After forty-five minute drive to the mountains, I follow Gerard Marsal’s car to the venue.
The road to the place was not found by the GPS. I feel a mix of excitement and familiarity. Excitement to get to know this unique tribe of teachers, dancers, musicians and free souls that have coalesced at Dancers Ways. Familiarity as my grandmother was born in Alcover, right at the bottom of the mountain where we are.
As I step down of the car a big dog greets me as if we were old friends. I feel welcomed. The air is moist and the forest that surrounds us has a grounding effect on me. As I’m guided around by Gerard, I notice an air of gravity around the work that’s happening. Patricia García (Alhazar), teacher and one of the Dancer’s Ways founders, further elaborates on it, as we sit down to drink a cup of hot tea. The retreat just started today, and she guided the group on a meditation to see their whole life path up to this moment. She said “it’s an amazing group. They opened up, right on. They are doing the work, just as it’s meant to be: to find yourself through dance.”
The group, composed by mostly women from ages 16 to 50 from all over the world, has gathered in this retreat center for four days. Their intention: to explore and grow through dance.
The first thing that impresses me is the number of people holding the container. What I mean by this is all the visible and invisible organizing and preparation so that participants can do the work they’ve come to do. Starting by the place, following by the live music led by Gerard, to the lighting, sound, photography, recording, translation, and a myriad of small details that ensure this experience will be unique.
I share with Patricia my idea for the after dinner workshop, and we go to the yurt where the last coreography-improvisation workshop of the day is happening. We enter the room, and all the sudden I’m left without words. I see a man. I see dancers. Then a group. The consciousness of the group starts speaking as a man whispers, listens and dances: Illan Rivière is teaching.
His sharp playful presence fills the room. I get a sense that he’s working with clay. His body are his hands, and the dancers, the group are the clay. The hands are prompting clay: “Change the state! Change again, what’s your quality now? Change!” He is massing it, shaping it, molding it. Clay gets more and more elastic, and free-forming. “Now listen to the space, listen to the inner space, listen to the space in between, listen to the space of the group…” Illan circles the members of the group, encourages them, challenges them. “Let yourself be changed! Find a new quality! Change the space, be changed!” The hands, Illan's body, shows what he wants clay to do, and clay gets inspired, playful, fluid. It answers back.
The first time I saw Illan dance, it was eight years ago I was struck by how gifted he was. That time he was on stage. Now in his teacher role, many years later, I feel privileged to see him transmitting his method. Now his hands shift from working with clay to sculpting stone. As a master at sculpting, his body-soul sculpts the space with his movements, with dance. Just as Michelangelo moves when he sculpting David, Illan's moves are precise, elegant and grounded. With his moves, the group continues to evolve. It takes one shape, and another, and another. I sense pleasure, pain, efforting, flowing…a delicious dance of opposites, that participants seem to rejoice too. “We are going to dance forever” he utters, and they do embrace the challenge…
Why are you here?
After dinner I head back to the yurt to prepare the space and ground myself. I sit in a circle with cushions for every participant. The first participant arrives, we connect and start sharing. Then the next one until a full circle is completed. I lead a meditation about our unique purpose and how to evoke it through our intention, again and again. We travel, we come back. After it I invite shares and a rich inquiry is ignited. Insights emerge like the fact that sometimes our unique purpose is tied to healing our past. At other times, what may seem obstacles to our purpose they are our best allies. Often we don’t have articulate answers to why are we here, but we know it when it feels right. Our body knows, and so does our soul.
Anything can happen
As Illan said when teaching “just try,… nothing can happen….it’s just dancing”. And yet, because of that, by giving your body and soul to yourself through dance, anything can happen: you may heal, you may discover unknown aspects of yourself, or even if you are ready you might have the most fierce dialogue with life on your unique purpose.
We close and I find myself changed forever. My soul elevated, deeply inspired by this group of courageous souls that have boldly joined together these four days to deepen their aliveness and uniqueness.
When are you joining?
Author: Magda Barceló
coach, consultant and facilitator