I have been dancing my whole life. It was my whole world and I didn’t know any better. So, when I went to college, it made sense that I was going to major in it in college. There was a hint of interest in pursuing social work but it wasn’t enough to throw away my passion for dance. I did try to double major but both programs were so intense and set in their schedules so it wasn’t possible to do. Half way through college, my passion for dance started wilting and my heart began to feel emptier and emptier. I didn’t want that passion to die out but making your passion a career wasn’t as wonderful as I thought it would be. I got injured and had to continue dancing through the pain. After that I got depressed. Being told you weren’t dancing well enough and being graded for something that was supposed to be an interpretation of your soul, it just took its toll. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was halfway through school so I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to turn back, so I pushed through, crawling broken to the finish line. I was a real mess during my senior year, but with the right help, I was able to graduate, cum laude, at the end of the year. The help I received from different social workers was tremendous. I was inspired. I wanted to do the same thing. I applied to the graduate school of social work on a whim. The July after I graduated, I found out I was accepted into the Graduate school of social work. I started that September and have found a new passion, a new love, a new career. After discovering all of this, I also re-found that passion for dance through dancing mindfulness. I learned how much of an outlet dancing can be for my emotions and for others’ emotions, so when I found out about the dancing mindfulness certificate, I jumped at the chance to complete the course. It was a beautiful experience and I am so honored to have participated in it.
My dancing mindfulness work was also immediately put to use in my agency. I work at a counseling center at Rutgers University, but we specifically work with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. Actually, that was one of my supervisor’s favorite parts during my interview, that fact that I danced and that I was going to pursue a certificate in dancing mindfulness.
In any case, my agency held a 24 hour truce. It was based off of Andrea Dworken’s quote “I want one day or respite, one day off, on day in which no bodies are piled up, one day in which no agony is added to the old, and I am asking you to give it to me… I want a 24 hours truce during which there is no rape” (1984). So that’s what we did. We planned 24 hours of programming that talked about bystander intervention, project unbreakable, and had different art projects surrounding the notion of a world without violence. During the 24 hours, I held two dancing mindfulness sessions. The theme for the first session was a world with and without violence. I had about ten participants and they all participated fully and enjoyed their time. I asked them to paint the room with their bodies, showing and portraying what violence looks like. Then I had them wash it all off, cleansing the walls, their bodies, and their souls. They really enjoyed it. The next dancing mindfulness session was at 4:00am so I didn’t have many participants until the end. I played the song “break the chain” which Pink performed and a few of the staff knew the dance that was choreographed to it, so they began passionately dancing. I saw the hope in their eyes and the joy in their hearts. It was a great experience to be a part of.
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity