The dance floor is one of the only places to practice and experience true nonverbal communication.
I spent last week with my 3 year old niece Madison, who has just started talking and is still very much connected with nonverbal cues. For her, language is only a support to getting her needs met and expressing herself. For me, words have become the primary way which I express myself and often seem more important than body language. I’m finding this word-based adult world can often feel thin, leaving me with a dissatisfaction and gnawing hunger for more.
Martha Graham, an American dancer and choreographer regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, said:
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body. And it’s partly the language that we don’t want to show.”
When we allow ourselves to communicate without words, a part of us deeper than the personality shows up. We get to play with one another at the level of the soul. It’s one of the reasons Ecstatic Dance enables deep friendships to form quickly. Meeting on the dance floor, we don’t ask, “What’s your name? What do you do? Where do you live?”
Without words, we surpass the normal societal cues and go directly to a soul conversation.
If we look at our brain activity, it gives us a better understanding of the science behind these connections. Left brain thinking is verbal and analytical. Right brain is non-verbal, intuitive and creative. We need both to function. We use both hemispheres of our brain all day long. When we are deep in our dance, in a state of present-moment awareness, our right brain is activated. In this space, we gain access to the soul language Martha Graham speaks of. Our critical and judging self steps aside. We feel deliciously “at one” with everyone and everything. When language enters into the equation, our brain automatically switches to the left, analytical mode. It has no choice.
In normal daily life, we use language as our main form of communication. We are accustomed to meeting one another through our words. We are used to conversing and connecting through language. We have learned to bring forth the words we want in order to elicit the responses we desire. When we take away the tool of language, as we do on the dance floor, it can become uncomfortable. As Martha Graham says, “…it’s partly the language that we don’t want to show.” When we’re in the dance, our bodies can’t lie. We aren’t able to hide deep seated sorrows, fears, and even joys that we often keep under wraps in order to function in the world.
The Ecstatic Dance community is unique in that we are seekers, looking for authentic experiences of being human. What does this look like? What does it feel like? Many times, it’s hella uncomfortable and awkward as we forge new pathways of being.
What would it be like if we let ourselves steep in the awkwardness of nonverbal communication? For many of us, it’s a skill we haven’t used since we were toddlers, like my niece Madison. What if we rejoiced in one another’s stumbles at this right brained form of communication and joined in the discomfort to play together in an authentic way?
Will you join me in this space?
I invite you into this new reality of true authenticity, learning together how to communicate without words. Messing up together. Trying out new ways of doing it. Practicing. Deepening the skill of nonverbal communication and authentic conversation. It’s the dawning of a new era where our personalities mindfully step aside to make way for our soul connections to flourish. Will you join me?