There was someone watching me.....
Although He looked familiar, there was something different about his
image that looked strange. Something new maybe, or something he'd
changed. I was sure I knew him, I just didn't know from where, or from
We were in studio six of the Northern School of contemporary dance in
Leeds. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Gary Clarke and Lyndsey
Thomas for the first time. We'd gone to rehearse for a piece we are
performing at West Yorkshire Playhouse on the seventeenth July.
The school itself is a hive of creative activity, every corridor leading to a
studio or hall. Changing rooms & lockers are dotted anywhere
possible, with little wooden shoe racks outside each space. You can
feel the energy when you step inside the building. Every other corner
has someone either stretching, twirling or creating a movement,
deep in thought, perfecting details while others are just slumped on the floor
recharging with a snack.
Watching Lyndsey dance blew me away, her every move was performed
with such a conviction to precision and emotion. In the short time we
managed to squeeze out of Gary's busy schedule, we sat for a while &
reflected a little on our own personal recoveries & feelings towards
the piece we were rehearsing. The ' Heart ' was frequently mentioned
in all of our individual responses, so Gary suggested an exercise. We
stood in a line side-by side & closed our eyes. We were to place our our
hands over our hearts, stop, listen and feel the rhythm of our beating hearts.
I started small, my fingernails on each hand met whilst my fingertips gently
tapped my chest. Be-Bum, Be-Bum.
I had the image of a butterfly flapping its wings on my chest before
it takes flight, growing bigger as it fluttered, each time it returned
stronger with a vibrancy that shone and my whole body pulsed.
Arms & legs stretch as long as I could make them, yet not big enough.
I wanted more of this feelin, i wanted to fill the room, to fill the
sky, to encompass everyone & everything with it. A little breeze
reminded me that I was next to Lyndsey, so I slowly peeked through one
eye to make sure I wasn't interfering with her space. The line was gone
and with a quick glance I saw everyone in such amazing
shapes, engrossed & savouring every beat.
The smile on my face was uncontained. I was beaming like a Cheshire
cat. In that instance i had a series of flashback's from moments in my
life when i had ever sensed euphoria, true love or real happiness. As
soon as the thought of comparing those times to this feeling
registered in my head, it was gone like a flash. There were no
comparisons to be had, it felt better and I wasn't willing to sacrifice
another second of this precious moment by thinking about it. I didnt
need to think, to opionate or analyse this. For the first time in my
life i felt safe, unjudged, free & content. There were no dues to be
paid, no rules to be met, no fear of danger or guard to keep up. This
was free, honest & open. I didnt have to worry myself with thoughts of
consequences, of hangovers & come downs, or whether the last one may
have been that ' one to many '. All i had to do was enjoy. Be-Bum,
Unfortunately, time wouldnt wait for us forever, so Gary asked us to
start bringing it back in. Slowly making our movements and gestures
smaller with each beat. I felt my butterflys wings coming back to my
chest as its rhythm became more & more delicate. Returning back to its
small gentle tap of my fingertips over my heart, I opened my eyes.
Somehow the line had found its former shape and thats the moment i saw
him, that guy, looking straight at me smiling.
It took me a while to start looking people in the eyes again, i'd
spent years hiding my windows to the soul. Only ever giving people a
glimpse when my pupils were the size of saucers or rolling round the
back of my head. Although i've been seeing myself in mirrors on
occasions for some time now, since my self esteem & confidence
starting growing again. I didnt recognise my own reflection because i
was different somehow. Something had changed. It took me a minute or
two to realise what it was that was new, that had comeback, something
i hadnt seen for a long, long time. I looked healthy, my face had
colour in it, i wasnt shaking anymore with bloodshot eyes on the
floor, head down. But these things weren't that new, they'd returned
bit by bit a while ago. What was new, which made me look like someone
i nearly didnt recognise was my smile.
What a difference. What a day.
A gigantic thankyou to everyone at Risen, Gary Clarke & Lyndsey Thomas.
With Love from Tony
Andrew Millar was so inspired by our day that he wrote a Japanese haiku.
Clasped whispering beat
Each angels unfolded heart
Surrendered to dance