I happened upon Biodanza during a very low point in my life. I was seven years into a fourteen-year journey in Africa, having given up my secure, independent life in the US and a tenured teaching job that defined me. I had married and had two children, but had lost myself somewhere along the way in the morass of new motherhood and the difficult task of adapting to new and challenging environments in poverty stricken African cities.
Discovering Biodanza was the product of pure serendipity in the form of a flyer on a gym wall. With trepidation, I made my first encounter, pregnant with my third child, in an outdoor Biodanza class.
I was initially taken back by the personal connections during the sessions, staring into someone’s eyes or holding hands with a stranger during the walking exercise. However, as the facilitator wove specific exercises into each class, I began to develop a comfort level with these connections and in time, a deep desire for this authenticity. The constant pulsation from me to the group and back helped me acknowledge that in my own adventurous and nomadic life, I was indeed strong and quite capable of embracing life’s authentic flow.
With passion in my heart and a newly born baby, I decided to join the Biodanza School in Johannesburg. I was challenged by the level of intimacy that was carefully and progressively introduced. However, I felt safe connecting first with myself. What is that mask I am hiding behind? How is this showing up in my dance? As I began to peel away the layers with self-regulation and feedback, I felt the emergence of the real me within every dance. These are two important concepts reinforced in the Biodanza space. Self-regulation allows you to care for your physical needs in the dance—if you need to slow down, speed up, or even rest, you need to make the decision. Extending this concept to the other dancers, being in communication with them through awareness of their space, gestures, and need for contact is also stressed.
Next, and perhaps the biggest challenge, was learning to be present with others. Not superficially present as we tend to be in our busy Western society, but really connected with someone else in the dance. Holding hands, gazing into the “eyes of humanity” as Biodanza creator Rolando Toro describes it, or lying in a warm nest or “puppy puddle” on the ground, I felt increasingly comforted, contained, and liberated from cultural constraints of how we are supposed to relate to one another.
Deepening this ability to be authentically present with myself and others also allowed me to connect more profoundly to the Divine. When I dance now, I am filled with the presence of the numinous and feel this awesome energy in dancers with whom I ignite on the dance floor.
As a wife and mother of three, I am more connected in mind, body, and spirit ways that replaced the distraction I felt before. I look people in the eyes, focus on them, and don’t answer my ringing phone or look away with disinterest. I can say that I know what it truly is to be present with someone and I know that each moment of life is sacred and precious My “poetic encounters” now extend beyond the dance floor and spill over into my daily life.