This week I participated in a totally beautiful, heart-opening, playful and joyful journey into the world of voice improvisation, led by the exquisitely creative Uran Apak. The workshop was called ‘The Playful Voice’ and is part of a series of events called Voice DNA. This workshop is part of a 6 session series.
I met Uran at a 5Rythms (a form of movement meditation) dance event, a space and practice I am much more used to and comfortable with. In this new terrain of voice work, I felt slightly out of my depth and awkward. I felt like a real beginner even though I love to sing for enjoyment, especially to my 21-month-old daughter who I make up silly songs for. But Uran created a very open and safe space that was very welcoming and put everyone at ease. This was even more significant considering it was his biggest group for this kind of workshop (at least 20 people filled his place from wall to wall) and he expressed afterward that it had made him quite nervous, to begin with. Of course, he showed no signs of this and held the group with amazing care and grace!
The space and tone Uran created allowed the group to let go straight into this process with almost instant openness and abandon. I’m not sure how much voice work is associated with mindfulness practices, in the same way, that maybe something like 5Rhythms is, but this workshop definitely supported and encouraged me to let go and really opened me up. I think that was in large part due to how Uran approaches this work and also who is as a person; he not only creates supportive conditions through instruction but also embodies the very thing he is trying to evoke: a deep ease and openness. This really created the conditions for people to drop deeply into themselves and find their authentic voice.
In one of the exercises we were asked to improvise with our voice over a subtle drum rhythm, and then everyone would repeat this short improvisation. We passed these improvisations around the group and it was striking to see how different and unique each person was. The free expression of voice somehow allows for such a delicate and soul-sourced part of us to be released; the freedom, beauty, humour, and natural self-expression was deeply unarming and helped and supported me to find even deeper ways to let go myself.
When it was my turn to improvise I had something in mind; something beautiful and obviously amazing, at least that’s how I had pictured it! When it came out it sounded strange and felt inauthentic. I tried again and dropped my initial direction finding something more natural to me. Each time I went again I was able drop even deeper into a more natural self-expression. I could see this happening throughout the group. Each individual was able to be more and more themselves, creating a kind of natural chain reaction, a beautiful dance between the induvial and the collective. It was a kind of subtle sharing of ourselves free from our usual mask. First just peeping out to say hello, but then realising that it’s really ok to stand in front of others without these masks, to say yes this is me, I am here, and it’s awesome!
People really are amazing and it’s times like this that you get to see this reality in its full expression; the sheer beautify of a human being free from the restrictions we place on ourselves and each other, is deeply unarming, liberating and inspiring. As Uran said at the end about what happened in the session, “it gives you faith in humanity”.
This current Voice DNA series will be continuing for the following 5 Tuesday’s, exploring different themes each week. Check out the Voice DNA Facebook page for upcoming events, I would highly recommend it!