look inside –  to see how the move works and how I do it.  My body feels different when I return to the moves; I feel as though I have more room inside from which to dance. I can also accommodate the same speed with less effort, stress and tension.

I learned that when a bit more stability is required than the usual standing on both feet looking forward, I tend to tighten and “hold” the muscles in my low back. It was also reinforced for me that when it is mobility I’m after, I tend to over-mobilize my low back. So I’m either in high tension or over mobile. Good for generating a sore low back. Like many, I have less mobility in my thoracic spine then is healthy. To compensate, I create mobility where it seems to be available – my low back.

When the dance comes from inside, it comes as a separate even unfamiliar dance. Fast or slow, it is another facet of movement communication. As I consciously observe the action of my shoulder-pelvis relationship and diligently quiet and differentiate my low back mobility from the mobility in my thoracic spine, I’m going to be dancing in a body that doesn’t always feel like mine.

Shadowy or previously unseen information is revealed in soft light. Misunderstanding is defused by clarity. Revelation and clarity that will, in all likelihood manifest in awkward, disconnected movement and emotional discomfort until my nervous system catches up. I know from experience that nearly everything I do will feel somewhat off. Little by little, the interfering habitual movement will fade and I will feel more “normal”.

All revealed and made perfectly clear. Probably not.

Enough to keep me busy more deeply investigating the new information I have for a little while, though.

One thought on “Inside the Dance”

  1. I love this Catherine. I’m printing it out so I can read and re-read a number of times. I love the options. My current experience with Rock Around the Clock in the “U” routine is really interesting. I DETEST that move. I don’t do it because I detest it. And yet, Ann makes it fun, so I’m playing with how my body responds to the move — I’ve also found one side is more fluid and easy. Thank you for this post. Made my day.

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