When I first met Igón Lerchurdi, an 86 year old man in Buenos Aires, I was marveled by the way he walked and talked. He seemed to be floating on a cloud with every step he took. With only a few words, he was able to convey powerful messages through the movements of his gestures. When I asked, “What’s your secret?” He replied, “It’s already within you. It’s just waiting to be awakened!”
Igón reveals his secret by sharing his experience of how growing up during War World II was both horrifying and a true blessing.
Meet Igón Lerchurdi:
They stopped her from boarding the boat, “I am sorry, you will not be able to board with the children.” She stepped aside dragging me along with her. All I remember seeing was the knife in her hands. She walked back in front of the boat, took out the knife and with both hands, pointed it directly to her chest, “If you don’t let me in with all my seven children, I will kill myself right here, right now!”
This was the first time I was exposed to a tragic, dramatic scene.
I was three years old when Basque, Spain was subjected to aerial bombardment. After an appeal by the government to save the Basque children, about seven countries had responded. My dad, a republican, stayed behind and ordered my mom to get on one of the boats with their seven children. Determined to ensure our safety, she did what she had to do to get herself on that boat with all of us. Now, we were all on our way to France.
We had no food and no water for several days. We could hear the bombardment going on constantly. Women screaming, “We will not make it, we are all going to die!” Out of desperation, one woman grabbed her three children and threw them overboard.
I could still hear my mom singing and dancing every time the bombings took place. It was her way of making us feel that there was nothing to be afraid of. Through her dancing, it was like she was transported out of her body away from the bombings and we all went along with her.
When we finally arrived in Authon-du-Perche, France (a very small village), we were received by a man who took us in his home. It would become our home for the next 12 years.
Growing up during War World II was a time of constant sufferings. Bombings came with no warnings, running in the streets, having to sleep in barns, waiting for a signal that we could go back in the village. Coming face to face with the Germans was horrifying, yet exciting at the same time. I could not understand what they were shouting and yelling. It was only through their expressions and gestures, that I knew what was about to happen. I got to be around them often as some of them had become residents in my school. Although there was a war, we still went to school, had exams and variety shows which I took part in. I loved acting out scenes with gestures, making people understand what I was doing without saying a word in the same way I understood the German soldiers.
One day, four of them broke down the door of the classroom. I froze in my chair as they each stood at every corner of the room. I felt their tension penetrate through my body. Without saying a word, I knew they were not there to show off their guns. They started moving to the center of the room and halted to a particular boy’s desk. One of them grabbed his arm and pulled him up. The boy, one of my closest friends, looked straight at me. We made eye contact and from the corner of his mouth, he gave me a warm smile. The boy, a Jewish kid was never to be seen again.
That day, that boy’s smile, stirred up something inside me. He was not afraid yet, he knew like the rest of us that his life would be taken away from him. That night I acted out a scene for my sisters where I was performing a burial for my friend. Every night, I would spend hours acting out scenes to express the many emotions I felt from the tragic and dramatic events around me. This became my passion.
After the war, I enrolled in theatre classes. There was so much more I wanted to learn and experience with the way we use our bodies and the energy within. I went on to create and perform in various festivals around Latin America and Europe.
I performed alongside Marcel Marceau during the First Pantomime Festival in Berlin and through him, I met Etienne Decroux, his teacher. Having Etienne as a mentor took my learnings to another level.
The most important learning:
Human beings are the biggest marvel of nature. We are made up of forces of energy experimenting with a body. As human beings, we have destroyed that marvel, we are a part of the beauty that exists in the universe but, we no longer remember how to use our bodies.
After many years of touring and performing, I felt I needed to give birth to something new. Together with my partner, Roberto, we founded the “Mimoteatro Escobar-Lerchundi” in Buenos Aires. We started teaching not only the art of Mime but, skills that would also contribute to allow human beings to be One with nature.
“A travers le geste il faut montrer les émotions”. “Through our gestures, we must express our emotions.” – Igón Lerchurdi
In all my years of teaching, the most frustrating thing I see in kids from all over the world, is how much they do not realize their value and victimize themselves. Hearing some ten year olds complain about sufferings and how tense their bodies have become, you would think we are in the middle of another world war!
To give importance to our human being, we need to be present in the moment, not only with our minds but, our body and soul. We allow so many unnatural forces to get stored within us; anger, guilt, resentment, stress, etc. The buildup creates a tension that slowly tightens our body and eventually transforms in illnesses.
When we become and feel One with the universe, we are capable of giving birth to something new. When we are One, we no longer blame any other person for the circumstances in our lives. We realize the many choices we have in any given situation instead of becoming victims of our circumstances.
About 20 years ago, Roberto and I agreed to endorse my niece and her boyfriend for a project launch. This project failed and Roberto and I lost everything! We each owned a house and a few real estate properties. The bank took it all for the payment of the loan. The only thing we were left with was this theatre and school. Before this happened, I considered retiring to buy a sail boat and go off sailing around the world. This incident send that sailing boat far away in the horizon.
I immediately understood two very important things.
First, I was One with the universe, this circumstance was a result of the choices I made. My niece and her boyfriend were not to blame.
Second, the universe was giving me a message. I allowed myself to be One, to listen to what the universe was telling me and give birth to that message.
I had a mission; it did not stop at 66 years old. I needed to have these material things taken away from my surroundings to continue living my true passion and my vocation to human nature. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Teaching these kids gives me life, they give me energy and I give them back that energy.
When we allow ideas of judgment or beliefs about others to enter our minds, we separate ourselves, using these feelings to identify who we are.
We go through life not knowing what we really want and what we are most passionate about. When we become aware of this energy within, we will be able to feel our passion, just like when we were kids. With this energy, you will feel One with nature, open yourself and be guided to rediscover your value buried deep within.
Is there a judgment or belief that has been keeping you from your full potential?