I am having trouble getting myself to dance with my whole Self these days. A friend chided me and also poked a little fun at me, saying he can’t believe an Alexander teacher would have her head down, “is that the Alexander Technique?”
Of course it’s not, and sometimes it is, which is a discussion I can have on another day.
In any case, I’m not only an Alexander teacher; I’m a person, grieving the loss of my beloved dog after spending well over 15 years together.
I am finding that overwhelming grief changes my posture and even when my thoughts are not with the grief, my body still is.
If you’ve never had a dog for his or her whole life then this might not make sense to you. Dogs give pure love and companionship; mine was part of my family and for a long time, on a daily basis it was just the two of us. He has been happier to see me than my own father and mother. He’d pop his little head up, run around the room and spin in circles at my feet.
Trying to dance when my chest is closed down with tears and sadness is like lifting a bridge that is underwater; weighted with tears. Salt water is heavier than fresh, to be sure. It is also easier to float in the salty sea than a freshwater pool. The Dead Sea is a prime example. The water is so dense with salt it’s difficult to sink.
With all that salt in me, why is it so hard to float upward with my upper body and head?
How can I project my sad body into the levity of a Dancer?
I found it painful to open my arms to the volume needed for my frame. I wanted to pull my arms into a hug, whether someone else was hugging me or not.
Sobs and tears are downward and inward. At some point they can also be opening outward, with a letting go of the totality of one’s Self. That is not controlled enough for dance, though. Dance needs both freedom and control.
Coming into dance hold while projecting my energy into shaping upward and outward took emotional discipline more than physical.
It hurt more to project than to be sad and collapse a little, softly, into my own chest.
It is easier to remember the feel of my little Rafi curled in my arms, his chin under my own, feeling the softness of his fur, his little feet bending and wrapping around my hand. They were little, with soft hair growing on the bottom like rabbit feet, soft white fur brushing my skin.
That feel is real. It is a sense memory that comforts my heart. I can put on music and dance with my Rafi-memory, feeling how content he was in my arms.
Dancing with Rafi; I can carry him with me. I may not project Dancer in fullness but it is real.
Dancing Rounds the other day, I was cautioned not to drop my arms and to keep my frame up. I was dancing with Rafi, though, with sadness permeating my energy that I am also supposed to project into Frame.
I raised my arms and thought of holding Light in them to send to him. I would not drop the Light for my little Rafi whom I loved so much.
My arms stayed up, I was sending him Light and Love.
Tomorrow my arms will hold him in another way, laying him to rest. It is fitting and proper to do so. I will carry him lovingly and say words over him, letting him go.
Then my arms will be empty again.
Here is Rafi and his friend, Boo-Boo the Poodle.