I had the great luck of teaching a hip hop dance class to 23 young women between the ages of 13 and 16 last week. The class lasted an hour and a half, the afternoon was hot and we filled a large dance studio, a powerful sound system blasting a solid base beat we could feel in our toes.
When a group of so many young women come together to dance there is a power unrivaled. It is manifest as their bodies unite in movement, in the smile that creases their lips as they revel in the way the rhythm touches their hips, their feet, their shoulders. It is represented in their playfulness and grace, their shouts of encouragement and awe and their creativity whenever they get the opportunity to improvise.
Before we execute a series of choreographed movements I ask everyone to move their body freely, to find their own relationship to the music, to enjoy their personal swing. As the words come out of my mouth I realize I don't even need to ask. Already eyes are closed, knees are bouncing, heads are thrown back in gestures of pure joy.
As we sit in a circle at the end of class, exhausted, sweaty and grinning, we each say a word to describe how we feel. Happy, tired, hungry, grateful, inspired, and hyper echo across the group. One girl says she is confused, but not sure why and her friends nod their heads and giggle with her, jointly acknowledging all of the complex feelings dance can bring up about the body, the spirt and the self. At the end of the circle the last girl hesitates, but finally voices, "I feel, well I feel.... turned on". There is a collective cheer throughout the circle because there is a resonance in her honesty and somehow we all know what she means. Dance has the power to nourish our fundamental sensuality and this sensuality in turn nourishes our fundamental self. This sensuality allows the dancer to honor and also be honored and creates a direct channel to feeling turned on by life, by movement, by music and by the power of our own bodies to sustain us. Being able to co-exist in groups where sensuality can have life and breath and art gives us an opportunity to channel all aspects of our power. It can not simply be reserved for the intimate act of sex or the private relationship between romantic partners. It is an energy we are given to work with as human beings and it strengthens our art, our truth telling and our human vibrancy. It seems this group of dancers grasped this entirely. I have never been in a room that generated so much power and did so with such deep respect and security. If I ever pause to search for more arrows pointing toward the source, I will remember this group of inspiring young women. I look forward to further opportunities to share the healing vitality of movement with women and men committed to summoning all the potential of our humanness.