Opening “The Doors” and Dancing Through Fear

On Friday, October 25th, I had the incredible opportunity of performing with the Sacred Dance Guild at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in a project called The Doors. Conceived by artist Marilyn Green of the Trinity Movement Choir, The Doors explored the concepts of Birth, Death, Love and Fear. Each was fleshed out into a dance performed by four separate groups. I chose to open the door of Fear, under the leadership of Betsy O’Neill, President of the NY/SW CT Chapter of the Sacred Dance Guild. Dancing through fear was not easy, but the journey was one of discovery and transformation.

Photo by Al DiRaffaele
Photo by Al DiRaffaele

“There are things known and unknown and in between are the doors.” – Jim Morrison 

Opening a door is just the first step.

I had been procrastinating on deciding whether or not I wanted to participate in this project. I knew I wanted to join but was having trouble simply committing. Once I finally decided to make the first step, the rest came easily … sort of. It only took a simple “yes” to jumpstart what would become a very eye-opening journey.

There’s lots more to discover with an open door than a closed one.

Same goes for the mind! One of the first things we did as a group was improv work, where Betsy had given us a movement prompt such as “show me what you fear most.” At first, I thought my movement seemed simple and at times predictable. I was even getting nervous that I would be a sort of one-trick pony. I kept thinking, “What would the others think?!” But when I decided to completely surrender to what I feared most, instead of letting my thoughts linger on these petty fears, my body started moving and exploring space in a whole new way.

Photo by Al DiRaffaele
Photo by Al DiRaffaele

Don’t just stand there! Walk Run through that door!

So I got some new moves, now what? Well, I just kept going. I started improvising even more new moves, experimented with levels and angles, and dove deeper in thought as what “fear” meant and how I could use movement to convey those ideas. It was at times completely daunting but also exciting and invigorating. I was discovering a lot, and I wanted to discover more. But the only way to do so was to really leave behind all those insecurities that I had earlier and “commit” or “go for it” as performers say.

And if you decide to close that door, you may open another.

One prompt that really resonated with me was “show me a time you overcame fear.” Naturally, the thought of my adventure to Rio popped up (more on that fear here). But when I started dancing, I realized it wasn’t just about Rio. It was about the fears I had at that very moment in time – the fears I had about improvising, letting go, and opening up to fear. The more I kept dancing something extraordinary happened. Everything disappeared as soon as I decided to commit and dance for something bigger than simple thoughts, petty fears, or temporary feelings. No, it was all much bigger than that. I was dancing for God. And in that moment, I somehow swung open the Fear door, closed it shut, and (literally) ran straight into the Love door.

The Doors 3Doors are closed but never locked so welcome whatever comes through that door.

I closed my Fear door shut. But unfortunately, I had to reopen it over and over again- it was rehearsal after all, and I needed material to work off of! It wasn’t so bad though. After a good run, I would just shake it off and try not to get too caught up in the subject matter. Of course, it seems easier said than done. But it became easier along the way. The thing is, I realize my fears and insecurities, real or dramatized, are all still alive and can creep up at any given moment. So what do I do? I welcome them. I embrace them. And bid them farewell, shutting the door behind me ever so gently (or at least I try to!). But even if the Fear door opens again, it’s okay. That’s not the only door left unlock. I’ve been through the Love door, too, and that door I always leave wide open.

PS- Always ALWAYS welcome in a friend.

This journey through The Doors could not have been possible without the vision of Marilyn, the direction of Betsy, and the support of the cast- the Fear cast, the casts of the other doors, and even the entirely different cast for the Sunday performance. We all have our own individual doors to go through, but it is always nice to know that someone is always there, either guiding us through the journey, witnessing it, or simultaneously opening, closing, and going through their own doors.

The unknown can be scary, but taking a chance on opening a door and seeing what lies behind it leads to the discovery of not only what is out there in the world but also what is inside of you. And when you welcome in something with open arms, don’t be afraid! Let it move you.

Design by Marilyn Green
Design by Marilyn Green

This blogpost has been featured in: Sacred Dance Guild Journal | Sacred Dance Trends

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