Recently I was asked by a participant in my workshop ‘what does it mean to dance for your community?’
I was going to simply write my reply to her, but then I began to give it some more thought and decided to write a little more with this material.
Its quite a thing really to dance for ones community. After all, dancing for oneself is the normal, whether its for pleasure or fun, whether its to keep fit, for performance, or whether its for your own personal development.
In the School of Movement Medicine we dance very deeply for ourselves, uncovering some of the hidden issues we might be carrying, bringing our history into the dance, creating ceremony and exploring the possibility of what freedom really means.
In our work we are seeking the innate wisdom of our souls. This is connected to the innocent mind and the creativity that can be so often lost, in the way our society has become focused on academic achievements, mastering financial goals and many other more left brain, thinking mans progress through the centuries.
So in the beginning we do need to dance for ourselves. We need to find out who we really are beneath the layers. We need to connect back to our bodies and our hearts. To the earth and each of the elements.
And what then? There is always more we can do, I do not believe a time comes when we can say ‘I am truly enlightened, nothing more to do, I know myself inside out and there is nothing to learn.’ At least I hope that is the case, for I would certainly miss the adventure of learning if it came to an end!
But in between those moments of healing ourselves, there is a time to take what we have learned into the world around us.
There are many lives for us to affect. Many of us know the power of prayer, we may have grown up with religion in one way or another and we know that we can affect others lives by simply praying. Many of us know the power of thought. ‘Thoughts become things,’ Ive heard great teachers say.
So what has this got to do with dance?
How aware are you of the life that is around you? Once we have undergone those sometimes intense periods of looking inwards, healing our own journey, we begin to turn our attention outwards – to those around us. It is then possible to open ourselves much more towards others. We become aware of the wounds and pain of others. We become aware of those in need, those who suffer and those who have not yet found a way to dance themselves free of the trappings of their lives or of the unhealthy parts of society.
We may become more aware of the elements and the way the earth is constantly polluted or taken for granted. We may begin to feel the lack of awareness of our planet reflected within our own bodies, becoming more acutely aware of this mirrored back to us.
The more aware we become of what is around us the more power we can give to ourselves to actually make a difference, to do something about what we feel passionate about.
Nothing can be done without us first having a basic understanding of what is needed. So as we dance, we awaken those parts of ourselves that know. Those parts that have an innate wisdom to be able to see into what is needed. Empathy is born from the understanding of how life is affecting us inwardly and how life is being affected around us.
So on we dance, asking to be granted the wisdom; to be shown what is needed from us. What are we able to offer to our communities? What do we feel in our hearts is right? We keep dancing asking for the truth to be shown to us.
We each have a gift, a gift that is able to serve the higher good. By awakening ourselves and healing our own wounds this can become apparent. We may find ourselves healing child hood trauma, leading us to empathise with wounded children, taking ourselves amongst schools and kindergartens where we can best serve the needs of other children, we may wish to become a social worker and help families who are having difficulties with parenting. We may feel the need to connect with animals and take up working in a sanctuary, cleaning rivers for fishes or working as a healer for people’s pets. We may become vegan and work for animal rights. We may realise a need to assist broken marriages, to become a therapist. We may feel a need to write a book about our own life because somewhere a feeling deep down in our soul tells us it could help others heal from their own pasts and reclaim a part of their own soul.
This isn’t to say that we all need dance to help us find this way. Many of us have already found our soul-purpose. But what if we haven’t and we are still looking for that purpose? One of my workshops is called ‘Soul-Action’ I am sure you know what that is about 🙂
But how do we really implement this way of working within the dance? Like anything else we begin with the body and the breath. We develop a strong micro awareness of our inner dance. As we expand our awareness to what is around us we can begin to connect with the atmosphere; the atmosphere that we are creating ourselves, with our own dance. We might ask ‘how does this affect others?’
We may begin to notice what is drawn to us, what or who is attracted to us even? Where does our dance take us?
This can take very particular guidance. It is sometimes too easy to remain in the shell of our own existence, searching the corners and areas of dysfunction, sometimes this is really necessary and sometimes it can become too much of a habit. There are times when we will distract ourselves from our own pain by focusing on others and their pain. So how do we know when the timing is right?
Again it is the awareness within the dance and the trust of the dancer to guide us into those places when the timing is perfect. The body cannot lie, if we feel emotion it will connect us to the root of the pain if we listen intently enough. If the pain is because of what we know to be true inside us or if we feel it as pain that is collective, chances are it is the same thing. The inner reflecting the outer and vise versa.
My own role has been to be very observant of the timing. When have we collectively moved on from our own sufferings, then is the time to draw the attention outwards.
So the dance of Macro leads us to connect with what is external and helps us to see how we can be effective. What do we automatically begin to pray for? What draws our attention and curiosity? If we are willing to follow we may just discover that this is what the dance of our community is about.
For sure the soul knows why we are here and what we need to be doing and the dancer awakens that soul, they dance together, becoming one once more, no separation, a soul in action, giving to self, giving to others, giving to the planet.
Communities have come together to dance. For thousands of years they have gathered, in the middle of villages, around communal fires, many ways and many tribes around the world. As the dance begins to enter what is known as a trance or to dance ecstatically (transcending normal consciousness) The dancers can open up their own consciousness and allow what ever is needed to come forth. Tribal and indigenous cultures have known this for thousands of years. One person may receive a healing in these moments, a relationship may be healed, a child or a conflict within the village. These dances open up the potential for spiritual healing, emotional or physical.
The thing that makes these collective dances so different to other forms of dance is that there is a shared intention. Known or unknown in the beginning, the dance unfolds and the intention becomes clear. If there is a particular conflict then the spirits will be called that help to deal with this particular issue. The tribe might dance for hours even days and within that time just one dancer might receive a healing. That is good, that is necessary, that is progress. no one would feel ‘hard done by’ because they were not the one. For what affects one person will ultimately affect us all.
We come together in our cultures to dance, but how often is the focus of this dance to find a collective intention to heal or to work with a particular issue within our community? How often do we dance to find our true soul-purpose?
Please feel free to share your views and feelings on my post and any others I have written. And thank you for asking me the original question.
Lets come together to dance, with an intention
Photos by Ben Cole with thanks to Miriam and the dancers in South Africa workshop in my offering of ‘Circle, Fire & Phoenix.’