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What is body awareness in dance?


Body awareness in dance

Let’s start with body awareness

 

As you read these words, pay attention while you take a deep breath in and out. Take your time. Notice the feeling of support underneath you; the chair/floor you are sitting on, the floor you are standing on; the temperature around your arms; the sensation in your fingertips; soften your eyes; take another deep, slow breath. This is body awareness. It is deliberately (or consciously) putting your attention into the sensations of your body.

 

It might sound obvious, basic or silly, but it’s actually a powerful ability of us human beings, to choose where we put our attention. In this case - bringing awareness to body sensations - means that we are not held hostage by the constant chatter of our thinking minds or overrun with emotions. We can choose to focus on a particular realm of experience: the physical sensations of our body.

 

Dancing

 

Dancing’s great, dancing’s fun, dancing’s so good for us it turns out. It is also an unusually human activity, rarely found in any other species. Makes you wonder why we do it. It’s also unusual in that so much fun stuff in life isn’t good for us, dancing is.

 

And clearly dancing involves some kind of body awareness, otherwise we can fall down, injure ourselves and others. In technical terms this is called proprioception, the ability to know how and where your body is orientated in your surroundings. Proprioception is also essential for dancing in order to coordinate our movement.

 

Self conscious versus conscious

 

One thing us humans are prone to, is being self-conscious. It turns out that as part of our survival patterns, our brains have developed a special ability to resonate and attune to other people, possibly before our awareness of ourselves. We are rooted in interpersonal connection with others from the start of life. Our brains are social organs.

 

Feeling self conscious is a bi-product of this attunement to others and can be the source of much inhibition and unhappiness. It turns up in spades on the dance floor where we can become preoccupied with how we are being perceived by others and we lose our ability to ‘follow’ ourselves.

 

Enter conscious movement

 

Here lies the gift of conscious dance and movement practices such as Flomotion: we are invited to bring our awareness very deliberately to our bodies, our breath and to follow our own movement. The facilitation encourages us to move spontaneously and follow movement impulses; that there are no right or wrong movements, that we don’t need to know what we are doing. It is a ticket to bi-pass judgement, self-criticism and inertia.

 

Freedom

 

When we get to dance in this way around others, we ultimately get to feel free. This freedom is not simply about liberation from our preoccupation with how we are being perceived by others, it’s also freedom from our own rules that we have established (in or outside of awareness) that keep us safe and yet cooped up, repressed and unhappy.

 

Mind, Body and Soul

 

We are now increasingly aware that there is no split between mind and body. They are part of one system and reflect each other. When we dance with body awareness we shine light on our mental, emotional and spiritual worlds; there is no separation between them. In particular we develop a capacity for inner listening through noticing and following our own movement.

 

Due to the intimate interconnection of mind, body and soul, when we dance, we tap into something that is often impossible to attain in other contexts. Dance is a portal to a world beyond our usual limitations; it is entered by being body-led, body-centred, and ultimately demonstrates a reality not bound by habits, patterns and rules. We thereby strengthen our capacity for choice, intimacy and healing.

 

Creating Safety

 

We have complex nervous systems that are on constant alert for the threat of danger. If this persists at a high level over time, it is corrosive to our wellbeing and engagement with life. One way we can move from danger to safety is becoming more attuned to our environment; to what is immediately present through body awareness.

 

When we dance in a conscious movement setting, the attention that we bring to being in our bodies: to the feelings, thoughts and sensations that are present, we get to move our experience rather than be unconsciously subject to it. This creates safety.

 

Dancing and Meditation

 

All dance styles require body awareness. There might be steps to learn, co-ordination, collaboration, a narrative to follow. It is not a purely cerebral activity where thoughts are the dominant currency. And you can have body awareness without dancing; in meditation, for example, we go deeply into the felt sense of the body, bringing our full attention to breath and body sensation.

 

Many people resist dancing saying they are ‘no good’ at it, they are too shy and self-conscious.

 

Invitation

 

My invitation is to come along and try a Flomotion session. You might be surprised how the process will carry you, take you to places beyond your normal experience of being in your moving body. You might just like it.

 

Moving bi-weekly in North London…

 


Julia

 

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