Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Movement is life

... if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

Aleanor Mordaunt

black and white photo of Corina Duyn and Frans Hogevorst dancing in a school party, aged 4. Movement is life
Me and Frans Hogevorst dancing during celebrations
in first year of school. Aged 4 '

Dancing has been one of my desires. All of my life.  It still is. This year I will dance! Hopefully using my body, definitely through my artwork.

As a little girl I passed by a ballet studio on my way to primary school. I so much wanted to be a dancer. During those childhood years there was a Saturday night variety show on TV. My favourite part was the group of eight dancers. I wanted to grow up as being one of them. I didn't. And even when I could decide for myself to attend dance classes, I never did. The closest I came to dancing was attending jazz-gymnastics in the 70's, and of course at the Saturday night disco! 

I possibly have been restricting movement in my body for years. Much longer than from the onset of illness. Maybe I had became unsure of trusting my body - of being who I meant to be and grew into someone others wanted me to be.
During the first few years of illness I became severely restricted in my movements. Every single action: walking, eating, brushing my teeth, having a shower, turning around in bed was at times so painful that I moved as little as possible. I did get out of bed every day and worked some routine in my day – but looking back I restricted movement to a bare minimum. The words "movement is life", uttered by a dietitian/homeopath who supported me during those early years, still rings in my ears. Movement is life. Now I am very slowly re-learning, re-imagining, and trusting, who I am. A dancer.  I am ready to dance, and ready for change.

Subtle movements are dance too

Through reading books about healing and wellness, listening to my body, observing nature and exploring art, I now come to the conviction that the breath can be seen as the subtlest form of dance. This way, we can all dance, no matter what our physical state may be. Even when I was more or less bedbound, or in constant pain, the core of my body was dancing. “Let the body be free and open as it’s rocked and cradled by the breath- still, yet continually moving,” as Vidyamala Burch suggests in Living well with pain and illness. “Motion is natural to the body and its systems. Even the bone cells are in a constant state of movement as they replenish themselves. 

So, inside I am dancing. The realization of the importance of the breath has been with me for a long time, but as for dance, I looked outside of myself.

photo of play of light on Annaghmakerrig Lake, by Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
Annaghmakerrig Lake
Dance is everywhere

Observing nature, I witness the dance of leaves and flower petals in my garden. The birds flying from tree to feeder. A goldfinch swinging gently with the breeze on top of the teasel.
Resting by Annamakerrig Lake during my residency in 2013, I watched water-striders dancing on the surface. The intertwining circles they created on the water were of a beautiful choreography. What about the autumnal leaves swirling on the road, or a group of starlings in the sky, shifting direction at the same time? Or the gentle bee hovering, dancing above a flower in search of nectar.

One of the beauties of living with this illness is that I have time to observe the minutest detail in nature. Of course I am not alone in this.
Kathleen Madge wrote in 1947 in The World of Living Green: “almost every plant has its own dance, continually moving, both in leaf, shoot, and flower – a dance so slow that we hurrying human being do not perceive it. There is a rhythmic dance of the flowers as they open in the morning and close at dusk…"
Aleanor Mordaunt wrote this delightful passage in The garden of Contentment one hundred years before I read it. Oh beautiful, beautiful life! beautiful wind and clouds and trees! they make a Pantheon of me, and I prayed them to take me to themselves and make me one of their wild, sweet fraternity, to teach me their secrets and joys, and their almost sweet sorrows; if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

The dance in art

Now. 2017. I am on a mission to dance. 
I am relearning my body's movements and possibilities.
I have continued with my walking practice, and every week I go 'one-tree-further'. I concentrate on my movements during this now almost ten minute exploration. I am observing the dance of nature. I  am filming some of it too. And I am dancing with words here on my blog. 
My art is definately going into the direction of movement too. The plan is to have two little aniamted puppets dance through my garden. (... more about that some other day.)
If I don't fully succeed to really dance myself (as in the true sense of the word), I will dance through my art.

Links for further reading: