Dancing is among the things I enjoy doing. As early as 12, I learned some basic steps of ballroom dances like swing and cha-cha-cha, not only from our physical education classes but also by merely watching dancers on TV. I developed that grace and swiftness by sheer observation alone. I took every opportunity dancing in school presentations, birthday parties, gatherings, and weddings. I shared my talent with my family, friends, classmates and strangers, and they admired how I danced. I felt free in moving and swinging in the rhythm of music. I felt the sensual energy dancing with a partner. I never got tired even if I danced for hours. I embodied pure joy as I move my feet across the floor. Aside from writing, dancing is another expression of my soul.
Yet, despite all these experiences, I had deep apprehensions on dancing. As a teenager, I had difficulty relating with my peers, since my generation has well-defined social boundaries of being a man or a woman. Graceful dancing was then seen as a feminine thing, and I had fears of being labeled as being more feminine than masculine. I did not fully understand the psychological dimensions of dancing, and I was then trapped with the stereotypes that dancing is only for girls. From then on, I rarely danced. I only danced in few occasions when I helped some of my friends, or in some private gatherings with my former students. I still felt slightly embarrassed, but I have always believed that there is a deeper purpose why I know how to dance.
I denied dancing and kept it like a dreaded secret. When I had chances to dance, I always had second thoughts. Often I shied away from any chances. I continued to write more as I dance less. Dancing became a hidden part of me. As years passed, I developed knee pains. A few months ago in a body-based workshop, we were instructed to caress our body parts that bear pains and aches. When I caressed by knees, a sudden insight dawned on me: these pains reminded me of denying my soul to dance. It was a symbolic calling for me to dance again.
I began to slowly reconcile with dancing. I reacquainted myself with dancing as a cultural expression. For some surprising reasons, when I watched cultural dances in Bali, Indonesia and in Davao City, performers invited their audience to dance and I never hesitated to join them. This year, a number of rituals inspired by indigenous traditions incorporated dances, like in the events of Buhay Babaylan Lecture-Ritual series. I danced with the rest of the audience, in celebration of the spirit of freedom that we all experienced. I have had encounters with the pioneering Inner Dance as a spiritual practice developed by a group of Filipino spiritual-creatives here in the Philippines. I relearned the basics of Qi Gong and relived my high school mornings of practicing Shibashi. In technical terms, they may not be considered as dances, but as the body moves, the spirit dances.
Love itself is a dance
Now, I have clear answers why I dance. It was actually through dancing that I got in touch with what Carl Jung calls the Anima or the feminine archetype within every man. That by being born by their mothers, every man embodies this sacred essence of being a woman. Regardless of gender choices, a man chooses to express this as caring and nurturing instincts or creative and artistic impulses; otherwise, a man might choose to suppress and repress it – in which, presumably, most men do. Dancing animated the Anima in me, and I unfolded these instincts and impulses. I have become a being aware of who I am. In the dance of the masculine and the feminine in me, I invite them to unite together and unfold my beingness.
Last November 20, a workshop by Ms. Leah Tolentino was held to rediscover one’s story through dance. As I saw my fellow participants dancing their inner stories with their partners, I broke into tears. I felt that inexplicable Love between them, that harmony of being different, yet in total harmony nonetheless. They shared tremendous joy without a single word. I felt the same when me and a partner danced. I unearthed again my inner story. I found myself whirling in a graceful speed I have never done before. I continued without ever feeling dizzy until I fell down on the floor, smiling. I looked above – the world was spinning while I was completely still. I was spinning like the Universe spins in that unfathomable joy. It took me minutes before it ended. But it will take eternity as a memory of my heart.
It was a delightful paradoxical insight I had from dancing. It was Love I witnessed, whirling in stillness. In that moment, I realized that my story about dancing is my story of understanding Love, because Love itself is a dance. I cannot separate them, since dancing is one unique way I express Love. As I dance, so I Love.