The body has its own wisdom and intelligence of how to move and express itself. From a very early age we begin to experiment with moving around, crawling, then walking, then running and jumping. We become explorers of the world around us and all its wonders. We search out the joys of the world using our bodies, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching everything in sight. The body becomes the vehicle of our exuberance, our curiosity, our expressions of delight in our discovery of this playground called life.
Also from an early age we are taught how to act, how to move or not move, how to behave. “Please quit jumping around; don’t touch that; stand over here and be still; can’t you please calm down?” Our enthusiasms are restrained, our zest for high activity is tempered, we become “domesticated, refined.” We accept this training and internalize these restrictions in our movement. We have been taught how to “behave.”
Now, socially acceptable behavior has its place in getting along with others. But if it happens at the cost of losing out on the joys of expressing oneself, then this is something worth addressing. The wisdom of the body is still there waiting to be tapped. But that wisdom is overshadowed by the concepts and ideas we accept as adults. Ideas such as “I can’t dance; I am too uncoordinated; I will look silly; I have to look cool; I am too fat, skinny, old, young (whatever…)!” These are just the internalized adult versions of earlier scoldings to “be still.”
Ecstatic dance is about letting go of these now self-imposed restrictions. It is a setting aside of the intellect and all it’s concepts of how not to move. It is an opening to new ways to express oneself in movement, to explore the world again, to have that passion once more, that love of life that you once had as a child. This dance is not a structured dance that follows a certain form.
It is not taught really, but rather invited. It is an invitation to explore different rhythms, patterns and movements. It is an invitation to listen to your own body, which now becomes the teacher. It is an invitation to tap into that internal wisdom of how to express yourself through the body. It is about finding your own dance from within.
There are certain factors that create a safe environment for this inner dancer to emerge. First off, this is not a social dance. It is held in an alcohol- and drug-free environment. Drugs and alcohol are for a different type of consciousness. This is dance consciousness. Second, it is not a place for people to come and observe others dance and make them feel self-conscious. Everyone participates in the dance. We all become co-creators of the energy on the dance floor. Third, the dance floor is to be respected as sacred space. It is a place for moving meditation that can take many forms. It can be deep, introspective inner work or high energy, extroverted dancing alone or with others. Ecstatic Dance is perhaps the oldest spiritual practice on the planet. Fourth, it is requested that there be no conversation in the dance. You wouldn’t chit-chat in a yoga or meditation class. The same goes for this dance. Talking is a distraction to those in deep inner work. Talking brings in the intellect, which we want to leave outside the dance. This dance is the abandonment of the intellect, forming a direct body-spirit connection experience. Hooting, hollering, animal sounds, energetic noises all OK.
It is an invitation to push the envelope, to listen to the body, to tap into the body’s own intelligence that already knows how to do outrageous dancing. To break free of personal boundaries. To co-create fantastic energetics on the floor with other dancers. To play again with the wild abandon of a child. To revel in spirit and the joy of life while moving to the sounds of world grooves.
1. Book: Gabrielle Roth: “Sweat Your Prayers” published by Tarcher/Penguin, 1997.
2. Magazine: www.consciousdancer.com.
3. www.tahoeyoga.com; events tab.
For more info, contact Steve Bollinger at 775-848-2378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.