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Safe Dance

by Larry Myers

This very inspirational and empowering poem was sent to us through the email. It came at a perfect time to inspire the Summer Solstice Parade Dancers this spring. Our theme is Femal Empowerment . Larry was kind enough to let us host his work on our web site.
Thank you Larry!
Following the poem is alittle about Larry.

Hi Everyone!

This is the poem I recited, and danced to, at Bellyjam, which got such a good response. Please feel free to share it with someone you think
it might empower.


Safe Dance

There was a time when everything danced.
The earth danced.
The oceans danced.
The flames from campfires danced skyward, and all
bodies in the
heavens . . .

And everybody knew about rhythm.
The tides knew it from the moon.
The trees knew it from the seasons.
And the people knew it from their own breaths and
heartbeats, and
from heartbeats of their mothers
first felt in the

The dance was with God and Goddess.
The dance was God and Goddess.
It was the rhythm of life, death, and life again,
celebrated in

But like all tales,
Something had to happen which took people from their

And so a blight came upon the land.

Nobody knew just how or when the blight started,
Because there was no one to blame.
There were no dragons, evil Lords, monsters, or
It may have started with just one person,
Questioning the obvious.
But when it was over,
Only a few people danced,
And most, didn't.

Now those who danced became very concerned
About how others viewed their work.
The force of life and death itself was now mere
Or exercises,
Or recreation:
Endeavors which were not highly regarded by the
social order.

So the dancers scratched their heads, and decided it
would be
To put some boundaries around their work.
This, they thought, would increase its value,
And decrease the competition.

The first thing they did was to tell a lie
(Or perhaps just a misrepresentation)
That "dance is a performing art."

Thus those who danced unwitnessed,
In private or in groups,
And those who danced for healing, love, joy, and
Would have to say,
"I guess I'm not a dancer."

Then came the stunts.

Healthy women were starved, tortured, and twisted,
Like so many bonsai trees,
In order to appear as fragile as snowflakes,
In stories about their deaths.

And the women were told another lie,
That the essence of their art,
Was to smile, and make their torment look

Because men hated women,
And women hated women,
The smiling, dying, anorexic, bonsai tree
Were the highest attainment in art.

The audiences gasped and said,
"I guess I'm not a dancer."

But even those who rebelled from the established
Only created more stunts.
And as each stunt exceeded the one before it in
Performances of dance began to look
Like gymnastics.

And classes were created
Where the stunts were switched for dance,
In a secret manner, like Folger's crystals.
Beyond the awareness of students or teachers:

A series of exercises on the floor,
Patterns of steps across the room,
And a combination to be remembered and forgotten.

The students learned, from all of their work,
That the only important movements in dance,
Were those which came from outside of their bodies.
Paralyzed, by the inevitable self hatred,
The students said,
"I guess I'm not a dancer."

Now those who continued to dance,
In spite of the opposition,
Were not favored with much wealth.
What little they had came from noblemen.

So the dancers knew that whatever they did
Had better not offend anyone. Or else,
There could be a cash flow problem.

With the memories of the rituals
By this time only a glimmer,
The masters came up with "safe dance,"
and the rules were simple:

There was to be nothing personal,
Nothing emotional,
Nor anything political or spiritual.
And the more abstract, the better.

And from then on, dances were called "pieces."

The noblemen applauded the pieces.
After all, they paid for them.
But as the others left, at the end of each
They were overheard saying,
"I couldn't understand it. I guess I'm just not a

But dance wasn't really safe.
In fact, it was dying,
As everything must die, when cut off from its

And the most tearful of all were the dancers
Because, you see, they loved their Craft,
And everything they did was only an effort to save
They didn't know that their remedy
Was the poison.

Because dance belongs to everyone.
It cannot be saved by just a few.

It can be saved:

If all persons would turn themselves inward,
And feel their blood pulsing against their vessels,
And the weight of each limb,
And the support of their bones,
And the roundness of every joint,
And the criss-crossing of their muscles,
And the fluidity of the spaces in-between.

And if everyone would turn outward,
And see the whole world through his or her skin,
And feel the joy, sorrow, rage, pain, and laughter,
That comes from our connectedness with all things
Living, and even those things believed to be

And if everyone would whisper, chant, sing, or shout
The following mantra,
As many times as it takes:

"I know, that I'm a dancer!"

"I know, that I'm a dancer!"

I'm a dancer!"

About Larry Myers

Larry is a writer and performance artist, who uses dream work for much of his inspiration for monologues, comedy, sketches, dances, etc. He recently won a community impact in performing arts award (from the Columbus Ohio's cable TV community access channel) for his video "White Fire Dancer" which he wrote, produced, acted, co filmed and edited.

He has attended numerous workshops throughout the country on dance improvisation and therapy, and has published on the subject. His two volume Social Work masters thesis (on gender issues and non verbal communication0 won Ohio State Universities merriss Cornell Distinguished Researcher award.



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