Music, Dance and Healing
Day Two of my classes usually yields a journal prompt such as, “After today’s introduction to the body pain relievers, examine your lived experiences, can you bear witness to any times you’ve perceived the use of body pain relievers? Please share in your journal. Experiment with them!” When a student responds as Ms. Camano did below in her Day Two Journal Entry, even before body energies are fully defined, I know I am seeing some authentic exploring and awareness with a student. Many thanks to Beginning Voice student Sol Camano for sharing this important moment of her connection!
“Shake releases tension in the body.” I love this because I have experienced and seen this occur before my eyes through dance and music. Over the summer I was working in Greece at different refugee camps, where stress and anxiety are high among the people and there’s not much tolerance for artistic movements due to lack of supplies and the police force. The group I was working with on the island of Khios decided that at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, we should have a great celebration with food, music, and dance. We got together drums, shakers, guitars, and fun costumes for the volunteers and refugees for the special night. When the day came we packed the vans and headed to one of the bigger camps on the island, Vial, with many volunteers eager to say how this would play out since it was the first time music was being brought into the camp. Upon arrival, many of the refugees were curious to see what all the hustle was about and helped us carry the supplies down to an open field. Almost at once they picked up drums and shakers and began playing music with the most beautiful rhythm and sound I have ever heard; their bodies and voices in perfect synch to the music. Crowds began to gather with children, women, and men making a big inclusive circle around the performers. Some children would make their way to the middle and show of their own dance moves; moving quickly with agile steps and lots of fancy hand movements. Everyone was smiling and laughing, hearts full and bright, thankful for a couple hours of relief. I was amazed at how strong the good energy was and how all groups were dancing with one another; Afghans, Syrians, Nigerians, Iraqi’s and so on. There was no hostility or division or segregation; simply love and cheer all around.
When you mentioned the affect “shake” has on our bodies I instantly recalled this night because it seemed that just for those two hours, all those families, who are living in absolute torment, had some time to release and relax. One of the women that joined the drum circle was an amazing musician, making up beats on the drum that would fit perfectly with the songs that were being played, and I told her so. She smiled with glistening eyes and put my hand on her belly; her baby was kicking softly. I’ll never forget that moment; it has stayed with me forever.
I am a firm believer in the magic of music and dance and how they can heal the human being, even if it’s just for the time being. Even if you’re not particularly good or talented in either, just letting your body move and shake off whatever may be bringing you down, is very therapeutic. I have had many anger dance offs in the privacy of my room after a stressful day and lots of personal concerts in the vicinity of my enclosed car where my throat was sore by the end.
Ms Camano: Thank you for sharing with such moving detail about this significant experience in your life. I can’t wait for you to discover more about the Lessac work. Before you know it those “personal concerts in the car” won’t end in a sore throat. Forward! Crystal