No man is an island

  • Dancing on the beach (Open Floor Dance)
  • Dancers at Open Floor Island Retreat with Rivi Diamond
  • Rivi Diamond, Open Floor dance teacher
  • The Open Floor dance floor
  • Open Floor Island Retreat, Greece September 2017

Posted by Open Floor on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - 3:21am

Tal Frenkel, a lawyer and father of 3 from Marot Meir, Israel attended Rivi Diamond’s Paros Island Retreat some years ago. Here he shares his profound experience of the week.

I decided to join Rivi Diamond’s Island Retreat in Paros after a couple of years of weekly dance and movement practice in various groups.

The flyer was attractive: sunshine, beaches, the dance studio but the crown jewel, so to speak, was the underlying opportunity for a deep process, as I see dance as a constant process of revelation, which is perhaps more readily available when you are able to quiet down the toils and noise of everyday life. It was this offer of quiet - of serenity - that captured my interest.

But serenity alone would not suffice. Soul searching is greatly helped by guidance and support, and is sometimes contingent on them. So the fact that Rivi was to lead this workshop, carried significant weight. I had been blessed to dance with her before and I knew that her uncanny sensitivity to the floor, to movers and their needs and wants, and her enabling yet nonintrusive guidance, would be the perfect foil to the surroundings.

This process is perhaps better explained by my personal experience. At dinner, one evening I talked at length and in detail with the other dancers about the time around my father’s death. When I was 24, my father passed away from cancer, in a short and violent period of three months. Five years later, my sister went to a party on the beach and took three ecstasy pills one after the other. She suffered from kidney failure and passed away the next day.

Both were traumatic experiences. The first put me into shock and depression for several months. By the time my sister passed away, I was so busy protecting myself from feeling any pain, that I hardly felt anything. It is one of the wonders of dance, for me, that I am able to get into touch with these very painful events, and actually feel. The ability to do so has expanded my capabilities, perhaps back to where they once were, many years ago.

I don’t know if you have ever lost anyone close. One of the common unfortunate consequences is that it becomes increasingly difficult over time to see the faces of those we have lost. I can easily recreate the picture of my father or my sister from a photo I know. But I only very rarely, and usually in dreams, actually see their live face as I saw it. I cherish these very happy and moving  moments on the rare occasions they happen.

The next day, I experienced something very different… extraordinary and - for lack of other words – magical. I was lying down, feeling rather empty after a physically difficult and emotionally draining dance. I was still dealing with the emotions that had come up following the conversation the evening before.

Suddenly, like a visit from an angel, I felt my father’s embrace. It was a physical memory of feeling his hands, his chest, his warmth, his breathing, my breathing. It must have been a very early memory. I felt small, wrapped up, safe. I also felt less alone than I had for a long time. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a moment of bliss. It felt absolutely wonderful. It was also very sad as I very tangibly felt the loss and absence of my father. I cried, sadness and gratitude both. I lay still, for a very long time, not wanting this feeling to end and afraid of losing it. I couldn’t put this into words, I was afraid that 'mere’ words would make it disappear, like a mirage or a vision.

Thankfully, the memory is still there. Intact. I can, even now, bring it up and feel it. This has opened up new channels, memories and feelings for me. Shortly after I left Paros, and with my experience there still resonating within me, I wrote to a friend I had met there that I’d begun missing Paros before I even left the island. Such was the magic that permeated my being, that I literally felt its future loss while it was yet around me. I would opt, time and again, for this same opportunity and this is why I will be coming back.

 

Read more about Rivi's Island Dance Retreat

Photo credits: Amir Ashdot and Sagit Ochaion