These are words from my first book, Ms’Guided Angel. In honor of my dear teacher and friend, Shaman Mama and beautiful inspirer of my journey;
I was now holding a small 5Rhythms session in the local village. A few people came regularly to a weekly class and I found myself teaching long before I was really qualified to do so. But I had a sense of confidence, and sought advice from my teachers who encouraged me to continue whilst I was completing the pre-requisites for the training.
I organised a trip to the United States. I was terrified – this was the biggest step so far – but I had to meet Gabrielle. I felt sure that if she met me, she would accept me on her training. Just before leaving for New York I hurt my foot badly. I had been at the weekly class and had rolled onto the side of my foot with a loud crack. The x-ray showed that nothing was broken, but my foot swelled up and I could barely walk. I went home in a big bandage which remained on during the journey. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to dance well, but the swelling grew less with the help of massage and oils and some gentle exercise stopped it getting too stiff. I kept the bandage on for support.
There I was, in New York, in a dance studio with a hundred other people. I saw Gabrielle at the other end of the room and I felt I knew her. I stared at her and some distant memory stirred as if I had known her from a previous life. The workshop was called ‘God, Sex and the Body’. All these elements in the title had strong issues for me; but I was there, waiting for this work to unfold me.
Gabrielle’s work involved dance and theater. Dance I had always done but theatre was relatively new to me and intriguing. It was ritual theater and her method was to take what we found in our dance and put it into a form that could be presented to the group. These pieces would often be very simple and yet powerful and full of meaning. I didn’t really know how to produce a piece by myself, but as the end of the workshop came in sight and we had to present what we had learned or what we had found within ourselves during the workshop, all I could see was my brokenness, my wounded distress, the young girl and the teenager whose body had been abused, beaten and wronged.
There was only one thing to do. I took my bandages from my bag and the piece of cloth that I had used to wrap around my ankle. On the cloth I drew a red x with a felt tip pen. Taking off my clothes except for a pair of white knickers, I wrapped the x-marked cloth around my heart, and then I took the bandages and tied them around parts of my wounded body. This was me as I had been, beginning to heal and ready to reveal her wounds to the world. I stood there on stage, desperately wishing I was elsewhere. Gabrielle asked the others on the stage to leave; I was there, me and my bandages, alone. So I let go. What I danced I don’t know; I just let the dance happen, in front of a hundred people.
I don’t know what it signified to others, but I do know it was very powerful for me. I felt something in me taking over as I danced and thought: this is a new beginning. This is how I shall teach, not by giving instructions but by sharing my experiences. I am both the teacher and the teaching.
I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Gabrielle. She was aware that I wanted to train to teach her work to others. I liked her very much. She looked a bit like the bad witch in fairy-tale books, my favorite character, all black and floaty, with long fingers and black straggly hair, but I knew she had a heart of gold and an immense amount of love.
It was time to leave and I returned home with a mission. I sent off my application for the training with a video of my dance and the words I had written. Now I had to simply wait and see if I had been accepted. We were told we would be hearing by the end of the year but I never really had any doubts that I would be accepted. I don’t know why I felt so sure because I hadn’t done as much work as a lot of others and still had more steps to complete. It occurred to me that I ought to look at other courses in case my application was unsuccessful, but I pushed the thought aside. I was going to do this and I put my energy into looking for ways to raise money to pay for it. It was going to cost a great deal: not just for the training but also the flights to America and the accommodation, food and childcare.
I practiced some powerful visualisation techniques. Dancing in my bedroom, I would ‘see’ myself as a teacher, strong and clear, music at my side, developing my teaching skills. I brought the good feelings that these pictures induced into my dance and created stronger images. I practiced daily in front of my mirror to bring more light and colour into them, moving my body in ways that I had seen other teachers do.
You are in my heart Gabrielle, I will always love you, thank you for your teachings. Ccxx
From ‘Ms’Guided Angel’ published 2010
I weep as I read your notes and remembered my version of How she impacted me as a teacher and a way to be vulnerable ant true in my world. I honor her for being a true original. Love to you Caroline.
Thank you Diana, love to you Cx
RiaCarey, Thank you for your words. I always wanted to study with Gabrielle but never had the chance or never made the opportunity. I am very moved by her passing and your writing. I studied with Anna Halprin another member of the healing arts movement community who helped to heal me and change my life. I can remember every day of class with one of the Halprin teachers or Anna myself sitting or moving hearing a voice inside of me saying,”this is you. this is who you are.’ I may not make sense to you why I am so moved…but then again it might. The pionering spirit of Gabrielle and Anna and all the other women who brought this kind of work to sit in front of us so that we could partake is meaning beyond worlds. I had cancer 3 times and found in Halprin’s work the meaning of my cancers. It was soul tranforming and growing and glowing me into so much more than I ever thought I would see in myself. Thank you for writing. I am sure all who who Gabrielle will deeply miss and honor her moving into the next phase of her existence. All of us go and none of us know to where.
In love and gratitude,
How beautiful, yes these teachers are so special in our lives. Much love to you Cx
Beautiful encouraging words Caroline. They brought tears to my eyes as I pictured your long ago dance. What a wonderful tribute to Gabrielle. I was fortunate to attend one workshop by two others who learned from her also. The shocking news of her passing will touch many as it is shared. I found your website searching for news about Gabrielle. I’m so glad I did.
Thank you for sharing Nancee. I hope to meet you one day with love Caroline x
As a Native woman involved with healing, I have only had the opportunity to play her music and to share her music with my patients. I loved her from a far, having never met her, only to recognize a healer through her music and grateful that it was offerred for me to use in some of my work. Sadly, she has moved on. Interesting that I was moved to play her music last week and into this. Only just learned of her passing. We are all fortunate to have loved her and through all the avenues of her work … to have benefitted. Thank you dear one for finding your way into my healing room through your music. A HO!!!!!! Luata
Thank you for sharing that Luata.
I still play Gabrielles music and it always inspires so much in my own dance,
with love Caroline x
Thank you Caroline for being my friend.
I find your words so insperational, you have given me so much yet we know so litle about each other. sometime somewhere we must have been very close.
I love your heart and soul xxxx michel