Wow – did I luck out when I was browsing my local Half Price Books and came across The Body Speaks by Lorna Marshall (2002, Palgrave Macmillan).
In it, she teaches us to pay attention to our bodies as dancers and as humans; she inspires us to let the body, rather than the mind, take the lead; and she educates us in regards to movement and technique. In Part I, Discovery and Preparation, Marshall offers exercises that help us open our minds to the possibilities of movement, to potential outcomes that could develop into a practice or a choreography, but without pressure to do either. One of my favorite lines from this part of the book is: “Training can be wonderful, provided that it acknowledges the realities of your personal anatomy.” Whoa. This is powerful light to shine for any athlete or dancer; in tribal belly dance, it’s just as important. We see incredible isolations and range of movement in others; for many of us, we too want to attain it, and push ourselves to sometimes unhealthy lengths (literally), to get there.
Part II, Putting It Into Practice, was so inspiring to me that I had a hard time actually reading it and sitting still as I devoured the pages in waiting rooms (and even browsing it during long stop lights, I’ll admit). In the introduction to this section, Marshall writes, “The challenge is to pass ideas, themes and experiences into the minds and bodies of the watchers, so that they may be changed by the experience.” YES! It’s not just about us! 🙂 She goes on to discuss stage character, communication, and other topics that are vital to those of us who invite an audience to take the time from their day, their night, their festival, to pause for a few moments and watch us. We owe it to them to give everything we have to the performance, and to make sure they leave with something: a smile, for instance; at best, the feeling that they’ve witnessed a pure and authentic act of creativity and feel culturally richer as a result.
Let me know if you’re able to find this book, and what you think about it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do; I refer to it often for inspiration, guidance, and for reminders that we should always be raising the bar, and allowing our bodies to lead the way.