Monday, January 10, 2011

a SPECIAL dance

by Harmony Gates

I was lying on my back
in the center of the room
the music was slow
the lights were low.
A ritual preparation
tuning in
to the room
to the music
to my body

he rolled up to me slowly
deliberately, I thought
and peered down at me
head cocked to the left
mouth slightly open, teeth just showing.

I'd had this happen before
another day
another dance.
he'd rolled up next me,
peered in my direction
I'd offered to connect,
and he'd rolled right on past.

But this time felt different
He stopped.
I waited.
He looked
I held his gaze.

My right arm was outstretched
Hand open, reaching
in slow motion
Inviting, offering

Wanting nothing
allowing everything

As if called forth--
his left arm,
pinioned to his chest
like an unfurled wing,
began to extend.

His hand,claw-like in it's spastic contraction
met mine

With incredible power and strength
he closed his fingers
around my upturned hand
and we began to dance.

Pressing back into his resistance
meeting him right there
with my full self
I said "yes" to this invitation
this challenge
this moment of connection

My world is this dance.

With curiosity and commitment
I begin to explore.
Informed by what he brings to me
I respond. I sense, I listen, I move
with him.

Lying on my back,
reaching up to meet his hands
He bends forward bringing his face and chest
toward me.
Suddenly I feel limited by this hand to hand contact.
I want to meet his body
with more of mine.

"Can you come
out of the chair?"
A whispered yes.
Pressing into his hands
using his reisitance,
I slide around
to face him.
Place my feet against his chest.
I wonder "can I fly him
out of the chair?"

But he is glued to it.
I finally give up.

when from standing
I finally lift him to the floor
I discover
He's been buckled in.

I rise to my feet
Clasping his hands.
As I face him he pulls me in
our heads meet.
His head pushes toward mine with force
like my cat when she wants a strong rub
And I return the pressure.

As he brings his chin up
our faces press into each other, rubbing
His energy is vital, insistent, animal

I can pull away anytime
But I love feeling his desire, his wanting, his need.
I respect it. I honor it.
So I embrace it
I want him to have what he wants.
I take him in, meet what he gives me
take pleasure in the intensity of this encounter.

He speaks.
He's asking a question.
It's hard to hear. His voice is soft. There is barely sound.
I pull my head away from his.
Bring my ear close to his mouth.

It's more his energy that I understand than his words.
A gentle smack from his lips.
I ‘hear’
He wants a kiss.
"I hear you," I say.
"What did you hear?" he asks
I kiss the air.

I'm thinking, "He should have this too."
His longing is intense
And why should I deny him this?
Why draw a line here?

So I let him kiss.
And I kiss back.

I realize that I AM aware
and suddenly concerned
that our actions are visible
to a room full of other dancers.

In conflict.
I search for a boundary
and find this one:
"I don't kiss in my dances"
Which is true.
Or has been up until now.

It's as much to respect myself
as to respect the others
who come here
to this sacred space
to dance.

"I'm sorry," he says,
though he still wants it,
and continues until pull my face away.

Now we dance the ‘getting out of the chair’ dance.
His arms are incredibly powerful
He grips around my neck
I scoop up his legs and back
And squat with him in my arms
gently lowering him to the floor.

The chair is forgotten.

Slowly, experimentally,
we begin to move together on the wood floor.
I notice we are surrounded by legs and feet
the bodies of dancers moving to the now upbeat tempo

But I am with him.

Can I ask you a question?, he says.
"Why did you dance with me?"

I'm a contact dancer
I know how to move intelligently with another body
I'm an Anat Baniel Method Practioner
I know how to facilitate movement refinement
I'm trauma recoveree
I know how to co-regulate another’s nervous system
to help heal attachment wounds.

Why do I dance with others?
I dance for healing.
The healing I receive
and the healing I offer.

“Why did you dance with me?”
“Why not?” I answer.
"But I'm in a wheelchair,"
he says.
"So what?" I counter.

And give him my full attention,
my full concentration,
my full heart,
my full body,
my full Presence.

Rolling, stretching, squeezing, pulling, lifting.

One moment:
One arm wrapped around his chest
holding him close,
my other hand comes to the top of his head.
Gently and fondly I begin pulling and caressing his curly dark hair.
In response,
one of his hands finds the top my head
and returns the loving gesture.
Only later do I realize the significance
Of his palsied hands managing that.

"Can I ask you a question? he says.
Will you be my friend?"

"Of course!" I say, my heart full of tenderness and love.

And then.
I'm ready to experience the freedom
and spaciousness
of dancing
with the rest of the room.

I let him know
He understands
Amazingly, I'm able
to scoop him up
off the floor
and deposit him
into his waiting chair.

A fellow dancer comes close
ready to assist
But I find I am strong enough.

I'm wanting to dance now,
the big Dance Jam way I dance
Expressing myself freely
while allowing others
to influence and inspire me
Sometimes dancing with one
Sometimes dancing with several
Sometimes dancing the whole room.

Sometimes dancing only with me.

There is closure here first though
before I can go.

Jason asks me to buckle him in

He reaches out contorted hands
I give him mine.
He pulls me in close
pressing us:
forehead to forehead
cheek to cheek.
He looks me in the eyes
"I'm glad I met you." he says.
"I'm glad we met too," I say,
"I'm really glad we danced."

I draw back,
my hands still tightly gripped by his
our Eyes lock, I’m smiling.
His arms extend smoothly, gradually his grip softens
I slowly slide my hands from his,
touching fingertips
and then only air.

And I'm off to the next dance.

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