The other day a friend reminded me how the shift between winter into spring is one of the most challenging seasonal shifts for us as humans. The energy is rising and we are teased by flirtations of warmth but then BAM ... back comes winter in a flash, hitting us like a brick wall just when we were softening to the idea of Spring
entering our being.
Winter in Chinese medicine is connected to the element of water and emotions of fear and courage. Spring is associated with the element of wood and the emotions of anger and patience. The wood element drives the force of direction, decision-making and moving thoughts into action, moving from a quiet, yin place of winter to a rising yang of spring. This is dynamic and at times very frustrating when we have to dance between these two seasons and the extreme natural weather patterns that play into that.
Winter is a time when it's very easy not to be seen, to hide, to stay quiet and small. In so many ways this is exactly the right thing to do in winter and practically all other species do it. However, when spring starts knocking on our door we are, whether we like it or not, propelled into the kind of energy that wants to get us moving, changing, growing. There is an unspoken energy of clearing old patterns, a kind of daring energy sticking its nose in our psyches urging us to try new things and to transport the dreams of winter into a reality.
So what on earth has this got to do with dance?
I believe that all of us love to dance or at the very least move somewhat to music. Lets face it, even if it was when we were a toddler but can't recall it, at one stage or another in our lives we danced and we loved it!
Many, possibly most of us have gone through experiences that have curtailed our joy and inhibited us to dance so much that we dare not do it in public for fear of what others might think. This fear can keep us in a perpetual kind of winter not allowing ourselves the freedom of expression that we so often long for and that the energy of spring naturally brings with it. To crack through this fear, this staying small, like a seed splitting underground and to be bold enough to push through the surface might just bring with it the most incredible bloom if the process is held in safety and care.
This ‘environmental safety’ is a huge part of Dance Rhythms’ process as I am fully aware of how enormously vulnerable it can be to begin exposing ourselves through free movement.
I know that I had to feel my way through many barriers when I started to dance for myself through trance rather than for the art of performance. As a dancer for all of my childhood years, dance gave me an outlet to explore other characters, other personas and emotions through the medium of performance and as a shy and private person I relished this. I am still very much a private person and love to explore my own inner world free of judgement which trance dance gives me full permission to do. I was never comfortable dancing in nightclubs or at discos because every fibre my being felt like it was being scrutinised and judged…. what a sorry state of affairs it is when we can’t just dance for the love of it and when so many young people feel the need to impress or take something to let themselves feel free.
I enjoy the privacy and frequently introverted ways of my life - fluxing with those extrovert moments which comes into a whole other essay about being a woman! I find it helpful to have order and a sense of gentle control over my day-to-day life however, as a beautiful tonic to that I adore having the safety of a dance space where I can totally let rip and lose control - fall into my wild self and explore what she wishes to release.
Not every dancer wishes or even needs to lose themselves in wild abandon through dance but this is why I love the blindfold so. Without sight we do what we need rather than focus on what we think we ought to be doing or copying others’ dance moves.
When I dance with a blindfold (or even without now) I’m in another world. I’m a part of the music and I’m very much in my own place be it joy, sorrow, pain, fear, excitement, ecstasy etc it is mine and the freedom is bliss
Like learning to flow with the challenges of the change of season - dipping in and out of “I’m not ready, I'll hold on to winter” to “I’m totally ready, yes I can burst into spring” - we have the opportunity to consider if we wish to move through fear; if we are ready and bold enough to dance again with freedom and the willingness to be seen... perhaps most importantly by ourselves.