Here's a short essay I wrote as part of intensive I'm leading on April 8 & 9 at Yoga Movement Sanctuary in Philly.
Measuring Metaphor // Maps, Scores, Games // Fluctuations of the Body
This is an intensive for Yogis working to recall, refine, or reinvent a thoughtful, and sweaty dance practice. We will investigate the looney work of metaphor as a somatic tool, refining our physical listening and speaking skills. We will test out the tricks of embodied performance, to understand the reading of our bodies in the world. All curious and hungry bodies and genders and races and ages encouraged.
Is it Dance? (yes.) Is it Yoga? (yes.) Is it Yoga Dance or Dance Yoga? (no.)
Athletically, Dance is not so far from Yoga. Mystically, Yoga and Dance are quite different. If Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind, maybe dancing is the investigation of fluctuations of the body. Yoga is a performance, but it is not Performance. Nevine Michaan (of Katonah Yoga) says “If you don’t want to be seen, hide.” If you want to play with the ways you are seen, play with the ways you see. If you want to play with the way you sense and feel in your body, play with the way you sense and feel others’ bodies.
Many of my favorite Yoga teachers “have danced” at some point. How many yogis do you know who “used to dance?” or still do? For many Americans, dance is part of a past life. Dance was once their vehicle for creation, play, composition, exertion, and performance. That vehicle eventually broke down. The passengers got out, kept walking, found other ways of getting around. Found yoga. Often, the car was left abandoned on the side of the road. Unlike Asana practice, the car was not designed to age well, to adapt to changing weather and terrain. Maybe the car worked only in the binary road maps of Western stories. As Asana practice becomes more and more culturally normalized, more intimately linked with capitalist consumption, my work between Yoga and Dance, is to deepen the non-binary stories our bodies are built from and for. My work as a dance teacher and choreographer is teaching methods and skills into building individual vehicles of dancing, based on personal, rather than external, archetypes of dance as a container for creativity, composition, exertion, and performance. Nevine talks a lot about maps. I find this wildly useful. Maps are the cousin to scores, the sibling of games. I assist in engineering a greater plurality of vehicles to carry our non-binary bodies into the future, in a universe that continues to prove beyond our wildest imagination.
Yoga Asana is full of full of geometry and measures. It’s also rich with stories: narratives of heros and villians, beauty and destruction, often organized in ways that defy the dualism of canonical Western ideas of story and character. The body is a play between dualities, but not a duality itself. Therefore, stories that take place in and of the body, if they are paying attention, do not fit a this/that narrative, the binaries of good/bad, light/dark, me/them. This is inescapable for me in the biology of my female body. The shadow of the moon moving around my guts. The source of deep pain also the source of greatest creation.
Did you stop dancing? As a toddler? At middle school dances? After years of ballet? When you joined the team? Were you gendered out of it? Were you ‘not good enough’? Are you embarrassed?...What have you lost? What do you lose by not dancing? What can you gain by dancing?