Stop. Listen. Be Carried. (Guest post: Virginia Reinert)

Current Conservatory student Virginia Reinert reflects on Malinda Lavelle’s Jam class, which opens each week on Monday morning.


Simple wisdom: we arrive where we are because of where we have been, and we go forward from where we are.

We all have things that we would rather forget. Things that we wish weren’t part of our story, part of where we have been. However, our bodies know. Our bodies remember. They remember fear. They remember joy. They remember laughing-tears, dancing-stillness, screaming-quiet. Our challenge is to listen.

When we listen, we are carried, held. We are transported to our brightest corners, our darkest clearings, and our quirkiest realities. We live.

When we block our “ears,” we almost cease to exist.

When I was twenty years, three months, and ten days old, my world was irrevocably altered. The initial event, and all those surrounding it, shut my ears to everything.  There was no sorrow; there was no joy. I functioned, compartmentalized. I survived, even appeared to thrive, until finally, hindered by nagging physical injury, I was forced to stop.

Stop. Listen. Be Carried.

I came to the Conservatory in the summer of 2012. Almost exactly two years after I stopped listening, I experienced my first Jam class with Malinda Lavelle. I cried.

For the first time in two years, I felt—and welcomed—joy. When she challenged the class to “imagine going home—that your body can feel like home” and reminded us “the things, the memories, that come to you can feel good,” I wept for overwhelming happiness. I had forgotten that I had the power to feel good, that being in my body could bring that sensation.

A few classes later, I wept again. This time, though, my tears were for the past. “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine opened class. I hadn’t heard it since destroying a CD I had been given two years earlier, the one I had called simply “Please, remember me,” on which “The Trapeze Singer” was the first song. The tears came unbidden: grief for loss, pain endured, grief for where I had come from, and for lost joy. I could not grieve until I felt joy; I could not feel joy until I stopped to listen.

Joy and Sorrow are the same.

I am now a student in the Conservatory’s year-round program. I already hold a degree in dance, but this journey, this process, this learning, this exploration is about so much more than physical movement. It is about listening. It is about trust. It is about my voice, who I am. It is about speaking.

Every Monday, we have Jam. I begin every week with a journey through my memories. I am carried through the worst moments of my life—and the best—by my joy. Sometimes, there are still tears; healing and reawakening are slow. Always, Malinda’s voice is there, reminding me “it’s ok to feel joy;” “your body can feel like home;” “trust that your body can feel experienced, old, and young at the same time;” “let your freak out;” and “let your two-year-old out!”—reminding me that the full spectrum of my being exists and is present in each moment. Reminding me that I have arrived where I am because of where I have been. All of the pieces are there; I am not a broken puzzle. I can speak because I can listen.

To Jam is to live Joy – in all its forms.


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