Exploring the layers of knowledges and experiences in and through my body
How do I begin to describe felt knowledge? The knowledge that is pulsing through my veins, tingling through my spine, layered in my muscles, woven into my every step, reach, and stumble. The knowledge that holds its truth in my body, in my swirl, pounce, curl, hesitance. It's almost as if my body reminds me what my head has forgotten, blocks out and cannot put into words. What can be understood by these feelings in my body and the messages inscribed in my movement?
Learning my body's native language
Learning the body's native language demands a strong presence with oneself. Movement was a new way of exploring undiscovered terrains in my body. My dances have become like a map of myself. A map of my ecology. A map of my performating self in all its flavours, textures, tones and essences. Every map I make, when I dance, relates to another web. They are all linked and related forming a web-of-relationships of the performating self. It is not a physical map, but something very spiritual and ineffable. A process that demands you be yourself, in your raw-est true-est form. Its incredibly organic and unique. Its my personal reality in motion.
Gabrielle Roth's book (1989) has confirmed many of my existing understanding of my body and my experience of this dancing journey.
"Your body is the ground metaphor of your life, the expression of your existence. It is your Bible, your encyclopedia, your life story. Everything that happens to you in stored and reflected in your body. Your body knows; your body tells. The relationship of your self to your body is indivisible, inescapable, unavoidable"
(Roth, 1989: 29)
5 Rhythms seeks for us to understand our own rhythms, to both experience and understand them (Roth, 1989: 34). To embody them through movement and know its dialect. To be aware of the rhythm that we are in and how to move with it as well as how to transform it (Roth, 1989: 34). Also, to learn how to sense the rhythms of those around us and the relationships between the different rhythms - do they create harmony or dissonance (Roth, 1989: 34)?
I have known this in my heart for some time. Dance has really showed me that much of what there is to know about myself is beyond words. Newham (1999: 32) has/had the exact same discovery, however, his journey is with voice/singing. There are many many paths one can take to tap into this way of knowing. Words often don't encapsulate what I am feeling and I feel forced to describe my experience in a way that falsely represents it. This is where dance has stepped in. The 5 Rhythms creates a whole new way of communicating myself, experiencing myself, and understanding myself. I have created my own language through movement. My own dialogue. A whole new way of knowing myself. One that I cannot even try to explain to you for its dialogue does not consist of words or sounds. Even a film could not begin to articulate or interpret this ineffable language. I feel content with this fact and I hope you are too.
David Wright, who has written extensively on the physical/bodily experience of performance, raises some interesting points surrounding this issue. In using his findings in context of my own we both found that the principal form of learning is sensuous (Wright, 1999: 3). This learning that occurs in the body transforms its sensuous knowledge into the next performance. This bodily experience and learning of the next performance causes changes once again which influence future styles, expressions and experiences (Wright, 1999: 3). Therefore, the body is in a constantly changing cycle of embodied learning whereby the body changes as the result of learning. Wright (1999: 11) delicately expresses this point; "I learned, that the process of making meaning from experience is a story that is told after the event. That story 'feeds back' and contributes to an ongoing process of meaning making. Inevitably, the manner in which the story is created has a lot to do with the way in which it feeds back, hence the way in which it influences subsequent experience." I found myself in a constant state of metamorphosis, from the old to the new, as a direct consequence of the meaning created through my body and how the knowing from each experience informed and translated into the next.
Wright (1999:10-11) gives high regard and precedence to the body as an important indicator of the way in which we experience. In other words, it can act as a tool for which we can deeply understand ourselves. Bringing the experience of my body to the surface, to my conscious mind, is a highly complex and intense interpretive process. For me, it involved detaching myself from wanting to label experiences with words and allowing it to be understood and acknowledged in different ways. For example, allowing it to be felt knowledge that didn't have to be marginally or even falsely encapsulated as 'emotive'.