Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dance Out of Your Box & Into the Real You

I admit it: I am a bit obsessed right now.

With what? Isn't it obvious?

Dance, of course, but more specifically with the work of Gabrielle Roth. Right now, I'm reading her book Sweat Your Prayers, and it feels like, to me, that I am reading some ancient lost religious text.

I'm only in the introduction, but I can't bring myself to read too fast. Have you read books like that? They're so good and feel so important that you force yourself to go slowly?

This part of the introduction, where she is writing about first starting to teach, struck me and I wanted to share it:

The more I taught, the more I realized that this was not going to be simple. Most of us were deeply afraid of the body; some people controlled every gesture they made; others abandoned themselves to food or drink or just cut themselves off and spaced out. We were big time head-trippers, drifting far way from any real self, with no idea that there was something holy and profound happening inside of us. I'd watch people moving completely expressionless to the wildest rock n' roll song...Cool is cool but frozen is another thing entirely. I wanted to put my hands on their hips and melt them down. I wanted to wake them up from their collective inertia. I wanted to rattle their bones and shake their souls.

Did you recognize yourself in there anywhere?

This makes me think of the yoga that the majority of us do and how part of the reason we love it might be how safe it makes us feel. There are these poses and we're all expected to look pretty much the same doing them. There's no risk that we'll look silly. Not really.

There's no risk that we'll look...different.

(There are some sorts of yoga out there that are trying to create more freedom in movement but they are a small minority at this point.)

We have been taught to mistrust our bodies. That much we know for sure.

We diet them into acceptable shapes. We clothe them in acceptable ways -- ways that don't threaten or challenge people's ideas of us.

We are uniformed in so many ways.

Try this: Close the curtains, get some private space, do this in the dark if you are embarrassed. Put on your favorite music from when you were 18 and dance until the sweat is streaming over your body. Dance until you forget that you are dancing.

Try this: Imagine what you would wear, do, be if you no longer felt the need to control everything, to meet others' expectations, to fit in.

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed,, 2009)


Elise said...

Great post !

Karen D said...

I've got to see if my library has this book. I have tried the 5 Rhythms in the past and really loved it. Thank you for this reminder, I am going to give it a go again.

Earth Mother said...

LOVE Gabrielle. If you ever have the opportunity (and you will!), take a class with her. Life changing.

You'd probably enjoy her first book too.

I think I have every Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors cd/tape ever made. When I put those on, I can dance until I forget that I'm dancing.

Terra said...

What a coinkidink! I just got that book a week or two ago and am devouring it. I also bought her Wave DVD and have previewed it (I read somewhere that the book makes more sense if you've seen her dance a little).

While I haven't started dancing much yet, in my blog I've been focused on getting back into dance. I busted out my Dance the Chakras DVD last week and did a little of that. I'm gearing up to tryout the 5 Rhythms.

I was going to try ballet again, but think the 5 Rhythms Estatic Dance approach will feed my soul more than ballet (where I'm bound to end up feeling fat and uncoordinated.)

Thinking of trying out some belly dancing as well. I love that bellies are appreciated in that style- rather than frowned upon (like in ballet!). So I think the belly dancing will compliment the estatic dance work that I hope to begin soon!

I bought a couple of her CD's a couple of years ago and still Bones is my favorite- especially for ritual work or just dancing to. I'd like to collect more of them though!

She has 2 other books that I'm looking forward to reading after I'm finished with Sweat Your Prayers- how much do you love that title?! Just that in and of itself says a lot!!!

Tracy said...

Wonderful post and a great idea!

Miche said...

Sounds like a great read. Dancing brings so much joy, release, and discovery. It allows us to truly be in our bodies, feel with them, and express with them, which is so different than the verbal, conceptual, and analytical worlds we spend our time experiencing life in. Dancing, and I mean really letting yourself go to be one with the dancing, is a an awesome experience.

In the words of a famous dancer:

If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it. ~Isadora Duncan

Silky Hart said...

I love Gabrielle, too! I've have taken several 5 Rhythms workshops including one from Gabrielle herself years ago in Berekley. I remember the first time I read Sweet Your Prayer and savored over every word. My book is well-worn and underlined to be sure. ENJOY Christine!