Word, Flesh and Whale Song
And the word became flesh and dwelt among us for many days and nights. Life was simple and peaceful until one noon when it was fishing, the flesh desired to become word again. Longing for a release, the flesh jumped into the big waters, and fell through the mouth of an old and wise whale. Inside the belly of the whale the flesh was digested into more than one word. The words were sung by the whale whose song was heard throughout the cosmos, enchanting the creatures, and the angels, filling consciousness with choreia-nous and wonder. Since then, a never-ending dance and song began, flesh and word birthing and transforming one another.
In the life of artists and scholars, word and flesh often clash as opposites and as different mediums through which they experience themselves in the world . Artists and creatives often sense the conflicting zones of word and flesh especially when practice becomes academic theory and when theory attempts to reflect the practice. I often encounter the difficulty in translating the experience of the flesh into words in my work with dancers and choreographers who are studying for an academic or teaching degree usually in dance or dance-related studies. My role is to assist them to translate the experience of the flesh into words as they write their essays on topics in which they often excel. Regardless of their success in the arena of dance performance, they seem to lose their fluidity and flexibility when words take the place of movement. Moreover, when rational and intuitive knowledge mingles it often leads to congestion. They are stuck, unable to move or say a word. The tyranny of the word silences the body and freezes the flesh.
Our bodies house numerous emotions, senses, and intuitions, which are non-verbal. Dancers and choreographers express powerful emotions and states of consciousness without uttering a word. The task of transfiguring a method of movement or a style of dance into a theoretical text could be daunting. Initially, the uninitiated movers feel stripped of the beauty and the depth that they wish to impart. Words unable to capture their moving bodies and movement seems to escape the trappings of words.
Interestingly, one of the solutions derives from the field that brings together dance, movement and awareness. In order to rediscover the connections between, and re-balance the body and mind, word and flesh, contemporary dancers and choreographers, likewise therapists and psychologists, often return to the great pioneers of the 20th century. One of the leading experts to methodologically address the holistic integration that makes a person a potent and healthy human-being at any age was Moshe Feldenkrais. His method, known as the Feldenkrais Method, consists of simple and effortless movements done in a state of relaxation. At the heart of the Feldenkrais Method lies the awareness that each of our actions is made of four basics: movement, sensation, emotion and thought. Movement can connect us with each of these basics and improve the quality of any action. Through movement we can become aware of our sensing, feeling and thinking. By rediscovering the connections between movement, sensation, emotion and thought, we can notice the embodiment of our thinking patterns and increase the understanding of our actions. Similarly, by using the method, we can re-choreograph our actions to ease what is difficult and heal issues relating to the relationship between body and mind.
The flesh is the matter of movement and action. It moves in a thinking, feeling and sensing web which exists within a greater web of life. The word and the flesh are different aspects of consciousness which can be expressed together through movement or action. Translating movement into words requires one to become conscious of the emotion, sensation and thought that shaped it into being and fueled its motion.
I analogue the translation process to a descent into the belly of the ancient mythic whale that guards the treasures of the unconscious psyche. Hidden from the visible world, the seeker discovers the motivations for her actions and the meanings of their shapes on the ground of her being. Then, she exits the belly of the whale, ready to face the light of a new day. Standing on the shore, she watches the whale departing to its abode in the bottom of the sea, singing her song in a whale language that is loved by all.