The Small Dance

Steve Paxton, a dancer and choreographer from the Judson Dance Theater, developed the wonderful concept of the ‘small dance’. When we stand still there are minute movements happening within our bodies to keep us upright. We aren’t actually still at all. There are tiny contractions and extensions in our legs, back, belly, all over really. The movements and counter-movements become an intimate and almost invisible dance. Feel it for yourself next time you are standing in yoga class, before you move on to the next posture. Close your eyes. Watch. It can be dizzying but there is so much to explore there.
Paxton found this concept so significant because it represented the foundation for all other movement. Rather than looking at movement as just a trajectory, the awareness is brought to what happens before the body moves through space. Everything begins from that place of stillness. Sound familiar? Our center, our foundation, our core informs how we choose to move through our lives. I am being reminded of the importance of this base from many different directions recently and I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to it.
I have always loved the concept of the small dance but I have been especially aware of it this past week. I guess I was practicing body mindfulness before I even knew what it was, which makes it seem a lot less intimidating. Most of my meditation experience this week was difficult but once I remembered that I could go back to the small dance things lightened quite a bit. I find that place over and over again during the day: at home, at work, in yoga. For me, simply standing and feeling my body is a familiar duet I can start from.

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