Mensana en Corpore Sano

Never have I left a theatre so eager to retrieve the connection between my mind and my body.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a dance piece spontaneously with my boyfriend and his dad. When I was small my parents and I would go to see lots of ballets, and I would always find them beautiful but a bit boring... this time, on the other hand, I knew that I was to expect something different.

What I love about watching people dance is how instantly I become mesmerized at how in tune people can be with their bodies. For years I forgot about how important it was to be in touch with the simplicity of your body's movement, and seeing this piece completely turned the tables for me. I couldn't, for one minute, take my eyes off of the dancers. Their every move spoke to me, and had such force and emotion that it moved me to tears.

The dance itself was mostly contemporary; a mix between hip hop, modern, and ballet - although I really could not tell that these different genres were compartmentalized in the choreography. The choreographer managed to blend all of these styles into perfect synchronization. The stage was simple: it consisted of a semi-circle of aluminum cylinders placed meticulously in the deeper parts of the dance space. I only later found that these cylinders were filled with soil, which the dancers tossed around and rolled in to create a firework of their movements.

However, what caught me off guard the most was one moment in the two-hour show. In the middle of their routine, the dancers (half men and half women) stopped what they were doing and sat with their feet dangling off the stage facing the audience. For what seemed like 10 minutes (but in reality was only 4) the wall between performers/movers/dancers and spectators was knocked down. We were staring into the eyes of our entertainers, listening to them breathing heavily. This moment was when I realized how much they had been using their bodies, even their panting and heavy breathing was exhausting to watch - it was entirely confrontational.

What this moment made me think of was how often we get lost in our heads, and forget that our bodies are what allows us to think. Mensana en corpore sano. With a healthy body comes a healthy mind. All too often we get lost in our thoughts, lost in the world of academia, essays, routine, and forget how simple it is to escape those places. All it takes is running, playing as we did when we were young, or even just paying attention to how you we are breathing. Being with a child can have the same effect on you - noticing how tiring it is to play with him or her. Why not return to our youth, when our only struggle was the limitation of our bodies? Why not remember that we have conquered our bodies, we can control them and use them? Why not choose a healthy body, why not condition ourselves to understanding that having the latter will provide us with a healthy mind?

While you read this, pay attention to your body. Unclench your jaw, un-tighten your fists, rest your back, stop your knee from shaking, and take a deep breath. That is life. And it is the greatest gift we have - thinking just comes afterwards. 

To see more (because, p.s., the music was also pretty breathtaking)