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Dancing makes me a better activist

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Author: Marta Neto

Language availability: English


As a PhD student in microbiology, Marta knows something about biodiversity. “We are losing diversity in our inner world,” she says, “just like we are losing diversity in the rain forest.”

Alongside her research into the billions of microbes that live in our gut, Marta has taken her commitment to fostering diversity out of the lab with her work as an Extinction Rebellion activist.

Marta is very clear that having a regular Open Floor movement practice is key to making her a better activist.

“As an activist I can be way more effective if I can embody what I’m doing.

It’s a form of honesty and authenticity that sets a different standard. Everyone I meet on the Open Floor floor is aligned with their values, fully present.

The dance has a lot to teach me.” she says. She talks about the determination to stay with and know herself. To cultivate non violence and authenticity. “There’s a fear that what’s coming will take away our humanity. I dance to strip away all those masks and step into the empty space so that I know myself and I can be there.” she says, referring to the work she has done with Open Floor teacher Cathy Ryan. [link]

Marta says she finds the Open Floor core movement resources particularly helpful on a daily basis. “Especially the concept of Activate & Settle,” she says. She explains that preparing for an action, getting yourself there and actually carry out an action like blocking a road or gluing yourself to a building, requires her to be super focused and vigilant. “As an activist it’s all in the head. We do everything with our minds and we are not aware of the high energy that builds.”

Knowing how to stay present and connected throughout an action is crucial skill for any activist, says Marta. “It’s very good to come back to the body. On the dance floor, when stuff comes up, we practice activating and taking ownership…choosing where to go with it. And we do that collectively, which is also important. Energy building is contagious!” she says.

On the flip side of that, says Marta settling on the dance floor also provides good opportunities to practice de-escalation and regenerative skills for activists. Once the action is over, says Marta “…it ends and you’re left with this emptiness…it can be very distressing. So after actions we have a meal together, so you’re not alone after it ends. I also help run weekly empathy circles and de-escalation workshops. I learned those skills on the Open Floor.

Marta tells me about one particularly distressed fellow activist. “I asked him to rock with me. We rocked together, finding the movement, attuning to each other.”

It’s such a privilege to dance, the ultimate privilege,” concludes Marta.  If you’ve got it, you’ve got a responsibility to use it to support yourself. It’s a great place to do your work and be supported. People think they have to choose between personal work or saving the planet. But they are not separate. It’s not either or, it’s both and…  We can use the dance floor to do the inner work every activist has a responsibility to do. We can! We have to!”

Vimeo: Dancing makes me a better activist

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