Ode to Dance
Body knowledge starts by removing attention from the mind and focusing entirely on movement. Independent thinking, thinking with one’s own mind, is learned through thinking in feelings and sensations, and thinking in pictures, free from the rigidity of worlds. With these two different approaches, a whole world of possibilities opens up.
The movements of belly dancing enable a woman to understand and experience a natural rhythm. In this dance form, she swings her limbs around the center of her body, around the navel of the world, through waves and swinging, rhythmical movements of the pelvis, through movements older than any single woman, indeed older than human civilization. We dance to become one with a rhythm that was here before us and will remain after we are gone.
Through dancing a human being can move beyond limits, into a world of great thoughts where the yearning for transformation lingers and where the majesty of the true self is recognized. With dancing, each human being becomes ancient and universal. The natural ecstasy released through dancing takes the dancer beyond his or her isolation and feeling of being separate. It turns the drop into a river. Dancing is indeed the fastest way to unite with the divine.
In this world full of ephemeral things, wisdom is the one lasting goal for which people can spend their lives striving. And there are as many roads to wisdom as there are human beings. Dizzying, difficult roads, gentle and comfortable roads, and slow, beautiful roads that invite one to linger a while. There are solitary roads and there are social roads, misleading roads and culde-sacs, and there are straight roads. Dancing is the most direct way to become aware of your inner space and of the space outside your body. Dancing unfolds feeling, longings, and nostalgia as well as the mind’s powers of observation and thought. It is incumbent upon all human beings to recognize their own paths. This duty confers dignity upon them and makes them into noble, honorable beings. The fulfillment of daily chores and duties finds its meaning in the knowledge of one’s way. Dancing is a way to find the teacher inside, in oneself. The wings of imagination soar through dancing.
Dancing is the joy of life, of creation, an expression of the awakening soul that is reflected in the dancing experience and in the rhythmic movements. Dancing means building up the body and the spirit, beyond all cultural limitations, uniting human beings with their ancient past, directly yet fluidly. In the heat of dancing, the barriers between mind and body vanish, enabling dancers to grow and plunge into a world of great thoughts and feelings where they find themselves bathed in the fragrance of the transformation for which they have waited all their lives.
Through dancing, people discover the beauty and the strength that lie within; and through the natural ecstasy of dancing, they learn to surrender to a higher force that lets them guess at the unity and wholeness of life. Through their movements, they come to nestle in the movements of the universe and in turn their own movements are reflected in the movements of the stars, the flowers, and the newborn child. Life’s burdens and inner turmoil come to a halt in the elevated moment of dancing. In this instant the world becomes a work of art, a kingdom of unity.
Through the intensity of the dancing moment, new worlds and possibilities open to one’s own understanding. Through the movements of the body, the heart opens and a great reconciliation with oneself and others can take its course. In the elevated instant of dancing, human beings experience a feeling of flowing, a childish, playful sensation that enables them to relax into awareness, into a balance between exercising free will and surrendering to the pulse of life.
Through dancing, people understand their feelings. They are moved by feelings of lightness and happiness that enable them to take life easier, to overcome its ups and downs with a lighter foot. Through dancing, people free themselves from the certainty of death and connect to the pulse of life. The barriers between I and Thou become less marked; the methods by which we accommodate reality to our own mold lose their rigidity. The painful coincidence of free will and destiny can be grasped in its greatness, which helps us become children of nature. Free choice and surrender can both be expressed through dancing and turned into intuition.
Intuition, so hard to put into words, is generally considered a “feminine” quality, ascribed to the right side of the brain. Through dancing, intuition can grow, playfully, and become integrated with pure reason. A human being becomes a human being through coming and going, through rising and falling, through the silent words spoken by the heart. Women tend to listen to these words more than men. Through dancing they can follow this inner voice with even greater awareness, lending it rhythm and expression.
Dancing also stimulates the unconscious, which in turn leads to a widened consciousness and an expanded personality. Dancing is an element that heightens life and feeling of wholeness. Belly dancing, so aptly named, leads to the deep, dark cave, to the center of the earth, before flying, in all its pride and life-force, up to the light, to inspiration, and to new awareness. The way to the spirit is found via the body, via the matter. The fact that the word matter itself is already present in the German word mater, mother, cannot be but highly significant, although this connection is often neglected in the ¨logical and male¨ world. But both elements are complementary. Without them, no man or woman could develop or become fully human. Becoming aware, searching and longing for unity-not uniformity –can help human beings out of the state of separation and isolation, and lead them along the path to unity.
The essential principle that makes such a transformation possible is the human capacity for love. As Erich Fromm put it as is Ode to Dance, “Love is first and foremost an act of faith and he who can believe but little can also love but little.”
Dancing offers the conscious and the unconscious, the rational and the intuitive, a space in which they may gradually flow into each other. In belly dancing, feelings can surface gently and safely, acknowledged, and win acceptance, so that life may be seen from another perspective.