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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.105 n.2 Pretoria Feb. 2015




Dance with Suitcase: A Memoir resting on Movement



By Dawn Garisch.
Cape Town: Tiber Tree Press, 2013.
ISBN 978-0-9921922-6-6

Dawn Garisch is a medical doctor, writer, creative methods facilitator and dancer, who, in this memoir about the power of the body in motion, explores the connections between the body, mind and emotions. She courageously shares the personal narratives that have shaped her own life, and illustrates how dance has had different meanings for her - as escape and a way to cope with the difficulties of life, but also as a way to express exuberance and creativity.

Like Eloquent Body,[1] her book that explores the science and poetry of the body, this too is a process book. It is not only about the practice of movement but investigates freedom and limitation, desire and restraint, as they have shaped her life.

Dawn is fascinated by the body as metaphor, as dream, as a map of the unconscious. She is intrigued by the creative process, and by how everything, including the hardest life events, are 'gifts' that can be used for personal growth by those who choose to do so. She shares her own experiences of how creative capacities can be used to enrich life and to channel disturbances creatively for healing. Creative projects, such as writing, doing art and dancing, are tools to manage the anxiety of the unknown, to live more balanced and less destructive lives.

Writing about dancing is a challenge: how to translate a non-verbal practice into words? Dawn accomplishes this with lightness and authenticity as she weaves her life narrative around the metaphor of dance and movement as symbols of life and self-expression and a way of being during times of intense personal challenge.

Dance is a form of movement, and the way we move through the world is part of who we are. Movement practice enhances the capacity to have fun and to confront and process fears. Spontaneous dance is a process of both selfdiscovery and self-recovery, bringing healing and playfulness into awareness.

Memoir is a way to express openness and to make one's self vulnerable, which can be a healing process. Sharing emotional truths can help others heal as they realise that they are not alone.

For a busy doctor, Dance with Suitcase is a quick read because it is a slim volume and also because of the fluent style of writing. The book has the double benefit of being a prompt for personal reflection by the doctor and also offering a recommendation for patients who would like to explore alternative ways to process their personal issues.

Janet Giddy
Mowbray, Cape Town, South Africa



1. Garisch D. Eloquent Body. Cape Town: Modjaji, 2012.         [ Links ]

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