Hello! I’m Ana, a Movement Director, Choreographer and teacher based in Edinburgh. My passion is based on story telling through the body – discovering and translating these intricacies through movement.
Where am I going with this..? What has this got to do with the great outdoors and adventure?
My first introduction to learning about my body was through dance, and this awareness has been a huge part of my life – although, not always in a positive way. I noticed a gradual shift during and after my training as a BA Hons Dance Artist, to an overly critical mindset and huge drop in self esteem. I became detached from my body. Over time, and I mean years, I understood I did not want to perform and critique my body any further with that physical pressure.
Then, a friend asked if I wanted to cycle the Outer Hebrides. At this point I didn’t own a bike and hadn’t been on one for a long time. Looking at the map and photos of this otherworldly and unknown place was invitation enough. So, thanks to the cycle to work scheme, I got a bike – and that changed everything.
The sense of freedom.
This adventure opened a window to myself – and my mind and body gradually found a positive connection through the journey, learning about my body in a new way. This was the catalyst to my love for adventure. Jumping out of my comfort zone and exposing myself to these landscapes and the kindest communities on these Isles changed something in my mind. I remember thinking and smiling as we cycled through those landscapes “I am so small out here”. This feeling was and continues to be incredible and important to me.
From this, the self critique began to gradually dissolve, and continues to do so. The recognition of the positive difference between physical effort on my bike and previous physical pressure was liberating. I was experiencing landscapes so much bigger than myself and this was freeing. I feel I need these spaces to feel small, in a really good way. I truly feel strong and held by these landscapes in their enormity.
After a while of adventuring with friends, I went on my first solo self supported cycle from Stirling up to Glencoe on my first day, and then into the wilds of the Highlands for another two. Here is where I felt a new kind of mental and physical strength. This is also when and where I first experienced the connection between my profession as a Movement Artist and Scottish landscapes. Taking in the sight of the Beauchaille Etive Mhor – I honestly got off my
bike and thought “I need to move with this mountain.” I walked over, through the tall grasses and bog, breathed in the air and silence, filled with its own energy, and moved. I don’t mean in any kind of technical way that my body had been trained. I moved the way that the whole journey – cycle and all had prepared and informed my body to move, which was slow! But this was the truth of my adventure and my body – influenced by all I had experienced on my
adventure. There was no physical pressure here. This was for me. Experience and not performance.
My mind was completely connected to my body – and at peace. This adventure and journey made me feel completely myself, strong in my own body – something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I am learning that adventure holds a real significance and has honestly been life changing in the way I feel about myself mentally and physically. I am greatly motivated to share this feeling of freedom and encourage others to find their strength within landscapes.
The people you meet.
The retelling of these adventures I talk and write about would be lacking in laughs and smiles if it wasn’t for the incredible people I have met out there. Their stories and generosity of their time, to slow down and speak to me inspires me. It’s not just the landscapes thatkeep inviting me back – it’s the people I meet.
The thing is, you are never alone. The adventure community is incredibly social, generous and supportive. All you have to do is say hello – this opens the world to you. That openness is bound to produce a smile or a story to laugh about later on, over a chat swapping snacks in a bothy, or chug of water from a stream in the hills. True and strong friendships have been built through adventure. Through cycling and walking, a space is created to voice all kinds of
conversations – the tough ones, the funny ones – and the out of tune singing too. Landscapes give space for you to be you.
“You’re going on this adventure solo?” is a frequent question I get. And I always smile and say “Yes!.” The reaction to this over time has changed, from “You’re brave…” now to “Amazing, have fun!.” Of course, I don’t need people to tell me it’s ok to go out into the wild on my own, but what I am happy about is that there is definitely a positive shift in the attitude towards it. Through talking about what I am off to do with people, any slight flicker in their eye at the thought that they could do it too or join me makes me more and more enthusiastic to share what the effect of connecting with our landscapes can be.
Now – adventure is a stronghold in my life. Any opportunity I have to get out there, I will go. Messily packing up my bike and stuffing my snacks into any pocket available!
Hugely inspired by the people and communities I continue to meet on my adventures throughout the Highlands and Islands, I am driven to explore and share the diverse physical relationships and stories within the landscapes of Scotland and beyond, in the form of movement based storytelling.
As the landscapes have given me a positive and strong perspective of myself and my body – this naturally transfers to my creative movement work and teaching – encouraging individual ownership of storytelling through the body. All of this with an emphasis on moving the way you move.
Movement for me in these landscapes – fueled by the journey and experience of these wild spaces, is what brings out my truth. Truth of movement, truth of self and body.
Adventure to me is creative – and is what you make it.
See you out there, or in a group experience at WanderWomen
Most recently working with Green Space Dark Skies, Countryfile Special, as a Performance Captain, across the 4 highest peaks in the UK, as well as working with Director, Izzy Gray on Keepers of the Light – Ana feels very lucky to be able to contribute her experience of creative adventure to her professional work, positively shaped by henatural progression of movement experience through adventure and experience within landscapes.
To discover more about Ana and to get in touch, check out www.movementbyana.com and on Instagram @movementbyana_ & @thedancingcyclist