- making new ways to communicate possible...
(by Matthias Govinda in German, translation into English by Alan Frostick)
Dance is oscillation - one of the basic means of expression used by all forms of terrestrial life. All living creatures dance and each in their own way. Dance movements are a pattern of movement that arises, perhaps in accord with a rhythm. Dance can exhibit a high level of structure and form - and also very little. When it comes to the dancing of human beings – social dances are generally highly structured, but as well there is “freestyle” with no prescribed repertoire of movement. Some dances have a thematic emphasis and others focus on a specific center of energy. For example, the energy of the fourth chakra, the heart, is the main focus in tango, whereas some Caribbean dances, such as salsa and merengue, tend to center on the sexual energy of the pelvic area.
Dance is a language. And just as with any language it can be learned, it is also possible to learn many forms of dance. As a way to get to know your own body or deepen this acquaintance, but equally well when mastering the technique of a dance, such as tango, salsa or other pair or group dances.
The more structured a dance is the “easier” it is to learn, relatively speaking, because an existing form is already available, within which I can insert myself dancing and by which I can use as a basis for “dancing” communication. Since when dancing, apart from with explicit pair dances, I always have the option to either dance on my own or to establish contact with other beings. Prescribed structures assist and are helpful in establishing contact. It is much more of a challenge to establish contact within unstructured dance, requiring a high level of self-awareness as well as a nurtured empathy for the other. Whereas too much emphasis on structure and technique can lead to the dance becoming mechanical, because although a moving form exists, it is not filled with life.
To dance can be a medium of self-knowledge and communication. To promote this all dances inhibit the usual control mechanisms, i.e. the rational and visual. Ideally, these are reduced to nothing. Dancing promotes gut intelligence and reduces the mind’s control of all actions. This does not mean that the head is no longer present. It merely takes less part in decision-making functions that it normally dominates in everyday life.
Deciding from the gut begins with the selection of a partner. When this is ruled by the head, tedium and limitation is often preprogrammed. The experience of a structured as well as an unstructured dance together will be all the more intense when I do not WISH to dance with a particular person. For example, because I have not chosen to, feel it is an obligation or the person is especially attractive to me. It is more exciting when I notice and follow the impulse from the gut. It is a decision that usually occurs within milliseconds. It takes practice to follow the impulse arising from the gut before the head cuts in...
In the following I focus my thinking on unstructured dancing. However, my ideas could equally apply to structured dances, because the important thing in all dances is the dancers’ basic attitude to themselves and their personal capability of expression while dancing.
At freestyle dance events it is easy to see how each person on the dance floor appears to speak their own “dance language.” While to the same music one simply stands and nods his head rhythmically, another leaps and whirls ecstatically around the room. Both are dancing. If both these differing personalities wish to communicate with one another through dance, one must first learn the “dance language” of the other. This can be difficult when “dance language differences” are extreme, because to enable them to communicate one is required to drop his or her ingrained dance language structures to assimilate the dance language of the other. The more someone is able to perform this almost acrobatic feat, the more dance languages the person is able to speak on the dance floor and with all the more individuals they can communicate through dance.
Every dance is a little ritual, whether on your own or with another person, whether to one or more music tracks. This is simpler to see with structured dances. The pair first invite and agree, dance one or more pieces of music together, thank one another and part. With unstructured dances the framework is often harder to discern, because it is not ordained by convention, but rather “self-regulated” by mutual consent. The more consciously I enter into contact, the more consciously I can subsequently detach myself from the connection made with the other person. The clearer that I am about my feelings and needs that evoked my contact, all the more carefree will the contact be. Needs and the pursuit of intent are restrictive when we regard other persons as potential fulfillers and approach them with such composure. However, feelings are and remain a part of ourselves and to suppress them requires almost more effort than to project them onto others. (Since their “suppression” is almost a constant feature of our lives, we rarely notice this.) It is something different to detect for ourselves needs, wishes or for example a feeling such as longing for closeness, without making of the other a potential fulfiller. That is a chance. And the more my partner is open and willing to look at my feelings without feeling called upon to fulfill them, all the more relaxed will our encounter be. Dancing communication calls for much sensitivity...
To dance together it does not matter where my partner comes from, what else he or she does in life, his or her name, or what they will do tomorrow. There is just the dance, the moment of encounter, no yesterday, no afterwards, no visiting card, no game plan.
Alternatively I could purposely set myself a goal – such as "partner search." Dance can indeed be a way to find a partner and I can go dancing intentionally looking for a partner for the night, and perhaps a partner for life. However, in so doing I limit my focus to “partner search” alone. It may be an exciting search, but as with any theme I set myself it simultaneously restricts the possibilities that can develop from the dance. With a single-minded attitude, the chances of living in the MOMENT are reduced.
When dancing it is possible to experience the present vividly, being in the MOMENT. In the MOMENT there are no thoughts about a sequel to the dance. That means to stay open, from which a new and different dance can possibly develop – however and wherever...
A precondition for intense experiences is to sense and respect a partner’s limits. It is possible to indicate your own space (willingness) and to offer this for a partner to explore. Your own self-confidence will act supportively in this. But to offer does not mean to impose. Here it is necessary to recognize the subtle differences, since it does not mean giving up when no response is apparent at first. However, if it is a clear “no” and which may be given verbally or by a gesture, such as turning away or distancing, this should be respected.
Dancing is pure body language and actually needs no words. Thus extra verbal communication can be reduced to a minimum. It may be necessary to apologize, for example, if you accidentally tread on another’s foot. Or it could be spontaneous expression of fondness breathed in the ear.
Some further stimulating ideas to help turn dancing into a unique experience:
- If there is a “yes” to dance together this does no mean an invitation to stick by this partner for the rest of the evening. The rules of engagement include that both sides should always be given their space back.
- Dancing is playful. It is always possible to integrate a third into the dance. Dancing can become an orgy... Everything is allowed – scratching, biting, kissing, licking, pulling hair and in particular simply doing NOTHING and motionless just in the merging with the body and sensing the breathing and pulse of the partner, while the music and the activity rages all around. With dance as an encounter in the now, the intensity of the merging sets no limits. It can in fact be more intense than anything you have ever experienced in your life.
- Frequently with unstructured dance new patterns of movement arise. These need to be recognized and resolved, because the communication on the dance floor would otherwise degenerate into empty gestures.
- Communication in dance requires practice. Not simply communications training, but rather physical training. This is not done on dance floor, but elsewhere. The more that you learn about your own body and live in it, the wider your repertoire of communications resources that can be applied to dance.
- Prerequisite for an intense encounter is to be free of all preconceptions and emotional burdens. The less baggage you carry, the more space is available for the NOW.
- Alcohol and drugs may be helpful, but should (as is usual with paths of knowledge) be kept to a bare minimum and always consciously used. Perhaps a glass of wine at the beginning of the evening helps to “release you from the humdrum.” The aim, however, is at some stage to no longer need such a helper. If you can only let go when dancing (or in other life situations) by use of a substance for an extended period, then it is advisable to seek another way to release what is blocking you.
- With every dance I spin (just as with other encounters with other people) a mutual network of energetic threads. It is my task not to become caught within this and able to extract myself from it. It helps me do this, for example, if I am able to shower or change my clothes after the dance. This can also be helpful when I have ended an intensive dance encounter and wish to remain at the event longer.
Dancing is music
You become music
The music begins to move you
You give yourself to the music The music leads you in the dance to other beings,
who like you are dancing to the same music...
From the shared contact arises a mutual oscillation
From individual beings is created a new being, the dancing entity
The dancing entity lives for the duration of the dance...
It experiences birth and death – just like any other entity...
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