I had my first dive into dance in front of the old stereo in our living room as a 4-year old to classical music, conducting and embodying how the music felt inside my body. My next memory of dance as a delicious experience was with a black woman in our kitchen in South Africa to township jazz. It was exhilarating for my body moving around without the usual white adult concerned look. Dance disappeared from my life in a country where Apartheid and the church crushed all freedom from the body until I rediscovered it in my early twenties - dancing, sex and drugs - oh the necessary evils! In my thirties in Cape Town at the annual company Christmas get together, I got the name ‘the whitey that can dance’. Little did I know that emigrating to Edinburgh would be my path into deep dance in ways I could never imagine.
My first 5Rhythms class was with Barbara (Iona) in Edinburgh. I had no idea what to expect, I loved the music, but I was overwhelmed – people seemed to know each other well, each doing their own unique thing without holding back. This way of dancing was a new language for me…what the heck! I didn’t return until 3 months later – my shyness held me back, I was definitely not out there on the dance floor. Gabrielle’s words to me during my teacher training were, ‘why are you hiding?’. I am still dancing that inquiry in many ways, shapes, and pauses. It has been a journey of self-discovery, running away and returning, often just knowing the beat will hold me when I can’t do that.
I met Gabrielle in London at a massive dance event. I hovered in a corner, but her voice held me captive in the beat and in my body. I was inspired and enthralled by, and adored this beautiful woman on the stage, and scared witless by her at the same time. She was the all-knowing, a goddess that could see into my soul. Now, after years of dancing, teaching and exploring my deeper psyche I know she had travelled to places I had yet to discover. By entering the dance with care and determination when I teach, Gabrielle is always right behind me. I can feel into my creative edges, knowing that those I am dancing with are equally challenged by their creative edges. It has been and still is my mission to tap into the creative dreaming in the dance – to discover our whole self, to live this authentic self that the world needs. This is how we change, not just ourselves and our relationships, but the world.
Dropping into our creativity with the dance and other art forms give us the opportunity to get to know new facets of ourselves. In the workshop Drawn to Dance, which I co-teach with the artist, Jenny Smith, we combine dance with paper cut outs and body paint.