Last weekend, we held our Dancing with Words workshop at Hedd Wen Peace Garden, Abergavenny. My annual trip to this lovely place has been interrupted by my need to recover from an accident, and subsequently by the Covid lockdowns. So, it was even more special to be able to return. More than ever, I appreciated the gentle gathering made possible by the support of Gill, our wonderful host. The location is perfect with a backdrop of the mountain of Blorenge watching over us, keeping the clouds at bay.
Dancing with Words, is a collaboration with dance teacher Ann Bettys. We have brought together her Gentle Movement classes and my Life Writing for Transformation classes (inspired by a practice learned from Canadian tutor Joanne Klassen). The two strands of our work seemed perfectly in tune with each other as our approaches, rather than being teachers, were that of facilitators and encouragers, allowing workshop attendees to explore by invitation rather than by expectation. So, we have brought our two art forms together - to seek ways of writing through our bodily movements, and to use our words to inspire our dance.
Since that meeting, we have worked on providing a programme that is for both writers and dancers or anyone who has some experience of either, or none. We begin by listening to our bodies, expressing our movements in words, or turning our words into movement, painting an imaginary canvas. With the use of my writing exercises and with Ann's encouragement, we are free to explore with warming and stretching exercises, and then to draw out words to write our poems and stories. On returning to the dance, our words are brought back into the flow of movement.
At Hedd Wen, we also went on a walking mediation, seeking our inner creative sources in a silent walk around the garden or along the towpath of the still waters of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. Our surroundings were truly inspiring with inspiration to be found from the churchyard of Llanfoist with its ancient stone cross, its graveyard, and the yew tree, believed to be over one thousand years old.
We rested, we shared food. We wrote, and we danced all day!