By Renee Kurz, LPC, BC-DMT
“Once there was a night in the desert when nobody was afraid and everybody danced.”
Madeleine L’Engle, “Dance in the Desert”
Being a dancer my whole life, I am very familiar with the physicality of rebounding after falling to the floor or bouncing back out of a partner’s hold or using momentum to launch out of gravity’s pull.
I was taught how to bend and not break. How to stretch, but not injure. I discovered how to harness grace and flail with abandon.
I didn’t realize these lessons would extend into my life.
For a time I tried to run away from the dance. But dance chased after me. For it knew I could not live, or survive, without it.
Imagine a desert: endless horizon of rolling sand, parching hot wind. No shade from the sun’s blaze, treading gritty sand, wild animals. Exhaustion, hunger, thirst. Loneliness and fear.
The vulnerabilities in the physical desert are numerous, as they are in the deserts of our lives.
Thus my gratitude for the gift of the dance catching up to me has not waned, as it has accompanied me now through deserts of my own, and carried me along the desert journeys of many, showing me how to cast out fear to receive the grace among the grit — and dance.
I see now that dance has been my mentor of resilience. It taught me how to rebound from loss into connection, how to bounce back from defeat into new growth, and the practice of gaining momentum out of despair into hope.
But the main lesson dance taught me about resilience is that it is formed out of love.
For many, the wells of love have run dry in their lives due to the deserts caused by trauma, abuse, betrayal, sickness and pain. Treading the gritty sand of daily life has become unbearable, and they begin to give into temptations caused by hunger, thirst and fear.
And here, in the nights of deserts, we as counselors meet them. And they meet Love, the love described in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out all fear.”
Giving them a sip of life-giving love, we help them become not afraid to move, dance, sing, even shout!
In grace upon the grit of life, they learn to be no longer hot with fear or frozen in despair, and are able to pause and take a sip in communion with another. And then, they are able to continue to dance!
About the Author
Renée Kurz is a licensed professional counselor and registered dance/movement therapist. She received her master’s in dance/movement therapy and counseling from Drexel University, and her bachelor’s in dance performance from Missouri State University. She has experience with individual and group therapy for adults, teens, and children in a variety of settings, including schools, inpatient, outpatient and residential programs.