February 7, 2018

Dreamwork & Learning Butoh Dance

My Dream

Recently, I dreamt that I was observing good friend of mine and a cousin whom I consider to be a good friend hanging out and having a great time. Their vibe was that of closeness and they exhibited a sense of intimacy I felt really jealous of. I did not feel part of the intimate space. I felt excluded. They were having fun without me. Womp, womp. Oh that feeling of exclusion. It feels so ugly.


In the dream, I found them a little while later. I put on my pretend smile and a mask of happiness. But I felt like shit.


My Experience at the Dance Workshop the Night Before

The night before, I had attended Dance Lab, a dance workshop in Brooklyn, NY. The night started out with a lesson of Butoh, a dance rooted in Japan.


Butoh focuses on primal expressions of the human condition rather than physical beauty. Basically, you don’t look sexy when you’re grooving to Butoh. And I wouldn’t call it a groove. But it’s a dance that asks us to go within and take a peek at our darkness.


It’s a very grounded dance. You become aware of your feet on the ground and make small, slow and compressed movements. The eyes take a soft gaze or are shut completely.


People were making all sorts of sounds but we were instructed not to – because that was exactly the point – to be completely compressed, suppressed. It was obvious people wanted to yell or express some kind of vocal sound. I didn’t feel any need to and I wondered if I was missing something.


After our Butoh lesson, we were free to dance freely for the next 2 hours or so. What I had just learned stayed with me for the remainder of the night.


Certain questions started to come up for me during the free flow dance segment: Why did I feel I needed to make movements that looked good or beautiful? It became my awareness, that whatever movement was coming up through me was ok and good enough. But still- that ingrained impulse to make anything we do or say look good or appear presentable was strong within me.



During the time we were free to dance the way we wanted, I went through a journey in my memory. I recalled how I’d feel dancing at the age of 3 or 4. I felt completely free and I certainly did not care about what I looked like. I loved spinning around and singing. I remember panting because I’d get out of breath from moving so much. That was the most free I remember being.


Then I remembered my junior high school dances. By then there was a script to follow. If you didn’t wear name brands you weren’t cool and if you weren’t grinding on the dance floor you also weren’t cool. I remember feeling like I had to be sexy. I had to impress the boys. I remember counting how many boys I’d dance with as though that equated my sense of worth and value. My female friends and I would share with each other how many boys we’d danced with at the end of the night.


Jump forward to my early twenties. Finally feeling free again with the help of alcohol lowering my inhibitions, I often liked to throw my hands up in the air until this guy told me to “calm down.” LOL. Yes, he thought I was being “too much” I guess. Even though I thought it was a ridiculous request, another part of me agreed with him. That lingered within me and I tamed the arm thing for a while.


Back to the Dream State

2 days later after the dance workshop, I had another dream- this one more disturbing. I was in some sort of house with my mother and father. I walked around this house and I was coerced by this girl who I have a sneaking suspicion was a younger version of me. She lead me to an urban looking backyard. It was a concrete ground surrounded by a metal gray wire fence you commonly see in the cities. She locked the gate in satisfaction and maliciousness.


I was stuck. And I got really angry.


I ran back through the house screaming and banging my hands all around. The noise I was making wasn’t loud enough. As loud as I tried to scream, as loud as I tried to bang, the sounds were not coming out the way I wanted. No one could hear me.


Seems the frustration some people felt during the Butoh – the frustration out of wanting to scream and release (yet was absent for me) revealed itself in this dream.


No matter how much we suppress, no matter how much we compress, energy finds its way out somehow. But we judge our expression. We say: this is ok to express. Or, this is not ok to express.


If we want to live a life where we don’t feel so much resistance, we can choose to find ways to let go. For me, at the moment, I’m motivating myself to write and dance as much as possible. It isn’t easy moving through your comfort zone, but I’m finding that it’s worth it. What can you do to help yourself let go, to release some resistance even if it’s just a bit?