If Annelize Becht extends her hand towards you, take it. You are being offered the chance to transform your life into a dance.
Annelize, a Muizenberg resident, is a facilitator of Biodanza and every Monday night the Kalk Bay Community Centre is gently lit, filled with sublime music, slow smiles, and silent dance. There are many ways to learn about new things. Research, interviews, looking at the science of how it works, listening to those whose worlds have been transformed by the subject and trying it out. I did a little of all, with Annelize’s Biodanza.
I met with her in in the morning in Kalk Bay and I watched her face soften and her eyes light up as she spoke more and more passionately about the aspects of learning, through dance. Already, there was a draw in the authenticity of her words. Over tea on the little blue train in Kalk Bay, Annelize told me that 10 years of therapy did little to help her recover from post traumatic stress disorder, allergies, an auto-immune disease and clinically depression.
“After six months with Biodanza, I was healing, functioning again, off my meds. It was a love affair of note. It changed me, my life, completely,” she said.
She speaks from the centre of a cellular recognition of the power it had for her, personally. “It is dance, but there is a magic in it, as well as a scientific side to it. There is healing in it. And that comes with you being present, being open to it, and showing up. You have to show up,” she says.
Annelize is still showing up. In her early days she danced four to five times a week. It has been part of her life when living in Lakeside, Tokai or Scarborough. Its aim, she says, is to wake up all the positive factors in you and your life, to refill your joy bucket (she laughs) and to encourage you to thrive; to be the best version you can possibly be, of yourself. It also builds self confidence and a sense of place and eases the way people relate to themselves and one another.
“It is great for men and women and all classes are mixed,” she says. She has a day job, but her heart comes quietly alive on the soft shine of that wooden floor of the Kalk Bay Community Centre, every Monday night, as a facilitator.
More than that, in the way of showing up; she has taken on a new portfolio on the Biodanza board, that of social upliftment.
Biodanza is being used more and more to reach into areas of society where transformation is most needed. Annelize runs workshops with women who have been raped, people who have suffered domestic abuse, addicts. Other than it being good exercise, a great way to connect with people and a way to discover your joy, there are benefits for people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s too.
“Unchoreographed dance has been discovered to be a most powerful thing for all these things, it also allows expression and creativity. It helps you thrive, not just survive,” she says.
As you dance, you let go, you focus on bringing in the good stuff, she said. “Just like trauma can be recorded at a cellular level, so can positive experiences. Biodanza is aimed at creating a ‘chronic’ cellular memory; of joy and happiness.”
I decided to attend her evening class, that same day. It wasn’t only what she said that intrigued me, it was the word-river of delight that flowed from her, the lightness in her tone and the irrepressible excitement about the synchronicity and flow of life.
Later, I researched my own sourced documents, some online materials, and I read what Annelize sent about the founder and how many countries it has been taken into.
Biodanza was created by a clinical psychologist, poet and painter, Rolando Toro Areneda. He described dance as the poetry of human encounter. He wanted us to fall in love again, with ourselves, with life, to become aware of the emotional content of the music we listen to, and to respond to it, and each other, as we move through the experience of being truly alive.
The music used in the Biodanza classes has its own science: a committee dedicated to the study of the emotional content of all the songs used. Every song played is chosen for the emotions it elicits. It is a growing body of music, to fit to 250 dances, from classical to tribal.
According to Rolando, the emotional world is less understood by psychotherapy and better explored through music, dance, literature and poetry.
Music, he says, is the language of the soul. It can evoke the strongest, joyous experiences and can elevate you into transcendent states of ecstasy, joy and well-being.
Annelize relishes the silence in the class: once the dance starts,
there is only dance, no chatter. This just deepens the enjoyment of expressing through movement and, she says, gives our brains permission (or the instruction) to shut off for a
“We process so many things through dance. We can learn about ourselves, each other, community, boundaries and how to relate in community without a word, if we allow ourselves to,” she said. So on that particularly gusty Monday evening, I met with a handful of men and women who make Biodanza part of their
Each is captivated, for their own reason. For me, the experiential beauty was multi-layered. It lay partly in the ease and openness of the participants, partly in the silence – a space for movement without words was wonderful – partly in the peace of meeting with quieter aspects of myself – and very much in having this sacred space to melt into the moment – to follow the music, and to be moved by it. I will be back.