Like many people, I grew up with the idea that the mind is the source of intelligence and the body is at best a loyal servant. This was expressed in ideas like “Mind over Matter”, and “The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak”.
Despite this teaching, I have often found that my mind is confused by something that my body sees clearly. This can come in terms of what to eat, who to trust, or which life path is the better choice. While my mind thrashes over the arguments, my body quietly tunes in and finds the answer, seemingly from collecting the intelligence from my body’s own cells and their connections to the surroundings.
Though in life most of us let the mind take the lead, in dance we have the opportunity to reverse this relationship and let the body lead. I find when I let the thinking (controlling) mind quiet down and get out of the way, my body can directly express my internal feeling state through movement; I become “transparent” – a direct channel from inside to outside. In allowing myself to be a channel, the unimpeded flow of energy through my body seems to clear out any stuck feelings. Afterward, I feel clean and clear.
As I integrate back into Synergy Dance Collective after stepping away to care for a sick friend, Kai and I have been having lots of conversations about what is working and what needs improvement. We are getting more organized and working on a website among other things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of being a transparent channel for what’s inside to be expressed outwardly; what supports and what interferes with it so we can better serve this experience in the dancers. We channel lots of things: our internal emotions, the feeling in the room, the energy of other people, and we channel the music that is being played.
I’ve noticed that the better the sound system, the easier it is for me to become transparent to the music. The deep bass notes that my body feels as much as hears are a big part of that. I have had conversations with several other dancers who echo the same sentiment.
Synergy Dance Collective has now stepped away from our dependence on the sound system of the Venue (Solstice Center & Nevei Koodesh), and now have a complete sound system we plan on bringing to the dances, including a big subwoofer for the deep bass notes. Those who came to “Dancing with Clouds” got a preview of this with the subwoofer being added to the Nevei Koodesh system. You can see the whole system set up in my living room for testing in the picture below. It sounds fabulous, with clear airy highs, crisp mid-range and a deep resonant bass.
I’m not sure why good sound reproduction makes so much difference in our ability to channel, but I’m guessing that when the sound is lacking, we first imagine the full live sound, and then dance to that imagined sound. Though we are capable of doing it, imagining the live sound is an extra step and a lot of effort. My hope is that the improved sound will enhance everyone’s experience.
Though the sound is important, in order to let the body lead, we must also allow the thinking mind to get out of the way; it can sit on the sidelines and watch from there.
What helps us to let the body lead? One important factor is that the thinking mind loves roles and identities, while the soft animal of the body sees more holistically and doesn’t dissect life into parts. When we enter into social conversations with others, it tends to activate our social roles: “my boss said this”, “my partner did that”, “my class was so restless”, “my kids were so sweet when they…”. Notice how all these examples reinforce a role or sense of identity, pulling us into our stories and away from our embodied state. This is the reason we ask the dancers not to socialize on the dance floor. We are all part of the collective and what we do affects the energy of the space. When we stay in our somatic experience, it supports everyone else to do the same, and when we socialize within the dance space, it undermines that support. Please help us maintain the somatic forest in which the soft animal of the body thrives.
You are invited to join us on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month, 7 – 9pm in the Nevei Koodesh Chapel.