Thursday, February 2, 2012


I had posted that I was going to try to post every single day and yet again I let my exuberance and desire to do and accomplish something get a head of me. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what to say, how I really want to organize this blog, and also how to make it easier for me to give examples of my own through video and photos and right now I don't have the resources to make that work. For what I want to share I've learned again what I did back when I tried this before, a blog just isn't the format that I'm looking for. Maybe some spark of inspiration will come my way, but until that time I will just keep dancing and working on my own and perhaps one day things will fall into place for sharing with others through the wondrous medium of the internet.



Friday, January 13, 2012

A Brief Quote

Wow, it's been two long days with lots of work, so today I want to share a little quote that I just love.

"The Dancer looks both ways, and holds the keys

That show the rising, falling vortices.

Her dance expands within the world, and takes

The world within; in her the world awakes.

Unreal divisions yield to unities!"

This comes from Description of Ta Rat by John Opsopaus.

I came across this quote a few months back and it was part of what spurred me to pick up this blog again, as it set me to thinking in more depth about what it is to be a sacred dancer and how to express that to others. It's really not the same as dancing normally at non-sacred functions, there's a whole other feeling and dimension to it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Types of Sacred Dance Part 3 - Demonstrative/Devotional Dance

You would think after a long day at work I'd be too tired to look forward to posting, but really I am finding sitting down at my laptop to post part 3 of 3 on my Types of Sacred Dance segment relaxing.

Category 3. Demonstrative/Devotional Dance

Definition: A dance preformed for devotional exercise for a specific entity or to demonstrate through dance a myth, sacred principle, divine being, or mystery.

This is actually the newest of my three categories, I defined it for the first time only last year. This is the kind of dance that is perhaps the most versatile, and may one day be separated between Demonstrative and Devotional but right now I sort of feel still that there is enough of an overlap that being one and the same category is ok. For example, a dance that is used to visually interpret a divine being could be used demonstratively to portray it to an audience, as a devotional dance to that being, or if you're really daring, both at the same time. The actual dance looks identical all three ways the only difference is intent.

In relation to the other categories, it can look more formalized like a ritual dance, or in a more devotional aspect take on elements of trance dance if through the devotional act that state is achieved. Which is probably why for so long I didn't really distinguish it from the other two but it really does need to be separate. What made me realize this was when I was thinking of sacred dance outside of traditionally sacred settings, like on the stage at an event or as the event itself. Not to say that be being out of a specifically 'sacred place' or ritual there's anything less to it. That which is sacred can be anywhere and everywhere, but I think that by being outside of a ritual or explicitly sacred venue the focus and emphasis can change because you are reaching out to an audience who may have different views, religions, backgrounds, ect, and that makes the goal of the dance not just to visually interpret but also to  help them in some small way experience what you're showing them, be it demonstration or devotion.

That's all for tonight, I've run out of steam and sleep is fed up waiting for me to succumb.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Types of Sacred Dance Part 2 - Trance Dance

Alright, now it's time to jump back on the horse and soldier on.

So last time I spoke about ritual dance, today it's time for trance dances.

Category 2. Trance Dance

Definition: Dance that is used to create a trance state, where conscious thought is non-existent, to achieve various ends.

I admit 'various ends' is pretty vague for use in a definition but really to list all the options that I can think of, and that list would be by no means definitive, would be too long for a simple definition. The ends that I can think of are, blessing, union with the divine, experience of some greater force or power, communion with some sort of ruling spirit, and those are just the things that flew off the top of my head.

Trance dance is often different than other forms of dance in that it is not about the enjoyment of the observer, or being pleasing to the eye, in that there is any sort of focus on grace and shape, and pretty choreography. It's about the dancer focusing almost completely on the interior or abstract realms in order to achieve the trance state and the goal there of. There are exceptions, when I can find it again I want to discuss a quote from one of my old text books that described a mystic experience had by a dance while preforming a well practiced choreography.

There are a number of trance dance traditions that I could get into but I would like to go over them individually in more detail rather than slapping down a few broad strokes and generalizations to further illustrate my point as to describing trance dances.

It's hard to find something to say about a dance where the emphasis is on experience both for the individual but also in some cases the group. More to come on this topic in the future I promise.



Friday, January 6, 2012

Short Break

I thought I'd forget to post before something like this happened. My router at home died, I'm making this post real quick from my phone. I'm not sure if and how often I'll have internet and be able to post. I hope to get back on track soon.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Ritual Dance with the Elements

Alright, so I had a different article slated to be posted today but I'm going to hold off on it. I really don't want to tackle things like songs in constructed languages,or no actual language, at least not quite yet. I need some more time to think things through. That's the thing about this project, there's lots of trying things new and different, some things work, others don't, some are just sort of in the middle not great, not terrible. Then when it comes time to articulate it to another person sometimes the topic becomes more complicated as things that I don't need to explain to myself, like what I've experienced, but would need to be clarified for others.

What I will share with you today is a small ritual dance that can either be a small meditative ritual dance to bring the dancer into harmony with the elements or it can be used as an initial portion of a greater ritual dance.

I'd had an idea for a ritual like this for many years but I wasn't quite sure how to do go about it, I hadn't yet found away that I was really happy with. Recently I found a piece that helped me look at it in a new light, it can be found here on Lady of the Earth.

With this new out look here's what I've finally come up with and I'm quite happy with it.

A Ritual Dance with the Elements

We begin with the element of spirit, the posture is one of prayer, palms together and fingers straight but interlaced resting at heart level. Here is a time to connect to oneself and one's spirit.

When ready lift the hands up, looking up and holding hands up in a v as if trying to embrace the sky. Here try to feel the spirit of all things, try to be aware of everything going on around you, the way the space feels, any others in the space, any little thing. Once awareness has been extended out let your body respond to the feeling, move in the ways you feel appropriate.

The next element is the element of air, facing east hold arms out to the sides, fingers spread, and leaning slightly forward while expanding the chest, vaguely reminiscent of the figure head on the prow of a ship. Feel the air all around, try to sense any little breath or breeze, even those generated by breathing. Again once you feel fully aware of the air, let your body move in response.

Next turn to the south and fire, bringing the arms in a bit, holding the hands at shoulder height and clenched into tight fists. I find that sometimes the tension creeps into the rest of my body, and that's ok. It's time to feel the power of one's muscles, the energy of the room, the pulse of one's heart. Once you are aware of this power and fire, move in response, sometimes the way my body moves here is to release excess tensions.

Now we come to the west and water, keeping arms at about shoulder height or a little lower bring the arms forward, gently bent and cupped in a bowl shape. Sense here any moisture, the emotions of the space and yourself. It helps to visualize a pond or a lake at rest. Once aware of this, move in response. I find these movements tend to be centered more in my hips.

Lastly is the element of earth. Lower the arms to the side, and feet anchored firmly to the ground, it is time to find stability and firmness of posture, feel how you're standing and connect with the ground beneath your feet. Once you feel aware of this move in response. Usually for me this is manifests in various foot patterns and traveling steps.

Now we've come all the way around to the end of the elemental portion, from here one could move on to another dance or exercise or simply end. I like to end with my arms crossed on my chest, head down slightly, denoting a cessation of thought and action.*

And that's a ritual dance, it doesn't need music, but it could if you feel it is necessary, I tend to preform it in silence since I find music can sometimes push me to move on before I'm ready to. For those of you who feel inspired, give it a try, regardless if you do it the same or use this as a jumping off point for something new I would be thrilled to hear from you.

We're on to Types of Sacred Dance Part 2 tomorrow.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Types of Sacred Dance Part 1 - Ritual Dance

I could have done this little series of posts in one long epic portion but I since I'm trying this daily posting thing, I'm trying to parcel things out into smaller chunks and also so I can give each one more thought.

The term Sacred Dance is really broad and in order to better express myself here and in my own head I've come up with three categories for Sacred Dance.

Category 1. - Ritual Dance

Definition: Dance that is used as a portion of a larger ritual or as a ritual in it's entirety.

I use this type of dance a lot in my personal practice since as a solitary practitioner I am hesitant to do any sort of trance dance rituals alone, also I don't often have a lot of space to feel safe moving without any conscious thought about it. The most disruptive thing to the trance experience I referenced in my previous post was almost falling on my face or crashing into something.

Ritual dance tends to have a more specific vocabulary of movements, they are deliberate and meant to invoke words and attitudes. I don't think that the movements have to replace the words, if words either spoken, chanted, or sung should compliment each other.

This vocabulary doesn't have to be specifically codified but I certianly think that it would be helpful for the dancer at least for specific gesures of welcoming, invoking, ect. I will discuss my own movement vocabulary in future posts.
One type of ritual dance that I used could be called a sort of moving mediation. Reciting a passage or a hymn and contemplating it's meaning and moving my self to reflect it. I personally find this a very powerful and moving experience. This could also be done with someone else speaking or using a recording but I find that speaking and moving at the same time is a more powerful experience.

I have also used this type of dance as a type of expression in a ritual working, to get into the right frame of mind and attitude before the core of the working is preformed.

Tomorrow, I will talk about an example of this type of dance before moving onto the next category.