Creativity & Tradition towards spirituality in dance

I believe that the most sacred dance, the dance that could awaken someone’s whole Being to come alive, that dance would be perfect in its geometry, spontaneous in it’s rendering, unpredictable yet organic and flowing yet precise, free yet intelligent.  I have been pondering what makes a dance “sacred” for years.  I believe in learning a discipline, yet reaching a point where there is freedom to create something entirely new, a new combination or a new move, but I think it’s important that dance obey natural laws.  Beauty of line should be there. Why? because geometry has a positive influence on the viewer (and no doubt the dancer).  There are treatises on the geometric shapes inherent in classical Indian dances and the effects of that on the chakras of the body. This fascinates me because I think all great art touches on universal laws and is healing to witness because of that connection or adherence, whether its conscious or unconscious.  Creativity is a collision of individuality and tradition.  I’ve seen Modern dance that touched universal laws from a different angle.  Indian dance does it through very precise symmetry, nuance, ancient cognitions of the subtle results of gestures that have both a literal and an energetic meaning.  Could we cognize right now?  Could it be as sacred as a temple dance in ancient times but with the individual creating moves that step outside of any particular discipline, yet are reminiscent of many of them? Of course!

You could break out of the perfect lines for a moment and come back to them, but if you make a crooked line your influence on the viewer is not as profound or orderly as if that line is pleasing.  Unless the crooked lines are so full of a natural flow that you create order differently.  But if you do it through beauty of line, that is one path.  People might not even understand why they enjoyed the shapes or the dance piece but they will experience it.

To me the elements of the spiritual in dance are 1) consciousness of the performer; 2)intention of the performer; 3) lyrical content; 4)music; 5)technique/precision/confidence; 6)reverence.   Elaborating on these elements:

The more the dancer is awake to the subtle currents within the body and also the basis of those currents in eternal silent witness awareness, the more of a transmission can occur.  And then, there could be the language used by those subtle forces – the training of the body, the conscious intention of the dancer in the moment.   I think the temple dances use of gesture is profound for two reasons: one is that the mudras themselves create subtle energies that relate to archetypes.  And not just energetically, but through the narratives and their emotions, our imaginations are stirred and our hearts opened.  We experience emotion outside of the daily life causes of those emotions, so we see them from further away.  The second reason is maybe the ornateness of the gestures but this is true of pure movement as well. Indian dance, like Inidan classical music, divides the space so to speak into so many intricate pieces.  When you look at a Persian rug, your mind has so many small delicate places to investigate.  I think Eastern traditions in general have gone into details so beautifully that our senses our enchanted and the broad canvas of creativity is divied up so infititesimally that the mind loses itself.  This is the value of ornamentation and soemthing the Kathaks incorporated more and more during the Moghul reign.  During that artistic renaissance the tabla playing, the dancers, the recitation of bols, supposedly became much more virtuoso.  But that complexity is everywhere in Indian art and also within that complexity is the intention to gain Samadhi, reverence, understanding.  That underlying intention makes it sacred.  And so must the underlying understanding of the influence of various sounds and the relationship of notes to one another.  So can we create spirituality in dance without all these elements or in different combinations?  Perhaps one or more of these elements can be present to the maximum degree and that will compensate for some lack in another.  To me there is a meeting point between the ancient laws, the science of sound and geometry, and the spontaneous cognition or transmission of the deeper energies within us, through our ability to move innocently from those impulses.   The work of people like Renee Jeffus and the tantric embodiment practices, all strive to first connect with our whole self and then move from there.  How that takes place and the degree to which one can do it is a glorious mystery.  I just want everything I know (and don’t know) to get used in the service of bliss.  To say it another way, Devi, dance me.  And  any gifts I have, just use them fully.  Actualization is just being willing to share everything we are, without holding back.  Stepping into that is probably only going to get more frightening and more fulfilling, ultimately.

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