So we finally wrapped up day one of our ecstatic dance tour! Day one has been one of embodying our contradictions. Living in the exciting space between our opposites, we both-and our opposites, rather than either-or them. The difference between the two is crucial because it represents something core about the Ecstatic Dance community. The diversity in ways of being, and the willingness to be together in our differences, fuels the ecstaticism of shared consciousness. We are both exhausted and full of life. We crave both community and don't know each other's names. We want both shared experiences and our individual space to create experiences to bring to the group. Thirty of us differently personed and bodied crammed into one bus. Let's see how this goes!
I took upon this project to blog about our experiences each night because I believe in the nuances that writing captures that can not be captured through video. My aim is to participate in archiving as much magic as possible in this shared adventure. I am deeply curious about the experiences that each individual generates into this community. As we grow together and learn more about each other, I will document more about shared intentions and journey, for now all I have is my own story.
So here it is:
I woke up yesterday morning...I didn't. I didn't even sleep. To be frank, I spent the night before the dance tour deep in conversation and love with my newest partner. I was so excited to share myself with them. I felt fearless and fierce in my vulnerability. What is there not to love? Each layer of my being, I eagerly unzipped ready to be witnessed.
When did I become this person, so full of fucking life?
At 23, I spent the later third of my life within the vortex of an eating disorder. In an eating disorder, the mind conditions itself against life. Your pattern is to turn away food, nourishment to fit your body within the image that you've associated with the ideal. Your body is not yours, it becomes the slave of your minds parasite--the parasite being that which tells you, you are never enough.
My relationship to my body is complicated then. While I grew up doing ballet, gymnastics, and team sports, I spent very little actual time actually inside of my body. Most of this time, I spent CONTROLLING my body. I let my body become the medium by which the goals of idealistic ballet lines expressed itself. That being said, my body never fit the traditional ballet mold. My body is short and muscular, rather than long and willowy. My hips are parallel, rather than turned out. I am not white. To match this ideal, I had to compromise the body that I was born in by fixing the differences. My eating disorder took me outside of my own body into the realm of changing it.
If you ask me in person or email, I'm happy to share more details about my journey with my eating disorder. I'm also always willing to have a conversation about how ballet, in its constitution, is a dance form that colonizes one's entire self. However right now, the point of me sharing some of it here is to outline how Ecstatic dance, as a practice, shifted my relationship to my body towards the direction of wellness. Ecstatic dance saved my life. It made me the womyn I am now, so full of fucking life, ready to love, and ready to be loved.
My sophomore year at college, I was living under my friend's bed at community gardening co-op. Very bulimic, very cynical, and therefore very tired, I felt so much resistance when my friend suggested we spend the morning at this thing called, "Dance Church." At age 19, I had only been two years out of my very religious mom's house, and church to me signified this place where I was forced to go after a night of sneaking out and partying, and forced to feel ashamed about my sneaking out and partying: a place where everything that I felt I was, was not allowed. My queerness, my loudness, my questions, my stories, my sexiness, my me, all not allowed. However, my friend assured me, "This is not like your mom's church. Fun is encouraged. You can be yourself here." After convincing my friend that I would go only if we wore matching animal hats, we drove to the 418 Project as tiger and wolf.
Entering the dance space melted my brain. I spent years in ballet, I know what a dance studio looks like. Open floors, mirrors, and judgement. I recognized the open floor, the mirrors were covered, but where was the judgement? As soon as the door to the 418 opened, so did my floodgate of questions. Are you really allowed to crawl around on the floor and meow at people? Who is going to get the person doing zombie aerobics in trouble? Middle-aged folk can still do hand stands? How are these people rolling around on top of each other and not having sex? Doesn't he care that she is now dancing with the other guy? How do I release myself to be as free as these people? How are they so happy? What is dance? What is movement? What is my body? What is?
Still, my curiosity grounds my relationship to Ecstatic Dance. The dance floor to me is a big question mark: place of opening possibilities. Anything can happen here. In this question, I begin to understand the scope of my body's capacity. The more I dance, the more I learn how limitless that capacity actually is. Witnessing other's in their expression also pushes the boundaries of my own. Ecstatic dance reconnects me to my own humanity. Not only am I allowed to express the full spectrum of my emotional cascade, but also each moment of that expression is met with acceptance and love.
How can I hate my body when it gives me access to such ecstatic experiences. How can I hate my body when I love being in it? I can't. Ecstatic Dance heals my relationship to my body. Ecstatic Dance heals my actual body. Why? Because I am actually inside of it. I pay attention to its needs. I know where needs stretching, where needs massage, where needs movement and where needs stillness. Rather than control my body, I let my body happen to me. The profundity of that magic heals me.
I love ecstatic dance. I speak from my experience. Everyone gives and gets something different to the dance. This week, I hold myself accountable for bearing witness and documenting some more of the magic this practice offers us.
Fresh from inside the Green Tortoise,
Deets about Sunday's dance:
Where: Sacred Heart Cathedral
Music: DJ Tyler Avani
Dinner: Coconut Curry
Memorable heart shares: "Today I didn't wear a bra. I'm aware that my boobs were flopping around all over the place, and choosing not to care about that felt so empowering!"
Ok, that might have been my own heart share, but I'm going to start keeping track of other ones in the next blog!
Coming in next blog;
Magic quotes/moments of the day
Dancing in front of the capital building