Blog : Work that guides me

Threaded Fine

Threaded Fine

Yesterday I danced Rosemary Lee’s Threaded Fine.

I’m still holding the threads inside my body and feel deeply affected by the experience. I’m also scared that it will all fade away too quickly and that I will forget. Which is partly why I am writing about it.

From the moment I heard about Malta forming a National Dance Company quite a few years ago, I was more than a little intrigued. Dance formed a crucial part of my childhood and teenage years but I put it aside at the age of around 17 although it never quite left me. I went to one of Zfin Malta’s first shows, Erbgħa (4) at the Astra Theatre in Gozo in 2015 and fell a little bit in love. Five years later, I find myself dancing in my favourite Zfin project to date, which feels more than a little surreal and definitely a dream come true for me.

The Dance Of Life

Starting from the youngest dancer (age 8) and moving in ascending age order to the oldest (age 76), Threaded Fine is a ceremony that each dancer performed as themself. In our consecutive solos we all went through the same cycles; movements born out of Rosemary’s verbal instructions and occasional imagery. We followed cosmic orbits that eventually led inside our bodies, we shimmered like fish, we treaded like bears, we brightly woke up the world, we made ourselves dissolve at the edge of the circle, we ran, we allowed ourselves to be truly, authentically seen in our vulnerability, we let our dance die and eventually led the next dancer into the circle to take over. The dance felt real, necessary, timely and important, accessing deeper parts of myself each time I danced.

In Circle

Rosemary created what definitely felt like the most level and democratic playing field I have ever worked in. Young, old, professional and novice, we were all treated with utmost respect, appreciation and attention. We started each session in circle, we learnt to celebrate the different ways we all move, we were encouraged to learn from each other. Rosemary’s facilitation and hosting created a safe holding space that coaxed out our best.* It’s not often that I fully trust a structure. I struggled at many points in the process as I learnt the movements, the cues and explored my own body’s way of interpreting them. The overall feeling of care, however, made it impossible for me to cling to my doubts and I just had to fully trust instead. The result of this trust was a bigger reward than I could have ever imagined.

Singing Our Song Out Into The World

I felt lovingly encouraged to be unapologetically myself in my dance. To be more deliberate, more curious, more brave. What I learnt about my dance applies fully to the rest of my life. Slow down, soften, allow yourself to feel, look out, let go fully. My very own set of reminders for living a fully present, fully embodied life. ** The gratitude I have for all this is endless.***

Threaded Fine - Rosemary Lee

*I really wish more leaders had the ability to create exactly this dynamic. **A Podcast by Tara Brach on the subject, that the wonderful Florinda pointed me to on performance day, helping me really drop into my body. ***None of this would have been possible without a very wonderful man called Jo who patiently brought our little Robin for breastfeeding dates during rehearsals and gave me his full love and support throughout this experience. Grazzi ħafna!

Feminist business principles

Feminist business principles

I’d like to share these 12 feminist business principles which I wholeheartedly subscribe to and which I think are an important key to emerging out of the mess humanity is currently in.

They were put together by Jennifer Armbrust, founder of organisation Sister that teaches about the feminine economy. Running a company for the past two years has given me ample opportunity for testing and practicing these principles. I have personally found this way of doing business to be completely in tune with my natural way of doing things when I manage to forget the pressures of the very un-feminist business world that currently shouts out very loudly around me. I keep returning to them as a kind of 12 commandments gently guiding my way.

Here they are:

12 PRINCIPLES FOR
PROTOTYPING A FEMINIST BUSINESS
1. You have a body. 
2. You are connected to the earth, the plants and all living beings. 
3. Integrate!
4. Institutionalize empathy: build frameworks that support feelings. 
5. Embody your values. 
6. Reclaim happiness: make new definitions of success. 
7. Consider everything an experiment. 
8. Free yourself from the myth of the meritocracy. 
9. Tell the truth. 
10. Cultivate abundance consciousness. 
11. A business can be a healing for yourself & others. 
12. A business can be a model for a new social & economic order.

I really recommend the Sister website as a great source for anyone looking to create a business or organisation that embodies feminist wisdom.

“Brag about your escape”

“Brag about your escape”

This kind of started while I was at The Mill in Birkirkara earlier today, enjoying the last hour of Maxine C Attard‘s excellent In Between Obliterations. Talk turned to feelings of helplessness in actually making some kind of change within the situations we find unacceptable around us. For me this means things like the current full-speed-ahead economic growth at the expense of reasonable consideration to actual longterm survival, let alone wellbeing. It means people being completely resigned to the idea that money opens up all avenues. It means the prevailing culture of ‘keep your head down, act humble and don’t you dare criticise in public’.

After a fair few rounds of getting rants off our chests we kind of agreed that the simple acts of doing your own thing (nurturing what you find it meaningful to create) and being vocal about your thoughts, ways of doing things, ideas, at the very least have the effects of highlighting a divergence from the status quo.

Which really reminds me of Toko-Pa Turner’s Black Sheep Gospel, an extract from her most excellent book Belonging and an ongoing source of encouragement for me.

1. Give up your vows of silence which only serve to protect the old and the stale.

2. Unwind your vigilance, soften your belly, open your jaw and speak the truth you long to hear.

3. Be the champion of your right to be here.

4. Know that it is you who must first accept your rejected qualities, adopting them with the totality of your love and commitment. Aspire to let them never feel outside of love again.

5. Venerate your too-muchness with an ever-renewing vow to become increasingly weird and eccentric.

6. Send out your signals of originality with frequency and constancy, honouring whatever small trickle of response you may get until it becomes a momentum.

7. Notice your helpers and not your unbelievers.

8. Remember that your offering needs no explanation. It is its own explanation.

9. Go it alone until you are alone with others. Support each other without hesitation.

10. Become a crack in the network that undermines the great towers of Establishment.

11. Make your life a wayfinding, proof that we can live outside the usual grooves.

12. Brag about your escape.

13. Send your missives into the network to be reproduced. Let your symbols be adopted and adapted and transmitted broadly into the new culture we’re building together.

——–

About Maxine Attard’s exhibition In Between Obliterations that closed today:

(from the exhibition event page on Facebook)

‘In Between Obliterations’ is an exhibition of six works each of which contains debris collected from a different building site where in the majority of cases, an old building was demolished and a new one raised in its place. Each work is titled after the site from where the debris has been collected. The debris is then organised in a grid and enclosed within a glass and wood frame.

Notes

– …

– They were there for a long time, even before I was here, but now they are almost all gone. The buildings. The new ones have replaced the old. They were all within walking distance from my house and they were there for decades.

– Now, what is left are dust, fragments and my memory of them, which will get distorted and fade away with time… I am already starting to forget the details.

– This is not about nostalgia.

– The old buildings were touched by people who passed through them and by them. I have occasionally encountered these people in the past, but the buildings have witnessed a lot more than I have. They have seen, heard and smelt the entire lives of the people who lived in them. And I have not experienced these entire lives. I only have witnessed bits and pieces. And I want to know more. These people have brought me into being and I grew because of them. These lives have formed my identity and collectively, that of a community, a society. The buildings were all that was left of these lives.

– My seeing and touching these buildings were my only connection to the ones that have seen and touched them before me.

– The debris that is there now and which is getting crushed by the new, may contain some ‘touched’ particles and fragments although some bits and pieces seem to have been brought in by the new building already. The new building disregards the old. The purpose of the new seems different because it looks agitated and frantic.

– …

Maxine Attard