“Dancing is not just getting up painlessly, like a leaf blown on the wind;
Dancing is when you tear your heart out and rise out of your body to hang suspended between the worlds” – Rumi
The feminine energy within both men and women has been suppressed and constrained for decades as our society values the masculine strength of discipline, order and structure. This outlook leaves little room for creative expression. Instead perfection is glorified to the point where we can feel scared or ashamed to share atheistically imperfect artistic work, whether that be art, movement, the appearance of our body, creative writing or any other form of individual expression. Of course both polarities of the masculine and feminine are needed however we as individuals and a society are consistently striving to find a harmonious balance between the two.
Like many, as a child I was deeply passionate about performing, singing and dancing. My childhood photo albums are filled with pictures of me wrapped in feather bowers, singing into toilet roles or hairbrushes pretending they are microphones and dancing my heart out like no one is watching. As time passed self-doubt and fear of others expectations of me started to creep in though. Slowly the arts were replaced with sciences and study books, dreams to become a dancer were replaced with academic commitments and free form expressive movement was replaced by structured, disciplined workouts that came with an obligation to uphold an appealing physical appearance and weight. Where had my innate passion for movement and play gone? Fascinated by this question I started exploring the motivation behind why people exercise, through both personal experience and through academic research with my PhD candidature at The University of Western Australia.
I became a freestyle podium dancer at various nightclubs in Perth for a number of years which involved being dressed up in exciting costumes and dancing my heart out to various resident and touring DJ’s. This free-form style dancing progressed to teaching at two dance academies and choreographing for music artists and Drag Queens while I was completing my university studies. However the shift from improvised dancing to structured choreography caused a strain on my relationship to dancing. Having to be creative on a weekly demand started placing overwhelming pressure and expectations on my art especially with my study commitments which in turn started turning a passion into a chore. Slowly I started to withdraw from wanting to dance at all until I stopped completely.
This is the story that I hear often from people wanting to lose weight. They start turning expressive movements of healing like dancing and yoga into weight-loss strategies which over time start to drain them, causing resentment for the obligation to move their bodies. This in turn robs them of the enriching experience of connecting with the deep wisdom that our body’s hold.
After losing the motivation to dance, I removed myself from all facets of performance to focus on my academic studies. During that same time I experienced a deep compulsion to reject my own body which manifested as an eating disorder. Denying the feminine energy within me through depriving the basic human need for food and nourishment was an external reflection of the suppressed desire to flow and express creativity. It was when I started exploring alternative modalities of healing for the disconnected relationship that I had with myself that I was reintroduced to free-form dancing, specifically through the 5 Rhythms movement meditation. Dignity
In just 25 min of dancing I dropped out of my mind, the should and shouldn’t rules and obligations that I had mentally constructed and instead surrendered into the feelings in my body. I was reinspired by a deep feeling of gratitude for how movement allows us to reconnect with the incredible vessel we’ve been gifted with in this lifetime and the unique expression that each of us has. In that moment I realised the significance of dancing in my personal journey and the immense self-healing capabilities that it embodies. By finding an inner stillness and sense of peace within my own body through movement, I was inspired to help others find that sense of home within them. Over the following years I was drawn to explore a variety of different movement styles and meditations including Chakra Dancing, 5 Rhythms, Ecstatic Dance and Osho. This passion for dancing led me to help facilitate interactive flash mob dances in public spaces. These flash mobs were not choreographed dance routines though, instead we purposely invited members of the public to participate in free form dancing and interactive games to reinspire a sense of community and freedom in celebrating the present moment. These social acts of freedom later developed into a now globally recognised movement known as The Liberators.
For those of us fortunate enough to have movement, may we remember the divine blessing it is to be able to dance. May we dance with our own unique flow, may we dance as it is our birth right to express our own individuality, may we dance for freedom for ourselves and our community and most of all may we dance to love ourselves and the body we have been gifted in this lifetime even more deeply.