Cast no shadow: photo by Isaac Julien
I owe choreographer Russell Maliphant two things: a love for Sicily and an introduction to Rolfing. Let me explain. When I was in New York in November 2007 I went to see Cast No Shadow which combined choreography by Maliphant and filming by Isaac Julien. Parts of the film had been shot on the coast of Western Sicily. It sparked the beginning of my passion for the island of my ancestors, which I had not ever visited till then. That evening I spoke briefly to Maliphant to congratulate him on his work and found out about his being a certified Rolfer, among other things.
I never really got into Rolfing however until this year, never felt the need for it, but circumstances have changed. I have been suffering from severe back problems. A traumatic fall when I was much younger has left a mark on my spine and though for years I ignored the occasional ache it has now become increasingly difficult to pretend it is not there, so I have embarked on a tailor made programme, tailor made by me I should say, to try and find out what can be done. The conversation I had with Maliphant all those years ago and an interview with him I read online reawakened my curiosity and I decided to do a course of Rolfing. It is a course because you need to do ten sessions at regular intervals for it to be effective. It will help you to realign and learn a new way of inhabiting your own body. It also brings about new thinking and a new body awareness, which sadly most of us do not have. Apart from Rolfing I am doing as much as possible by way of yoga, exercises for my spine to increase its flexibility etc. I am also pursuing a proper diagnosis through conventional medicine to find out whether I have low bone density and the beginning of osteoporosis, thus am undergoing scans. There is a history of osteoporosis in my family and having seen my mother being painfully crippled by it I am determined to fight it off.
Me in public speaking mode. Photo: City Academy
There is so much that is being written about ageing and so much focus on what to do to conform to that ideal of agelessness that is being touted as what we ought to aspire to. Though there are many articles that exhort us to exercise and pay attention to nutrition in order to be youthful there is absolutely nothing that discusses our relationship with our own body and body awareness. This is such a glaring gap. I care little about how my body can look better if I wear x and y. I care a lot about the way I stand, I sit, I walk and I bend. I care about being aware of my body.
As I age, to me this is the most important thing about my body and my person.