Zouk Me Please
This little piece describes my favorite outside the box way of healing, and learning to love the skin that I am in. If you have never heard of Zouk before, check out youtube, type in Brazilian Zouk dancing, and be prepared to enter a whole new world. (you’re welcome:)
Zouk, from the beginning has been the most beautifully chaotic process of shedding layers and taking on new, lighter presence and being. When I came to Zouk my heart was broken, my body was wounded and marred by trauma, I was terrified of the world around me. Like a flower bud closed in on itself, I had found a socially desirable way to live, and be so from the outside no one could see how much my heart was broken. From the very first class, I was hooked. My teacher looked more like me then the Barbie doll bodies I had seen in other dances, she had curly hair, stunning curves and she carried herself majestically; I was mesmerized by the way she moved when she danced and wanted to feel that confidence. She embodied everything I thought would be nice about being a woman.
This dance requires your whole body to be engaged to make it work, I quickly found the places in my body that were still unable to open. My chest was curled, my hips were closed, and my energy was in a place where I needed to conserve to survive. I was vigilant to detect a touch that may lead to something wrong or bad, and I kept my lead just close enough to dance, but not close enough for him to feel anything from me. In essence I was using him. My teacher would encourage me to “be big” dance larger then myself, be free. These words had no context for my body. My whole life I had been told to not call attention to myself or bad things would happen. I had been told that my body was a problem, and that I looked stupid when I danced. Now, this invitation to take up space, to grow and be open, to be seen… what did this mean?
I began to watch my body go through the growing pains of learning a new movement, head movement challenged my pre-existing views of my body’s abilities, and I watched it find ways to guard. But as I have healed, and had experiences with kind, patient leads, I can actively feel the flower petals open that make up my chest and shoulder. Breath is coming into those stuck places, and it feels so damn good! I listened to Bruno talk once about what it means to be connected to your partner, he invited us to think of that person as the most important person in the world for that 3 minutes, and I realized that in an effort to keep myself safe, I had neglected to give what I could to my partner. They may never know, but I would know. I needed to find a way to break that cycle of taking through touch, I wanted those that danced with me to know that they were seen and cared for, that what they brought to the dance was important and appreciated by me.
When I made that switch in my intention, I began to feel like I belonged in my Zouk community. I actually started to believe my friends when they said that I was beautiful, and that they were happy to have me there with them. I felt like Zouk was home for me, and I wanted to bring anyone I could to this place of unconditional acceptance. My teacher started calling me the “zouk ambassador” in PDX because I could not stop talking about this all consuming freedom I was experiencing.
I was letting go of some of the walls I had put up and then I realized now there was space to enjoy the music even more. I could celebrate how my body experienced the song, how sensuality was encouraged, and expression and passion had a safe outlet. This is who I am, this is what I want to bring to the world. I was never made to be small, or still; quiet or contained. My life was meant to boldly love. Zouk love gives me a space to see and feel what other people are expressing without words. I also learned that I could actually send care intentionally through my arms and hands into the hands and body of my partner. I could infuse them with unconditional acceptance and see how it made their body respond. Where else can you do this? What better, or authentic way can we be the hands and heart of the One that put all this together?
Zouk to me is becoming who I was intended to be, created to live and love. When I dance, I offer myself as a living sacrifice to the One that embodies all love and connection. I am grateful for who I am designed to be, and for the way that I feel deeply in this dance. Also, Zouk taught me about the quiet moments. The intentional stillness that had always been a source of anxiety for me before. Now there was context for it, space for it, breath for it. From the ends of my cascading curly hair to the tips of my toes and in between, Zouk has changed my life.
Weightless, but secure, drawing up power from the floor through feet and friction, somehow settling in this warm glow deep in my belly. Connection, hips sway, breath turns her hear, close embrace; and the beat drops. Breathing begins to flow to a beat of song, at times being summoned for power and other times being let loose to flow and soften. Feminine strength, masculine softenss, zouk shatters cultural norms and demands honor of the beings present in the dance. Sojourning souls intentionally decide to join to make I, you and also we. Shattering my need to safety, I dive into the waters of connection, and feel the power of the breeze as I glide through time and space. Weightless but secure. My hair wild, my smile wide, my eyes closed I relish in this moment of being chosen, being held, being released only to be swirled back into another embrace in the height of a punctuated beat in the symphony of sound. Not alone. I catch my breath as my heart and chest are lead to open through the hands of a sensitive lead, and then like puppet strings made to rise and fall like the heart had escaped my chest. Catapulting past clumsiness, searing through stability the dance demands that all parts of me are ready to be included in the movement. Off balance trusting, delightful swirling, downbeats that make my body roar. I am alive in this movement. When I am here I am not my shortcomings, I am only my present self. The feeling of delight that sends a palpable surge of joy through my body when the lead smiles back, eyes twinkling. He felt it too. This fairytale is actually happening in this moment. The fragrance of feeling invites me in like the smell of fresh coffee or cookies. It smells like home. Perspiration slides down my skin, reminding me that the spirit is connecting with the body, and that is why this is so holy, sacred and set apart. Connection, vulnerability, unbridled adventure. Not slave to a beat, step or expectation, I can rise. The yoke is light. In this dance the divine is invited, current troubles are cast aside if only for a song. I get to rest my anxiety and pour out my creativity. In this dance I find my Eden.