I learned of Biodanza upon meeting two people in the search of short term (one or two months) housing. Pierre invited me to the session because he heard that I was in the mode of discovery. He told me of a website where I could learn of it, and that Montreal was one of the short list of cities that had facilitators. I spent an evening reading about it, as the site he gave me was in French. When Pierre asked me what I thought about it. I responded with "... ... ... WOW! All the things I have been coming up in synchronicity were encapsulated on that webpage." Both of us laughed merrily and he invited me to come have dinner at the house so he could show me the room; and then head to the session.
Two rides through the Metro; a very spontaneous and frenzied chase after a bus; a few flight of tightly angled steps; and a large antechamber later, we join several others in this large lounge area where there was much cuddling in a quiet form of socialization. Another class was wrapping up in the dance studio, so there was several minutes of enjoying the tranquility, and the deepening evening.
Biodanza has no strict form or any sort of learning curve; just very loose guidelines and facilitation by a person. Our facilitator for the group is named Maira, a vivacious and gentle woman! She joined us a few moments later. Maira warned me that I was dropping into an advanced group who have been meeting for the last few years - they are all very welcoming, but there is already a group dynamic going on, and a lot of physical contact. Pierre also warned me of this, and I admitted to her (they will feel this, so better to be upfront as to not have any doubts and speculation) that I was a tad intimidated and nervous about this coming from a generation and culture that isn't real fond of physical contact unless it is an established close relationship. I told her that it was the right level of fear that signaled me to absolutely dive into it anyway, and to know that it was an opportunity for growth. I also understood that there was almost no verbal communication taking place here, as the music and our connections will do all the communication ever needed.
The prior class vacates the room, and we all enter the studio and set our things down, and pay our fees for the session. Pierre offers to do realtime translation from French to English. We start out forming a circle linked by outstretched hands. Celebratory music fills the air, and we start moving counter-clockwise, each of us dancing on the path, waving arms, legs, swaying our bodies in different directions while staying linked - there is no form or protocol, we just danced in this fashion however we felt! At one point, we wobble the circle inwards and outwards, as if changing in and out of a starfish formation organically. Laughter floods the space as we registered the change. So far, a great introduction - I like this!
Maira explains the next section is about walking to the music, to enjoy the process of walking and the vitality it brings. The music then changes into something that keeps the merriment of the prior piece, but adds a rhythm.... Suddenly, we are all walking in all different directions; all different manners; different paces; motions; swaggers. There was absolutely no chaos in this procession, everyone miraculously and graciously keep out of each others' way, while being inter-dependent. We weren't in ultimate control of where we went, That force is - the Universe, God, the invisible hand, whatever power pleases you; and yet the opposite was absolutely true at the same time. We were in full control of our walking. The music was the most upbeat walking music I have ever heard, and it filled every fiber of my being full of electric energy to walk at maximum celebration. No amount of caffeine or other stimuli could ever match this!
Back in un-linked circle formation, Maira explains that while dancing, any two people can look at each other across the circle, and mirror our dance as they walk towards the center, then back out to the other side of the circle, then the rest of us will do the same at the same time without ever skipping a beat. This process will repeat for as long as we desired to, and according to the music. Spontaneous eye contact between two souls is what I perceive, an encounter and communication ensue. The magic of two souls meeting, and how that universal communication is understood and expressed by all of us, interconnected as one. As I write this, I am simply in awe at the simple but powerful experience of just this dance. As before, there is no structure, no form, no protocol. We are all dancing according to ourselves, and our connectedness. Amazing that there is no learning curve, no mastery or skill needed. Just keep that body movin'! The music has changed to a fast paced selection that matches this mood.
Next, two souls make eye contact, join hands in a supportive fashion, instead of an opposing fashion, and simply dance - figure out who leads; who is lead; or not figure it out - whatever we want to do. The music changes to a fast paced couple dance while still maintaining its merry beat. A brief thought crosses my mind that I have never danced before - but that thought gets swept away as we start and I make immediate eye contact with another soul and we start dancing. The women I danced with all wanted me to lead even though half the time I signaled them to lead. I guess either they were being very gentle to the newcomer and let me lead; or men usually lead? This is a question I shall have to put out there. So... hands twirling, legs sweeping, bodies going all over the place, strange expressions on the face was what I did, and to much laughter and merriment, these movements were echoed. When we want to signal the end of each dance encounter, we acknowledge each other with gratitude and glide to the next partner.
The music changed again and switched to a much slower, and more romantic pace. We continue to seek out momentary partners, and started to link hands and/or arms. Slow dancing without any form, structure, or protocol - I like this even more, as I needed to know nothing about dances to participate! There was finally one woman who was very amused with the idea of leading - she had me lead, and at one time, I lifted one arm straight up on a whim, and she twirled around underneath, and continued. I was surprised as I never seen this before, and at the next opportunity, I raised my arms again and twirled around in the same fashion she did. She was very amused, and we kept at it for a few more times before gliding to our next partners.
Somewhere along the way, the lights went out and the studio became dim except for a solitary white light, as if a star amidst the night. The music slowly faded to silence and Maira explained that the upcoming sequence is about feeling the energy all around us, and to move within it. All of us went to form our own space and moved about and slowly exploring the energy with arching arms, feet, various body poses, transitioning from one set of actions to another at a very slow pace, as the energy dictates. Mine was a expanding and contracting ball, whose dimensions were known by the warmth and tingling of my fingertips.
Next, Maira introduces the idea of working with the energy again but as a vastness of space, of arms waving through space, and visualize that there is air coming into contact with every inch of your hands and arms; so our work transitioned into moving our arms about into different poses and motions, and I visualized exactly Maira's suggestion, but out on the stratosphere with stars visible and sea breeze wafting through.
Next, we combined the two themes and now we will communicate and encounter each other purely with our energy and essence, which we learned to recognize from the prior movement. Partners would glide towards each other, reach for each others' arms, and caress the bio-electric energy of the other, and glide away towards the next soul in whatever pace and fasihon we wished.
We continued but shifted towards simply being in contact with each other, linking arms, hands, or an embrace - whatever mood strikes our fancy. I have been perceiving this as a gradual buildup of understanding the human soul encounter, and the kinds of communications and acceptance of each other, completely, fully - and to love one another unconditionally. Here, gender did not matter at all, and there were several times when I linked up with other men.
We then got into clusters of five, and did a close and thorough link with each other - hands, arms, heads, feet and simply stood there, feeling each other as one unified, interconnected soul; our joys, fears, breathing, warmth, and vibrations.
Next, we imagined from all of us, in between all of us, the grace of God welled like a white column, and we stretched our hands into this center, and just moved our hands around with each other, linked, to cultivate and nurture this grace, and recognize that we are of this grace and each other - our commonality and oneness is this grace. I felt that there was no separation between any of us souls, that the love and joy are universal - no male or female, no friends, no lovers, no enemies - that we are all One. With this togetherness, everything was vastly simplified, and there was no need for almost all of the cultural constructs, fears, or any form of separation between any of us, no matter the story or circumstance.
Finally we all then went around and expressed Gratitude non-verbally - the climax of the whole buildup of the entire session - for our session together.
What an experience - and despite it feeling like a few minutes. Three hours had elapsed!