Monday, 18 September 2017

Dancing with Paint

I had a crazy, fun, expressive and very different experience recently. It involved multi-coloured paint squidged between my toes. I even got it in my ear. Good job we were all warned to wear old clothes.

People who know me will know that I love to dance. Over the years, I have learnt to jive and lindy-hop, but I've recently got hooked on a new thing: Five Rhythms. Instead of dancing steps, you just do your own thing, expressing yourself to incredibly varied styles of music. It really frees you up.

Anyway, as a one-off, our Five Rhythms instructor also ran a full-day workshop, combining the dancing with painting. My 2 favourite things! 

In the morning, we warmed up with a bit of finger-painting to music. Very relaxing. Then she spread out a massive sheet of paper on the floor and gave us big tubs of different coloured paints. We splodged the colour out and then danced bare-foot in it, sometimes standing up, sometimes on all fours, using our hands and fingers too, sliding and stamping, wiggling and scratching...

Sometimes the music was serene and beautiful, often it was more lively and beaty - a real mix.

After lunch, instead of working as a group, we each got our own piece of paper. They were as big as we were, so we could lie-down on them if we wanted to. We still had paint to play with, but also coloured inks, charcoal and oil pastels. 

Everybody did different things. I finger-painted or drew with oil pastels, while I was laid down either on my back or my belly, 'dancing' with my arms to the different bits of music. Then I squatted in the centre to draw for a bit, occasionally turning round, so that I could fill the centre of the paper too.

I had such fun. I think I most of all enjoyed the fact that we were focusing so much on enjoying the music and the playfulness of the paint-dance, that we lost the usual fixation we all have for focusing on the end product. That is what so often gets in the way of us enjoying the actual act of painting and drawing, as adults. It was so refreshing that the dance element placed the focus back onto the process, so the crazy paintings we got at the end were fun to look at, but pretty much by-the-by.

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