Two birthdays ago, my husband David surprised me with a fancy Nikon camera.
My first reaction was, “I don’t need something this nice, I don’t even know how to use it. Really, Honey, my camera phone will suffice.”
In a classic case of my beloved knowing me better than I know myself, I discovered that this brilliant device ended up being a godsend in my Dancing Mindfulness work, particularly at our trainings and special events. I started really experimenting at the facilitator trainings. As others danced, I began pointing and clicking, capturing any image I could, knowing that I could pick out the decent ones later. During my first summer with the camera, I received a simple piece of instruction on photography from Thiago, my friend from Brazil.
Thiago shared, “The key to photography is framing the image you want to shoot and then click away.”
When she shared this piece of knowledge with me, I began seeing the world in beautiful frames and I found this process to be especially powerful when I took pictures of dancers. In playing around with photography, like a child learning how to use a new toy or a new piece of technology, I found myself needing to receive my own teaching that I share in facilitating Dancing Mindfulness.
Trust the process.
Don’t let judgment of your skill (or lack of skill) keep you from exploring what’s possible.
Be a witness, not a judge.
Embrace the chance to keep trying new things; you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing in the process.
In contemplating how I’ve developed a real interest in photography inspired by my love of dance, I am awestruck, once again, by the beauty of expressive arts. By its nature, the field of expressive arts emphasizes the multi-modal fusion of creative processes to bring about healing experiences. To me, the real gift of this multi-modal process is when we can discover a passion for a practice we never found ourselves “good at” through one of our existing expressive practices. For me, that joy for taking photographs has directly flowed from listening to the fruitful messages of my Dancing Mindfulness practice.
One of my favorite dancing sisters to photograph is the delightful Betsey Beckman. A formally trained ballet dancer who has channeled her talent into performance and a flourishing liturgical dance ministry, Betsey embodies joy, grace, and prayer in her movements. Recently, while on a pilgrimage to Bingen, Germany to study the path of St. Hildegard, I found that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of Betsey in many a dancing moment. There is a magical alchemy to her process that is so lovely to receive on film. One of our fellow pilgrims, Mary Beth Albers, a sculptor, thought so too. On Saturday afternoon when we had nothing formal scheduled, Mary Beth, Betsey and I engaged in an afternoon of creative play to take some photographs of Betsey for what Mary Beth envisions as sculptor celebrating the dancer’s journey. I jumped at the chance to take the photographs for Mary Beth’s project. After taking the pictures, our playful venture continued as Mary Beth and Betsey helped me to shoot a teaching video, and then I had the chance to film Betsey in an improvisational dance as Mary Beth held space. This afternoon experience was a delightful outing fused by the expressive arts. I see the act of supporting each other in our expressive art making a verdant pathway for bringing healing to the world… if we are adventurous enough to explore it!
Thanks to Betsey for letting me share some of the pictures that I took of her on our afternoon outing in this blog as a slideshow. I look forward to seeing Mary Beth’s creation!
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity