Learning, Listening, Laughing, Living - Reflections on 8 years with Grand Gestures
They say what you teach teaches you and this is certainly true of my weekly engagements with Grand Gestures.
26 bodies of knowledge
26 lives being lived
26 ways of moving
Fuelled by 3 cafetieres, one large teapot, mixed nuts and an eclectic selection of biscuits!
So far, enthused and inspired by what it means to move and be moved we have developed distinct company practice methodologies. Not for us any slowing down, easing up or compromise, each week is a chance to experience new connections and the vibrancy of being.
Expectation, embodiment and aliveness right here, right now. It’s a challenge and a joy but above all a chance to experience the precious state of otherness. Fridays are our collective way to be totally ourselves, we are all individuals but at one and the same time we are connected.
My skills as a facilitator/movement educator/choreographer have been developed by being with Grand Gestures, watching, noticing, listening and reflecting. Above all we know what it is to commune, to rest in the comfort of the wondrously present place that emerges Brigadoon like for two precious hours each Friday.
The effects of our dancing time linger all week in the body-mind, in the cellular consciousness, in the ground of our individual and collective being. This is my way of expressing what I feel, what I intuit. Grand Gestures have their own ways.
Grand Gestures have always refused to be categorised but what they have in abundance is the ability to focus, flow, participate, co-operate and commit to change. Together through their dancing they provide an environment of inclusivity , acceptance, meaning and above all a state of grace arises…
We are all very different people, with different lives, histories, political allegiances, social circumstances and yet we all speak of finding a oneness though dancing. Each week we go beyond the assumptions of “older people dancing” to the sensorial world of feeling, growing our abilities and making new body memories week by week, moment by moment.
We are practicing presence - what a gift, what a heart opening expansive way of being, particularly in a world that only sees age as a limitation and at a time when division seems so much part of the political and social landscape.
In Grand Gestures we see growth, renewal and development -the more silent and focused we are the more articulate we become. Whoever visits, whether it be other artists or researchers, they always leave knowing they have witnessed something special, a state of flow and grace, a co-curated place of communion.
What they say…
“I always leave Grand Gestures feeling so good having stretched and moved almost every part of my body but it’s the feeling of losing myself to the music that I love best. Learning to abandon all my cares and inhibitions and just enjoy the moment was daunting at first but now I relish the experience. Then there is the camaraderie. Grand Gestures is just one big happy family intent on living life to the full whatever your age.”
“It's just fun, I love that!”
“I love the freedom I experience when I'm moving with the music, I always feel better emotionally and physically afterwards. It's good for balance and flexibility.”
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, everyone can do their own thing, there's no right or wrong way, everyone is accepted.”
Living Life To The Full
“I joined Grand Gestures three years. I was a bit unsure as at first but I have not looked back. A different theme every week and after getting rid of my confidence issues I very much enjoy the dance, its so beautiful and I can shut this crazy world out for a few hours. The people who attend the class are very friendly and encouraging. I started at Grand Gestures when I had a void in my life after the death of my parents and now I am part of a community that moves together.
“Why do I dance and why do I do it at Grand Gestures? I’ve never been much of a dancer...too tall and clumsy and lacking in rhythm. BUT at Grand Gestures I don’t care about any of that, and for the first time since I was a little girl I love to dance. I so appreciate the gentle encouragement to be myself and express myself within a group setting that is supportive and kind.”
“I was invited to come to Grand Gestures by a friend who knew I was struggling with the shock of my husband’s cancer diagnosis and my own mental health problems. Making new friends, enjoying the class, and the exercise benefits have helped a lot. One lovely outcome is that I now happily ‘boogie’ around the house to music and my husband loves seeing my improved confidence. I love it too!”
Liberation, freedom, relaxed uninhibited expression
The dance experiences over the last eight years have been ever changing and inspiring. Learning the way of lightness and acceptance of body movements has made me aware of how I move when I'm not dancing. The Grand Gestures group has taken us to many different spaces in life, meeting and making friends with new people. It has give us the confidence to forget our egos. Being among others who are non judgmental whatever your actions is both comfortable and reassuring.
The silent world of dance
Does it know the truth?
I lean into your special space
You follow my move
Letting me in connecting
Bring the body to live
Do you know where the thought begins?
The mind is empty
“For me Grand Gestures has meant liberation, freedom, relaxed, uninhibited expression of myself as I feel. Joy, happiness, exploration of my body's movements, emotion, tears, smiles, gratitude and privilege. New friends and special times and moments.
My Dad Jimmy,who lives with dementia says this about Grand Gestures -
“All good people and nice to be with. Have a bit of fun. Nice place to be. Nobody has any bad words. I look forward to the next session.”
Jill Summers and Jimmy
“I have been dancing with Grand Gestures for over a year, and it quickly became one of the best bits of my week.Paula enables us to pay attention to feelings and sensation and so to bring our whole selves into a session. The movement and the focus on ‘being in the moment’ means that anxieties and preoccupations can be left behind. Dancing together is very liberating, creative, joyful and often goes quite deep. We discover aspects of ourselves we didn’t know were there, and we come to know each other in a way which respects and honours each as an embodied being. Grand Gestures is a remarkable community and always we are accompanied by varied and beautiful soundtracks.” Ruth G