Coming Home to Self!


Approximately 14 years ago I walked through the doors of Calvin United Church to observe a Tai Chi class and decide whether or not I would find this a worthwhile practice for my body, mind and spirit. For many years I had sought to find a dance studio where I would once again experience the beautiful harmony of self experienced in my modern Jazz classes taken in Jamaica many years before. I had also previously dabbled in a couple martial arts disciplines and on that particular evening was seeking a practice in martial arts suitable for me. Then, fortuitously, dance and martial art merged into one as I observed and participated in a Tai Chi Chuan class with the leader, Steve Higgins.

The background to all this is my passion for the whole and holy sense dance movement evokes. Modern Jazz classes with my tutor, Neville Black had satisfied this longing. Neville, a talented Jamaican dancer had honed his talents in the United States, influenced by the innovative ground breaking techniques of Martha Graham. His classes introduced Asian techniques to our exercise routines and expressive dances forms. We accepted them as "Martha Graham" derivatives, a purely North American expression of dance movement. Now I know there was more depth to our practice than we knew then.

My youngest son is a dancer by choice, not profession, and his thirst for knowledge has vastly enhanced my own knowledge base. In 2016 He told me about a Japanese woman, a dancer, by the name of Yuriko Kikuchi. I read her autobiography and realized, with deep appreciation to this woman, that the 'magic' in Neville's dance tuition had been inherited in no small measure from Yuriko's Japanese traditions of wholeness and holiness of body, mind and spirit. Yuriko was a core influence in Martha Graham's innovative style. Recognition of the role of Eastern traditions in my earlier Jamaican classes was poignant and exhilarating. This explains why Tai Chi Chuan practice in its deeply internal and physical explorations holds such fascination for me, reminiscent as it is of a cherished time in more youthful days. I have come full circle, now a grandparent, to my long sought 'dance soul home' through my practice of Tai Chi Chuan. The search is over. The journey continues. Tai Chi Chuan for me, is dance. Dance is an expression of all the potential of beauty, harmony, physical and spirit wholeness and holiness waiting to be realized. I relish the freedom of being which Tai Chi Chuan practice embodies. Thanks Steve for walking the road to Cold Mountain and opening the door to others through your knowledge so we too can seek and find the treasures embedded in this Eastern tradition, the practice of Tai Chi Chuan. Happily, I did walk into the Calvin gym that night. Thank you for creating the space for learning.

Dance! The heart brings softness to the gaze, peace to the soul, delight to movement.

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