Dancing at any age

Dr. Lipman’s interview with Gabrielle Roth


How can women over 35 stay centered in our youth-obsessed culture?

I’ve stayed centered by continually having a place to release all of my sorrows, resentments, fears, failures, whatever I was holding onto, back into the dance. Movement allows me to constantly reinvent myself, and in the process I learn to not only let go, but to let go of letting go. Some day, I might even learn how to let it all be. There’s no reason to obsess, we all have a teenager inside of us, regardless of whether we’re six or sixty. Think of all the times you’ve met a four-year-old and sensed the elder in them, and know that even more often, friends—even strangers—sense that luscious, juicy teenybopper in you. We’re complex. Think layering. What we miss is the wildness and the freedom that we associate with youth. To keep that part of us alive, we need to give it space to move and breathe. The dance floor is a very safe space for that to happen. Life is too fascinating to get fixed in any one direction, especially facing backwards when all you can see is your sagging butt.

What are your thoughts on being over 50?

I now have four pairs of glasses. One to see the far distant future, one to see what’s right in front of me, one that allows me to see in both directions at the same time, and one in case the sun is too bright while I try to do any of the above. So I would say that my vision has changed radically over the years. And what is the teaching? The teaching has something to do with letting go of looking and falling deeper into seeing. Looking happens with the eyes, but seeing happens with the entire being. My over-50 eyes rely on my hands and knees and the soles of my feet to support them in their seeing. In other words, as we age, it becomes even more vital to become instinctive and intuitive. The ultimate task for each of us, is to wake up. And, if we each were to take that task to heart, we might stop destroying the very planet that unquestioningly nurtures our existence. As Gandhi said, “Embody the change you wish to see in the world.” I say, the world is the dance, so get on up and find your groove.

Can one learn to live life as a dance at any age?

Absolutely. Whenever my spirits need to be lifted, I put on a video sent to me by the Over-Sixties club in England, and watch a room full of seniors, some deep into their 80s, doing the 5Rhythms™ practice. Many of them didn’t start dancing until their 70s, but you would never know it. Their faces and bodies light up when they dance. And once again it is revealed to me that God is the dance, the spark, the energy that moves us until we die.

The point is to die dancing. And on the way, to respect our place in all the cycles of life. We are instinctive, intuitive beings who aren’t functioning as such. We’re choosing another way, and not even consciously. We think our way through everything. We don’t feel, we think about feeling. We don’t act, we think about acting. How did we get to be such big thinkers? Each of us has to dive into the undercurrents of our own stream of consciousness and check out the big fish. Big Mama Fish, Big Papa Fish, and find out how their legacy is playing out in our dream.

It’s not about judgment or blame, it’s about awareness. 
A mother’s sacred task is to teach us to love our body, but if she hates her own, it’s not going to happen. A father’s sacred task is to teach us to respect our hearts, but if he’s hidden behind a newspaper or lost in his head, it’s just not going to happen. If our foundation is shaky, we get to puberty feeling like Humpty Dumpty. It’s possible to spend a lifetime rehashing all the stuff that didn’t happen, or that did happen that shouldn’t have happened. The result of this is arrested development and we encounter it all the time. Whether it’s in the forty-year-old who has no idea what to eat because he’s disconnected from his body, or the fifty-year-old who has no idea whether she’s in love or not because she can’t stop weighing his good and bad qualities. Or there are those among us who just don’t simply fit in, can’t find their place.

The three fundamental questions: who am I, who am I with, and where am I going—are meant to be answered instinctively, intuitively. And when they’re not, it’s quite possible to spend your entire life in an identity crisis, thinking about, rather than instinctively living the answers to these questions. We’re like trees. We can’t go further out than our own roots. Entangled roots don’t nourish leaves, and those leaves are children, parents, friends, lovers, community, and even the real world in which we live. It’s hard enough to go through life with instincts intact, but to go through these struggles and stories with no connection to your own body, to your own heart, to your own mind, and therefore to your own soul, is a tragedy. These are the understandings that have driven me to dance. And in this dance, to find my way home and make a map for any other lost soul who wants to use it. To love the body and respect the heart is meant to be instinctive. It’s meant to pass from generation to generation, and this has not happened in the western world. Somebody’s gotta jump off the wheel, and that would be us.


Extrait de l’article « Dr. Lipman’s Interview with Gabrielle Roth », paru en février 2005 dans la Newsletter du MCS.

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