Friday, 14 October 2011
Conference Thoughts Part Five
So, we come to Friday morning, which began with breakfast in the Cafe Quadrifoglio (four leafed clover) and moved on to an outdoor voice and movement warm up led by Eran Natan. It had aspects of the workshop he gave, with stretching and making sounds and guiding each other. This time we guided by putting our fingertip on the guided person's fingertip and moving around the garden of the Hostel. We could take our partners round different plants and flowers, making it a multi-sensory experience. It was very enjoyable and a good start to the day. We then all gathered at the Real Collegio for a master-class with world famous dramatherapist, Robert Landy . He was introducing the idea of the Hero's Journey, a technique based on Rasa theory and involving 9 basic emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Surprise, Balance, The Comic, The Erotic, Sadness, Loss. He had marked out the main hall in to 9 rectangles joined together, with a large piece of paper in each one. These had the emotions written on them, with the central one being Balance. As we had 31 different nationalities represented, the first thing he asked us to do was to go round and, if we spoke a language other than English, to put our own words for these emotions on the paper. We did various exercises about which feelings we identified with and then the main exercise began. Robert then asked us to think about how we felt at the beginning of the conference, where we wanted to be at the end of it, which emotion would help us get there, and which would hold us back. For me that was Fear, Balance, Surprise and Fear (again!). To a backing soundtrack of Indian tabla music ( I later found out from Robert that the music was Glen Velez' Rhythms of the Chakras), we moved through these emotions, allowing our bodies to express them freely, and finally reaching our destination. This was all very interesting, but then the exciting bit happened! Robert asked for a volunteer to go through this journey in front of everyone (most of the 400 or so delegates were there!). After waiting a little while to allow other people the opportunity to volunteer, I stepped forward! After all, you only get out of a conference what you are prepared to put in. First I had to choose four people to represent the emotions on my journey. For fear I chose my former colleague, Dance Movement Therapist Jeanette MacDonald , who was one of the founders of Dance Movement Therapy in the UK, having danced with Nuryev and Fonteyn in the Royal Ballet. For balance I chose another Dance Movement Therapist who I had chatted to in the previous days, Ana Gutkowski. For the fear that holds me back I chose Belgian Dramatherapist Lieven Desomviele, who I'd enjoyed talking to over a meal the evening before. Now for the big surprise - I chose the great Shaun McNiff to be Surprise! He was suitably surprised, and, he said, very touched. Then I was given the option of choosing people for the remaining emotions. I took my time over this, raising the tension, and mainly choosing people I knew. The difficulty came in choosing Disgust and the Erotic - what kind of message would I be sending to the chosen ones? In the end I chose a big bloke with a beard, who looked suitably disgusted to be chosen, and a student, Sam, from the Exeter Dramatherapy course, who knew me well enough not to take it the wrong way. So, due to time constraints, I then had 4 minutes to complete my journey. The first thing that happened, as I approached Jeanette, was that I was grabbed from behind by Lieven - he was taking his role as blocker very seriously. I had to grapple with him before escaping to Shaun where we surprised each other delightfully. I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events after this, but there was shouting back at Di Gammage who was Anger, there was some tears shed at Loss, a laugh with the Comic Mary Booker a further tussle with Lieven and a shimmy with the Erotic Sam before I finally reached Balance - Ana was perched on one leg and I mirrored her. Cue rapturous applause! Afterwards people asked if Lieven and I had planned what he was going to do - the answer was no, but I was very grateful to him, as he provided the impetus for the journey, something for me to work against. I then had to say a few rather breathless words about how it was for me before disappearing back into the crowd. Afterwards lots of people came and said how brave I was, etc etc, but for me it was just a privilege to work with Robert Landy, and to have the power to choose who I wanted. It reminded me how intoxicating power can be, and how dangerous if handled badly.