Back in my home territory, an Orff Conference, this one the Carl Orff Canada gathering in Niagara Falls. A day spent going from one workshop to another finding out what delicious cuisine the chef-leaders have prepared and how much they’ve helped us learn how to cook it ourselves.
The last one was a movement workshop from a lovely German teacher (and by that I mean not just lovely in face, but in spirit and artistry) Irina Pauls. We did some simple things that I have done before—all walk a medium tempo, one person stops and all stop. One person starts and all start. Then at fast tempo. Then in slow motion.
What does such an exercise invite? Awareness of body in space, awareness of breath, awareness of tempo, awareness of the group (noticing when to stop and start) and the simple pleasure of moving with awareness. Her offering was not a six-course five-star French cuisine prepared by harried and angry sous-chefs in a high-pressure kitchen. It was a stroll out into the garden and the picking and tasting of a perfect just-ripe tomato, with time to savor the juicy sweetness exploding in one’s mouth. Isn’t that enough? Yes it is.
Someone made a comment about legislative bodies doing this exercise before deciding on the fate of the nation’s policies and laws and the term struck me. Legislative body. Listen to our language. A body should be a body, coordinated in all its limbs and all its systems working together to create a sense of wholeness in the whole body, a feeling of health when all the separate parts work together. Instead we have a collection of talking heads. Or bodily systems constantly at war with each other. The heart not talking to the head, the digestive system demanding more time than the respiratory system, the legs not in accord with the arms. You get the idea.
And earlier in the day at a meeting, there was the question: “Will someone make a motion?” A dangerous question in an Orff Conference! There should have been an explosion of movement and shapes in the room. But people knew what it meant. Or did they? Making a motion means making a motion to set things in motion and to feel the need to keep things moving and flowing to avoid stasis. Not random motions just to release energy or mindlessly change direction, but purposeful motions with a focus and clarity of intention. In short, like the activities of a dance class.
And so to be true to our own language, legislative bodies should act as bodies and make motions in order to make motions. And in the process, increase the awareness of the other until the other disappears into just a beautiful part of the whole. The way music and dance work.
To my mind, this is the deeper layer of why music and dance belong in schools. Not just for the marching bands and cheerleader moves, nor just for the jazz band and string quartet and ballet or hip-hop concert, but for the training of all people to move towards awareness of self in space, of breath, of tempo, of intention, of the others we share time and space with. And to bring that awareness into all aspects of our life.
"I move that the arts be central in all schools everywhere." Anyone second that motion?