When Bodies Contest the Space

I cross the curtain to sit on the parquet floor putting the soles of my feet together and holding them in my palms. I start moving my knees up and down to be part of the individual warming ups taking place on the floor. I look around and enjoy watching my shadow enlarged on the opposite wall, where photos of dancers cut from black and white newspapers are plastered. My shadow tangles with other peoples’ shadows once one of the choreographers comes forward and tells us to walk around the dance floor in order to become acquainted with the space.

The walking is active walking on the rectangular dance floor, stature erect and heads turning shoulder-to-shoulder looking for eye contacts with fellow movers. I rarely come across an eye contact with any of the dancers, who seem to find other pairs of eyes on their way to explore the space. Walking inside the established borders of the dance floor, dancers seem to keep distant from the curtain wall and concentrate their movement in the depth of the room, which is why the choreographer, who is moving with us in the space, encourages us to cover the entire available space. To follow her instructions, I move around imagining leaving footprints on the black parquet just like footprints would appear on white snow.

The bodies do not touch each other but the tension of avoiding touching and veering blends with giggles and sounds of friction from bare feet on the floor. Shortly after, the choreographer instructs to decelerate our pace and find a space to lie on our backs. The voice guides us to imagine throwing the bodily tensions we have accumulated through the day outside the window. We close our eyes and sink in the floor by giving away our weight to the floor. The cold crawls up my back into my lungs and is exhaled out of my mouth every time I hear an instruction to breathe out. Sounds of exhalations circumscribe the room, and after few attempts, the sounds become unisonous.

The very little street light entering from the window, the dim lighting inside the studio and the sound of our breath accompanied by the choreographer’s guiding voice produce heaviness in my body. I think about the darkness outside the window and about the transportation system I will take after the class. In my head, I negotiate between calling a taxi or taking the mini vans, however, the voice of the choreographer brings me back to the classroom as it guides us to imagine burying our bodies deeper to the ground. In the middle of the breathing I lose sensation of the contact surface between my body and the floor, a sensation, which was stressed when I first lied on the floor; I lose all senses of contact and concentrate on the elevation of my chest. My concentration shifts from my chest to my spinal cord as the choreographer’s voice directs us.

We elevate from the floor by rotating our upper body. The upper body is rotating when the rest of the body is still on the floor. The movement, by becoming bigger, takes the body from the floor to its initial vertical state. In this posture, the body continues rotating around itself and around the space to eventually rest forming a circle at the center of the room. The available space to move is now transformed from rectangular into a circular as the dancers form a circle at the center of the studio.

Featured image: from Pinterest

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