Our dance journeys
Grew up with rock bands in all the railway taverns
Our dealers were theirs..
But it was only after acid and sex
I found I was only happy
On the floor
Then lost it till a friend in therapy recommended Sue Rickards
And I complicated 10 years
By being teachers private dancer
Then .. had to start again
Aerobic more than cathartic
Acceptance before ecstasy
Almost giving up waiting
For my zombie apocalypse
Of frozen flow.. then detonation
Of joy rooted in rich grief
Beyond selfish conscious
Put humpty very gradually
Together again for the millennium
With help from Sue's funky faith, the darling khan's reverence,
Gabrielle s radical sexy urban
Tim Broughton s beat angel
Kay's devotion and the moorland women, Tim Alain Kathy Hilary Bernadette, big brave birds over the border that separated me from myself
When I could not sit or think or not think care or care less speak or seek or ask or wish even wish for anything... I let dance take me and my sins.. by which I the dancer mean lifelessness or unwillingness... away. Out and off and away.. to a wider simpler and ... eventually... A deeper sense of being. Some trust. And an end to grudges.. to trudging.. and this slow rocky return I see in my dear peers.. to surrender of some sort.. often to real reviving encounter ... but usually to a grounding and nourishing EMPATHY.
40 years and twenty teachers and four long groups. And still curious about "first base".
I hope you all get my gratitude.
For our fire!
This innocent child.
This innocent child. Sitting in a patch of sunlight aged three and realising that she was in her body, that her body was only part of her, and how good it was to be there, to be alive again and to realise it. To realise where I’d come from and to marvel that I was there in that patch of sunlight. Voicing my amazement and gratitude to my mother. From then on seeking the same saving sense of self. A sense of self that could not, would not, let her be destroyed or obliterated, violated by violent words and actions. A sense of self, however, that was seeking that saving patch of sunlight. Then, falling in love, and not being good enough and rebounding into something that was not worthy (it felt), of that saving sun-light/sunbeam. Seeking but not finding that light. Letting that sense of unworth eat away at the light within. Holding all together, until it burst at the seams, and oh how…
Shutting down and shutting out feeling and light, until, remembering being a tree in music and movement at school, and oh how her body wanted to be rooted in the nourishing soil of soul. “Have you heard of five-rythmns- I think you’d enjoy it.” Jo on a Friday night in Exeter, then Ali. Then, wandering with trepidation into St Matthew’s, and bursting forth to “ I want to be Free”. Opening to the sunlight again. Feeling it in my soul, opening up to love and light and knowing that it is always there, just move and be. Still hold back at times, fear of exposure of the dark parts that the fingers of light and movement are still seeking to reach. Knowing that it ‘s OK to root in the deep dark soil and to be… held.
Through dancing I learned to love myself again and was opened up to loving others. xxxxx
DANCING DOWN THE DECADES
From light excursions to deep immersions - or, before and after 40
1950’s Being allowed to stay up late to watch Come Dancing on TV. (Ancient black & white ‘Strictly’ predecessor). 1960’s Notably ‘62 & ‘64 of course, for my prize-winning Twist and Hippy Hippy Shake at Butlins holiday camp, aged 8 &10 respectively. Bless my little cotton socks! 1970’s & 1980’s Discotheques. Glitter balls. Pan’s People on Top of the Pops. Hot Gossip on The Kenny Everett Show, whose unique sexy style was considered soft porn.
Live ‘groups’. Strobe lights. Wembley stadium, university & polytechnic halls, outdoor festivals, dingy dives, clubs & pubs - beer-sticky floors, fag-fogged haze. Mods & Rockers. Dance moves morphing through multiple musical genres. Pop, Rock, Underground, Heavy Metal, Reggae, Ska, Motown, Northern Soul, Punk, New Romantic......
Privately: Within these socially accepted norms for stress-busting recreation and invisibly safe in the crowd, I could to some extent, ‘let it all hang out’. Professionally: With psychotherapeutic work as my career, I had self-expressive movement such Laban up my sleeve, but reserved this for my patients because I’d spent a lifetime mastering maskery. I was Queen of Incongruence.
Repetitive removal of rust from armour wears the metal thin. Aware of the fragility of mine, before entering my 4th decade, I knew I had to discard it. I released myself from all work, titles, roles masks and facades and went into free fall, to hold the mirror up to myself for a while. With more of a psychospiritual focus dance re-defined itself, consumed my life and became my sanctuary because early in the 1990’s Discovered and fell deeply into Dances of Universal Peace and The Five Rhythms, both sacred, devotional, heart-opening, community-building, body-prayerful disciplines and dance forms where I found safe enough space to support my rapid psychological unravelling and my gradual spiritual unfoldment. Through inner and outer exploration, sound and silence, movement and stillness, my soul awakened, my spirit became sated and I grew towards my true self. The powerful medicine and magic of these modalities were a profound part of my personal journey. The DUP became my work, my yang expression of inter-spiritual service through which I was able to touch the lives of thousands, and the 5R’s became my balancing and grounding yin. Intensive output, much travelling and many home locations followed until landing happily in the south west.
