Part of the reason why I love this dance so much and why I love to teach it is that I remember what a huge change it brought to me when I found a class and started to learn.
Initially I couldn’t complete a full class because my fatigue and pain levels were too high. So I would do the warm up and maybe a few exercises and then sit and watch. But just from watching I learned so much. The current consensus in neuroscience is that you need to see something new at least nine times to be able to begin to decipher it and understand what is happening. [ I would say that for some things you need to see it a lot more than 9 times, and in my classes that is just fine, I provide videos so that you can watch and re-watch. Yet so many teachers just fail to understand this. It’s easy for them, so they show impatience within a very short space of time if you haven’t assimilated the information. There is an implication that you haven’t done the homework or that you are a failure in some way, which just inhibits your learning even more and leads many people to walk away from things they would have loved to have learned, thinking that they are just not good enough. Which is a crime and complete rubbish.]
The puzzles of each dance move were addictive to me. Each day I did just a bit here and there - No; ” right I must practice this.” Just; “oh what was that again?” at odd moments, maybe trying the move or just thinking about it, often when I was doing more mundane things like washing up. Pretty quickly though I was finding I could do more and more of the class each week and by the 2nd term I really wasn’t having to sit out much.
The toning effects on my body were noticeable within a few weeks and were very pleasantly surprising too! A firmer bottom, thighs and upper arms were quite alien to me and very pleasing.
But the biggest surprise was actually finding my body, this entity that had given me so much pain and fatigue for so long and realizing that it could do something more than that. That it could actually do beautiful things, was so liberating. My hips, or my torso - both of which I had never even connected to or realized were there before - could move in ways that were so beyond my previous understanding. It was quite mind blowing!
The carefree world of childhood where you play and are not inhibited by any of society's rules is usually stripped from us at a very young age. Some are forced out of it before others and some never have this.
For some trauma causes a total body disconnect, the mind leaves but the body functions, going through patterns that they have no recollection of later. Not just during the actual trauma event but everyday of their lives.
Some of us lock painful memories into our bodies that cause real physical pain everyday.
Some of us just hate our bodies and are always punishing ourselves because we are not like some fantasy ideal.
Seeing my body and brain as a scientific entity; the musculature, the skeleton, all of the multitude of systems that work constantly to keep us alive, helps me to take away some of the weight of judgment that society places on us. And helps me to fight the current trends in dance (and the rest of the world) of less mystic and more gratuitousness.
As a teacher, seeing other people go on a similar journey is quite wonderful. Each time a student makes a connection the thrill (for us both) is phenomenal. Learning is power, it is freedom, it is personal and globally world changing.
This dance is definitely healing. I’m not promising you a miracle cure (I wish, I’m still looking) but if you start to dance you will experience plenty of miraculous events.