Some people love Valentine’s Day. Some people hate it. I am neither…I just forget that it even happens! I haven’t always done that – when I was at school I hated Valentine’s Day. The pressure of wanting to get a card, being too scared to send someone a card, and in later years that included the sending of red and white carnations too. I never had anyone on Valentine’s Day, and so began to ignore its existence. I also felt that it was so over-commercialised…the importance given to one day to show someone you love them. Surely you had the rest of the year to do that…one day isn’t going to make that much difference. I’m not saying that I judge people who do celebrate Valentine’s. I know a lot of people like the extra effort their other half makes. It can be an opportunity for someone to let the one they like know it. But for me, I don’t see the attraction.
This year, I almost forgot it entirely. People asked me what I was doing, and I had to ask when it was! It is just any other day, albeit one where I am suddenly surrounded by couples proclaiming their love for one another. I went to lectures, I chatted to my friends, painted my nails, had a lovely roast dinner cooked for me by my house-mate and then had a two hour dance workshop. I must just say that the roast was lovely…it’s something I miss when I’m not home as it’s not the sort of thing I would do for myself…not really worth it for one! It was also nice not to have to cook between meeting my dissertation supervisor and going off to dance 😛 A typical day (bar the meal) for me really!
On the subject of the workshop…this has made quite an effect on me. Initially I was sceptical, as the first word I latched onto was ‘improvisation’. This makes me panic. Even within the discipline I know like the back of my hand I hate improvising – I lose all creativity and become very self-conscious and inhibited. But I decided I would give it a go, despite my first reaction of wanting to run away. We were encouraged to look inside ourselves; use our internal camera to focus on what the body when we move. How the ribcage moves when we breathe; how the lungs move; how things are affected if we twist or lift a shoulder…it was very interesting. At first, I found it very difficult to focus. I kept getting distracted by the clock ticking, or thinking about what I had to do when I got back…but suddenly I found myself imagining the movement within me…I saw a swirl curling through my ribs each time I made a different movement. This sounds crazy, but it was how I found it easiest to visualise what was happening.
Then we moved on to connecting points of the body and trying to get one to move the other or stretch the distance between them. Experimenting with the movements possible with each body part, and pushing that so we surprised even ourselves. Things that felt unnatural provided a new take on a known movement. Soon I found myself forgetting I was in a room full of people…I was me, in my own space, experimenting with movement and exploring what I was capable of. When we moved onto writing the alphabet and our names with a part of the body, i.e. an elbow, I started to lose myself. Adding other focus points into the movement and exaggerating my timid movements suddenly allowed me to acquire a new awareness. I realise that for anyone who wasn’t there, this probably sounds really strange, slightly bizarre and a bit laugh-worthy; but, as I’m sure those who did experience this will agree, this form of improvisation really allowed me explore my creativity and to lose my self consciousness. All scepticism from the start disappeared, even if was still a little unsure of what I initially expected. This was so far departed from what I expected that even now it seems strange. Strange, but good. I hope that my dancing from now on will be in some way influenced by what I learnt today.
‘To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.’ ~Agnes De Mille