Because trauma is of the body, it must be healed through the body.
I needed a safe space where I would be supported, where I could practice trust, where I could begin healing in my body.
Only one place could offer me that.
The dance studio.
* * *
I was 30 years old. I had not stepped foot inside a dance school for almost 15 years.
Then one Tuesday evening in June, I walked into Velocity Dance Center off 12th Avenue and entered the hush of a studio between classes. It was beautiful and urban with exposed brick walls and a baby grand in the corner. The studio was humid with the musky sweat of the last class. I walked to a corner at the front of the studio and eased into a hamstring stretch. I love the pre-class rituals that dancers have. How personal they are. I can look around a dance studio before class and watch people settling into their bodies, feeling out the tensions we’ve all been carrying. Releasing them.
When I finished stretching, there was still time. So I lay back on the hardwood and gazed up at the skylights, the fading blue of evening. I placed my hands on my belly and felt myself breathing. The floor, for a dancer, is a partner. You are always in collaboration with it. You caress it with a tendu, you tumble into its embrace in Martha Graham’s style, you launch into space from it. If you have danced for many years, you learn to feel it pushing against the soles of your feet. You are always in conversation, in tension, you and the floor.
“Floor” in English has always seemed such a cold word to me. So distancing. The French “sol” is closer. From Latin for soil, the ground. The sun. There is warmth in that. And life. The floor held me, and I felt it holding me. I let it hold me. Gravity pulled me down, and the floor cradled me. Hugging my shoulder blades, absorbing the weight of my pelvis, holding my heels.
It was the first touch in a long time that was so intimate and so welcome.
I closed my eyes.
I had forgotten what it was to feel safe in my own body.
That night, I began to remember.