Dancing the Revolution

On the weekend I presented Human Movement in the Biodanza School of Australia I really struggled when preparing. I felt I couldn’t and didn’t want to ignore the Black Lives Matter movement and my feelings of being so deeply disturbed by global politics and ongoing polarisation and tension built by living in media bubbles, frightening examples of leadership and repetitive patterns of rigidity in thinking.

Part of me wanted to run to the streets and take action! To get out there and DO something.

And yet instead I was to sit down and read and share about extension, flexibility, rhythm, eutony and tonus, about how we humans walk and move.

What?!? How? I was asking myself. How can I get into this right now with what is going on around us.

And so I began to look for some kind of link between what is happening around the world right now and the subject of human movement and I struggled to find a satisfactory link.

Until I remembered that Mandela once said  “It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world.” 

If there is a leader I would trust at this moment of frustration and despair it is this man, so I did a little google dive for Mandela quotes and came back with this treasure.

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

And so there appeared a link for me, human movement in Biodanza is not about being a beautiful performer or wonderful dancer. It is about the movements of a person with access to their own goodness. It is about the lighting of this flame of our own goodness – expressed in the movements  of our bodies and hearts and feelings.

 Vivencias, intensely lived moments, that bring us access to wisdom and connection through dance and music is an ancient human inheritance, it is not a modern or a Biodanza invention.

As Rolando Toro Araneda, who started Biodanza, writes in the opening of his book about how dancing has long held healing potential for us all.

We have danced for millenia to heal and support our health individually and collectively. We have danced forever to move our emotions, to align ourselves, to connect ourselves, to celebrate, to mourn, to express the inexpressible. Our ancestors across time, across the world developed and passed down rituals of danced to support humanity to move emotions, to know ourselves, to express our soul, to be connected in our commonality.

It is as Rolando describes “A privileged way of access to our original identity”.

And so what of George Floyd , the man who was killed and Derek Chauvin, the man who killed him?

Were they in contact with their original identity or were they characters and puppets playing out once again this horrific play of violence.

Bodies and movements and feelings were all tied up in this scenario, what took place did not only come out of thoughts and ideas. It came out of interactions between bodies, movements and actions in a moment of strife and danger and tension.

The body and movements of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd and those who appeared to stand by without feeling and those who tried desperately to help, watching with dread and horror.

I wonder about Derek today, how is his human movement today, how does he walk where he is?

 And how about his family and George’s family as they bury their son and brother?

And what of all the movements in the bodies of all the people that took place prior to this moment, of them in their lives, their walks, their movement training and those of their parents and grandparents and all the generations of their ancestors before them.

Any armed force trains not only the mind but the body and emotions of soldiers. It takes years of training in most cases to condition people into following orders which may result in the death of themselves or others. It does not come naturally. It has to be learned.

The body that hates and hurts in most cases must be trained into this.

And this training is devoid of caresses and kisses, being held like a child, feeling and listening to the heart beat of another.

There is no flying like a child, reaching out to the infinite with full presence or gazing deeply into the eyes of another and feeling that your souls meet in a place beyond time.

No this kind of training involves repetitive movement, hardness, rigidity, following the orders of another in how you move. This kind of movement talks literally about how one ‘executes’ the movement.

The bodies of people that can hate and hurt and follow orders are trained into being able to do this.

The dissociation needs to crystallise to such a point that the character becomes locked into the body, forming our character – physically. So we move around in our felt history. Like a jacket we wear. It is often called an armour (another military term) because when this is locked and rigid, this is a protection against painful feelings or emotions.

And this is not only a phenomena for an army, this is for anyone in rigid patterns of movement, thoughts and feelings and this can apply to anyone, anywhere on the political spectrum. It is not a thing of left and right but of locked, character rigidity.

Whether about 5G or eating meat or yoga or the global slavery trade, climate change or how I like my porridge – all of us can get ‘locked’ into positions. And our body and movement will reflect this back to us.

A perpetrator can be locked in this role and this will be in their body. A victim can be locked in this role and it will be in their body.

