Sacred Dance

It doesn't take so much for the dance to be born – just a sound and a response of the body to it. It may be the rumble of the African drums, or the rain, hitting the pavement, or it may even be the heartbeat. Nature has endowed each Man with certain rhythms that ask a question, and certain movements that give the answer to it. Their coincidence creates the dance - the dialogue between the body and music, the dialogue between Man and himself or another person, the dialogue with God or the Universe.

 

Dance while being in search of yourself

Whatever the dance – the passionate whirlwind of flamenco or the meditative swaying to the rhythm of reggae – it always has one meaning: to establish a connection with the spiritual world of the dancer, which very often is hidden from himself. This is a way to gather your own power and learn how to interact with it. During the dance, in the body appears the type of energy that it needs, and that gives a sense of life, non-stop movement and development. There are certain nations for which the dance is a natural state. It does not start when the tape recorder is turned on, it does not depend on the place, time and situation. Dance at the bus stop? Dance when you wash the dishes? Dance while standing in a long line? Yes, of course, if the music is playing inside you. Yes, if the dance comes from within, deep from the heart. Actually, this is one of the main conditions for its appearance. The dance is a certain depth, and if it is not experienced on the inside, it becomes just some external movements without content or simply an expression without feelings. The transition to the outside is the problem of modern dance, for which the aesthetics of movement is often more important than the internal filling up, the expression of human nature through the body. Such an approach eliminates the very root of dance and its power. The dance is aimed not at the communication with yourself, but at the outside world, it leads the dancer away from his search and instead of a searching man, it makes him a showing man. Moreover, when the movements are directed outwards, the inner awareness is lost, the control of energy. And that's the most important thing that is lost in the modern dances. In the serious dancing schools, they don't let the dancer "to the world" unless he feels the dance from the inside, unless he merges with himself, listening to the external and internal rhythms. He is not even allowed to the mirror, unless he reaches certain sensibility of his body – no need to look at himself, if he is still empty on the inside. The dance actually launches a self-search, a search for the energy that fills up the body, but which not everyone is able to use (that's why it seems that the inside is empty).

The conductor in this quest is the rhythm. It is the road, it is the Way, it is the assistant. It's only needed to listen, listen, listen ... And the body starts to dance by itself. Its dance can take any form – from the gangster and emotional R'n'b to the majestic and sensual waltz. The style is no more than a visual plan, a form of the correlation between the internal and the external world. It actually depends on the region, where the dance came into existence, and on the rhythm that created and developed the culture of this region.

The dance is a certain volume, which contains its own tasks and actions. We can only stay and somehow fill up in the dance, but we can also go further and make it an internal process of learning and transformation, i.e. alchemy. The perception of the dance can also become one special experience: even if we are just watching the dancer, the rhythm, in which his body is moving, and also his movements create and lock us up into their own space, where they transform, inspire, fill up with power and sensation, energy and emotions. The dance sets the present, it is, in fact, a condition for the present. It creates the dancer, it creates the spectator, it actually creates the present here and now.

The creation of paganism

There are religions where the main prayer is the dance. It was born with the gods, and it was probably created for them. The dance is tightly connected with the cult of fertility. The ceremonies joined Man with the heavenly rhythms, the forces of the Earth and the Moon. In fact, the first concerted movements of black tanned bodies under the rhythm of leather drums – that's a cult, linked to the cosmic cycles.

Every manifestation of the natural forces in the polytheistic cultures not only had certain characteristics and a signifying deity, but also implied the building up of a relationship with that power. In the process of building were picked up various forms of movement, groped for the precise rhythms, which eventually merged into the dance. The different tasks – preservation, acquisition, development – corresponded to their rhythms and their ritual movements.

Interestingly, in monotheism the dance is not so important. The point is that the dance cannot be bound to a single object, otherwise it ceases to function. One object – hence, only one rhythm and one order of specific movements. Is it really possible to find it? On the contrary, the ancient cultures – the Chaldean, Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek – have many gods and thus a huge variety of dances.

The dance was supposed to maintain the necessary for Man connections and to resist the damaging effects from the outside. Everything, that disturbed the natural rhythm of communion with nature, related to the development, growth and fading of the energy, was considered as destroying. This rhythm conformed mainly to the lunar cycles. The woman is most of all connected to the Moon. She is some kind of a home for the Moon on the Earth. The connection between the activity of women and the lunar cycle was so strong that everything was built and subjected to this connection. The internal state of the woman, as well as her external activity differed in the different periods of the lunar cycle. In fact, this was understandable, since her rhythm correlated with the process of ovulation. Being in three different states during one lunar cycle – awakening, maturing and decreasing of the energy – the woman was active in different ways.

