Week 8 (D): on the divine experience of dance
I’ve danced since I could walk. I imagine my chubby toddler legs moving me in fibonacci spirals on the carpet in the living room, arms waving as much for balance as for artistic expression. Later, in ballet class, I tried to leash my heart to the barre so I could do what the teacher wanted. But I kept bursting out of the form at inappropriate moments. Later, my ballet teacher kicked me out because I was “getting too heavy” (I was 12 years old). For a while, the magic of dancing died for me because I thought it was all about how thin your legs were.
Until I realized that it’s not. Dance is about creating art with your body, even if nobody else sees it. Dancing in your bedroom, on your bed, in a pair of ratty underwear because it’s laundry day and you’re waiting for the dryer to finish has just as much potential to create magic as if you were dancing in a forest in a grove of hundred-year-old trees. The point is not to weigh a certain amount, or to have particular body measurements: the point is to move. your. feet. Keep moving until you are so exhausted you can barely stand. Then let yourself collapse in an ecstasy of exhaustion. For me, the feeling I get when I’m done dancing is identical to the one I get when I finish a spell or ritual.
Dancing in public places creates a particular kind of magic. When other people become aware of the magic in the world as a result of your actions, that’s an incredible feeling. It’s why I dance in grocery store lines, why I think best on my feet (so my hips can shift in subtle bellydance slides), and why I am usually smiling. Dancing (and magic-sharing) is incredibly important to my spirituality. The phrase “when you pray, move your feet” resonated with me when I first heard and wrote about it, and it continues to hold true. Always be dancing, and you’ll always be connected to the divine.
Sara Bareilles has a talent for making me smile. At least two of her music videos are about dancing in public. I particularly love this one because there’s such a variety of body types and movement styles. It’s not about whether other people think you’re good, it’s about how dancing makes you feel. If it’s something that makes your heart swell with overwhelming joy, keep going.
Dancing is about feeling like a Goddess just because you can move your body. And I don’t mean the limiting movement of your feet – I mean the way your hands can form lotuses, or how your arms ripple like snakes made of cloud. How you move.
Here’s an assortment of some of my favorite dance videos from around the web. Feel free to link to your favorites in the comments.
Arabian Spices (bellydance and unexpected body types; anyone/everyone can and should dance and do so with confidence)
Beyond Words Dance Company (the wonder of children’s dancing)
Hybrid Dance Project (the value of dancing in tightly synchronized groups)
Where the Hell is Matt? (on dance being a form of communication)
Yanis Marshall and Marie Ninja (when spoken word poetry and dance coincide)