A moving journey

The journey so far

When I was an organic and unedited human being – a child – I moved and danced freely, unhindered and unrestrained. I guess dance was my first love, something I was instinctively drawn to. When my parents did the music for discos, I paid no attention to those watching, I was only concerned with the music and the action of dancing to it. Growing up I happily spent much of my time in my room learning to dance and sing just for the love of it. But, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with being taught dance (perhaps mostly because of the type of dance on offer).

When I was 4 I had ballet lessons for one year and, despite being described as a natural, I was adamant that I never wanted to do ballet again. When I was 16, I took ballet lessons at college and after a short while of doing beginners classes I was asked to join the intermediate class. I soon discovered that not only was intermediate rather more advanced than I had hoped but also that the use of French terminology replaced all English description in its entirety and so after a few months I gave up again. I was offered free out-of-college ballet lessons by the tutor as they were convinced that I had the natural ability to be able to go professional, but I was uninterested.

In my late teens and early 20s I was part of dance groups at my church and have dabbled in some lessons in my 30s but one of my biggest struggles has always been trying to remember choreography. I enjoy dancing when I am free to express myself as I feel, but perhaps I do not enjoy dancing when it is just articulating choreography, even my own.

Perhaps I am a maverick in many things, but I think I can say without question that I am a maverick dancer. I reject rules and restriction, which is perhaps why I love the freedom of contemporary dance freestyle and cherish the raw, unpolished nature of engaging in improvised expressive dance.


The continuing journey

I have quite recently begun a journey of rediscovering movement and dance as it relates to my being and as a form of my personal expression. I have been doing an evening foundation studies course in Dance Movement Psychotherapy which has been challenging and freeing as well as enlightening and intriguing. I have been observing myself when dancing or just moving through which I have become aware of many things about myself psychologically as well as physically.

In life I feel that a person needs to earn my trust enough for me to open up and show/reveal more of myself as a person to them. There are moments where more of me can be incidentally glimpsed – when I lead workshops or have hosted Songwriters nights. Times where quiet me is somehow consumed by the bigger picture at hand and a more outgoing me takes over. For that little bit of time I escape my own containment. I am visible in 3D. It is all me. Both a 2D me and a 3D me is still me. But, to anyone that hasn’t anticipated the existence of anything other than a 2D me, a 3D version might appear completely different and far removed.

When I dance in worship, there is an element of wanting to bless others through the communication, but, in the most part, it is simply an organic desire to move and dance out what I feel, where I pay no attention to those watching, I just get lost in the act of instinctive expression. Parts of my inner being leak out when there is room for such freedom and where the desire to move and dance wins. It’s as if, when I dance in line with my own expression it overrides my instinct to resist or hold myself back or away. Whilst I dance I am vulnerable but feel no need for people to earn my trust in order for me to reveal of myself. Dance bypasses all of my learned behaviours and psychological hangups. It becomes my most primal call in the moment, nothing else matters, and I am free to be visible in 3D.


Becoming Amaris Arts

Becoming Amaris arts (see ‘About’) is about the process of coherently joining what I was in the beginning and what I will be in the end in order to bring all that I can be into who I am in the here and now. Not only accepting my complexity, but embracing it. Not running, hiding or holding back any more.

I ‘am’
I am generally known for singing and teaching singing, but I have had seasons where people have mostly known me as a dancer, events organiser/host, poet, producer/remixer, prophetic encourager, sign language learner, songwriter, sound engineer/technician or youth/childrens worker.

These are all elements of what I do as part of who I am, yet most are not seen or shown to most people. I withhold most of these unless and until I want to utilise them or when something is required in order for me to bring something that I need/want to express etc.

Similarly to the things I do, elements of my personality are often not seen or shown to most people either. Those whom have experienced me leading a vocal workshop or hosting a songwriters share-case have probably witnessed me utilising more of the elements of both my personality and abilities than in other single settings, because such scenarios call out of me that which is required for a purpose I deem important. But, otherwise, I mostly only do what is necessary at a given time. Most people, most of the time get to see only a flattered version of myself.

When I take personality questionnaires and quizzes, I always have questions about the questions because I rarely find myself really fitting an answer and I have queries about the context etc. The way that things are worded creates ambiguity in my eyes – words like ‘usually’ and ‘mostly’ etc. If I felt that how I ‘usually’ am or ‘mostly’ am was a full reflection of myself that would at least make it simpler.

To most people I am quiet but to some I am talkative. I am mostly calm but I can be fiery. I can sometimes be naive and perhaps too trusting yet I can also be wise and deeply skeptical. I am mostly seen as serious and sensible, but I can be silly and quite comical. I am imaginative, inventive and full of ‘out there’ ideas, yet I can also be deeply practical, logical and analytical. I am mostly a peace-keeper and a rule-stickler yet I can also be a rebel and constantly question the norms. I can be emotional yet also strong. I am probably often deemed as blank and unresponsive yet I can be extremely passionate and expressive. I am fine on my own, yet I do throughly enjoy some peoples company (especially those with whom I feel I can various aspects of me with). I’m a simple soul but a complex being and that’s ok.

We ‘ar’e
I think humans are mostly complex and we are all on a journey to bring together all of our self to become the best of our self so that we can reflect the particular light of God in this world that we are meant to. The world frequently tries to polarise our traits and to categorise us by how we usually are instead of accepting that people are made up of many facets which just happen to not always be in sight. If someone is usually quiet, but then opens up and speaks, it is seen as being out of character etc. People are unfairly labelled and put into boxes. But since when did anyone belong in a box?

I often say to young people when I am teaching etc that it doesn’t matter if they are usually quiet or shy etc, or if they are usually regarded as disruptive or naughty etc, every moment and in every situation they can choose how to be. I don’t think there is any such thing as a person who is only one thing. Everyone has various facets, we are multi-dimensional, not flat.

People respond within groups to form various dynamics. People will tend to gravitate to the part of their personality that is either more needed in the group or which makes their life easier or better in some way. For example, in large groups, people tend to become exaggerated versions of themselves, more like a stereotype. A generally quiet person may become exceptionally quiet whilst in a small group they might actually become quite outgoing.

I learnt very early on that life was much more peaceful if I was quiet. I partly made a conscious decision (and still do) that being mostly quiet made (makes) my life easier. As a result of becoming quiet I stopped being told off for talking in class (even though I was always listening too). And, as I grew older, I got away with hardly ever doing any work. I used to write poems and song lyrics and doodle during class, but never got told off, because the system skims over quiet people, you’re out of teachers radars – which was fine by me. Of course being small and sweet looking probably helped create an air of innocence too.

He ‘is’
I don’t believe God is flat or like a caricature, though many people seem to be intent on putting Him in a box and putting their label on it. I believe God is multi-faceted like a brilliant and perfectly cut diamond, able to reflect every colour of the rainbow to every part of the universe.

We are faced with labels and boxes throughout our lives and each of our journeys are littered with challenges about our identity, our character and personality. But the victory is found in what we learn along the way and combine with what we already carry on our journey to becoming a better cut diamond in this world that needs more light.

Mandy – Amaris Arts