Pirates bury treasure, squirrels bury nuts, and then forget. The treasure lies buried away. Forgotten. You used to dance, when you were a child. Somehow, unbelievably this amazing treasure has been forgotten. As adults, half the task of growing up seems to be to reclaim what we have lost. To reconnect with something we once knew very well.
The Contact Improvisation festival this Easter weekend, hosted by the wonderful Richard Parker, was a chance for many of us to reconnect. With ourselves, with each other, with our community. With our long lost passion and creativity.
I interviewed different people about why dance is important for them. Spence, who works in London and has a science background told me: "dance feels like my first language, not even a second language. When I'm dancing it's like a child is coming out. Saying, ahhh, I'm home now. Let's move, let's play. I threw away this element of trust in physicality. I scrunched it up, I chucked it in a drawer, I slammed the door shut, and left it. I lost it. I could feel myself becoming more and more rigid. Being able to enter this space of movement again is such a relief."
Many of us feel this sense of relief through dancing. Dancing brings us back into our bodies. Back into the present moment. Where we discover that its much easier to relate and connect to each other than we ever imagined.
When we are able to soften a little, and allow our bodies to do what they do, and to love what they love, life becomes easier.
I asked Klara, an academic based in Plymouth what she loved about dance.
"Dance always builds communities. Contact Improvisation is a particular case. It creates a kind of intimacy and a safe relational feeling. You have an understanding of others, some kind of rapport. Dance is based on non-verbal communication. We synchronize with each other, we co-ordinate together. That all builds community in a natural way. Dance is one of the main practices, or ways throughout history of maintaining culture and community.
You see a lot of work at the moment with the elderly. (Dance and touch based therapies like Bio-danza have a healthy impact in care homes). Dance can also help build communities for people who experience a lot of loneliness. It's very welcoming. Every time I move house (to a new area), the first thing I do is find a new dance community. Dance is a very easy way to meet people. Just go for a few classes, just go for a jam, and people are always so welcoming."
Dance is healing. It restores trust. Trust in the world. Trust in ourselves. Trust in relationships. We need this sense of trust. It can give us the courage and strength necessary to meet the challenges the world is facing today. We need each other. Now more than ever.
Richard's plans are to grow this festival into a larger and longer gathering that will be both a great opportunity to bring together some of UK's best teachers as well as support the ongoing growth of the UK CI community.
Thanks to Hugh Greasley for photos.