Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dancing with Death

Erie City Cemetery
The longer I teach dance, the more I learn that, like life, dance is intimately tied to death and grief.

Of course, the reason I started to dance again almost 5 years ago was very much due to the death of a dear friend.

Teaching elder dancers, I have had two students pass away.

Those elder dancers were the first to make me realize how much dance is a partner to death and not because of students lost but of students' losses.  I found myself guiding them in dance as grief release.

That led to me teaching some groups of widows that dance could help them process their fresh grief in ways that talking could never touch.

And regardless of death happening in our own lives (we just lost our young Elizabeth Rabbit very unexpectedly), I still dance and teach dance through it all.

Because dance IS life and life IS dance.

No separation.

So far, I have only listed literal death and grief but we all experience countless other deaths almost on a daily basis.

Our culture does not leave much time to notice those tiny daily deaths much less time to process them and integrate them into our own lives with meaning and purpose.

The dance allows for this space in our lives. It allows us to simply be with ourselves.

Sometimes the dance is raucous and joyful but not always.

Dance that is always raucous and joyful is fraudulent. It strips dance of its true power.

Life is not always pretty and neither should dance be.

True, real, authentic dance makes room for the shadows and the deep darkness.

And dance gives us the power -- physically, mentally, and emotionally -- to withstand the darkness, to know that we are not quitters, to make it through the shadows no matter how much they frighten us.

If your dance is not transforming you through fire, then you're just exercising.  I don't know about you, but my experience of life is way too valuable to have time for mere exercise.  I am here to learn and to grow, not to be a slave to vanities.

Life is short. Use your time well.

Dance...even in the graveyards.

(If you're ready to dance, chant, write, and ritualize your way through the obstacles that keep you from your most powerful experience of this life, there is still time to sign up for the distance workshop where we will do just that with Ganesh's help. Go here.)