I move because I must. Most of us in the field like to dance, or move – mainly to music, from the easiest of two-steps to bhangra to contemporary, Charleston to conga, we have constantly since the very beginning provided many, many ways to move what nature gave you, and we aren’t going to stop now. Our music programming is dance-friendly of course, we have DJs on the core team and as long as we breathe and do ALSO we’ll be encouraging everyone to dance, dance, dance.
To dance, for ALSO is an essential part of life. Whether we started to dance - way back when - because it made us look like a huge unpredictable many-legged creature to scare off predators or whether we did it to shake us out of unwanted states of mind or as part of early spiritual rituals, we don’t know. But we did start dancing and it’s one of those things like language and music that turns up again and again and again in nearly every early culture as something we did. We existed and we danced.
And who are we to argue with that? But the main reason this is one of the big themes is because to move can be a shortcut to connection and joy. But the contradiction with dance is that if you don’t do it or if you left it behind, filed it away under things you don’t do or grown out of it or forgotten how or don’t stumble over enough opportunities to do it, we can help. We like to provide many, many opportunities to move, for you to use your body to move, to turn, run, lunge, jump, jack, lock your body in any way you want to throughout the weekend. We learnt from Caroline Williams in 2021 that when it comes to our mental health, movement is medicine – and from Phil Hammond at ALSO Twixtmas that if movement was medicine doctors would prescribe it as much as possible for as long as possible. Then this September - working through poet Yrsa Daley Ward’s book 'The How' I read her words ‘I move because I must, I move because I must, I move because I must’. Her words felt so right for what I was thinking - and don’t they make this irresistible double entendre, or is it a triple entendre? Either way – excellent work because it is with her words that we can build upon all the previous years’ work and development of dance at ALSO and the work that we have done to get new ideas about moving to our guests. And perhaps using her words as the beginning of movement for 2022 will make this theme the easiest, the biggest and the boldest idea we can all grapple with in the field and learn or experience something to take back into our lives to make our lives broader, bolder and more beautiful. And so this became one of our big six themes for 2022.
Do you know Dr Dance? Peter Lovatt – the neuroscientist of dance – don’t worry – he’s booked on the main stage and whatever your relationship with dance, go to this and you will dance. Try not to if you want – but I don’t fancy your chances. If you’re new to ALSO and want a gentle introduction to how ideas can get into your life then this is a fabulous place to start…and because we’re not playing at this…we want you to do more, be more, go further, go deeper, bend, stretch, turn, change – you must remember how demanding ALSO can be if you give it the slightest chance…our themes have to exist on all kinds of levels from the tiniest tots that move to music we no longer hear to those who haven’t danced for half a century the theme should call to you…
…we work with a number of choreographers and will continue to do so – we do thread through choreography in a number of our sessions and don’t think we’ll stop doing it. We may have a big piece of participatory dance session for you, join in, or if you’ve got your own dance moves that need an audience try our ALSO All Stars on the main stage Saturday early evening.
I have to pay tribute to our many dance floors, and invite you to think about being on them literally travelling across them – we have so many dance venues and so many venues that transform into dance floors as night falls. Did you know that dancing on the earth is so beneficial for your mind, your brain, your health and happiness – please know that as you dance across them. Or join a class or book a workshop in something that you wouldn’t normally do, perhaps something that would surprise your friends, that you have long wanted to do, that you think will help your mind think new thoughts. What will we do? Many ideas are in play at the moment. Do you, like us, secretly yearn to be a clown, to learn the Charleston, learn Double Dutch, to take your stretching in a deeper direction, join a cheerleading troupe, get in the water, practise your synchronised swimming, take a nature swim, take yoga lakeside in the morning, or in the forest in the afternoon, or by the fire at night or forget yoga for the weekend, take a 5k run, a 5k historical run, explore the whole site on a 10k run or drift down to the floating stage and take Qi Jong or Pilates…the more you do, the more you book on, the more adventurous we will be with this programming and the more it will inform the programming that will come in future years, the more it will inform your future relationship with us.
Consider the programme like an invitation to move your body in as many ways as you can over the weekend. You move because you must – we are diminishing its power to pretend that this is optional for us as humans as animals. We move because we must.