Learning to Dance Through Life

This past week, my husband and I went to our first contact improv class at the Gibney. The nature of contact improv is that you are constantly dancing with others in an improvised fashion; always remaining in contact and yet never knowing what will come next. The class started off with one partner lying on the floor and the other rolling under the weight of his/her body. It required an incredible amount of trust, relaxation and surrender. As we transitioned from one exercise to the next, I began to understand my own struggles with trust and my own intimate relationship with fear. 

In the middle of every exercise, the teacher would say, “ Contact dance prepares you to take whatever life throws at you in grace. Will your partner do this or that? How will you respond? How will you continue to flow through the dance knowing that you don't know where it is going?”

While thinking I was good at this but my body illustrating otherwise, I remembered the biggest curve ball life had thrown at me, my mothers’ death, and how my reaction hadn’t been one of grace and trust rather one of tension and utter fear. Ever since this loss, I have struggled getting cozy with the unknown. Because, you see, once you experience something so jarring, it takes a lot of work to not be anxiously awaiting the next trauma.  It takes time to move from a state of constriction to a state of expansion and from a place of tension to a place of relaxation.

Loss is not something that our brains and bodies can adapt to so easily. In life, when we loose something, we generally find it or replace it. If we are lucky, we go through our lives for years without ever having to comprehend what it means to loose something and never get it back. Once loss comes into the picture, we are challenged to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. We need to build a new muscle, one that is versed in the art of how to be calm when nothing seems to make sense, and this takes time.

Dance has been an incredible tool to help me build that muscle

Even though we dance with others in Contact Dance, there are moments when we are left to dance alone - parts when we are asked to lead - and times when we are meant to follow - and this, this is what I think a healthy reaction to life looks like: 

Feeling safe in each stage - Learning that there is a time for each and that no stage is forever, but it too will pass. Surrendering to the growth both painful and rewarding in every part of life and trying our best not to force ourselves out of one stage and into the next but rather flowing from one to the other.

As we dance, let us listen to our bodies. As we move through life, let us flow as gracefully as possible. Let us recognize that inner peace is more durable when it accepts the force of the unknown and that it is better to admit that we don't know than pretend that we do.