How dancing can open up your creativity.
As a boy I looked up to Simon Cross. He was not only cool, and funny, but he played Cricket for the county. And he could dance. At our school discos he moved effortlessly to the music. He danced playfully. He had a lot of fun. I tried to copy him, but I felt stiff and awkward. Because I couldn't dance like Simon, I got it into my head that dancing wasn't for me. Like many of us I soon forgot about dancing. I buried it, and the feeling of freedom, fun and adventure away.
We all have a body. The body wants to feel good. Dancing is a natural way to feel good. Young children will dance spontaneously given half the chance. They feel the pleasure in moving. They naturally play, and are naturally drawn to pleasure. They climb, jump, roll, crawl, cartwheel and hop effortlessly. We don't have to lose this playful freedom. Dancing is a way to keep it alive.
Dancing helps us stay connected
to playful freedom.
This weekend I joined the Contact Improvisation dance festival in Ringwood, hosted by Richard Parker, a community activist. Richard brought together an international crew of dance teachers. For 3 days, around 50 people did something as natural as breathing and walking. We danced. I interviewed people about why dance is important to them. Billy, a young teaching assistant told me: "When I dance, I understand the meaning of everything that my body is doing. I don't have to think. And its fun."
I asked James, a software engineer from Watford, what he loved about dance: "Its a rebellion. The general mode of operation for me is to be in a structured environment. Dancing is more like a freedom for me."
Dominique, told me: "I like the chance to throw myself around the space. Move all my muscles, stretch, get warm, release energy, create shapes. I feel the air, feel myself moving through the air. Dance helps me in my life. We carry a lot of tension from emotional trauma in the body and so its a good way to release that. You can process things that have happened to you through movement. Also, its just joyous in general.
The more joyous activities you do, the more happy you'll be. Which sounds obvious, but not many people really know that.
Or if they know it, they don't prioritize it."
Dancing is the body's ways of playing. When we play we are not too concerned with achieving results. For a time we let go of all our usual striving. This is important. The body loves to let go, and simply be. But we are trained from an early age to strive: work hard, get results, perform better. In a word: achieve. But unless we remain playful, there comes a time when our creative juices dry up. Then it is impossible to achieve. Finding a way to be playful is crucial. It is the foundation upon which all our achieving rests. The creativity we access through play flows into our ability to work. We see new ways of doing things, we develop flexibility, and innovation. We move around obstacles. We leap over hurdles. We coax and trick our way through difficulty.
Dancing is a wonderful way to relearn how to play. Dancing can awaken in the body the playfulness you knew so well as a child.