In my quest for ongoing personal growth and a lifelong passion to dance, I find myself enrolled in a 3 year training with Open Floor International (OF). It’s an organisation whose vision is ‘A world where conscious movement and dance ignites community, creativity, social justice, health and well-being’. Sounds big, sounds broad, sounds ambitious. Believe me, a very experienced and informed group of people have put this together. It works.
The Breadth and The Depth of Dance
Where to begin? I start to feel overwhelmed. How to communicate the breadth and depth of the OF curriculum? Then I remember to use some of their simple, yet brilliant embodied tools to self-regulate. I PAUSE. Breathe. CENTRE. This is OF in action. A reminder to pay attention to my body, to include my body awareness as I move through life. It is so easy to forget to attend to bodily experience, and yet so accessible once we remember.
The OF approach is ‘exploratory’ rather than prescribed, and designed to ‘increase our capacity to feel, express and relate’.
Let’s SETTLE here for a minute.
The first Phase of the course is online, a shame in many respects, but on the upside it’s a truly international crowd: 70 people from all over the globe including some bold souls in Australia who are staying up all night to dance and learn.
Guided Movement Practice
We begin most days with guided movement practice. The facilitators explain what the focus is for the session, and through talking about the approach whilst engaging in it, we learn more deeply how to use the framework of OF, for our own lives and evolution, and ultimately as an invaluable offer to others to ‘allow life force to move through our bodies in ways both familiar and unpredictable’.
Mind the Body and Embody the Mind
This is a great expression, taken directly from OF. It is a simple explanation of Embodiment, a term now widely used to mean paying deliberate attention, even prioritising bodily awareness. I will come back to this theme in another blog, but suffice to say that in the modern, westernised era, we have been conditioned not to pay attention to sensate experience; it has been relegated to the status of the underdog, the poor relative. The mind has reigned supreme. We live in a disembodied world.
In order to ground and stay focused in bodily sensation, each OF session uses one (or more) ‘body anchors’. The facilitator draws attention to a sensate experience in a part of the body eg hands, front/back of the body, joints, midline etc This is a way of holding our physical body in awareness. The anchors bring us home to the immediacy of the body and are a valuable correction if we lose touch with reality and disappear into ruminating and catastrophising, which is so common.
Core Movement Resources
The OF session will also typically focus on one of the Core Movement Resources (CMRs) which we can use both in movement practice and in life to stay focused, grounded, present, aware. Examples of these CMRs: Pause, Centre, Expand and Contract, Release, Towards and Away, Activate and Settle, Dissolve. These are simple and accessible concepts which can be explored in depth through the movement practice and which we return to again and again. They also help navigate life off the dancefloor in an increasingly buzzy, speedy, overloaded and disturbed world.
There are a number of other core ideas in OF which reflect its aim to be a movement practice informed by current research in science, mindfulness, the arts and education. The organisational setup is of a genuinely collaborative nature peopled by those of many years’ experience in these fields.
Good for therapy, good for dance
In many ways OF practice finds its way into my therapy room as much as it does on the dancefloor at flomotion. It strengthens presence, communication, awareness of dysregulation and tools for coming back into regulation. The latest understandings from neuroscience are embedded in the practice, and it is evolving.
I end my week of dance with a genuine sense of more grounding in myself; better resourced and with an expanded awareness. Sitting with my clients this week, I thought the OF training had brought me more ‘tools’ to bring to my work. An ‘Aha’ moment revealed that whilst this is undoubtedly true, what became tangible is that I was experiencing greater presence; more able to perceive myself, others and the space between us.
Join me at Flomotion Dance, we offer online dance and live dance sessions.