School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: May 2009
Source: Why did I do this dance weekend?

by Debbie Rosenberg
“I’m going for a cardio-vascular workout,” I heard myself telling my friends as we sat in the car en route to the dance venue for Source on Friday night. My friends laughed at that and one of them expressed much deeper and potentially profound reasons as to why she was going. You know what though? I could also have chosen to do an elaborate combination of box steps, spotty dogs and grapevines to achieve that end and even a few mambo cha-cha-chas thrown in to make it seem ‘dancey‘.

Only a few years ago you would have seen me bouncing up and down on the aerobics studio floor. The story goes as follows; the very same pm of the day that I had completed the YMCA exercise to music teaching qualification (walk forwards with a clap and walk backwards with a clap, step touch single,single, double), I decided to try a Sunday night 5 rhythms class in Manchester.
During that momentous evening circa February 2005, I observed myself smiling more than I usually did. Fuck me, even the L-shaped grapevine didn’t compare to this. Nowhere near in fact. This was the healthy disco I’d been looking for. My body and mind felt narrow and rigid when under the aerobics regime. Here, anything was possible; my feet and hands had been set free and my arms and legs were loving it. This was exercise which was fun. But four years down the line and with workshops and many evening classes under my belt, was it still all about cardio-vascular health?
The next big discovery I made on the dancing path involved community. I began from word go to make friendships that seemed relevant, exciting and full of depth and understanding. A network of people close by and further afield. At first, I earnestly believed the Sunday night dance floor was the place to meet Mr Right, the love of my life and a boyfriend all rolled into one perfect package. I remember the confusion I experienced after spending lyrical and stillness sublimely connected in the dance with some man or other only to then discover THAT WAS IT. It was over. We’d HAD a connection on the dance floor but we didn’t necessarily HAVE a connection in civilian life. Usually, I stopped fancying them the moment we tried to engage in light conversation after the class had finished. After a while, I stopped trying to find a boyfriend and started to recognise my friends. To that end, the theme of the weekend could have been something less fruity and more, say, vegetably than sexuality and I’d still have been there for the simple pleasure of seeing my friends and dancing together and being a member of the group.
What about Ya’acov? Was I going because of the teacher? Well, I’d danced with him before and found myself moved, challenged, supported, encouraged and acknowledged on each occasion, my ears wide open to his words when he spoke. Probably a part of me (maybe the jewish mother part?) felt a certain affinity and pride towards Ya’acov as a fellow member of the tribe. The word in Yiddish to describe this is ’kwell’ and it means ‘glow with pride’. Maybe this is not dis-similar to Clover, a black British women I taught numeracy to recently, wearing to class a Barak Obama t-shirt, wrist bands and matching baseball cap for a few days after the election? Or, the girls in the London High School who were recently visited by Michelle Obama and certainly seeming to kwell judging by the pictures in the newspaper and Hello! Magazine? (I do like a bit of Hello! every now and then but sshhhhh, that’s just between you and me).
The last occasion I danced with Ya’acov was when I was pregnant and now Zahira is 17 months and entertaining, beautiful and funny. I was definitely at Source to have a bit of quality Debbie time. Although I have loved and admired her deeply from the moment of her conception, I, probably like most other mothers, find it easier fulfil the job description with a smile in my heart after I’ve had a little time to myself. I was grateful for my mum, a very, very,very enthusiastic grandma, being available to look after Zahira on both days.

So, how was the cardio-vascular for you if you were there? For me, I felt my heart pumping fresh, juicy blood and my lungs expanding and contraction more quickly. But basking in the sublimely crafted stillness that we landed in at the end on Sunday, was just as delicious as the more cardio raising moments of the weekend. I found my dancing feet once again. They had just needed dusting down a little. As long as there is breathe in my body and blood in my veins, I know I’ll want to dance. And more often than the infrequent opportunities at weddings and bar-mitzvas. Now, I have the exquisite pleasure of watching my daughter dance. So far she has three moves; bending her knees and stamping her feet, swinging her arms from side to side and moving her weight from one leg to the other and leaning her body over as she does it.
Thank you Ya’acov for coming to Manchester to teach and thank you to all the friends involved in organizing the weekend. I thought it all ran really smoothly.
Love Debbie x

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.