The art of connecting, relating of her rhythm with the phases of the Moon allowed the woman to join the sacred. It was expressed in the cult of Demeter (the Greeks), Isis (the Egyptians), Brigitte (the Celts). The most important ritual dances were performed only by women and were carefully hidden from the eyes of the men. All movements had a very important meaning and required an irreproachable performance. The point is that the woman, during the lunar month, changes three times her breath, and thus the saturation of the body with energy. Consequently, any unreasonable movements, not performed under the proper rhythm and concentration, are likely to disrupt the real harmony with nature, which leads to the loss of naturalness and filling up.

Dance – the language and faith of ancient Africa

The dance combined two forces inside itself. One of them was pointed at the development, and the other – the conservation of energy. The external form of dance is the controlling force, which should allow to develop and cultivate inner power.

One of the first cultures that felt and began to use this, was the polytheistic culture of Yoruba – probably the oldest practical system. The faith in Yoruba was determined not only at the invisible, abstract level, but it possessed its own language of body movements, wild dances around the bonfires, dark hands, beating in trance on the skin of the drums, their deaf rhythm and the leisure singing of the strong deep voices.

Yoruba – a people, composed of several ethnic groups.The main place of residence – Nigeria, Benin – linked to the ancient Nok culture, which, in turn, has a connection with the culture of Ancient Egypt.The culture of the Yoruba people is considered a major African culture that has preserved part of the secret Ancient Egyptian knowledge.

The Yoruba culture uses the form of Ile-Ife, i.e. the condition of a certain reticence, in which may accumulate and develop the energy. Inside the dance, due to a specific sequence of movements, was established a connection between the different energy levels and depending on the nature of these connections appeared a particular pattern of the dance.

As a result of the colonization, the Yoruba culture spread around the world, and its dancing patterns wove into the dances of many other nations. The popular dances today – mamba, rumba, conga, chankleta, son, salsa, samba and other Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean dances – keep the same approach Ile-Ife to the search and realization of the internal connections.

Ile-Ife – a city in Nigeria, the homeland of the ancient culture of Yoruba.It is hold sacred as a place of special forces. According to one of the versions, the city of Ile-Ife is associated with the ancient Egyptian civilization, and it still keeps knowledge about it.

According to one of the legends about Yoruba, Obatala learnt people how to dance – the beginning, giving breath to all living creatures. In the understanding of the Yoruba people, the dance is not just the act of connection between Man and divine power, but a conscious action. It is aimed not only at the connection with the Heaven, but also inward oneself - at the generation, transformation and multiplication of one's own powers. This approach to the dance is due to the understanding of the earthly rhythm of the place, where Man lives and develops, and the Earth's power, which is so important for the African nations.

The Dance of immortality

In addition to the dances of Africa, drawing inspiration and power from the ground, there is also an area connected with Heaven. India has created it. The “Heaven” area is related to the practice of awakening the vital energy – Kundalini, connecting the mental, energetic and physical. This connection is what, in fact, manages the divine power. Kundalini is the realized form of connection, which may be considered as a certain kind of energy, power, or form. Such an approach to the dance is associated with the cult of Shiva-Natarandzha.

There is also some area of the dance, where they work at the level of “Man”. The movements here are of a particular importance, also their meaning and what they are pointed at. This very “human” dance is most impressive in the Celtic culture and the worship cult of the deity of Briggite.

These three areas – the Yoruba culture, the Indian and Celtic traditions – are especially important for the understanding of the essence of dance. Why them? Why not, for instance, the rich Egyptian tradition? The fact is that in Egypt the belief in afterlife predetermined the original understanding of Man's position on the Earth, it set some temporary boundaries. The Egyptian dance was a supreme art, sometimes a ritual, but it did not carry the idea of connection and conservation of the vital energy.

In those cultures and religions, where exists the concept of immortality and reincarnation, the dance is considered as a mechanism of creation, energy development and strengthening of the spirit, which can be used in the next life.

Gradually, the dance became some conscious practice, a method of development and a self-improvement. It showed more of the emotions, feelings and individuality of each dancer.

Your dance – that's your special reality, state and experience. The key to it lies in the laws of nature, the depths of your body, the ability to hear and give yourself up to the rhythm, the internal “self”, which strives to a new knowledge about itself. When you've learnt to communicate with yourself through the dance, you can use it as a language of communication with the outside world. And, if you manage to dance in a way that you leave the audience speechless, so you have already got it.

 

08 april 2007

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