My dance journey – exploring structure and freedom

I started with dancing when I was having a fixed office job as a business analyst. Although I have always liked to dance, I only started with dance lessons in November 2009: salsa. Dancing salsa taught me to have a posture, to lead, timing and how to have lots of fun! Three years later, I reached my limits in salsa. The movements became more and more difficult and for me I lost the freedom in the dance. I realized that there was something very interesting when you dance off the beat, but this led to difficulties on the salsa dance floor.

In the end of 2012 my journey took a different turn: I stumbled upon a barefoot free dance party. Here I found the freedom what I was looking for! All movements were allowed. I learned how to dance by myself. The dance became a personal journey within myself: whatever I was dealing with at that moment, I would dance with it. This was a complete different way of handling my stress and emotions than that I was used to. Later, I found Ecstatic Dance in Amsterdam and up to this day I still go to Ecstatic Dance about twice a week. Ecstatic Dance further reinforced the personal journey by introducing the rule that you are not allowed to speak during the dance.

In September 2014, I started with Gurdjieff Movements. These Movements are sacred temple dances which the mystic Gurdjieff collected during his journeys throughout Eastern Europe and Asia. This dance is highly structured and repetitive and it aims to integrate the different parts of our being: body, heart, and mind. It is a dance in group formation, but you dance alone. Here, I learned what Hermetic dance is: dancing while containing energy. I learned that there is great freedom in discipline. The Movements are magical as they thought me that this type of dance is prayer and invocation. But, after two intensive years, the disciplined Movements, made me feel caged again and I was yearning for freedom. 

Returning to Ecstatic Dance, I found that although I did perform the Gurdjieff Movements, I still was applying their principles. I contained my energy, body parts were able to move at different rhythms and shapes at the same time. But with Ecstatic Dance I was able to spontaneously move as I would see fit. 

In November 2014 I came across Sufi whirling in Amsterdam. Sufi whirling is also a contained dance as the Movements, but there is only one movement: circling. Luckily, the Sufi whirling group in Amsterdam is not dogmatic, so I could whirl and still be free. The centrifuge movement of whirling brings to rise a feeling of ecstasy and devotion. Dance as a way to connect with God. 

Looking back at this dance journey, I see that for me the Dance is within the polarity of structure and freedom, form and force. You need the form and structure in order to hold your energy, and at a certain moment you need to let go and feel the ecstasy. The dance as a way to transmute lower energies such as stress and sadness into higher energies such as joy and pleasure. 

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