During my first class of contemporary dance, while turning and moving restlessly in circles, trying to avoid the sweaty bodies around me, I kept recalling this scene of the “Dead Poet Society” movie. In this movie starring Robert William, the new inspiring poetry teacher tried to teach his students how to stand out and be unique despite of the rigidness of their society and their orthodox school. The exercise was simple; he asked three students have to walk spontaneously in the yard. For the first three seconds, they walked their own rhythm and path but automatically after a while they started to follow each other rhythm. They fell in the trap of conformism, the trap of reconciling their unique self for the sake of belonging to the mass and the community. They became followers and lost themselves..
Back to the sweaty – charged with energy- room of the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center, where I organize and take part of the “Mother Tongue” workshop led by Kara Davis, the lesson was exactly the opposite. We were asked to walk chaotically and mime the others: we had only to gather all the visual information and movement that the other participants do and mimic them. We were asked to lose ourselves and follow.
But isn’t this the one’ dilemma in his everyday life?! Was this room a simple simulation of life, where the one struggles between saving himself from diluting in the mass and between trying to integrate and live with this same mass?
In this room, there were all kind of people, the initiators/ leaders and the followers, exactly like in real life. There were those who can’t help their urge to lead and to perform and those who shyly followed.
Only with the pass of time, when the exercise became endless and every one stopped to expect a soon release from this endless movement; boundaries fell, roles stopped and the real game started. In the endless movement of exhaustion, all
bodies got released and freed. It was strange how freedom was felt out of despair and pain. Yes, dancing freed us from the consciousness of our moving bodies, from all the taboos of being clumsy, overweight or restless. And yes it felt good!