In Memory of Jack ‘Sexy Beast’ Saunders
‘The Nature of Negativity’
On the 17th of March 2019, I took a hit, as did my UEL family, the dance community and so many others. We lost Jack Saunders.
For me, it was a suppression of negativity that took Jack from us.
In light of our loss, I’m writing this blog to serve as a reminder that it is essential to normalise negative feelings, so that as a society, we’re more equipped to acknowledge and respond to them. The nature of negativity is all consuming.
I know all too well, how easy it is to delve into a dark and lonely place within your mind. I have, however, also learnt that we have a responsibility to teach people how to process these emotions before they submerge into a darkness that takes them away. Emotions are, in their simplest form, more information for our brains to process and to consider when making decisions.
Suppressing such feelings leads to an emotional overload and ultimately burn out. It is in burn out mode that I believe one may contemplate taking their life. Having sunk to that point, one might assume that their negative circumstances or feelings have overcome them and therefore view suicide as an escape from their own suffering and torment.
I fundamentally believe that if we were to encourage positive self- expression, release and open communication, we’d help people to build to honesty and integrity needed within ourselves to overcome negative feelings as oppose to letting them devalue ourselves to the point where we cannot bare existence.
The current social media age offers no scope for vulnerability and authenticity. Rather it encourages an elusive parallel whereby you can only portray the positive aspects of your life. These are the elements we let the world see to add to the illusion that everything is okay. We need to completely revolt against this and encourage a culture whereby its okay not to be okay, and to talk about it.
Social media forces this complex whereby we feel we have to adhere to perceptions and ‘keep up appearances’ but it’s not healthy. It is essential for our mental health to acknowledge how we feel and to express it. It is in this expression that you are able to move away from dwelling on the negativity, and instead, move forward.
The work I do, through The Blair Academy, seeks to serve as a form of escapism for the participants that I work with. I believe that my classes actively encourage honest verbal communication which leads to the creation of a safe space in which non- verbal self- expression is also achieved. I help people to acknowledge what they feel. Pain demands to be felt, not buried.
I wish I could have given Jack and escape that wouldn’t have meant him leaving us forever.
I wish that society made it okay for men to show emotion.
I wish that social media wasn’t such an illusive weapon.
I wish the dance industry wasn’t full of so much pressure and expectation.
I wish Jack knew how much he was loved, how much of an impact he had made, and how much support he would have had if he let us in.
I encourage you to let the world into your struggles so that the people around you can help you reach a resolution as oppose to a last resort.
Check on your strong friends. Don’t let Instagram fool you. Love Openly.
We’ll dance together again one day Jack.