Thursday, 21 January 2010

Play and ritual

“Every time a gathering of people, under the protection of Spirit, triggers a body of emotional energy aimed at bringing them very tightly together, a ritual of one type or another is in effect.”

Using that definition, one could describe some Fun Fed sessions as implicit rituals.

“Ritual is a place of safe ecstasy, but with no undesirable side effects. This is one of the reasons why indigenous people love ritual.”

“There are two parts to ritual. One part is planned: people prepare the space for the ritual and think through the general choreography of the process. The other part of ritual cannot be planned because it is the part that Spirit is in charge of. The unplanned part of ritual is a spontaneous, almost unpredictable interaction with an energy source.”

“It is gathering with others in order to feel Spirit's call, to express spontaneously and publicy whatever emotion needs to be expressed, to create, in concert with others, an unrehearsed and deeply moving response to Spirit, and to feel the presence of the community, including the ancestors, throughout the experience.”

Some describes his first experience of a Western wedding.

“To me, the crowd's attitude was most strange. That passivity of those present made me wonder if anyone cared about the bride and groom. People seemed more responsive to appearances, drinks and partying than to the sacred commitment of the two getting married.” p144

“The problem with these cermonies is that over time they begin to lose their attraction, since they happen in the same way year after year. They do not have the essential ingredient, spontaneity, which to indigenous people speaks of the presence of Spirit.” p145

Learning and play

Play isn't the enemy of learning, it's learning's partner. Play is like fertilizer for brain growth. Sometimes the best way to get the feel of a complicated subject is to just play with it. That's why kids often learn computer systems faster than adults – they aren't afraid to just try stuff out and see what works, whether adults worry they will do something wrong.” p101-2 

Learning and memory also seem to be fixed more strongly and last longer when learned in play.” Details on p 102 

head body heart

Jaak Panksepp is a neuroscientist who has a play research centre at Washington State University.

He describes play-related "processes that link brain stem (movement) to limbic (emotional) to cortex (thought)” – ie, what the non neuroscientists among us might call processes that link body, heart and head.  P62 

We spend a lot of time in our heads. Well, I do.

My friend Anthea loves rock climbing as the only thing she can do with her clothes on that gets her "out of her head."

I always think of play as something that balances the heart, body and head. I like it for that.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Moves or No Moves?

Had a tops time on Saturday night dancing to the Mad French Wolf  in Waterloo.

Rock 'n Roll! Literally.

I went with my friend Luke who didn't know anything about Rock 'n Roll dancing, and neither did I, so we made it up, and we had a total blast.

Everybody else Knew Moves so we found it rather difficult to dance with them.

So I'm thinking about Dance Moves.

They're both enabling and restricting.

Enabling: you get a shared language that enables you to dance music through your body in co-ordination with another person who can speak that language. It's great. I know the lindyhop language pretty well, and it's brilliant fun.

Restricting: once people get into knowing dance moves, we can go through a long period in which we seem to forget that we can do anything other than the moves!

How sad.

I've had some totally great times dancing with men who know The Moves. But I've also had a totally great time dancing with men who don't know the moves, and also with old men with few teeth who know the moves inside out and they're bored of them, so they put them as one tool in their toolbox, close the box, forget everything, remember their bodies, feel the music, and play.

And it's wonderful.

So, I think if the Fun Fed is going to get into partner dancing, I think we would sit in that space between moves and no moves, the space between form and free play.

And lifs...

Yes, lifts.

One thing I've noticed is that men quite like to pick women up. And women, well, this woman at least, quite like/s being picked up.

It's no joke picking me up. I weigh at least 11 stone and I'm 5'10. But people seem to like trying it. Having a go. All sorts of directions. Totally up side down. Flying me round in a circle. Kicking other dancers on the bum accidentally (sorry!). They usually manage it too. It's impressive. And fun!

So, I think we do moves, no moves, and Lifts... Somehow or other :)


Sunday morning Samba Beginners class with Romero. Wicked. Wiggly. La-di-da. "Attitude!" He yells over the music. "Elegance!" Ok then. Tra la laaaa! I exaggerate. What fun! The movements make me joyful. "Samba is the way to share your happiness," cries Romero. It feels true! I was anxious and tired on the way in, now I'm grinning ear to ear.

We're learning the Sambo to Peu, a shuffly wiggly little step. I'm failing miserably to co-ordinate my feet, hips and flailing arms. The woman in front of me is a leggy Brazilian with tumbing orange curls, in heels and a tiny ra ra skirt. As I watch her wiggle away, she takes her fingers to her hips and traces two lines up the sides of her body, past her wiggly chest, picks up her hair, lifts it high, and lets it tumble in strands back down her wiggly back, all the while looking seductively into her own eyes in the mirror without a glimmer of self-consciousness.  Blimey! I think. That's not allowed where I come from!

I'm still dancing while I watch her, and gradually co-ordination starts kicking in. As my body starts to do the proper movements, I can feel it really conditioning my lower abdomen and pelvic floor. This is sex practice! I realise. Wow! Brazilian dance is sex practice!

I'm reminded of an ex-boyfriend recounting a conversation with a friend who'd just started seeing a Brazilian woman. "Mate!" the friend had exclaimed, talking about the sex. "I had no idea!"

I've always wondered what that actually meant.

This dance isn't just sex practice, it's sex catching. It's a mating call. We are all like peacocks with our tails lifted. "Look at meeeee!  I'm really hot! Take me now!"

I'm rather shocked by myself when I look in the mirror and see my reflection beaconing me to bed. "Come into my arms," my body is saying. "Don't you want to enjoy these wiggly hips? Mmmmmmm"

And everyone's at it in here, the young couples, the old couples, the skinny ladies in heels, the larger ladies on a fun January health kick, all grinning and wiggling away.

"Now cover yourself in Gold!" Romero exclaims in the cool down. "Yellow, yellow sun. See it in your mind, open your arms to it, pour it all over yourself! Cover yourself in sun!"

Right. This is just a beginners class. I want to go to a Samba party. I want to see these Brazilians in action.

Sunday, 10 January 2010