Beliefnet
One City

By Cassmaster P
I love to dance more than anything. I have started doing this thing in my room called dance therapy, whereby I shut my door, turn the volume way up and dance hard and fast for about 30 minutes….
Indeed, I do love to dance more than anything in the whole world. But I am the anti-dancer. A real dancer’s worst nightmare. The movement comes from somewhere deep inside me… spastic, inexplicable, foreign, and untamed. It comes from somewhere I have never seen, never known. It is aggressive and low to the ground. Fast and hard with Fancy Feet. Captivating. I dreamily hypothesize that it has been passed down to me by generation upon generation as some kind of cellular memory – a lineage, a history. Movement as culture. The same movement living somewhere deep inside my ancestors. The Irish? The Nez Perce? Tigers? And I do it all the time — at clubs, in people’s living rooms, in front of friends, lovers, and strangers…. It fuels me in a way that I cannot explain, accomplished by no other activity. It is when I am at my most free, my most whole – a system working together. A temporary escape from anxiety, and from all things cerebral.
My first session of dance therapy….. Instead of feeling totally free and un-self-conscious in the privacy of my own room, my own body, I was overwhelmed by a stiffness. A nervousness. I realized that without having an audience to observe me, I had less impetus to let go, as if the other’s gaze actually legitimized the activity itself. My dancing at its core is performative. A celebration for other people. For other people’s witness and appreciation. But could I enjoy the movement as much just for myself? I was curious and determined…
Physics: Physicists say that when an object is observed, it actually changes its material makeup. The interplay between the subject/object causes an actual atomic shift – as in, your eyes on me, changes me. What does it look like/feel like to exist outside of that change? Am I addicted to that structural change? To that “observed” chemical reaction? (How’s this for interdependence?)
I tried to interpret my newfound self-consciousness. Why was it harder to dance for no one but myself? What was I afraid of?
Postmodern Psychology: An issue of representation. What does it mean to exist without the reflected and subjectively expressed perceptions of other people? What is identity’s purpose except to help other people interpret you… correctly? And incorrectly, as a static entity? If I can’t dance alone does that mean I am a hollow representation of “Cassie”, constantly relying an external source to validate my own existence. Oh my god, am I Codependent? Narcissistic? Borderline? Why does an audience make such an organic activity so much more compelling? And how do I work with this? (Hmmm, perhaps more meditation?!)
(So much for a break from all things cerebral!)
I thought it all over for a minute – the micro/macro of self-identification before turning the music up louder and really getting to it. Getting deeper, harder, faster… and yes, I admit, that I ultimately found my dance “zone” by imagining that I was in a packed club… hot, sweaty bodies all around. Ecstatic and mindless.
Post script: You can’t live your life through other people’s perceptions of you.

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