"If you really want to know about the dance I will have to tell you about the way it changed me slowly but surely: from very practical aspects of becoming a better horseback rider and driver to more subtle aspects of becoming more easeful in myself with others. The painful shyness and dread for groups that I used to suffer dissolved almost entirely. My sense of humour improved manyfold. Something that was stuck, mired, heavy, dense in me - not moving - has been freed to move. Movement is the nature of life and I have become more free in my movement. From the inside out I am in movement."
- Stream of consciousness writing from Towerland Writing Retreat, August 2019
My name is Maaianne. I am born in Kenya, Nairobi to a Zimbabwean mother and a Danish father. I am a bridge builder… or perhaps it is more accurate to simply say that I am a bridge. Worlds come together in my being. Europe and Africa, Black and White, North and South.
Born in Kenya I spent my childhood in Denmark. I grew up surrounded by white people. That is what I saw when I looked out, a sea of whiteness, and then my Mama. Black skin, strong beautiful woman. I remember dancing as a family every Saturday. Every Saturday after dinner my parents would put on music and we would dance. I loved it. It lives in my soul as a memory of Joy and Delight.
When I was 12 we moved to Zimbabwe. Independence had come and my mother was longing to return home. From a suburb north of Copenhagen I was transported to a farm south of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. My soul feels at home in Zimbabwe. My soul is nourished there.
Four years later I returned to Denmark for high school as a boarder, returning for holidays. Over the following 14 years Europe was my primary home, with annual returns to the farm in Zimbabwe for family and nourishment. I returned when I was 30 to plant the seed of what was to become a key part of my life’s work: Kufunda Village.
Kufunda is a learning village in which we are all learning our way into what it takes to create healthy vibrant community. Kufunda arose directly out of my lineage, the best of two worlds coming together in a learning village in Zimbabwe. In founding Kufunda I knew that there was so much wisdom and gift and treasure in Zimbabwe, but many who live here have bought into the story that Africa is poor, and that the answers are to be found in the West. My Danish self, who had been to the West, who had grown up in Denmark, knew that there was treasure in Zimbabwe, in Africa, which was so needed in the world. Kufunda was an invitation to learn together, to remember, discover, affirm and co-create another future. Our informal slogan is Living the Future Today.
I left Kufunda when I married, Paul. A beautiful South African man. Zimbabwe was in the midst of political and economic collapse. I did not expect him to leave his job, steady life and income to come to a crumbling country and economy. I spent 4 years in Johannesburg. We had twins. I started a consultancy with friends (Reos Partners - which today is a global partnership doing wonderful things in the world). But I was not happy. I was not in the right place for me.
As I think back I think I had an early mid-life crisis, or a dark night of the soul. We made a choice to give Zimbabwe a chance. Paul left his work. I left Reos and we returned to Zimbabwe. Although I was back home it took me a year to find my way back to flow, to life. And the Dance was my Gateway.
We hosted a month of events at Kufunda in August of 2013. It was an extraordinary month with friends from around the world, working together, spending time in nature, going into the wild. Something quickened in me during this month. When the last visitor to this month left on a plane back to Europe, I remember clearly feeling that I needed to do something to make sure this spark in me did not die. I returned from the airport, found a 5 rhythms playlist online and danced for 90 minutes.
I knew I needed to keep dancing. In the third dance on the third day having shed tears, having laughed out loud, I had such a strong experience of: “For this I was born”. I was born to express my Soul, my joy, my spark, and the dance is my vehicle.
I announced to the world that I was going to dance every day for the next 30 days. I knew the announcement would hold me to it, and that I had to keep on. It felt somehow like a life and death decision to keep on dancing. It was the beginning of dancing my way back home.
After 30 days I decided to keep going for 100. After 100 I committed to a 1000. I was dancing into the centre of Who I Am.
I was posting about it on social media, and I had a growing group of friends and friends of friends who joined me in the initial 30 days of dance. It was wonderful. A friend after a few weeks suggested to me that I consider going to South Africa for a Caroline Carey Movement Medicine workshop - The Circle the Fire and the Phoenix.
