Life is a dance. The dance begins when you are born into this world. Your life as a dance is experienced as a streaming flow of drama and gesture. Then the dance ends upon your death. You dont remember your birth, you cant know your death, and all you ever really have is the present moment in time. Our "dance of life" analogy becomes what is described as a right brain experience. The medium for your dance is time and space. The vehicle is your body, the rhythm of the dance is the beating of your heart, and the inspiration or motivation is your mind and spirit, surrendering itself to the invisible mystery.
Belly dance is the oldest dance. Belly dance is the dance of life. It is about creative energy. It celebrates women, nature, world, earth, vessel, belly and birth. It is passed down to us from ancient goddess cultures which saw time as cyclic rather than linear. These cultures valued their connection with nature, rather than its power over her. She was the Creatrix; birth giver, death wielder and renewer.
The analytical brain sees our dance of life in terms of a goal to push into the future, a product to be assessed, and footprints to be left behind as a historic record. The left brain choreographs and writes things down, while the right brain experiences . . . .while the right brain dances.
Since belly dance -the oldest dance-grew from these ancient roots that held high the creative act, in these pages we are going to approach the dance in terms of creative right brain dance exercises, rather than from a dictatorial sense. Of course, we are going to use our left brain, but I ask you to remind yourself periodically to relax and let go of the left brains need to dominate and be judgmental. Allow yourself room to freely explore movement, rather than adhering to overly strict boundaries. This will lead to understanding, growth and development of the true artist. .
Exercise for encouraging a right brain dominance shift
Take a deep breath and try to observe this process with
your mind's "eye".
Note which nostril you are breathing through.
Change "sides" by placing your finger over the nostril you wish to close.
Left side = right brain
Right side = left brain is dominant
Note: Just focusing on your breath will take you into your right brain.
Im going to introduce you to the symbols, a lost language that is inside of you. You wont have to memorize anything because, deep inside, you already know them. We are concerned with the process over the product, so we are purposely not going to have you learn a particular paint-by- number dance routine. We will cultivate skills allowing you to experience the richness of freedom and fitness, using your creative spirit.
During my long career of dancing and teaching, Ive always been in search of the deeper meaning of why women are so enamored with the art we know as belly dance. Until recently (this century), there was little historical personal information on dance in general. Dancers didnt write things down because dance is by nature a right brain activity. It communicates directly. There were no video cameras available, so historic records are primarily still paintings and a few outsider observations. These observations were made by those who usually were not dancers. In fact they were made by those very caught up in the culture at hand with it's bias against women, nature, and the body so it's views and descriptions must be weighted more accordingly (more on that later).
If I could tell you what I mean I wouldnt need to dance
Over the years of my career, in addition to studying and experiencing Middle East dance, I took my explorations far and wide; Jungian psychology, religions of the world, art history, physics, nature, astrology, astronomy, mythology, mysticism, and more. I investigated other ancient movement practices in hopes of gathering some kernels of wisdom about the esoteric properties of sacred movement; Sufi dance, whirling dervishes, tai chi, yoga, Gergief, voudoun, trance dance. . .
Somewhere in the mix of these rich fields of exploration I opened the book Language of the Goddess by Marijias Gimbutas, on the archeomythology of the Neolithic era of old Europe. She had cataloged the symbols she found repeated on the artifacts of her digs and conjectured their meaning. As I read and pondered more on the symbols of the paleolithic, neolithic, and pre-Indo Europeans, I realized that almost all the symbols on the page looked like the drawings from my belly dance class notes. Circles, figure eights, spirals, chevrons, hooks, dots, dashes, Vs, whirls, zig zags, undulations. . . My dance notes have always looked like hieroglyphics more than written words. Ive always known how to interpet them back into motion. A looping design could stand for a whole movement map inside my body.
That's when it hit me. The deeper meaning of this dance and the lost language of the Goddess that scholars have tried to decipher are the same. Its a language of the body and WE are the Rosetta stones.
WE , the belly dancers!
That's when it hit me. . . The deeper meaning of this dance . . . and the lost language of the Goddess that scholars have tried to decipher . . . ARE THE SAME. It's a language of the body, and WE are its "Rosetta stones".*
The psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) developed the concept of archetypes. These powerful forces and patterns become known to us by symbolic representations in our mindscape. The archetypes rise up through the universal cosmic unconcious. They are derived from mankinds evolution and experience of the world. Since we all have the same body, we find that our bodies' language is also universally known. Fransose Delsarte (1811-1877) dedicated his life to cataloging the movements of man, from the highest born to the lowliest stations in life. He developed a simple/universal system for understanding the meanings of our bodies' movement, based on physical, emotional and mental properties (see charts). It is so simple and intuitive to understand, once the dance student is shown, it offers
her a wealth of creative self confidence.
No move is owned by any one culture. They are only rediscovered
So could it be that these simple Goddess symbols inscribed on the stone bodies of goddess figurines and vessels, come down from the halls of time to speak to US ? That they come to our left brain to unlock words might be a miss guided direction the scholars are taking us, or that it holds only one kind of surface meaning at most. I mean to propose that the ancient culture was speaking directly to the right brain. It's a language of the feminine world to be understood by the BODY?
Hello, ancient feminine wisdom! A wisdom of the body!
By experiencing these patterns directly in the body, we continue to transmit the messages passed down to us through countless ages. That, in essence, is the big Ah, Ha! about belly dance . When you dance it, you will know, and that's what millions of women are discovering all over the world today.
To the universe belongs the dancer, whoever does not dance, does not know what happened
Jesus, Acts of John.
Funny I should mention "Ancient Feminine Wisdom" because here comes the Serpent, - the oldest symbol for "Feminine Earth Wisdom and Power", until the church got hold of it and convinced us that knowledge and wisdom were the end of innocence.
(Well, they may be right about that after all!)
In ancient Egypt the Uraeus was the cobra symbol for the Goddess and was worn on the forehead over the third eye. In India they call the Earth Goddess Serpent Queen, the Mother of All that Moves. The Kundalini represents the inner power of the body and lays coiled in the pelvis. The serpent energy is said to be immortal because by shedding its skin it demonstrates constant cycles of regeneration. A woman's uterus sheds its walls once a month and regenerates. In Arabic the words "serpent","life", "teaching", and "Eve" all come from the same root. The priestesses of Delphi were known as pythonesses or divine serpent priestess, prophetess. The serpent is our perfect dance coach. And the skill we will learn is reptilinear locomotion .
* Rosetta Stone; * Rosetta Stone; an inscription on a black basalt stone found in 1799 by Napoleon's army gave the first clue to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. The text on the stone was written in hieroglyphics, Demotic (everyday Egyptian script) and Greek. Using the latter two as translations along with what had been preserved of the ancient Egyptian spoken language through the Coptic Church, scholars were able to ascertain that the hieroglyphic text was representative of a spoken language as well as a symbolic one.