What is dance? Can we really separate dance from the divine? Is it anything else but movement as spiritual practice?
Dance is present in mythology within every global religion. It serves as an important part of ceremonies, rituals, celebrations and entertainment. Dance tells us stories of myths and shared beliefs. Non-verbal communication and expression through rhythm and human movement is one of the oldest religious rituals.
Africa, a continent three times the size of the United States, is ethnically and culturally the most diverse on the planet. African dance is a very broad genre that embodies the many traditions of this giant land mass. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the enslaved populations that were brought to the Americas brought with them the traditions of their ancestors. Stripped of their cultural heritage and identity, there was a new cultural matrix of African Diasporic identity that flourished throughout the “new world” in places such as Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, amongst others. Today, Afro-Latino forms of dance are thriving such as Samba, Tango, Salsa, Mambo, Rumba, as well as other cultural expressions such as Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art now practiced worldwide. All of these forms of movement have spiritual dimensions that connect them to African Diasporic religions. In addition, they contain a rebellious spirit that carries the struggles of liberation and transforms itself into beautiful cultural expressions.
Someone wise once said, “Never trust a spiritual leader who cannot dance.” Perhaps difficult to understand at first, but movement is an expression of being one with music as well as being one with the natural powers of the universe. Any spiritual leader can appreciate and understand the importance of rhythmic movement. Chanting, prayer, drumming, and dancing all play a part in invoking a specific energy. This can be healing and therapeutic, as it can uplift your spirit. With so much focus on the calorie burning aspects of dance, especially with the Zumba craze sweeping the world, it is easy to forget the many other benefits that dance has to offer us. Dance aligns us physically, mentally and spiritually by connecting us to a collective pulse. I encourage everyone to dance. It brings out the raw force that is living inside all of us and if we do not give ourselves the opportunity to channel this energy, we deny the soul its freedom to soar. There is a beautiful quote that reads, “Dance is sacred; it is about remembering the past, praying for the future and celebrating the present.” This is a wonderful understanding of human movement and the language of the body. When I dance, I completely detach with what is around me, and submit my body to the music. After all dance is…divine.
Article Published in GW Magazine: http://www.girlswhomag.com/dance-is-by-vika-stansky-hernandez/