The beauty of connecting with strangers
I promised to experiment and share those experiments here. This time I want to share my experiences doing Biodanza.
Els (my wife) and I were looking to do some more things together. Dancing appealed, so we started looking into that. Els found a few Biodanza groups and asked if I was willing to try it.
Biodanza. I had never heard of it before. Els had done it in the past, before we were married. It is in the category “Dance Therapy” on Wikipedia, and I love The UK Daily Telegraph description of Biodanza:
“a series of exercises and moves that aim to promote self-esteem, the joy of life and the expression of emotions. Lots of bounding around and hugs”
If you like to see it in action, I recommend you watch a short Biodanza video.
I didn’t bother looking it up, so without really understanding what it was, I said yes. After looking at the options, we decided to do a try-out in Helmond on a Wednesday evening.
Els gave me a brief explanation of what I could expect. It sounded a bit flower-power to me. Not something I would have considered doing a few years ago, but I’ve changed.
We arrived early. Elly, the lady who runs the group, welcomed us and showed us where the room and the changing rooms were. As people arrived, they all came over to say hi to us. I felt welcome and relaxed.
The session started with all of us in a circle. After a short introduction the first exercise started. Each exercise started with a short explanation and often with a short demonstration too. There were some solo exercises, some in pairs, and some in groups. It was a kind of dancing or just moving to music.
But this description doesn’t begin to capture the effect of Biodanza. It is more than a series of exercises with music. Several things stood out for me.
Being grounded in yourself
In one of the solo exercises we were asked to assert ourselves with strong leg movements. Elly explained that this works best if you are grounded in yourself. It just so happens that I’ve been working on that recently, and I could feel calm confidence as I concentrated on firmly stamping my feet down.
Improvisation and balance
The exercises that we did in pairs all involved some kind of improvisation. There was no pre-defined sequence of steps to guide us. We could move in whatever way we felt with only a few limitations from the instructions. The beauty of this setup for me was that we had to coordinate our moves with our dance partner in silence, making sure there was a balance. This forced me to tune in to the person opposite me, sensing whether that stranger wanted to take the lead or not, being mindful of the impact of my moves on that person. It gave me a great sense of connection, sensing the joy of working well as a pair and sometimes a bit frustrated when I felt less in tune with my dance partner.
Next to the connection by having to coordinate our movements in silence, many exercises also involved connection via eye contact. This frequently resulted in smiling faces and certainly added to my joy. A few times the eye contact became too intense for me and I had to look away, but it wouldn’t be long before I sought it out again.
It felt special to connect in such a way with complete strangers. We also connected using physical contact like holding hands, fingertips touching and hands on shoulders.
It all felt safe since there was always the possibility to opt out.
The whole Biodanza session was a joyful experience. I felt welcome, and the exercises helped to connect. There was a lovely atmosphere throughout, like with a friendly, close-knit family.
Biodanza reminded me how important connection between people is, and how energizing and joyful it can be — even with strangers.
Elly assumed we would want to think it over before deciding if we wanted to continue. But for me it was clear: yes I do want to continue. Els and I have signed up; we’ll continue Biodanza after the autumn holiday.