photo: Mohammad Nohassi
In the same way one must learn the alphabet and vocabulary before they can spontaneously express poetry, so too one must learn the vocabulary of the body, before one can express their truth through movement.
When a musician learns scales they build that musical repertoire into their bones. The movement repertoire or body vocabulary are things like understanding joints, ligaments, expansion, contraction, compression, release. Effort actions from Laban's systems, and 5 Rhythms from Gabrielle Roth. We learn what dimensions of space the body can move within and the quality of movement through those dimensions.
We can then take a psychological approach. What movement-qualities am I comfortable with? What movement types do I avoid? What happens to my body, my heart, my mind, when I push myself into new territory? Do I turn away? Do I dive in? Do I fight against emotional release?
Big Dance is derived from the word BIG. Big with a capitol BE. I have a personal relationship to this word as I worked with a Zen Master through a 16 step Koan practice.
"And what word would you use to describe this awareness?" Junpo asked?
My heart was pounding. My ribs were tight. My breath was deep. My skin was glistening.
"Big". I held his gaze.
He and his eyes smiled. "Do we give it to her?" he called out to Zendo.
"YES!" They roared in laughter.
"Big. Big with a capitol BE" he laughed.
You see Big, was the word that I was using to refer to the awareness of the unbreakable, imperturbable, vast, ever present, spacious awareness that is always accessible, even if we sometimes forget it's there.
This awareness of awareness itself is known by many athletes, dancers, artists, trauma survivors, busy mothers, fathers, business people. It is an ever present stillness that never disappears, no matter how much activity, chaos, conflict, beauty, arousal, laughter, is present. This stillness is a stillness that runs so deep, it can't help but express it's own joy through the impulse to flicker and dance and come alive.
Big Dance is the collective dance that emerges between multiple people who have accessed this imperturbable stillness, and have surrendered entirely to the movements that begin to move through their bodies, from that stillness.
In bringing this authentic movement from one's individual expression, to weaving it through a collective space, a dance bigger than you, starts to emerge. A dance bigger than your day, your opinions, your trauma, this life time.
Big Dance is the dance of collective intelligence that is dying to express itself and transform itself in the container of the movement space. Big Dance brings fourth our ancestors' wisdoms, pains, revelations, from being dormant in our bones.
Big Dance is primal. It becomes musical as our feet, our hands, our breathing, our voices start to weave themselves together, the same way bullrushes sing to rivers as the winds call from the thunders and birds cry for their mothers.
Big Dance lends itself to Big Song. Big Song, creates Big Dance.
From the landscape of our bodies, comes trails, like scales, to deeper dimensions of ourselves. You can never do it wrong, you can only listen deeper, surrender more.
photo by levi guzman.