‘Renaissance’. Such a beautiful word, evocative, and powerful in revealing a rich history filled with art, music, philosophy – the birth of our modern society, the birth of the current iteration of civilisation.
‘Renaissance’ – literally re-naissance: a re-birth. Birth. And rebirth. Like the beautiful butterfly, morphed from pupa, formed from a lowly worm. What a traumatic experience! What hell must the body go through, to rearrange your cellular structure, from worm, to winged beauty, from woman, to life-giving mother! What arrogance to think I am anything like these magnificent and tortured beasts.
And yet, I am just these things. Another night out with Nia Dance brings me to a standstill, in rapt awe as I am brought face to face with the living, breathing, nurturing being that is music. Right, so here it is, then – the story of my second outing to a dance studio, in suburban Stellenbosch, with fellow Nia Dance enthusiasts and afficionados and again, it is a story of pain, and of pleasure, absolute, and of course – my body.
I don’t think my body has quite forgiven me for my first Nia Dance session – my pelvis and I now barely acknowledge each other except in the most unmentionable of natural ways, and then with disgust and, well, let’s just leave it there. I put myself in the unenviable position – again – of eating a three-course meal just before heading off to the dance class, but this time, it wasn’t steak that brought me down. No sir. It was something lighter – a few snails, and some prawns – but let’s not distract with the culinary excesses imbibed just prior to my arrhythmic gyrations. Let’s dive straight in!
Tonight, Lucia took us through the senses of touch, and sight, as our audio sensations entranced and swooped in heady syncopation with our consciousness – my own sight was highly impaired because I cannot dance with my spectacles on (I think I may need a set of sports specs to get through the classes, complete with wiper blades for the oceans of sweat pouring of my balding pate!) Touch? How do you touch, in dance, when it’s a dance by yourself, corporeally separated from everyone else in the class? Of course, my boyishness wants to get down and dirty with “Well, you just touch yourself” but that is a little vulgar, for what did happen, as the beat took over my pulse, and the exhaustion ripped the breath from my lungs with each stepslidesweepstepstepleftkick…push into the groundkickspin….ragged, gasping, wheezing I turned and spun on the air as the notes carried my tormented corpse upwards and into the music, folded me over into the trance, breathed in the choral sighing and reached for the rhythm that tonight I just couldn’t find. (Is this what straight men feel like when they dance and is this why they drink so much when asked to?)
|Lucia and I after class. Does she know how close she brought me to the peace I crave? Will I find it here?|
I ached, and not always the good ache, tonight. This was more than just an excess of rich food coming to bear – my stomach literally felt like a leaden ball swinging in counter-weight to my off-balance beats, my legs stomped when they should have tripped lightly over the notes – tonight Nia laughed at me as I cursed myself for the 38 years that weigh down heavily on me. It has been an emotional week and this doesn’t help. Am I so shoddy tonight because I am – to put it quite melodramatically – ‘a balloon of emotions in a whirlpool of needles‘? Or is it because I am 38, unfit, and a junkie?
Dammit! I used to be a Springbok fencer, for God’s sake! I went to the All Africa Games, and we won a silver medal! I once fenced for 11 days straight, at the university championships, junior and senior nationals, winning so many medals I was jokingly referred to as “suffering from medal fatigue” by team mates. What the hell has happened to my body?!
The point comes where axes shift, and relieved, I succumb to gravity, writhing in embarrassed and inflexible agony, on the floor, pinned this time not by the gravity of self, but by the weight of my corpse, the weight of wasted years, of being wasted, and inside, the flicker of shame and regret burns that much brighter.
They roll, I curse. They coil, I wheeze. Finally, they push up onto their knees and I struggle up into a parody of a foetal embrace of myself, riding my lungs for the failures they are, the labouring, struggling and incapable burden I made them by raping them repeatedly with vast tracts of cocaine, cat and meth. Lucia’s voice breathes through the walls of my inner rage, she urges something I don’t quite catch over my own death-harbinger, parading as breath, and finally, she breaks through, breathes out, and sighs the words that cut my own internal chatter and noise to zero, silences me with a barely audible but oh-so-powerful command: “Just be.” And just like that, my heartbeat finds grip, reality shifts, slows, breath comes, goes, comes – goes – inoutinoutinout in out in out in … out … iiinnn …..ahhhhh …. out…..iiiin………..oooouuuut….silence. No pain, in my limbs, no pain in my mind, no pain in my soul – only….God, can it be true? Peace? Here? Now? Like this? Aaaah, yes, there it is again…peace.
Serenity. God, grant me…the power to just be.
The tears flow now, as I write this, that should have flowed as I sat there, finding that sampling of peace that is what I now know, is the reason to be alive. Forty-two, wrote Douglas Adams. He knew what he was talking about – it’s the chemical value for peace. Absolute and resolute, in my mind.
In the desert, at Afrika Burn, I slayed a dragon. At Nia, I will tame one, and learn to ride him.
|Afrika Burn 2012 – bearing a tooth of a dragon, artistic, in defiant and symbolic pose.|
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