Freddy Drabble, founder and co-director of Artful Badger and WILD Workshops, has over 15 years experience as a dance theatre practitioner, DJ, live music programmer, facilitator and ecstatic dancer. With his partner Maria Rita Salvi he is developing a new Free Dance class - combining meditation, visualisation and ecstatic dance.
Freddy is passionate about bringing more conscious, body-centric practices into the heart of society.
PREACHING TO THE UNCONVERTED
30 years ago practices like yoga, meditation and T’ai Chi were beginning to become popular in the west, but they remained firmly in the realm of new age spirituality. In 2016 things have changed significantly: most small towns have at least one Yoga studio and hundreds of other unusual practices like sound healing, life coaching and movement meditation are becoming a regular part of people’s health and fitness regimes. This trend relates directly to a new focus on health by the public, that has extended further than just nutrition and fitness to include peace of mind, removal of stress and reinforcement of self esteem. For seven years I have been growing the WILD workshop program, with a view to bringing these practices and their benefits to a wider audience that may never have heard of these techniques, and thus never had the choice to include them in their personal practice. This impulse feels like a calling that I am driven to perform and I wonder if some of you know this feeling - the calling to bring this philosophy and its abundance of benefits to a mainstream unconverted audience.
The aspect of this shift that has surprised and pleased me the most is that a good portion of young people today are actively choosing to avoid drugs and alcohol as means of finding themselves as adults. For a long time I have believed that rave culture was to our western youth communities, like a rite of passage is to indigenous communities. Adolescents are removed from their family group, sent into the unknown in often dangerous circumstances, deprived of food or given shamanic plants to induce a sense of dislocation with their childish selves with a view to helping them find their strength and role as fully independent adults. The difference between the two experiences lies only in that the visionary and life-changing experiences reported by young ravers do not have the support of figures of trust and authority in the form of elders and their traditions. The similarities between the two led me to believe that what our society is lacking is a modern rite of passage, and that the spreading of these practices into the mainstream is our community’s response to that lack - offering empowerment, insight, self-confidence, self-understanding and motivation to those seeking to move out of the sphere of their families protection and influence and into the a world of conscious self-determination.
However, to make this great opportunity accessible to the unconverted, we need to de-mystify these practices. ‘The mysteries of the Orient’ - meditation, enlightenment and oneness for example are thoroughly off-putting to the realist minds of most urban westerners. As the bulk of our market led world does not operate on this basis, the truths offered by these schools can often seem distant, ephemeral, hard to integrate and over-optimistic. So how do we make this accessible and easily applicable to the occidental mind?
We do this via the body. Interesting new Epigenetics research is confirming that the mind affects the body at a cellular level and vice versa. And so by working with the body we are indirectly working on the mind. The classic example is stress. We know that stress born in an agitated mind leads over time to a build of tension in the body. If left unchecked this leads to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. By working on the body to release trapped tensions and unravel habitual patterns we can offer the mind an alternative route to overcoming the challenges of a stressful life. This will be different for each body, and must be done in a way that is unique to each body; the body does not lie and will take the route of less resistance to re-establishing balance. For myself and Mari Rita Salvi, as we develop our new dance meditation class FREE DANCE, this principle of tension release has become the central pillar via which all the other benefits are accessed. This is not a mystical concept - this is not a spiritual manifesto - it can be understood by anyone and so we hope it can be accessible to a wider audience.
And so bodywork is the door to an un-esoteric understanding of holistic health and optimised potential: These themes will be explored during our new WILD Workshops London program at the EVOLVE Wellness Centre in South Kensington over the next 6 months.
Zoe Cobb teaches our CONNECTION CREATURE workshop on 1st Oct and explores through movement how we connect to other people around us, working to discover a better way to represent ourselves and appreciate others, to get the best out of our team collaborations and social communities. FREE DANCE on 5th Nov helps release tension before expressing oneself completely freely in movement. Charlotte Dillon brings us the REVELATION OF THE MASK on 3rd Dec, which allows us to find out about ourselves through our intuitive creative decisions as we make a mask. Cloe Jackson’s DANCE YOUR NAKED TRUTH on 4th February encourages us to liberate ourselves from our self imposed limitations and find our own body authenticity. Dan Hernandez delves into the playful world of ritual theatre and clown as a means of self-discovery in DIVINE RIDICULOUS on 4th March. And Rob Wilson helps us understand the holding patterns of the body and how we can release unresolved situations through the body itself in BRAZILIAN BIOENERGETICS on 1st April.
Each of these workshops is offering a different route to your own personal truth via the body, as an alternative to via the mind. Rational analysis of one’s situation can be illuminating, but implementing change on the mind from a place of mind can be very difficult, as the mind tends to protect itself and there is a conflict of interest. Alternatively, the body does not lie and will tend back towards equilibrium if allowed that freedom by the mind.
I am extremely excited that the WILD Workshops is part of a world movement towards a different type of consciousness that will lead to mental and physical health for our western communities and eventually to the health of our planet. And I am certain that the more practical the explanation of this path to those still finding it, the more people we’ll be able to get onto this runaway train of transformation. I have placed myself squarely on the bridge between the world of partying and the world of holistic practice - convinced that in us raver’s search for community, fun, beauty and self-expression we can find a more direct route to these objectives and perhaps make better parties in the process!
Thanks for reading and please feel free to send me any of your thoughts on this debate, as I am thoroughly open to engaging other approaches to achieve this goal of taking holistic practice mainstream. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also keep an eye out for my new show “TOTEM” on Badger Radio which explores these themes in more depth, whilst bringing you the best dancing music from all over the world both old and new. You can follow Badger Radio on Mixcloud here. To read more about our workshop program click here.