What Dance Can Teach Us About Writing

dance and writing with Jurian and JOvinna

Jurian Hughes and Jovinna Chan

On a New Year’s dancing retreat at Kripalu Yoga Center in Sturbridge MA, I discovered so many dance metaphors and lessons that apply to the writing life. I hope you enjoy the insights as much as I do.

For me, there is nothing like dancing to feel connected to my heart. One of the wonderful things about dancing is that it connects us to metaphor without having to think about the meanings and connections–we can just experience them:

Space: As we look for space to dance in a crowded room we can discover inner and outer space we did not see at first. As Jovinna Chan, co-leader of the dance workshop shared, while people may be squeezed in the middle, playing at the outer edges there is plenty of space. How can you explore the outer edges in your writing?

Connection and Individuation: Jovinna and co-leader Jurian Hughes invited us to connect with others without losing our own authentic dance. Mirror someone’s move and experience something new, but at the same time, make it your own. Let it come from your heart. How can you do this with your writing? How can you connect with what your readers need and want while being true to your own voice, respecting the value of understanding your market, or readers, while allowing for your creative, authentic voice to surface. Is there a time you need to focus solely on one or the other? There’s no one answer–only what you know in your heart at that moment.

A Whole Bigger Than the Sum of its Parts: I was struck by the beauty of the dance we created together–starting with two people responding to the shapes each made, we moved into dances of fours, sixes, until a whole room was dancing into and out of each other’s shapes. We may start writing in solitude but it is within community that our writing truly makes a difference. This is one thing I love about blogging–community is inherent in the form.

Limitation Liberates Creativity: In our limitations, we find the freedom to dance. When we create limitations: a poetic form to follow, a subject, an intention, a certain number of pages, we give ourselves something to work within. Sometimes a blank page or an empty room is too much freedom. The constraints are as important as the freedom.

Let Your Body Free Your Mind: The dance exercises free my mind. I immerse myself in the play, the exercise, controlling nothing, just allowing. This is so freeing. We can apply this to our writing–move, walk in nature, dance–do something that gets you into your body. Now, you can come from a new space, where you are not trying to control–to make your writing brilliant or witty or wise. You can write from a place of authentic voice.

Any dance metaphors or lessons you might apply to writing? Or is there an activity you enjoy that makes your writing process richer? Please share your comments below.

Comments

  1. says

    Lisa, I love this post. What great insights and comparisons. I am a knitter and for me the process of working with color and yarn connects me to my writing. It’s a solitary practice that I do with my own hands. I breathe into the stitches just as I do into my words as I write them, especially by hand. Words and stitches get dropped at times so I need to go back and revisit what’s been created. There is a need to unravel a piece that isn’t working or the colors don’t seem to live well together. Sometimes what I’ve created just doesn’t fit the way I thought it would. Sometimes it doesn’t fit at all. Perhaps I’ve grown or gotten smaller. Knitted is magical just as writing is. It can only be done one stitch at a time, one word at a time. Rewarding, challenging, surprising and beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 + six =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>