There’s only one thing Gabrielle told us during our teacher training that I really remember, but 23 years later it’s still as clear as a bell: “Get ready. You’re going to be doing your healing in public now.”
I’ve found that to be true a thousand times in front of a room of dancers, but since choosing to have a blog as a teaching forum that ‘public’ thing has become way more so.
I trust the flow of my feet, listening for my next step pretty spontaneously, both in life and in my teaching. It’s not a very safe way to move, but I rather like that. Often the consequences seem miraculous and magical, and sometimes I land flat on my face in the mud. That has just happened, so I have a disclosure to make, in order to set things straight and allow the field — including myself — to rebalance. It’s a deeply held principle for me that when I’m teaching and I mess up, then I will be transparent about that and make amends. In a room of dancers that might be as subtle as allowing a shift in my stance and perspective, or at the other extreme it might involve me literally explaining what I see and apologising.
In this case it’s about my previous blog post; the one about contact improv in a 5R space, within which I’d ebulliently pointed the finger at two dancers, criticising them for being caught in the shadow of Lyrical, the ‘Impresario’. A couple of good friends were kind enough to contact me and gently suggest I take a look in the mirror.
As I did my homework, what I saw was so funny that I literally laughed out loud. There in the mirror I could see myself strutting around in exactly that same character, and not only generally so, but even specifically in the way I’d written that blog post!
What a classic.
Another of Gabrielle’s gems was to remind us to be a teaching rather than a teacher. I hope that offering up my blindspot as a giveaway like this will serve; that my mis-step and now this adjustment gives you a chance to smile, and breathe the sigh of relief that usually comes with the truth.
One last thing: I totally stand by the substance of what I said about mixing CI and 5R. It was just the way I said it that was off. I don’t think they mix together well, both because of the subtle quality of presence that’s different for each, and for physical safety. CI is a great practice, and as I said, I am very grateful for having some of those skills, but using them within my 5R practice (which can work really well) is very different from actually shifting modes and essentially practicing CI whilst everyone else in the room is practicing 5R. I’ve now edited the original version of that post to remove the finger pointing, having had conversations with both the dancers I was referring to, and acknowledging my foolishness personally with a good few laughs about it.
With big thanks to Ya’Acov and Kinga.