Prose Excerpts from Caroline's Dance Journals

The following excerpts are taken from the journal Caroline kept in 1999, as a course requirement for PHSE 115 ‘Fundamentals of Dance'. She was studying Physiotherapy in her second year at Otago University, and had to seek special permission to take this dance paper.

Hand-written, the journal is a record of Caroline's thoughts on course material, dance styles and performances. Around the prose, she created an imaginative collage of her own dance-related poetry, photographs, drawings, and diagrams.

Opening comments:

I begin this journey with a feeling of victory, from battles I have fought - and won.

I begin this journey with a feeling of elation, from the magical movement that is this moment.

And I begin this journey with a feeling of excitement, for all I am yet to discover...

For quite a long time now I have had a ‘vision' of what it is I want to do. Slowly it has formulated and grown in my mind, just a distant dream at times.

A dream that I could share the joy of movement - the celebration of life that dance is - with others who are less fortunate than myself. For me, the ultimate career would be one in which I could marry dance with healing, music with rehabilitation, movement with improved quality of life. I believe that dance is unique in the way it that it challenges both mind and body. It is exercise, but at the same time, for me, it is the most powerful form of expression I have.

On the art / science divide:

So what battles have I fought, in order to arrive here at the start of this journey??

I think I have fought a battle with the conventional thought and expectation of people such as teachers. For some people it seems, art and science are two distinct, totally unconnected spheres of life. Despite being accepted to do medicine, I have fought to follow my vision that art and science can work together. That is the main reason why I chose to do physiotherapy, rather than medicine, against the advice of many people. Whether I choose to work as a ‘dance physio', or very differently as a ‘dance therapist', I think this professional, clinical background in physio is very important.

On the relationship of people and animals:

I think part of the attraction of repeated, rhythmic dancing ... is the amazing power of collective movement. It's such an amazing buzz to see the whole room full of people move as one, and to feel that you make up a part of this whole, pulsating creature. Perhaps we feel we have formed a herd once more, and it gives us a strong sense of unity and strength.

On different dance styles:

My own experience of dance has moved from classical ballet which is based on the idea of ‘how the body should look', towards freer movement (i.e. contemporary).

I really want to experiment further, to try and find my own body's native language.

On taking an impression of her own footprint:

Painting our feet was fun ... and fascinating. It made me think that the journey through one's footstep is a bit like our journey through life ... We disillusion ourselves that we should be trying to follow the one straight path that leads us where we are supposed to be going ... but in actual fact we never walk in a straight line at all. We are constantly moving either side of the line, but always striving to reach that midline of absolute balance.

On walking:

I think the most interesting concept we talked about today was the fact that walking is a more stable state than standing. Weird.

But then when I think of this philosophically, it is amazing - and so true.

Walking is a so much safer state than standing, it is dynamic and fluid. Walking is a security, an escape, and a joy all in one.

When we stand, our body is constantly having to adjust itself, to retain centre, to fight gravity. It is a job. But when we walk, gravity moves with us, and we flow. We follow the rhythm of our body, and we move forward.

On flight:

... it has always been my ‘dream' to fly - if I could be any animal I would be a bird.

On the artist as prophet:

I believe that artists are unique in that they expose their inner selves to a public audience, and inevitably this is a powerful medium with which to expose ones views. Artists are masters of their own chosen field, and to see or hear a powerful work can be a transforming and highly influencing experience. It is in this capacity that I think artists may be seen as prophets.

We may all have visions of the future, ideas of how things should be - but artists ... such as Baxter, Blake and Dillon, commanded the ears of the people and gained an almost ‘prophetic' following of their ideas because of their powerful gifts as artists.

Excerpts from the journal Caroline kept in 2002, when she studied PHSE454-456 Somatic Education: Dance, Health and Pedagogy Perspectives

On learning about the different stages of the developmental movement sequence:

My favourite ‘stage' was definitely that of naval radiation. It was just such an interesting exploration of movement, and a unique feeling to have all movement initiated from the navel. In fact I felt really fluid during this phase, and very symmetrical - or perhaps even spherical? centripetal? No single end or appendage was felt to be dominant ... my head was on an equal par with my big toe in terms of a mode for discovery. I stretched and explored in unhindered abandon!

More on developmental movement:

I was telling my Mum over Easter about all that I had been doing over the last half semester. She is particularly interested in this Somatics paper, and was fascinated by the developmental movement sequence that I demonstrated for her. I had told her that navel radiation was the movement I had felt the strongest affinity to. Later on in the conversation, I told that I felt for the first time I could remember I was being stretched and stimulated in all areas of my life; academically, physically, emotionally, spiritually. As I told her how fantastic I felt, I was extending my arms out, stretching out like a starfish, and I suddenly exclaimed, "It's navel radiation - no wonder it felt so right!" It felt like such a revelation. She had a good chuckle!

On somatics and health (with reference to a practical session):

...I offered the idea that health is an ability to fulfil our potential. ... Health becomes the capacity to actualise our dreams, even those not yet formulated.

Dance Prose

Other Writing