projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
I have written about my relationship to dance before (here) – from dancing to Martin Denny as a child to longing for the grace of dance in my body as a girl to settling in as an occasional observer of dance as an adult. Taking an actual dance class has been on my list of New Things to Do for a long time, but whenever I researched my options, nothing felt like the right fit. I didn’t want ballroom, latin, jazz or hip-hop. I didn’t want an exercise class spruced up with an occasional cha-cha. And I didn’t want the community interaction of ecstatic dance or authentic movement.
I just wanted to be in my body and to feel how it wanted to move. I wanted to see how it felt to give it that freedom. No steps to follow. No performance to give.
Finally, my former yin yoga teacher and a fellow LMT created something that gets pretty darn close to what I’ve been wanting. I was glad that I ran into my teacher who described what they were doing and assured me that they wanted to make space for people to move however they wanted, to listen closely to their bodies without the need to interact with others. You mean nobody’s going to teach me a series of moves to repeat and repeat and repeat? Nobody’s going to try and hold my gaze in a meaningful way? I would be left the fuck alone? Well, sign me up.
The experience was true to her description. We warmed up in silence for half an hour in any way we wanted. We sat in a circle and went over some general rules as well as the theme for the night which was “Heart.” We were told briefly about the heart meridian and offered a few suggestions to take or leave as we moved through the room. Then the music came on. And we moved.
I barely paid attention to the others and felt sure that nobody was paying attention to me. We all just took care to not run into or crowd each other. No eye contact was made for an hour and a half. Sometimes I was jittery, shaking off what has been a week or so of anxiety. Sometimes I felt tender toward the rhythm in my chest as I thought about my friend who just had a massive heart attack. I was sometimes awkward and sometimes rhythmic and sometimes still.
Afterwards, people seemed to be lingering in the lobby, slow to leave, but I’d gotten what I needed. Permission and space and a beat I could dance to alone and together.