Reading my journal from decades ago, I am sometimes astounded at things I realized, that somehow got lost — I suppose because they didn’t fit my “worldview.” Here’s an example:
June 24, 1992
I never wrote that yesterday, after the work with clay, I decided that it was time to face the mirrors. I wore the walkman with the “mouth music” tape in it. I just listened to the music, danced as I usually do, and then sneaked a look in the mirrors. I was astonished! I see now what the Journey women mean when they describe me as “boneless.” And I see that my self-image is way out of date, or perhaps was never accurate. I think of myself as skinny, angular, and tense, with all the energy in her head and shoulders, and no real connection between my upper body and my legs. What I saw was a person who is very sensual and organic and fluid, whose body is full of energy and expressiveness. I did some of the movements that I do when I want to dance lightly, thinking of them as subtle and not very obvious. I discovered that they are highly visible and very beautiful. Somehow I thought I had to make big movements for my gestures to be seen — that’s not true at all, my big movements are in some ways less successful. I also really like having the mirrors give me feedback, I could see when my rear end is sticking out and remember to tuck it in which not only looks better but feels better too, more supportive. What an amazing experience!
June 25, 1992
I shared with Daphne my experience in front of the mirrors. She was touched, and she said that my dancing was powerful, vivid, sinuous, and muscular. What wonderful words. “Vivid” especially, and I can own it after seeing what my “subtle” movements look like. And all this time I’ve been imagining myself as angular, bony, and invisible.
This was written during a time at a 5-day Contemplative Dance Retreat at Hampshire College. Contemplative Dance is a different name for what is also called “Authentic Movement,” partly to honor the understanding that ALL movement is authentic. It is very hard to lie with the body. This version is taught by Alton Wasson and Daphne Lowell. I think of my surprise at seeing myself in the mirror, very different from my idea of myself as “angular, bony, invisible.” Usually when I see myself in the mirror, I don’t like what I see. This is true even now. I think of the 97 pound anorexic who looks in the mirror and says “I’m so fat.” What we see is not what we “really” look like, if there is such a thing. Maybe we look different to every person who sees us.