A few years ago I stumbled upon Bracha Ettinger's Matrixial Trans-Subjectivity Theory. The premise of her theory is that the self emerges through connection with other (a process she calls "co-emergence" and "co-creation") where the relationship is not between "I" and "you" but between "I" and "non-I." She uses the experience of being in the womb as an example where the fetus and the mother are not one, but are not separate either. They are two entities, and yet they are also one. The state of being connected while remaining individual is the creative space where the self begins to articulate.
Ettinger's ideas resonated deeply with me because they put into words something that I had been experiencing but was struggling to articulate. It gave me a perspective from which I could begin to understand my passion for partner dancing, and in particular Argentine tango. I realized that the experience of connecting and harmonizing with another body was helping me define myself and become more conscious. It is in that "I" and "non-I" state that I get to experience the co-creation of self. This creative space is magical and it exists within other partner dances, or disciplines where we tune into another body, become fully present, listening, moving as if being moved by some other force. The consequence of being in that space with someone is an altered perspective of the self, the world, of what is possible. I see the other person and myself differently. Usually, to be intimate with someone on that level requires weeks or months of talking and getting to know each other, etc. But in dance, we have access within minutes. Suddenly I see the other person with full acceptance and compassion, without knowing really anything about her/him.
These are the ideas I came to explore in Buenos Aires. What is communication? How do we construct meaning? How do we define ourselves in relation to another? Physical touch, dance, seems to communicate so much with such minimal effort and in such a short time. My ambition was to invite people into my space and experiment with physical touch as a vehicle for communication and experience of the self. But it's a pretty broad concept and that's what has been paralyzing me. How do I do it? What structure should this take? How do I organize it? I don't know what I am doing. There was a piece missing.
And then.... Something dawned on me with incredible force, something that was really in front of me all along, even before Buenos Aires, before these ideas were articulated. I was having coffee with an incredible, passionate woman who described herself as a nomad. She was on a quest for self knowledge, healing, learning to be more giving. Searching, seeking, embracing the unknown despite the fear. The next night I ran into another woman whom I had met a couple of weeks prior. And she informed me that her plane left 4 days ago and she was not on it. She felt that she needed to stay here and do something important, but she didn't know what or why. I asked her to dance and as I danced, suddenly I felt like someone turned on the light and I could see the things around me I had only been able to blindly feel before. I was in a room full of women like myself, all asking and questing, risking, women whom I have connected with over the past few years, strong, stubborn, powerful. All these women spread out, moving around in the world. As I was dancing, I was in that creative space of "I" and "non-I," individual, autonomous, and yet completely merged with another. And as we danced, I felt that it was the connection between us that was doing the dance. It was spontaneous, free, playful, joyful, simple. And it was with a woman, a woman similar to myself, and similar to so many other amazing women with whom I have connected over the past few years. Women who have opened themselves up to life with full abandon, questioning, seeking, searching, daring. I realized that the foundation of my project is my connection with the women that I am encountering here in Buenos Aires as we are all asking the same questions. I am having difficulty articulating what the questions might be but here are some that keep coming up. Why? What are we after? What is it that drives us to make the decisions that we are making? What is wanting to be expressed?