Fast forward. Specifically: 2004 - Committed to Barefoot Dance at Matthew’s Hall for some years, facilitated then by Fiona, Laurence et al. Interrupted by more years of intense busyness, losing connection with conscious dance and, inevitably, full connection with myself. 2016 - Rescued by regular Movement Medicine evenings & days with Ali Young. 2018 - Returned to Barefoot Dance after 10 or more years absence, topped up with intensive days and weekends, mostly with Rosie Perks. 2019 - Healing Moves with Xenia, for invaluable monthly prescription medicine.
2020 into 21 - Virtual connection only with Barefoot Dancers and continuing Healing Moves. You know the rest.
Only blooming Zooming - but keeping our stories moving!
What a blessing to have found ‘home’, in every sense, in and with this wonderful community.
Dancing journey without distance
Child six or eight watching
Swaying skirts gallant partners
My parent’s ballroom dancing in the lounge to entertain guests!!
How I love it!!
Books about ballet, dance lessons, visits to the ballet with my great aunt...
Visions of flying over the heads of the audience, immersed in the rapture,
Transported by the desire for transcendence!
Teenage years filled with London west end clubbing
Enthralled by rock and reggae bands
Nights of utter bliss!!
College years, Brighton clubbing,
Hendrix comes to Sussex uni!!
Dance, dance, dance!!
Can life get any better than this!!!!
Devon. Torquay nightclubs,
the splendour of it all, lost in the rapture, found in the flowing love
Of bliss shared......
Traumatic marriage...yes, dancing stopped..
(well not quite, my son carried the torch then
entering Rambert and making me a very proud ballet mum!!!)
So the fires went on simmering and gradually burning brightly again:
Dancing with Kay as friend and Suzanna DK
Kay does the training so then many years dancing with her at varying venues, mainly deep in the countryside and sometimes naked. Stripped naked of all resistance, coming to the floor empty, leaving identity on a hanger by the door, entering the ocean, embracing the Divine...oh devotion, oh love:
So so much gratitude to you Kay!!!!!
And eventually I find my way to Exeter and to glorious Fiona
Dancing in that wonderfully hot sweaty little basement room.
O what joy! What delight!
Robert's social dances, Fanny's Diptford days,
and then our move to Matthews Hall
and here my gratitude to Laurence for holding me as I processed flashbacks
and to Jarl, beautiful dancer, for loving me
AND to us all!! Beautiful devoted dancers, all One Being of everlasting Light!!!
I get up. I walk I fall down.
Meanwhile I keep dancing.
All my love and blessing
My Story of dancing
My story of dancing is pretty straight forward. Didn't even think about how much I loved dancing in my teens. Didn't everyone love dancing when they were in their teens? Then in the 80's I started going to camps, as the festival scene was heavy going at the time. Rainbow circle, Oak Dragon, Unicorn. Healing, Ancient Britain, Peace Through the Arts, Music and Dance camps and many more besides. It was at Oak Dragon camps that I first encountered Five Rhythms dance. Live music in big metal geodesic domes with January Jayne guiding us through. At one camp we danced 9 mornings in row. Some evenings as well. Lovely stuff.
It all made such an impression on me that 10(?) years later at some creative writing classes I wrote the following piece. We were all given the title, ' Learning to Dance'.
I walked up the hill, the wind pushing and shoving me. Even in the dark I could see others moving towards the lit marquee, as if walking up the spokes of a wheel towards the hub.
I started to enjoy the elements and walked a little slower. The trees complained, telling the wind to shoosh. Now regular, now irregular, but always constant. I held my head up and face forward. There was no point at looking at my feet when it was so dark. I bounced along unable to judge where and how my foot was to fall. I stepped out in faith that I would not step in something nasty.
Excitement and anticipation rippled through me as I stuck my head through the canvas doorway. Hurricane lamps, candles, incense burning, musicians, drums, a flute, more people and him.
I faintly smiled at the few I knew.
OK, January began,' It's a dark and miserable night. We better start with pleanty of warm up exercises.'
I tried not to feel silly as I rotated my toes, my ankle and so on. Rotating my rib cage proved difficult, but then I saw the grimaces on the others' faces and I chuckled inside.
Next: Traffic lights. Rushing into spaces. Never clashing, but stop turn and rush into another space. Only he hesitated and said sorry. I took my blushes to the other side of the marquee as quickly as possible.
We stopped. We breathed and then we began. Moving through the cycle of the wave. Losing consciousness of our surroundings, concentrating on the flowing feminine, choppy masculine, beautiful chaos, the quiet power of the lyrical and finally the peace of stillness.
When the flute played it's last few notes, I slowly came back to myself and the world. I looked at the people around me and they looked back smiling. We were smug. We shared a secret.
As I got my coat on again, he came up to me and laughed, 'Sorry I nearly hit you back there, just now.'
'Did you? I didn't notice.'
We headed off together towards the cafe at the bottom of the field, walking slowly despite the soft rain now gently falling.
After an involuntary break of quite a few years, I made a friend at 'Better Parenting' classes, who described a dance group who danced 'the wave'. Several venues after that first return and rekindling of my love of five rhythms, I came to reside in Barefoot Dance, Wednesday nights, 7.30 till 10.15 or there abouts.
That journey between loving the dance and being in love with the dance has been choc full of real, good friends, life lessons, deep emotional expression, fun, confidence, safe spaces, refuge. I could go on. In fact the dance will go on for me, because stopping is not an option.
Love to all,
More of our journeys will be published here as they are sent out and the author gives their permission to share