For the last six weeks, I’ve been teaching a dance class to 8 teenage girls in Oakland. What began as a simple hip-hop class has evolved into a weekly exploration of self for these girls. Not quite meaning to, but in response to the desires I felt in them, I shaped a sort of discovery of self thru dance – class. Before we get to the hip hop we spend time breathing and exploring movement and our emotions of the present moment. It has been challenging for them at times but they have really risen to the occasion and it is breath-taking to witness. Anyhow, last week, we did a dance of resistance and allowing – which can be some pretty difficult work. I chose it specifically for them because week after week I would feel their resistance clearly as though they had cartoon bubbles speaking to me over their heads. Even though they kept showing up to class, they had so much resistance to dance “are you kidding me?!!!”, resistance to try “omg that is so not cool!,” resistance to me, “who is this lady expecting so much out of us?” Teenagers feel resistance to their very core as they are challenged to become the whole sum of who they are. They are fraught with fears of it but full of passionate desire for it. “This is your ‘Hell NO! Dance'” I encouraged them, “You hate this exercise? Then dance that!” I was relentless. The process was rocky and took a long time, but eventually the movement came and then I slowly transitioned into the Allowing Dance, the “Hell Yes! Dance.” The energy in the room lifted like a hopeful bubble, “Ah, now that I’m dancing a little this isn’t so bad. I can do this. . . hmmm that’s kind of interesting. . . never done that before”
Afterwards, as I tried to transition into a fast paced hip hop warm up, I paused to look back at them and saw dazed delicate faces still immersed in the images they had just summoned from the depths of their beings, sweat glistening on their confused foreheads. Realizing they weren’t quite ready to move on, I stopped what I was doing and had them write some of their thoughts down and then allowed them to seal them into envelopes for their own comfort. Never have I seen them take up their pens and paper with such voracity and purpose. Dancing your resistance and allowing is powerful work.
And so I’ve been doing my own dances of resistance and allowance the past week or so. After watching this bit of movment, I realized that this also is one of them.