Social Presencing Theatre: Movalogue 2023

Perfectly timed to provide the next steps in my evolution, joining the Movalogue in beautiful Alfter between Bonn and Cologne was one of those perfectly landing life-jigsaw pieces.

Social Presencing Theatre has long been on my ‘must check out’ list as an embodied practice that helps surface the invisibles for both individuals and groups. Around two months ago, while doing my morning dance practice, I felt myself wondering about the intersection between Social Presencing Theatre and Internal Family Systems. I Ecosiad (sorry, Google) the intersection and landed on the work of Dirk Braeuninger, who offers a workshop about just this intersection. There’s one happening in October for anyone interested. Dirk also happens to be the founder of the Movalogue, a yearly meet for Social Presencing Theatre practitioners that has been happening since 2018.

Since I moved to Germany two years ago, I’m very keen to grow community locally, especially around practices I feel are crucial for the times we live in. So when a little post popped up on my LinkedIn feed about this meet happening relatively close to where I live, I signed up in around 3 seconds flat. It helped immensely that the Movalgue has a sliding scale pricing policy that allows everyone to decide how much and what to contribute to the gathering. From this very first touchpoint in booking my spot, I could feel a question activated in me, “what is mine to do, here, now?”

As someone who has experienced quite a lot of dance, the practices within Social Presencing Theatre felt both familiar and somewhat alien. We started our days with a 20 minute dance, a personal practice that starts on the ground and ends standing up, following the body’s impulses around how to move in between those positions. These daily dances helped me understand that ‘getting stuck’, a feeling I am often very frustrated and disappointed about, can be a gateway to harnessing and directing energy. For the first time I could observe, in my body, how the stuckness allows tension to build, energy to conserve, amplification to occur, so I can really feel what is there and be with it until it is ready to release. How going with the flow and moving from that power is tense and dense with potential. I could see how my lack of appreciation for the richness of the stuck place (intuitively it feels like a black hole) was letting my energy disperse rather than concentrate. I experienced the difference in my body.

The other daily practice in a programme with minimal structure and many spaces that called out for filling, was The Village. The Village is a collective practice where we moved freely in space with a reduced “vocabulary” of actions: standing, sitting, lying, walking, turning, all without speaking. The interactions with others made it easier for me to work through my impulses, to test, to put into action, to follow through. I had immediate feedback and could see amplification of what I could sense in a way that helped me trust myself more freely. I also observed very clearly how a collective flow emerges from situations of unease, moments where all was not ok, when we could sense gaps big enough for something important to fall through. The holes pulled something out of us. An inner leadership, an intuitive move to be with, to hold, to offer, subversion of the rules. Something that is often stifled when a space feels already full with expert holding.

This relationship and balance between structure and emergence, this dance around the edges of the role of the hosting team, is something that worked itself though me and several other participants over the weekend. How much structure is enough? Are the holes generative or do they exclude? What encourages us to act when our inner cues say it’s our turn, our move?

Needless to say, my appetite for Social Presencing Theatre has been whet and I will definitely follow this up with more. I’m just about to start U-lab1x which provides the backbone Theory U and am excited to see how this unfolds. Keen to hear about experiences with SPT if anyone wants to share.

Social Presencing Theater reveals the wisdom in every social system and supports movement towards healthier futures.

Our collective harvest in visual format.