Last night, I stood in a roomful of people, my arm around a friend, and cried. I wasn’t alone. The seven young women and two men dancing had truly captured the postures of sexual abuse and the healing journey. Their physical expression of the experience had many of us in tears – sorrow at first, but then of relief. A collaborative effort of the Va Va dancers and Spirit Dance, it was even more beautiful and moving than I’d imagined it could be.
So, thank you, Amelia and Christianne, Kenn, Stephanie, and Jacqueline, Beate, Olivia, Jasminh, and Alan. For all the work and practice you put into the dance, of course, but for all the feeling too.
Beyond that, the whole day was amazing. I think I’m still too close to it to describe it well – it’s all superlatives in my mind. And maybe a little blurred. So many people came. People I know, people I care about. Lots of people I didn’t know. Some folks I got to know.
New artwork in the art room speaks to their experience of the exhibit. People wrote their feelings, drew their feelings, spoke their feelings. Themes of sadness, hope, strength, courage, wisdom… pain.
I had a conversation with someone – I don’t remember her name. “It has to go together, doesn’t it?” she said. “It’s only through that struggle, through facing the really horrible things, that you develop compassion.”
And I had to agree.
Last night, the dancers created healing through connection. Two dancers joined hands and began to dance together. They connected with a third. Moving as a circle, they surrounded each of the other dancers, one by one. Slowly, tentatively, each dancer arose and joined the circle.
As the circle grew, I could feel the strength of the connection, and it mirrored the feeling of connection in the room. Brought together by art, united by shared understanding of loss and pain, we were a circle of dancers too. Encircled by paintings and drawings that reflected lifetimes of sorrow and healing and wisdom, we were supporting and uplifting each other.
The performers leaned on each other, moved together as one, joined in closest community. And then – one by one – they began to move away. Joyfully now, moving with freedom, dancing apart and together and apart again.
I think we left the exhibit in the same way – stronger, more hopeful, dancing joyfully into the night.