Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – Images of Movement in a Domestic Space

Today in England it’s Mother’s Day. It’s also a time of international crisis in the form of the Coronavirus pandemic. The British government is now urging people to stay home to save lives.

I started social distancing over a week ago. At that point both my pilates and yoga studios were still open, the choirs I sing with were running, and I had a ticket for a hustle dance class which I reluctantly didn’t attend. I realised I had to radically change my mindset from the carefully curated lifestyle I’d been perfecting over the years. This curation very much involved the public urban space, the space where I attended to my hobbies and interests and also wandered freely in the spirit of the flaneuse, roaming the streets and taking photographs.

Having made the decision to make home the centre of my activities I spent some time looking through old family photographs for evidence and examples of physical activity in the domestic arena. The next photographs predate my birth. Two images of my mother, an Israeli ballet dancer. A very glamorous teenager – here she is dancing in her Tel Aviv home, in the early 1950s.

In the photo below her moves suggest a pole dance as she precariously stands on the ledge of the balcony (known as the mirpesset in Hebrew). This also reminds me of the images I’ve seen recently from Italy involving sports and singing from apartment balconies:

In an archival box of old black and white photographs I came across the image below. It’s a portrait of the late Tovi Browning, who also happened to be originally Israeli, dancing in her London garden. I took this photo sometime in the 80s when she was training to be an osteopath. Tovi later became a specialist in holistic pulsing but she was also a beautiful belly dancer:

I also found a photo from the same period of my friend Ella, an osteopath and Iyengar yoga practitioner demonstrating a yogic spinal twist in a domestic setting:

So I’ve been dancing in the living room and doing a bit of exercise at home. I have a few basic tools that can help with a home work out, which for me is a fusion of pilates, yoga and qigong.

I quite like the fact I don’t use a rubbery yoga mat but a Persian carpet!

My husband is the CEO of the sports nutrition companies Science in Sport and PhD. He’s been working from home for over a week, and as a keen cyclist also training from home. Though he has a good set up, the music stand is a giveaway that this is a domestic environment and not a gym:

I became intrigued by the representation on the iPad screen. This was actually Stephen, seen from behind, in the same identical kit:

As part of the process of adapting to quarantine-like conditions many practitioners, from dance instructors to musicians have started offering online classes and performances. Today I experienced my first virtual choir practice which was organised by Daniela de Armas, director of the London Lucumi Choir. I snapped the screen of my laptop as Daniela demonstrated some shoulder rolls as part of our warm up:

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