And neither is free. Madiba was not free to move as he wished and either were the guards locking him up each night. When he spoke of sometimes seeing their humanity perhaps these were moments  when they actually felt like opening the doors. Yet their movement did not reflect their feeling and so they remained locked into their role.

Power in our society seems to come with a very specific suit of movement.

How are the bodies and movements of those in power – Politicians in Parliament. Do they look like people that dance – Scott Morrison and his Ministers ?

Can you see them holding hands, smiling – unself-conscious and free to shake their hips and why is this hard to imagine?

We may say Trump has ‘power’ but does he have freedom?

Can he dance wildly on a dance floor this weekend with friends to “ We the Love Generation”.

And if they, Morrison and Trump did this – would we vote for them? Could we each cope with politicians that express emotion or are we too locked into position, trusting only the serious and suited up to guide us through ‘big grown up stuff like pandemics and economic crisis.

In my googling I found an interesting quote attributed to Confucius. “Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”

One interpretation is that someone who is not in contact with the joy of living and the ability to express it as one does through dance, should not be given weapons. Dancing gives something that make a person able to be trusted with the task to protect life.

It is rather a different view of the human – that the one who can feel, who has the open heart, is the one to whom the power to protect should be given. Not the one who is rigid, disconnected and automated in their movement and actions, disconnected from the pleasure and joy of life.

I remember someone saying I don’t trust a man who doesn’t dance but I couldn’t find this on google.

And this observation is not new.

Nietzsche wrote in Twilight of the Idols (1889) and The Antichrist (1895) “. . . dance appears as a discipline for training sensory awareness and cultivating skills of perception and responsibility, so that one is able to participate responsibly in the creation of values, conscious of what one’s movements are making.”

And as his Zarathustra cries in another of his books: ‘You higher men, the worst about you is that you have not learned to dance as one must dance – dancing away over yourselves!” Perhaps he meant away from your past rigidities and pains and the small self that you think you are.

To me this is where Rolando Toro Araneda landed – that the greater good within and between us is served by us having a wide vocabulary of actions and expressions in movement, dance that is deeply linked to our inner worlds and our instincts.

And when our human movement is truly free, it is natural that we will express a wide range of human potential and be able to do so with fluidity, rather than locked into rigid expressions.

And through this we can learn to express the love of which Madiba speaks. We move towards love, towards others and towards all the paradoxical and frightening parts of our own selves.

Because for sure we all have the jailers within us, the protective structures that holds us into position and lock us away, afraid that parts of us should not be let out, just as the guards did with Madiba.

But love does not give up on us, and the more we dance and explore our movement and emotion, that glimmer of hope and humanity he would see in the guards can grow.

Biodanza is a ‘inner deepening democracy’ of dance and movement. And to manifest the freedom outside the jail of the ego, we need to be able to move with true freedom – free from our inhibitions, the voices of inner critics, parents, teachers, institutions of power – whoever gave us the message that we can’t dance or that our movement is inappropriate or ridiculous or weak or dangerous or inconvenient.

 Freedom from the restrictions of our own patterns of movement and rigidities that we have ‘learned’. And it is the music and the vivencia that becomes a path to this freedom.

And as our inner world develops and grows, as we know love in our skin and our eyes, as we feel loved and learn to give and receive love, we have a new base internally. Whatever kind of childhood we have had, whatever experiences we have lived, we can be caressed and held and dance and love our way back to our deeper humanity.

As we dance with a system like Biodanza more and more range and depth of music and vivencia and movement, starts to draw out from us a wider range of vocabulary.

And from this vocabulary of movement, animated by inner emotions and feelings, we become able to move through the world – a caring, loving, brave, bold and compassionate human being, linked to life.

And so perhaps the development of our human movement, our dances and vivencias in Biodanza are not a selfish act but rather a revolution – one deeply connected a different evolutionary path for humanity. One guided by love and reverence for life.

For I want there to be change in the world yes but I also feel like Emma Goldman (1869–1940) the political activist and writer. She said “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution”


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