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Still falling in Melbourne

January 26, 2011

On December 29 I posted a message from Viv Neale about her experience of performing Impact in Melbourne. Since then Viv has continued to fall, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Today, Viv was joined by three friends as they fell in a park amidst Australia Day celebrations.

Here is our exchange:

Hi Helene,

Since my last email to you I’ve gone back to the same gardens twice to continue falling. On Friday, 21 January I went by myself. I’d been thinking of it for a couple of days, as time to do it again. I think it was partly because I was particularly noticing reports of worse conditions in Afghanistan. At the same time, I really felt resistance to going alone. It feels harder by myself, not so much while I’m there, but getting there took a push.

I found another place in the park. The park seemed particularly beautiful…the trees, sky, birds really vivid. I experienced moments of feeling my connection there and a feeling of expansiveness in to the park and, as during my other falls, the smallness of falling and helplessness of it.

At about 270 falls I thought about how I wasn’t thinking about “the issue”. That maybe I should be, to deepen the honouring, and couldn’t make myself feel the connection. I thought that it would  have to be enough this time for the action of falling with intention, to speak what I feel and believe without my mind reinforcing it. The ritual felt sufficient in itself.

There were many women with children in the park just walking past and around.

Today, Wednesday, 26 January. Australia Day. I went to the same park again with Tiana and Sam, a woman who’s in the middle of the Tamalpa Training, and her friend Roma, who’s a dancer. I’m noticing that the most interested responses to your project are from people who dance–the idea of talking through movement must be more familiar.

The park was an interesting place to do this today because in one large area there was a citizenship ceremony and the rest of the park was full of people celebrating Australia Day with picnics and Australian flags.

We went to the same place [we had fallen in before]. The ground was wet. I re-started my counting at 1 with this group but feel I glad I was really counting to 400 this time. Sam said she wanted to include Britain in her falls because she’s from there and they’re involved in Afghanistan as well. Again I noticed that my mind was fairly blank and that I just fell and felt the ground and saw what was around. Noticing my falling reflected by the other three was moving.

For a long time a woman and little boy stood and watched. They went away and then the boy came back and watched by himself. I thought about telling them what we were doing but they didn’t ask and didn’t see the flyers and I let it go.

Roma said afterwards that at one point he noticed Sam falling and imagined someone in Afghanistan seeing someone they loved falling to die. It made him think of death and also of having children fall together.

Sam said it felt good in her body to fall a hundred times.

Roma and Sam were excited by the possibility of gathering the dance community to fall together by posting the next time we’re falling on facebook. I feel excited about how strong it could be to fall with many people–I imagine 100 people falling 100 times, honouring. and at the same time it seems too big.

I reread your last email before sending this and I’m struck by the “poetics of shared vulnerability”. I’m not good at giving words to why this project touches me so strongly but there it is.

As before, if there’s anything you want to post on your blog, please do.

Warmly from Melbourne,


Dear Viv,

I’m so touched by your ongoing commitment to falling and your reflections on your experience, on the challenges of feeling connection to a population that we are paradoxically distant (geographically) and distanced (ideologically and politically) from. Also, of the challenge of connect to those who are in our immediate environment.

I love the image of the young boy coming to watch. Sometimes out of 100 falls, only one person stops and really watches (sometimes more–yesterday two women came to me and gave me the most heartwarming hugs) and I realize that in this moment, all the falls are worth it.

Like you, as I struggle to focus my intention and attention, increasingly I’ve come to trust in the ritual of falling. Each day, when I reach my 100th fall I take a moment and dedicate any merit to the people of Afghanistan.

Roma’s experience of seeing Sam fall also resonated with me. My friend Brad frequently falls with me and when I see him falling, or on the ground,  I often have a moment of imagining what it might be like to watch someone I love stuck down while I was also struck down and rendered unable to help them.

I could go on, but have to go “do my falls” before going to school. I regret that I haven’t figured out yet how to access the video you sent. It is still my intention to try to figure it out.

Thank you and Tiana, Sam and Roma so much for falling. Let’s stay in touch about organizing a group fall–perhaps we can do a bi-national fall of 100 fallers?

Warmly from Toronto,


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