When I am dancing by myself, I tend to find “partners” in various inanimate objects around the house, throwing my body against the carpet during an episode of chaos, draping my leg over the back of a chair, grasping onto a door frame as though it’s two arms on either side of me, pressing my back against the wall like there’s another human being supporting my weight, or engaging in a pas de deux with a set of curtains during a moment of stillness.
Recently, I even discovered that I can balance my arms on the kitchen counter while walking my feet seductively up the back of one of our wrought-iron chairs. It’s my sexy dance that I do while waiting for my corn to heat up in the microwave.
While I enjoy my creative ways of turning the whole downstairs into a jungle gym, there is one big thing missing from my dances with furniture and flooring: connection. No matter how hard I press my hands into the archway dividing the living room from the dining room, I won’t feel a pulse in return. My skin makes contact with paint and drywall; any energy radiating through my palms stops where the wall begins.
Even the curtains, so wispy and balletic in nature, are unable to cradle me like human arms. They make for a beautiful prop but not a true partner.
Many times during a 5Rhythms class, we are asked to take a partner. Sometimes the instruction is to do nothing other than dance your dance while simply being aware of the other’s movement. Sometimes, especially during workshops, the instruction is more specific and requires some level of trust, such as the time I had to dance while blindfolded, depending on my partner’s energetic cues to prevent me from colliding with other dancers.
The beauty in this work is that–unlike dancing with a wall or a kitchen chair–there is now some level of connection. The energy/prana/chi emanating from my hands and feet has found a safe place to flow, and in return, my partner’s energy mingles with mine. It’s a dance of mutuality.
For example, during last week’s 5Rhythms class, I happened to be partnered with the studio owner, Rhonda, for the last 10 minutes of Stillness. Our connection has been growing stronger by the month, but this time it truly came through during the dance: We linked hands and arms, leaned on each other for support, rolled on the floor together, held the weight of the other’s skulls in our hands, ran fingers through hair. It required a lot of trust and a huge opening of the heart. It’s not something everyone can do right off the bat, but that night it felt like we were conversing on an emotionally deep level that words would never be able to justify.
To end class, we stayed with this partner for an eye-gazing meditation, in which each person stares into the other’s left eye. This was the Stillness to end all Stillnesses, because, really, what act is simultaneously so still yet so moving? On the outside we may have been motionless, but it’s darn near impossible to look someone straight in the eye for 5 minutes and not feel things stirring inside. After class, we were both a bit weepy.
In this type of work, you may not know your partner’s stories or have an answers to their questions, but you can offer your unbiased presence. Likewise, the mere acknowledgement of your existence by another can be so comforting, a silent yet powerful dance that surpasses any exchange between human and home furnishings.