As a woman of Chinese diaspora, born and living in the UK I’ve often felt I don’t belong, not only to people, but also to land. But today this seems to be affecting most humans no matter their background.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and at home wherever they are. My way in, when I feel disoriented, is to start with my most intimate surroundings, my body. My body is my way to reconnect to land.
What does it mean to be natural?
To feel natural in the true sense, not as an aesthetic style or convention - but owning my right to feel, speak and act in the way that is truly natural for me, whatever land I am standing on.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis, an asymmetry of the spine when I was a teenager. For some people with scoliosis similar to mine, they are offered surgery as the resolution. But as I was actively dancing, flexible and mobile, they offered surgery as one optional direction and mostly for ‘cosmetic appearance’. My freedom to move and express myself fully in my body felt so much more important to me than outward appearance that I declined surgery. I have since devoted my time to practice a body awareness that honours my body’s unique rotations, tensions, limits and desires.
With these body portals I create containers that give you freedom to explore your own individual body beyond how it compares to others.
The Felt Sense
The conventional way that we gain knowledge is usually through intellectual ideas or concepts. But intelligence and knowledge can also come from a felt sense.
This means it can come from multiple sensations from different areas of your body, and it may not 'make sense' to you straight away. The more attuned you are to the fluctuations in your sensations, feelings and thoughts, the more you can untangle habits and invite in creative responses that are natural, in the true sense, for you.
Sound Comes From The Body
As a musician and sound artist I work from the felt sense. I create sound that supports the pace of the body, which can operate in a different timing to that of the conceptual mind.
I prefer to play music that comes from a felt sense if possible. For example, creating sounds in connection with natural entities and living things, such as grass reeds, water droplets, minerals or wood.
About My Background
This work is about helping people connect to the felt sense of their individual unique body.
I was inspired by my education in dance, music, theatre and therapy to use the tools these disciplines provide for creativity and wellbeing. But the dominant styles or forms have been created by and for a standardised body/mind, and mostly don't honour individual variations. I'm interested in bringing an inclusive alternative approach to the mainstream.
In my work I am continually learning how to adapt majority knowledge to my particular body, fluctuating identity and wellbeing. It is this approach that I hope to bring to others who may not feel their needs are met by the mainstream, and that I feel passionate to be of service for.
I've learnt from so many wonderful teachers, including my bodywork teachers due to their powers to bring freedom to others through touch; my childhood piano teachers who also taught me how to listen with my fingertips; and last but not least, all my dance teachers who taught me to trust my body’s wisdom.
J a n - m i n g L E E
With thanks to Arts Council England for funding the initial phases of this work.