The Medicine of the Dance

We’d been talking all the long drive to the ocean. Working through ideas with each other, his sharp and complex mind a strong thing to meet. The car wove through the coastal gums, bringing us to the beach by the end of the afternoon. Overcast and humid, a warm steady breeze, the tide had drawn the water far down the sand. Before us spread a wide, empty expanse. We sat, and for the first time that day, stopped talking. I devoured the silence. 

Yet it was not quiet. The silence was me settling into body, resting my busy brain. And perhaps because I’d been listening attentively to our voices for so long, it began, the encounter, with the aural. My senses were still tracking sound. The rhythmic hiss of the distant waves, the hum of the wind. Hiss and hum traveled over the water, resounding off the sandstone scarp, an alive, a lively air. Then I heard the sounds of us as we dropped into the sand, our feet, our hands sliding through its softness, sounding its mutable surface.

We were separate then. But I could tell he was listening too, by the quality of the tones he made with his body on the drum of sand. My eyes closed, I didn’t know where he was, but I heard how he joined the beach’s subtle song. I heard pulse and pattern in the swishing of his limbs. I heard, too, my body mimic those rhythms, my arms scraping at the damp sand, my torso following the initiative of the limbs. I rose. I moved with all that I could hear: the wind and the waves, his gestures and mine, my legs sweeping, scouring, beating, strumming the pliant beach. I opened my eyes. 

He was dancing too, and together we joined the old music of that place, and the gentle thuds and slaps of our impact became part of the beat. The spins and pivots and turns, the curls into him and the cloud-float of lifts high on the warm earth of his back, the push and sink and the bearing of his weight and the eventual rest: this was a duet undergirded by place, enwrapped in knowing air. I felt myself extend to the edges of sensing, to cliffs and cumulous and ocean horizon, I felt myself co-extensive. I knew myself safe and animal brave, I sank into sand, face pressed to moist and malleable earth, inhaling the mineral scents, the wave’s voice in my ears, the onrushing water, the complete surrender.

Renewing rest, the learning of trust, the body spent and replenished: this is the medicine of the dance. But when the dance can extend to everything in its ken, when kindredness with all things is found, this is a rare depth of dance. For then it is the living of this: the body filled with the dense intelligence of air, and utterly repaired, borne home to its ecological known. 

3 thoughts on “The Medicine of the Dance”

  1. What an incredibly beautiful piece of writing. You have brought me fully into the experience and what an amazing experience this is. Thank you

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