"Speaking" through movement allows us to explore our inner and outer landscapes using the body as our voice. One of the guidelines in conscious dance is that we do not talk in the space but that doesn't mean that we are not in conversation the whole time! In fact it opens up a whole lot more possibility for conversation.
Learning to speak
Just like a child learns to speak, starting with a few words, then stringing together short sentences, ultimately being able to hold conversation, the conscious dancer also over time builds a vocabulary of movements, gestures, and expressions. Conversations occur between the dancer and elements being interacted with while dancing. We begin to chat! With another dancer. The wind. Silence. Back pain. A memory. Someone who has passed. An emotion. A challenge being faced. A question,. Ultimately anything and everything.
The conversation moves
The body is far more able to express feelings and emotions than the mind. The beauty of a body expressing these emotions is that there is movement. We do not get stuck or react, we move. As such the moving body is one of the best instruments for dealing with strong emotions, difficult feelings, overwhelming highs, excessive energy, creativity, or charged situations. Many people have moved through incredibly challenging times in their lives, dealing with loss, grief, depression, anxiety, and addictions. By moving consciously and having a means to express the way they are feeling, to embody it, and move with it and through it.
Closer to reality
Because of the way the body speaks, it's very grounded in the present moment. You can only really move with what is alive for you right now. The body feels it and if allowed, expresses it. The conversation is closer to reality than with words. Words tend to allow a degree of separation and distance from what we expressing, which may be useful at times, but it also opens up possibility for suppression, avoidance, or rationalisation of what is alive. Most of our speech has also become conditioned by our lifetime of engaging in the world. Often we disempower ourselves with the generic conditioned responses. How are you? answered by 'I'm fine thanks.' is the most common example.
Through movement we can get in touch with how we are truly feeling and explore ways to allow our authentic self to express its Truth. Discovery of this leads to a more authentic and natural expression in the world. Expressive movement is empowering and allows us to discover ways to truly be heard, and to say what we mean and feel. It invites real conversation into our lives! Once we are expressing freely in movement, freedom in our wordy conversations invariably follows. Life becomes a creative dialogue!
The beauty of movement as a language is that it is generally understood by those who witness it. More universal than any spoken word! Building bridges and connection. It's hard to tell a lie with movement. Someone truly witnessing a dance will easily spot the moves of inauthenticity, or the moves of hidden agenda, which are just as visible as the moves of love and sincerity. Not only do people understand movement but nature gets it too. Many species of animals especially those who have walked alongside humans as companions read our body language fluently. Just a few small gestures and movements of your body when facing a dog can create calm, or excite, or invoke fear and aggression.That is pretty amazing! Especially if you are aware of it and can move fluently.
How to practice Expressive dance?
It's really easy. Take some time to dance. Become present to what you are feeling and what you would like to say, and start to move. Let your movements be the means by which you express. Initially music will help a lot especially music that is emotive and expressive. Begin to explore gestures with your hands, facial expressions, body gestures, shapes. Feel which part of the body communicates what. What are the hips saying? Or the spine? Common movements have become universal in their meaning, like the gesture of prayer, placing hands together over your heart says something that we understand. Explore!
When dancing with another dancer, try let them know how you are feeling in your movement as if they have just asked, "How are you?" With practice it becomes easier. It doesn't matter if they don't know what the story is, the expression of it is where the medicine lies for you. Feel into your being and begin conversations between body parts. Let your hands talk to each other, let your kidneys have a chat with your big left toe. Be curious. Play!
Think about something in your life that you are facing as a challenge, dance the expression of the question, listen as your body moves in response and answers it. Over time you will begin to understand your personal body language. If you let your body move without you giving it any direction, it will begin to converse with you from some deeper pool of wisdom. The possibilities of where that goes in terms of your life and creative expression are almost infinite!
Expressive dance is another cornerstone of conscious dance, the others being somatic, shamanic, energetic and invocatory movement which will be discussed in other blog posts.