Dance My Jozi Reflections…

Our home: Johannesburg, South Africa

Our home: body, Self, family, community

Our home: personal and political


How do we invite creativity and vitality into the whole system in the face of the conflict, violence, poverty and historical wounds that we face? How do we take the opportunity to truly see the reflection of our humanity and both the creative and destructive forces at play in all of life. And once we have seen this, what do we do with it?


Dance My Jozi was born out of my love for Johannesburg as well as my own grappling with how to be with the challenges we face in this South African urban landscape that is full of dichotomies. Expressive Movement felt like an appropriate container in which to explore some of these opposites and tensions as the practice invites in embodied creativity, flexibility and mindful presence.


The intention in this ten week closed group was for the dancers to work through some of these experiences and to begin to explore the polarities, the tension between them and to experience the full spectrum of what being here, now, in this South Africa brings. The focus here is on developing presence. The capacity to be with the whole; with the Gestalt notion that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.


“The dancer is a person who can hold the opposites. A person who can say yes to creation but also yes to destruction, yes to pain and yes to joy, yes to the shadow and yes to the light. And recognizing that they belong to each other; they are each other in different ways.” – Andrew Harvey & Marion Woodman


During the course of the Dance My Jozi group, I had a dream in which an old teacher of mine visited me. He taught me to look through the lens of the camera he had with him, and spoke of the importance of seeing the whole. I was struggling with something in the dream and he helped me to practice seeing the beauty within the entire image. As I looked through the lens, the details of the picture became more visible and as I zoomed out to include it all, the most brilliant image, filled with movement, colour and contrasts, took up the frame. The foreground, which was the frame itself, became blurred and what I managed to capture was truly magnificent.


The first important part of the dream for me was the message that one needs first to become aware of the lens through which one is seeing the world and then one can take the chance to look through it. Only then can life be fully experienced. Expressive Movement is a practice that offers the opportunity to move through our conditioning (the lens through which we have learned to see the world), to allow the ego to gently fade into the background for some time so that we can focus on what is going on inside and outside. It is here that we can work towards seeing the beauty of the whole: all the contrasts, contours, textures, colours, expressions – all of which are intricate and essential parts of this vast, expansive landscape that is life.


What emerged over the course of the ten-week group was the importance of being able to include and experience the seemingly contrasting experiences that inhabiting this landscape evokes; vulnerability and strength; freedom and restriction; the position of the victim, perpetrator and rescuer; the place for the elders and the children; connection and disconnect; and feelings and questions around safety. What arose from the group was an aliveness, a vitality as well as an experience of the challenge and pain of being awake and alive to this reality. This all being experienced with playfulness and passion towards life.


It seems that this practice enabled dancers to explore this spectrum and move with the tension between contrasting qualities and experiences with the vision of beginning the reconciliation among these diverse, contrasting parts of the whole.