Biodanza: the physical embodiment of one love
In addition to teaching yoga, my other role was in caring for a young lady (24 years old) who has cerebral palsy. This young lady is one of the most beautiful souls I have had the fortune to come across. My days were seasoned with comments such as, “You look so beautiful when you smile”… “I love you Nic.” She called me “Her little star” and asked whether I have a hug in my pocket. It is for these moments that I once again send gratitude for the joy of being able to partake in this experience we call life.
Sadly, she is blind to this beauty and in fact, one of the trickiest things myself and her other carers have been working on is helping her to overcome the hatred she has of her own body. Unable to look in the mirror nor entertain the idea of loving herself seeing it as a frivolous/vain pursuit, I am continually looking for ways to foster her development and find self-worth. One of the trickiest tasks in the midst of a psychotic episode, was to find ways to help her break back into the present as opposed to living vicariously through the film “Twelfth Night” or continually listening to soundtracks from disney films or classical themes such as Eidelweiss.
Having spent many a year trapped in a manual wheelchair (which she couldn’t use herself) without any external stimulation as although her personal care needs were provided for, she had agency carers who were unable to take her out and about, she had never really experienced much of life beyond the four walls of her Victorian home. Many of the activities that the average teenager takes for granted such as going for a pint in the pub or being able to go to a nightclub were completely off limits for her and she’d spent her large part of her life being convinced that she would not be capable of partaking in anything ‘normal’. Fortunately, this changed when Frank took on her care plan – a local artist/builder/carer and overall angel.
One Friday, I was not far from finishing my ‘shift’ when suddenly, she broke through another, classical song and said, let’s turn this boring rubbish off and listen to something fun. My ears pricked up at this. “Yey, it’s Friday night. Let’s put some disco tunes on!” I found a live recording of the Swedish House Mafia playing at Creamfields, gave her a scarf to hold and helped her in placing her amongst that crazy crowd in her mind’s eye. I began to dance and as I did so, this whole other person emerged. She was confident, excited and incredibly creative, choreographing my movements with the most beautiful images; rise up like a flower opening to the sun then sway with the breeze and so we went on dancing until my body was covered in sweat and we’d worn ourselves out.
After this, I was determined to find some way for her to get out and experience dance in a group setting but in a safe environment and one based on love. I’d heard about biodanza through a friend of mine who posted up a youtube video of it on my facebook page once. I remember watching it and feeling emotional without even actually being there and I knew that someone was running classes locally (www.biodanzasouthwest.co.uk).
Biodanza is an amazing dance system that improves vitality, confidence and joyful living in the moment to bring more creativity, love, tenderness and friendship into our lives and a stronger connection with nature and humanity.
We dance to beautiful, simple rhythms and melodies of Latin music and wonderfully varied world music. With no set steps to learn you dance within your own capabilities regardless of age, gender and fitness levels. There is a separate specialism of Biodanza for those under 18 years of age and beginner’s classes usually last an hour.
Without having been organised enough to warn Jill (who runs the classes) that I was planning to come with a girl whose disability means that she is only just about able to move her arms and head, I took the risk of turning up and seeing what happened on the basis that we could always leave if it wasn’t appropriate. Poor Jill looked a little like a rabbit caught in the headlights but after locating the ramps to enter the building and assurances from me that it would all be fine, other biodanza students began arriving and it was amazing to see them floating to her to welcome her like bees to a honey pot. From that point, she took part in every dance in her own way and each and every biodanza participant embraced her within their hearts. The ecstasy on her face as she flew around the room feeling the beat right through to her core was infectious and I felt again, the joy I had when dancing with her in the arm chair in her living room.
At the end of the first hour of the session – a meditation – she was so lost in her beautiful space that I had to tap her on the shoulder to bring her back to the room and the group hug felt as though we were all inside one big heart. Pure love. I had to push back the emotion that rose within from experiencing such love, beauty and openness…
From my own experience, the biodanza was a beautiful way of connecting with a group of complete strangers to remind ourselves to push duality to one side and embrace oneness. Add the girl I care for into the mix and wow, it took things to an entirely new level. Words cannot do it justice for it transcends language. Just as through sound AUM, a room can become one, so the same can happen through dance. True yoga. Sadly, we have failed to find another class with disabled access.
NB: You don’t have to be sporting dreadlocks or wear tie-dye to take part 😉