1 try to think deeply, and investigate your strongest feelings, intuitions and basic assumptions of what dance is to you. Think about your earliest or strongest memory of dancing and have a ‘knowing’ of how this affects you. This is commonly, a source of your dance.
For me this was playing with my brother as a child whom i love very much
And hearing stories of my grandad dancing the night away, and clutching my hand so tightly, saying he enjoyed my performance
2 Think about your earliest experiencing or witnessing dance, again try to remember times when it shook you to your core. Ask yourself why? How come? And you don’t need all your answers to be written in words. Most of the time, your soul is longing to return to Something.
For me this is slavik doing a flamenco solo
For me this is magna gopal’s smile in terry’s arms
3 have the same dissection in the realm of music. Recall when music made you cry, transported you in another era, seemed to hide messages that answered your problems. Recall all mental music videos – these are important. Gather all the music that has changed and made “you”. Then:
- A scholarly research on it’s roots and structure is important and encouraged, but
- a raw – what they say ‘phenomenological’ experience of the soundscape is what brings this to another level. Pair your mind away, and listen to these songs, as if it was you saying your name a hundred times until it becomes gibberish, and you’re listening to alien language or deciphering birdspeech.
- As if you were high on marijuana and all sensations are pronounced. You don’t actually need marijuana to replicate this state of mind. Good earphones/headsets, closed eyes on the bed are encouraged so that you can:
- Find the faintest instrumentation and bring your strongest awareness there, try to create a mental room and ‘place’ harmonies situated in a soundscape.
- Enjoy your new level of song, review your entire collection, this is important. Befriend the smallest instrument, imagine the soul of the voice behind the being singing. Ask yourself who is this, is it kind, acknowledge you will never know their full intent, but be open to really ‘listening’ what they sought to share.
- Try learning instruments
4 When this this mastered, gear for:
- No visualizations, the room is a vacuum. When you have thoughts just let them melt away.
- Insist on the blankness until something spontaneously arises and insists to stay, in a an impossible manner. Other people have told me that this is what trance states are like, me feeling like what arises is unauthored from myself. Example: i didn’t feel what ‘funky’ music is, I AM funk, or a god of funk came to greet me and i am overwhelmed. Another example: someone pulled a sword out of throat and i couldn’t do anything. I am not sure if this is technically trance but this a much deeper, subconscious level of experiencing story and sound. A personal experience of it. I encourage you to dive deep, into the wells of meaning and use your new experience of it to fuel your dance.
5 find out who you dance for. Make sure your priority is your self and for no one else. If it helps: decide that music and movement is freedom, until you are set free.
6 undergo the process of ‘phenomena etc.’ described in 3 to 4, but do this for the physical body. Understand that it is a vehicle of poetry. The tight embrace, the light touch of hand on another. These kinesthetic actions express things that are not of words and this is okay. Some miracles are meant to be painted, others written, others can only be danced. Have a personal experience of non-verbal communication. Touching your neck, head looking up, a depressed spine. Don’t ‘think’ this action or that action is meant to be proud or meant to be sad. Do it, and wait for your body to tell you that experientially. Your body has the expertise on this so quiet your rational mind and just sit in the pose, the movement. Your body is wise, it’s been doing this since you’ve been born. Allow yourself to be surprised. Listen literally to Body language.
- related to this are alexander method and feldenkrais methods of self-examination
- relaxing both body and mind can be tricky here, but for reference you could check out bodied meditations like qi gong or tai chi.
- As a starting point, breath deeply and exhale into each body part. Work on each part until you feel entirely relaxed. Your mind learns best when it’s relaxed and is the principle of hypnosis. Learn about your body this way.
7 you may do 6 both with and without music. Getting a hang of doing this both on music and on your dancing simultaneous is tricky, start with slow songs, be patient. This is extremely rewarding.
8 Explore principles and books on theater when generating a mental story for a dance or a song.
- Extend your mind and awareness to the audience
- Try a different emotion that you wouldn’t commonly associate with the song/dance/prompt
- Collaborate with someone. Again discard mental constructs, prejudice. Allow yourself to be surprised with the miracles inlaid in harmony. This is one of my favorite aspects, and why i love partner dance.
9 isolation exercises
- ‘Dance’ with your eyes, or start with your face
- Find the smallest body component, a shoulder, or the head and ‘sing’ with it
- (google elements and dynamics of dance when you’re stuck on this, but if it isn’t obvious i’m encouraging a personal exploration)
10 haha get ready: explore mental emotional therapy techniques that involve movement and music. No need to be shy! You can do this by yourself, and if you sincerely love dance, the way you love is the way you heal. For example:
- Copy the physical characteristics of something you want to be. What others call fake it til you make it , or shamanic power animal. Whatever works for you. For example, if you have a bad self-image decide yourself to be too fat to be sexy, imagine yourself to be a carnaval fertility goddess with the gaist feathers strutting in a crowd of festival people and drums. Accompany with favorite samba batucada music, find what works for you.
- Imagine the person who has hurt you the most, and get a volunteer to be the representation of this person. Forgive yourself with what’s happened, Look into the volunteer’s eyes and say i’m sorry and i forgive you as if it was to the hurtful person and/or situation. Hold the gaze for as long as you deeply plant the intent. Then, hold their hands and kiss it, sink to the floor and kiss their feet. Do as purposefully and as slowly as you need. Embrace each other, and you are allowed to cry. Switch roles with your partner.
- Play like a child. Hug your pillows. Make love to yourself. Wear insane outfits,
- Day dream while dancing, with the full force cylinders of your imagination.
- Give yourself the space to just cry for an hour, release pent up rage for an hour, rejoice for an hour, and lie down in peace for an hour. Haha check out osho’s active meditation for more details even five minutes is pretty cathartic.
11 This is your permission slip as the most expert person on the subject of yourself. Any process you design for yourself is just as valid as any suggested here, because all of this is just tools. In the end, there is only you. The one fully responsible and also the best equipped for your own Art to bring forth- so very luckily you. Be patient with yourself, i’ve worked on these for years and i share them with the hopes of being signposts for your own self-exploration
12 advanced topic
There is a difference between,
I am dancing a dance
I am dancing.
i am the dance.
There is a differencing between
i am dancing to music.
i am dancing with music.
i am the music.
Try to remove all blocks and fake distances that separate you with what you love.
Is also pretty cool to get to.
endnotes: this is for everyone who’s ever asked me for advice in dancing, or breaking their plateaus –especially in freestyle. Lots of metaphysical stuff, but i really wanted the space to organize all my thoughts on this just to clearly pass around what i’ve gathered through the years and also serve as notes to self.
this is applicable to other art forms, but i’m very much still working on those haha