Words by Sam:
"Dance, not for someone like “me”?
Many of us think of a dance group and feel fear, embarrassment at the very thought of dancing around others and perhaps think it is easier to not try something new? Maybe reservations whirl in our minds about judgemental people there or feeling too self-conscious? Maybe we feel someone like “us” just would not fit in. These judgements about ourselves and others often stand in the way of living.
For me, it was more I didn’t fit in anywhere, never had despite the mask and incredible ability to blend into most groups, I was full of fear and judgement myself, frankly suffocating in the box I had put myself in. Many spiritual groups I tried, endeavours and numerous trips, some were outstanding, I loved them, however they ended or were too far away to really do good. I had no real idea of how to mix healthily with the world.
Many groups, events or courses sadly were precariously wrapped up as spiritual and loving; but were superficial. These groups it appeared to me so many years later unknowingly took advantage of vulnerable people seeking a cure with their false promises and capitalist foundations masquerading so shamelessly as self-help, claiming to have the right morals and intent. Many a broken person went through the rigmarole of really believing change, acceptance and a better life was in sight, to merely find out you had entered a room full of know it all’s and those so callously minded they cared more about what and who you knew in pretentious conversations than the light within your soul and your heart. I thought I was spiritual, until I came to dance for years.
This left me alone, surrounded by people, in a world I did not enjoy or understand. With an understanding that change could only come from me with committed action but lacking very much a network of people around me to model and show me loving and healthy ways of behaving. So, my life was dysfunctional, unhappy and so caught up in illness, habits of behaviour and a totally blocked heart that couldn’t feel any joy, any love, any emotion bar unpleasant ones. I had been medicated for so many years to “cope” I didn’t even know what living was. Fun? Literally was a word not within my remit. I had gone from being a fun, carefree, kind and loving person to the shell that I was.
As a little girl I remember my parents going out and me turning the sky music channels on and dancing my heart out in the front room to the latest music, my goodness what a treat! I loved those times and felt so much freedom and fun. Unfortunately, my choices and the world got in the way and my large ego, so I stopped dancing. Unless of course I had several strong drinks, and it was in a nightclub. That really was not freedom or fun.
One normal August afternoon in 2021 a post cropped up about Hannahs dance journeys, it was just Hannah back then. I don’t know what made me book it last minute, but something did. It was one of the best choices I ever made. I remember being so self-conscious and not sure what to make of these people, were they like the other groups? but I kept returning. Something kept calling me back.
It took well over a year of being on the outskirts of the group, watching, learning, just waiting for someone to make that judgemental comment, or shame, or gossip or mock. Because that’s what everyone did? Or for them to find out I was all but an imposter, I didn’t know about natural eating, I had no idea what on earth you spoke about meeting up with women in a healthy environment, honestly, I had incorrect misconceptions I did not like women as I had never enjoyed talking about trivial topics, I come from a council estate rife with addiction and dysfunction, I had made many mistakes in my life. At times I didn’t feel I was in the right place, and I could not possibly just fit in or be accepted. I held judgements about everything, so I thought they judged me. But they never did shame or mock, not one person. All that happened was session by session I fell in love with the dance even more and began to trust these people, these people, a diverse mixture of backgrounds, economics, faiths, ages, genders, educations, health, knowledge and personalities. But none of these labels or differences mattered, they were not visible within the dance, we all but blended where everyone was equal and such menial things about us mattered not. A group lovingly held by Hannah, and then Hannah, Pippa, Ruth and Becca such welcome space holders and elders. But never ever authorities or leaders or know it all’s. Any questions asked were answered with no remote air of power, belittlement or shaming, many times genuine laughter though and fun.
I began to have fun, real fun and laugh without realising and be able to share ideas and be told people appreciated them, I waited for “but” you talk too much. There wasn’t a but. We danced and we laughed, and we learnt more in each dance that no book or spoken therapy ever could have taught us. I saw people when witnessing and felt emotion come back, I felt care, I felt protection, I felt awe and I saw beauty. Just by simply watching and ensuring the dancer didn’t hurt themselves when blindfolded, I learnt so many things and felt so many things. One was trust along with confidence, they trusted me to protect them, this empowered me in a world where we are told constantly, we aren’t enough and are not capable. When dancing I felt cared for, nurtured and the gap within my being started to heal. I really started to care about these people and feel safe and relax.
I realised that girl who loved dancing was very much within me and by bringing her back, when I thought she was dead, that the light within me began simmering brighter dance by dance. The girl who walked barefoot in the garden and didn’t care what anyone thought of her differences and quirkiness came back with a smile, how silly I had been to spend so many years dampening my soul and spirit to fit into a world I did not like to impress people who did not matter. I realised there was no shame only acceptance and beauty and words of wisdom that I pondered over many months later. I learnt about the essence of women, their value, strength and how to respect myself and not think my sensitivities were weak. I let sensitivities show, learnt laughter and movement are often the best medicines in a world where words are so freely thrown around and meaningless. Bombarded at us words are from the media and people, draining, boring, freedom comes with movement, not prescriptive moment in a yoga class or gym, but movement from within with no set ways of being or judgement on correctness or skill.
After the first year (I have seen it take dancers one session!) I felt part of the group, this held me in ways I never realised were needed. Almost overnight it seemed there was comfort and security in these most unexpected friendships I had never anticipated; unlike many others I had orchestrated in my life. Texts from dancers I had, invitations to events, wonderful conversations and a richness to my life I have no idea I ever needed so much until it was there. Along, of course with the precious dances, sometimes hilariously fun, sometimes healing, sometimes a necessary emotional shift. Always different and always beautiful.
The dance and subsequential community that was started by Hannah, Pippa, Becca and Ruth is one that quite frankly is more than movement and a group. It’s a shining beacon in a world of disillusion and false claims of self-enlightenment teaching. It is necessary in a world full of divide, self-consciousness and heavy capitalist ideologies. It is respite for souls to find meaning, joy, connection, movement, laughter, healing and a great big dose of fun!
I truly believe if more communities set up dances and communities such as these, then the world would be a better place. It is only by connection that we beat loneliness, addiction, ill health and unhappiness. And it is by movement and journeying that we heal the very parts of our bodies and souls that modern medicine cannot cure, and we cannot cure alone. Years ago, shamanic healing, community living, and a sharing of life meant people were happier, unfortunately this Western world nearly destroyed those ways of living, and we live in a world of ill health created by the very ways we were taught to live and wars based on beliefs. How truly grateful I am and always will be to have this precious gift offered and all that it has given me, my family and the wider society. From this group I now attend others and life has become so much bigger and more beautiful. I once asked how can you be happy in a world full of upset, and I was told “because there is always beauty if you look for it”, this has stayed with me.
I strongly recommend to anyone considering it to come, because if someone like me can fit in, so can you. I am not cured, as I have learnt journeying lasts a lifetime, with varying degrees of change- life is transitional and why do we need a cure, when we can learn to accept who we are, the imperfections that make us human and learn, mistakes we make and grow from, and dances we rock our socks off to (I must mention) epic music in a cool community. Life’s for living and its for having fun, I am very grateful I booked that dance in August 2021 because it sparked all these wonderful things and reignited a fire in my belly that was almost diminished. If you can dance in a room of people and not worry about what you look like- you can rule the world.
Thankyou Hannah, Ruth, Becca and Pippa. I truly hope you feel joy in the wonder you’ve sparked, may the joy and connection spread to so many more souls in a broken world and may we all remember we are only human and nobody has all the answers to everything, that’s why we need a community. "