Being Danced

By Emma Pearson

April 20, 2024

Main Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

29 March 2024

I remember when, in guided meditation teachings, I learned not just to pay attention to my breath, but to notice instead that I truly had to do nothing to take care of breathing….(duh!) That if I tried to manage, control, steer (etc) my breathing, it inevitably got messed up. The most easy, natural thing was to realise that breathing happened all on its own. Simply. Of its own accord. That indeed, my body was “being breathed”.

I love the simple wise truth of that. I am happy to allow the magicians in charge of wise breathing to continue to breathe me for as long as my body needs. I graciously hand over the controls so that I continue to be breathed until my final breath.

Over the last few weeks and months, on four different occasions, I have had a similar sense of energy flowing through me – but these times were less about breath and more about dance. I was danced. Being danced. It was marvellous. Each time so similar and yet so different.

The first occasion was last December at a Sunday morning workshop held in my village. It incorporated an experience of “Danse Biodynamique”, a beautifully simple – yet rich, wise and profound – approach to “dancing from the inside out”. Dancing through and from the body, heart and spirit. Sometimes alone, sometimes playfully with others, sometimes eyes open, sometimes eyes closed, always gentle, fluid and flowing, alone in your space yet connected through space. I remember the sense of freedom and gently joyous bubbles of delight inside the whole of me.

More recently I had a similar sense of “being danced” while at a weekend Tantra workshop Medjool and I participated in. On the Friday night as we arrived, after a short and simple check in (names, ground rules for the weekend), we were off our bums and on to our feet, and simply invited to move to the music.

Move with the music.

Not dance. Move. Be moved.

Notice nothing and no-one other than oneself.

Be. Listen. Feel. Flow.

I had a couple of brief thoughts along the lines of, “I wish I’d worn a short-sleeved t-shirt rather than this one with long sleeves”; or “Hmm – that felt kind of clunky”; or “I like what she’s doing over there – how does she do that?” before releasing any sense of the “out there” or “up in my head” and landing instead fully in my body, fully in the experience. Relinquishing the controls of my body and handing them over to the music. It was easy, fluid, flowing. Allowing for a seamless transition from a working week into a relaxed mind- and heart-space. There was a specific moment when I felt a Whoosh up through my body and heart, and landed in a puddle of joy. Exquisite.

Then last weekend, also with Medjool, I had yet another experience, when we joined a group of approximately 60 people (90%ish of whom were women, and 90%ish of whom were younger than us) for our first experience of 5 Rhythms Dance, as developed by Gabrielle Roth. There’s a predictable sequence of the music over a couple of hours where energy and pace shift through Flow, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, to Stillness. Yet again an experience of being danced, being music-ed, where the sole intention was to bring forth whatever creative movement wants to come from deep inside to the outside, just for the experience of it.

It’s a beautiful way to dance. I’ve always loved to dance, but perhaps a story familiar to many women, dancing as a teenager, or in one’s twenties and thirties, was not necessarily a simple thing. Nightclubs never felt particularly safe. I didn’t particularly like the music that was played. And by golly they just started way too late. And boys’/men’s behaviour definitely left something to be desired.

As a student at university I quickly learned that the best and safest place to dance my heart out was with my friends Kate and Duncan at “Gay Night at the Astoria” in Nottingham. I seem to remember it was on a Monday night. Not too late. Fantastic high energy music. Not a single man there interested in me. Obviously. And as and when any woman approached me, I simply said, “Ah – thank you – and no – I am straight” – which was the appropriate lingo back then in the mid 1980s. Never any trouble. Never an angry look. Just a simple response of, “Ah – okay – no worries”.

I feel that now, at last, in my mid-to-late-ish fifties, I have found some places to dance – in the company of others (as opposed to in the kitchen alone) – that feel easy, natural, safe, as well as fun and convivial. Perhaps these places always existed and I have just been living under a rock. Perhaps today’s 20- and 30-somethings have a better experience than I did in my student days. I don’t know. I still hear horror stories from young women who just want to dance, but end up being pestered. Yes, ageing has enormous upsides. Utter lack of unwanted attention. But not dancing for a few decades feels like quite a high price to pay.  I am glad that, at least where I live, there are a few safe spaces for younger women to be able to dance, be danced, among a majority women crowd – alone in one’s space while in the company of others. And best of all, be safely tucked up in bed by half-past ten.

I’ll be going again, for sure.

(Oh – and the fourth experience of “being danced”…. a story for another time. Definitely different!)

Image by I Am Nah on Unsplash

About Emma Pearson

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