According to Pinterest (I know, I know) Alan Watts said, “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

I have written about defining and labeling at several points over the years on this blog as well as for Dance Advantage.

I am in the midst of change with my relationship to dance and the proportions of focus through which I see and do. I think I write that every summer.

In my graduate study, I explored a movement curriculum as a method to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Over the years, my teaching has taken principles of that work and implemented it into the structure of my classes as I worked with at-risk youth and others. I am finding myself currently drawn back into that world as I embark on some projects this summer. More on that to come.

This year, Daria Halprin’s book The Expressive Body in Life, Art, and Therapy: Working with Movement, Metaphor, and Meaning has never been far out of reach.  It has been influential and it brought me to this (page 64) about dance therapy pioneer Mary Starks Whitehouse, “She first called her approach movement in-depth and later authentic movement. She remarked that a significant turning point was the day when she realized that rather than teaching dance, she was teaching people. More than theory or philosophy, the inner life of the mover was of primary interest to Whitehouse. For her, movement was a way of becoming conscious more than a way to “act out”.” And here I am.

I have many friends navigating the waters of change right now: people leaving classrooms, leaving traditions, leaving fields, leaving relationships, leaving countries.

Change equals movement.

Once upon a time, I wanted to use my teaching to produce dancers. Then it was to also produce thinkers. Now it is also to help guide people to the knowledge they already hold. Do you see it? It is and, and. Not either/or.

Movement changes what we think and how we think it. What we think changes how we move.

I am observing the consciousness surfacing through my own movements. I am curious about the consciousness of inner life for these friends of mine as they move. I am finding the more I drop the labels and definitions, defense and offense, I am able to honor more of who I am rather and what I offer. My inner life is more thoroughly realized. I wonder if they are feeling the same.

I have spent years, decades actually, defining.            I want to stop.

I think the challenge of change hasn’t been about the change itself- the tasks, the environment, the affiliations. It has been about the shift in definition. If I am this now, does it mean that I am no longer that? No. At least not in my situations. It is altering the proportions, gaining more dimension by accumulating “ands”.

How are you moving these days? What is surfacing? What are you accumulating?

6 thoughts on “Biting Your Own Teeth

  1. What timing! Am finding that I too am experiencing a seemingly constant spiral of change (upwards, I think….most of the time). Am I a dancer? dance teacher? educator? researcher? writer? It seems like we & our community sometimes thrive on labelling who we are within this art form – its the either/or (and unfortunately funding is sometimes based on those labels…blurg). I agree with the idea of ‘and, and’. Personally its how my career has evolved. In the larger picture I feel that this is how our craft (and each as individuals within dance/life) evolves – through the ‘and, and’ process. Thanks for the post today!

  2. I love this piece and find it a compelling read in the summer, when there is often time in one’s teaching practice for a little reflection. Sometimes I find the identity labels as helpful and validating points for claiming space in order to create environments for positive work, but often, that focus can feel oppressive. In the midst of all that is living, I’ve been grateful this summer to prioritize time to do a little more inner focusing and exploration without a desired outcome, both through movement and writing. I’m grateful for the many ways these efforts influence my work that does have a more desired outcome. Always grateful to read your reflections. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! I love your comment of “in the midst of all that is living.” I also have been trying to open myself- exploring without a desired outcome- and I am finding myself being pushed in interesting directions. Glad to know others are equally engaged in their own process. Enjoy summer! Thanks for sharing!

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