By Ruth Estevez
Anticipation for this monthly session in Manchester was high. Augusto Madelena, the Director of the Biodanza School in Zaragoza, Spain was coming to town! Excitement mounted. Calm, cool, beautifully dressed, he carried his coffee into the room.
We sat in the circle, full of anticipation, wondering what the day would bring. Augusto talked a great deal, more than in any session I have attended and I felt I was going back to the beginning. His approach too, was very different from any I’ve experienced before, but then of course it would be! Each leader’s personality comes out in their delivery. So why did it feel so very different in a way that wasn’t down to each person’s unique approach?
He asked us questions. What do you think this person is like who walks like this? He demonstrated. Made us think and we’re not used to thinking in Biodanza….or maybe we shouldn’t be thinking, merely responding. A person can be walking upright and proud and even look aggressive while they are merely vulnerable and protecting themselves from being emotionally hurt. We were thinking, Paula was translating and then we moved on.
We were ready to move. Augusto started at the beginning. Rhythm. And it was good to go back to the fundamentals, though also difficult. Rhythm, we often think if we don’t hear or feel the rhythm, we are getting it wrong and we judge ourselves, but rhythm is a basic, life stems from rhythm, so how can we get it wrong? By thinking too much? We need to go back to our bodies. The beginning again.
We did clapping rhythms and then joining with another’s clapping and sometimes missing their hands, and being out of sync and trying to adapt as we clapped hands with a partner. Challenging! I’ve realised if I stopped trying to ‘get it right’ and think about it, but feel the clapping and reacting, then it would flow so much easier. I want to do this exercise again.
We moved on to the power of the voice and chant and making noises of pleasure and not holding back. We don’t often use voices in Biodanza, so this again felt new and challenging because it reinforced that I do have a problem speaking up sometimes and voicing my thoughts and feelings and so…I want to do more of this opening up of the throat and sound. I found this part of the Vivencia challenging because of this and the fact that I’ve never found a solution. It made me remember reading about war traumatised people in Ghana who don’t like sitting in a room talking about their experiences to well-meaning counsellors but rather going outside and making music and dancing. This seemed to connect with Biodanza, how we use movement and the positive to help us. Through simple movement and exercises we can alter the way we do things. And it works, not overnight, but with continuous Biodanza, continuous music and dancing and movement. That’s why I miss Biodanza if I can’t make a session. It becomes an enriching part of life.
The second Vivencia I enjoyed more because it was easier. I know, but give me a break. The first Vivencia challenged me.
Witnessing is a very powerful tool for the witness and the witnessed. We rarely access that in our lives and it is transforming how powerful the effect. Also, acknowledging and applauding ourselves gives strength when so much of what we do and are can go unacknowledged. We walked with heads up, eyes looking up, shoulders back, confident walks and these simple, physical, small adjustments do affect the interior you. I’m proud to be me!
I came away, as I always do, that I owe so much to the group. Without the group, I don’t think Biodanza would work. We support and feel safe together and know each other by movement, eyes, touch and interaction. All day, we had done these things together, and through Augusto’s direction, it had flowed.
By ten o’clock that evening, I was shattered. The session had been 1.30 – 6.30pm with a break of about an hour in between to share food. My arms ached from hugging. I felt the success of the day had seeped in without me noticing at the time. And that is the secret of Biodanza, it makes its way into our consciousness through our bodies and once there, seems the most natural way of being in the world.