Thursday, 20 June 2013

Why I dance III

This morning I finished my yoga practice and realised that I have come to these interrelated body practices - dancing, yoga, improv - probably because I have needed them so much.  They have been literally exercises for the physical but more importantly for the mental aspect.  My practice has gotten me through a lot of challenging and stressful times in my life.

I had to learn patience with my body... and having an older and inflexible body in professional training needed a lot of patience, and perseverance! It was patience with my body that got me to learn patience with myself, and finally patience with other people.  Not just the kind of patience that prevents me from losing it and being nasty to people, but a patience to try and hear others out even when I really don't agree, and understand why.  I still have my temper and my moods of course; they will always be a part of me.  But I do find that I want to bite people's heads off less often.  And I can recover my emotional balance more quickly.

Both in my improv practice and yoga, I am dedicating time to observing and listening.  Not just with eyes and ears, but with touch, smell, awareness of space, time, energy.  Maybe that's why I never watch TV anymore - I prefer to spend time listening to my breath, my time, or other bodies'!

In a way this lesson worked in the reverse to the patience lesson.  It was through other bodies in contact improv that i discovered what it was to listen and to be present.  Not in the combination, not in the corrections, not in my expectations or anticipations, but just here and now.   Realising that this made a huge difference for how I worked as a performer and particularly as an improviser, and that it is also perceptible to other dancers and my audience.

An amazing question that I received recently was "how do I know I exist?" In fact it came incidentally twice, in the two unrelated great workshops that I took in April with Karen Nelson and Joerg Hassmann. (How's that for a sign!) Both Karen and Joerg talked about how other bodies and encounters allow us to discover ourself.  So observing and listening came to me from the outside... and I am now learning to apply it to myself and my body.

In another context completely (group therapy facilitation practice!) I also recently received the idea that we go through cycles of experience but we benefit most when we take the time to integrate them.  I guess this is a moment of integration.  I don't know how long I'll be here, when I might move on or need to retrace my steps.  But for now I have a sense of gratitude for what I am receiving.

It's making me enjoy my practices more and more. Hopefully they also make me a better dancer and artist, if incidentally.  I suspect that in these very small ways, they're also making me a better person.

#whyidance - I had a vague memory that I'd been writing on this title some years back.  Looking through my old entries, I have been doing this even more than I thought!  So I've created a new tag if you want to look back in time with me.

EnricKoan photography 2011.