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Before you read this…do a little happy dance!
Okay. Now: I want to share a video that made me cry, love, fear, learn, grow, smile and dance.
Sometimes, the best way to move through a struggle we may be experiencing is to literally move THROUGH it. Physically moving our bodies is therapeutic. It raises our endorphins, and gets our thinking gears to step to the sidelines for a bit – which is sometimes, exactly what we need to feel better. There can be far more potent mediums that words to express ourselves – like dance.
Bill T. Jones, “an irreplaceable dance treasure” has created over 140 works for his own company, and for cdance companies all over the world. This amazing documentary from 1997 is the making of the dance-theater piece, Still/Here, was the subject of a 1997 documentary by Bill Moyers and David Grubin.
“At workshops around the country, people facing life-threatening illnesses are asked to remember the highs and lows of their lives, and even imagine their own deaths. They then transform their feelings into expressive movement, which Jones incorporates into the dance performed later in the program. Jones demonstrates for Moyers the movements of his own life story — his first encounter with white people, confusion over his sexuality, his partner Arnie Zane’s untimely death from AIDS, and Jones’s own HIV status.” Learn more here.
This documentary was both incredibly moving and hard for me to watch – not in a bad way, it just made me feel…deeply! After my coma, I used dance to get back in touch with my body after my 27 surgeries. When I put on music, I’d start feeling each note filter through my body, and suddenly it felt as though something bigger than myself was flowing through me, granting me a new life force and vitality. I felt energy, bounciness, rhythm and flexibility where I didn’t even know I had any!
I’ve been using dance to heal for a very long time. In February 2005, my mother and I took a mother-daughter dance workshop after I had been molested and had, at that time, been holding in that secret for months.
Healing Through Dance
I remember getting so lost in the music , like that was my escape where I could get away from everything, yet be centered in what really mattered. Years later, my mother told me that a woman came up to her at that 2005 workshop and said, “Please watch your daughter dance. if you look closely, She is really struggling with a very big issue and she is calling out for help – find out why she is suffering,”
A Call – or Dance – For Help
My mom didn’t think anything of that woman’s ominous observation at the time. it gave me goosebumps to hear that now, because it’s true, I was trying to dance out this big red ball of fire I was feeling in my gut, that I was too scared to talk about or think about myself. But through dance, I was subconsciously screaming out the enormous secret I was withholding.
Dancing Back to My Body
After I was discharged from the hospital, I used dance and creativity as my therapy when I was too frustrated or overwhelmed to try to express my situation in words.
If you only have a minute for the Bill T Jones documentary, go to the 20 minute point. A blonde, beautiful, soul-filled woman is dancing her “story”, and everything she’s saying as she passionately moves about – that’s exactly how I felt as I danced through my illness. It was a way I could come to terms with it, to befriend it, to meet it half-way. I literally danced through my fear.
Dance Can Change the World…
…or at least the way we view it. Dancing can give us a whole new perception of ourselves and how we view obstacles. It’s a way of feeling united with a force much greater and much wiser than ourselves – the power to move.
Why do you love dance?
What does dance mean to you? Do you dance to celebrate joy, to lift you out of the dumps, to celebrate, to flirt, to find, to connect? What’s a song that you can’t help but move your body to?
I’m obsessed with tap-dancing. It’s just an awesome excuse to stomp around :
Ready to dance? What’s your favorite song…?
If you had to dance your “detour” – what would it look like? If you don’t know where to start…watch Bill T. Jones. I dare you not to be inspired!
Endorse Amy’s nomination by WEGO Health for a Health Activist Hero Award until October 21st at amyoes.com/health-activist.
Amy is currently touring with her one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful to theatres, schools, healthcare communities and more. For information on keynote presentations, workshops and signature talkbacks, (and specialized versions for corporations, college campuses, survivors, healthcare professionals, and artists) visit amyoes.com. Amy also offers private coaching to help others navigate their own beautiful detours, and subscribe for free excerpts of her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, and download a free creativity e-book.
Follow Amy Oestreicher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amyoes
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