I went and it was like coming home. Another level of dropping into the dance happened for me there. When I returned home, I changed my playlists, and started working in a more elemental way with my music. It was as though I had known the heart of Movement Medicine all along, but I needed to meet the field of MM directly into to be inoculated, or infused by it.
After a few months of dancing I was a changed woman. I had lost physical weight, emotional density, and I was full of joy. Literally vibrating Joy, light and space - through conscious movement.
Studying the School of Movement Medicine website I saw that an apprenticeship was beginning. I didn’t fulfil the requirements in terms of Movement Medicine hours, and I didn’t know how I would be able to afford it, but I applied nonetheless, and I think the clarity of my soul moved it all into place. The very same week that Ya'Acov and Susannah got back to me (several weeks after my application) my husband got a high paying corporate job. Their “Yes” and our financial capacity happened at the same time.
When I began the apprenticeship, they told me I would be different on the other side, I thought I am already different, how can I possible keep growing?
But if there is one thing I have learnt in this movement journey, it is that the inner journey is infinite. Perhaps in the same way that the external universe is, so is the journey inwardly eternal.
I have spoken about the dance as a homecoming. In the dance I quite literally have a sense of coming Home, to my Self. I can feel and hear and tune to myself in the dance. But it is a tuning and connecting in which I don’t feel alone any more. I have a sense of the ground beneath me, and my ancestors behind me, and the future and the unborn and the world of possibility before me. I am in community - even when I am dancing alone in my living room, or in my Zimbabwean garden. The dance is my gateway into the community of life. It is a place where I find guidance; a place where I remember who I am in my fullness. It is a place where I learn, over and over and over again that I can dance with everything, and anything: Density, pain, grief, rage, and that as I do, they transmute, transform, flow…. And as they do, I make new space inside, I release what I may have held on to. I reweave myself, I reweave my psyche. I can trust the dance. I can trust myself in the dance.
The dance has changed my work in the world. I continue, of course, with Kufunda Village - our learning centre in which we live the future today. With the Dance my ability to host the village, and whom we work with into generative and inspired learning space has increased manifold.
We dance in celebration of what we have achieved at the end of a month or a year, we dance our way into vision, we dance with questions that we are grappling with - together becoming a moving vessel to receive insight and clarity through dancing body-heart-mind in community.
I bring the dance to my work with women, to my work with community leaders, to my work with the children. It’s not all we do together - of course not, but it strengthens and quickens and enables our work together.
I have a sense that through the dance, I - and we - can become more fully Human. The healthy whole human is a wonderful being. The dance allows us to return to our wholeness. Dancing in community in service of the world brings Light, Will, Ooomph and Flow to our capacity to bring our light and gifts to the world.
As a host of the dance I am inviting people into deeper flow - in community. Releasing from stuckness, and calcification - just like the dance slowly but surely over time released me into flow and movement, possibility and light.
I have a sense as I come to the close of this remembering, that my dance is moving towards a wider opening in this part of the world, to the gift and the treasure of this African land and soil and people.
From I, Maaianne, waking to my wholeness - delighting in my being, to more of my sisters and brothers doing the same, and waking to our unique contribution as Africans. The dance is a Gateway. This I know. A rouser of the human spirit.
Movement Medicine is not about dancing just for my Self. Or rather, Movement Medicine recognises that the joyful whole Self - the joyful whole human being - is a being in Community, is a being nurtured by Service. I was in a workshop recently where a woman spoke her epiphany, partly out of the dance, that to know her community, and to connect with them, she needed to know herself. She spoke with gratitude, that in waking to herself, she was waking to her community.
And so as we grow into the dance here in Zimbabwe, in South Africa, in Malawi, in Kenya, in Tanzania (I am imagining places where I might dance ;-), as we open up to more of who we truly are, we are also opening up to the offering of our hearts into our community - locally, but also globally.
The strong sense that returned me from Denmark to Zimbabwe decades ago is still alive in me. That there is treasure here. Not gold and diamonds (although that is here too!) but treasures of the human heart as it beats in Africa and Africans, ready to rise, ready to shine.
"*" indicates required fields