Sunday, 29 November 2009

Contemporary Social Ritual

"THREE YEARS AGO my husband Lawrence and I - together with a lively, curious, and spirited community of people - launched into a project called 'A Search for Living Myths and Rituals Through Dance and the Environment.' The intention was to use dance and art and an environmental perspective to reflect back to the community its own central themes and issues. ...

"Most rituals take their meaning from a myth, a story that tells something important to and about the community performing the ritual."

Anna Halprin 

picture source

"As James Hurd Nixon explains inPhilosophy of City Dance:
In ancient times and in traditional cultures, dance has functioned as the means by which people gathered and unified themselves in order to confront the challenges of their existence. When the members of some hunting cultures need food, they dance a hunting dance, preparing themselves for the rigors of the hunt and supplicating the divinities and the animal spirits to bless their undertaking. Often the dancers enact the whole ritual of the hunt, bringing it to a successful conclusion."

This makes sense to me.

I once saw a TV show with that famous TV doctor who's name escapes me right now... About the power of visualisation. He took a gymnast who couldn't master a complex move on the bars. He made her sit there and imagine herself doing it. How it would feel. From inside.

Then she stood up and did it.

There were loads of examples. I've experienced it. You probably have. If you imagine it, see it, draw it, maybe even dance it, sing it, you create or somehow strengthen the possibility.


I'm fascinated by the hooking up of dance, song and play with a bigger story. It could be a bigger social story, or personal or spiritual story.

I have a strong instinct to explore dance, song and play as applied to social ritual.

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