In nine years of teaching Sacred/Circle Dance1 I have noticed an interesting phenomenon which has set me thinking. In the early days it was often difficult to teach even the simplest of dances: people stumbled and struggled and generally looked as though they had two left feet (there were exceptions, of course!). This has gradually changed over the years and now I teach complicated dances to near beginners and they pick them up remarkably quickly.
Does the hundredth monkey syndrome2 also apply to learning dances? Certainly the number of dancers has increased dramatically over the time I am considering. In 1983 there were a handful of teachers with maybe a couple of regular groups each. Now there are groups all over the country and the list of teachers extends to three and a half pages of small print in the Network Journal. So the hundredth monkey syndrome must play a part in the ease with which people learn the steps.
There also seems to me to be a greater consciousness of the need for community. It is an aspect of our lives that has been neglected for a long time and we have all led our separate lives without much consideration for others or for group activities. Now people are reaching out for each other and are enthusiastic about entering into a community spirit - the silent giving and receiving of the circle is a powerful influence on their lives.
However, I have another theory for your contemplation. In my observations it seems to me that the room in which I dance plays a large part in all this. I have noticed that when I use a new hall I experience greater difficulty in conveying the steps. Do the walls have memory? Do the bricks hold energy from previous dance sessions? It is an awe-inspiring thought but that appears to be exactly what is happening. So maybe the walls do have ears.
Let us look at this from another perspective. Everyone must have experienced walking into a room and suddenly being overcome with a sense of foreboding or, on the opposite end of the scale, a lightness and joyfulness. Most people will buy a house only if it 'feels good'. This is no mere superstition surely. What is happening is that we pick up on the events that have occurred within those four walls previously. The energy of earlier occurrences resides in the fabric of the building. So is it too far-fetched to suppose that the energy of our community dancing is held in the walls of the rooms we use? I don't think so.
After all, the dances are representing powerful aspects of people's lives, such as weddings, births, deaths both of people and animals, the agricultural cycle and the connection of humanity with Nature. The energy generated when dancing out such momentous events in a circle and all holding hands is very powerful: it can elate the dancers, it can reduce people to tears, it helps others to contact their hidden emotions.
With this background is it surprising that the room retains some of that energy when we depart? If it holds the emotion of these experiences surely it can also store the energy of the steps we dance. The patterns of the sequences are then available to tap into when that group (or another) meets again. The room becomes a dancer amongst us.
More than that, the walls surround us when we dance: they are protecting us and give of their energy to us from an outer 'circle'. If you have ever sat at the centre of a circle of people holding hands you will know what a powerful experience it can be. The feeling of comfort, protection and upliftment is very strong. I believe this happens to us all in a room that is used consistently for this type of group experience.
The most commonly expressed effect of the dances seems to be a sense of healing. The very fact of being in a circle and holding hands can produce this feeling: the movement to music enhances it. If my theory is correct, this healing energy is stored in the walls of the room. What I am suggesting is that the energy the dances create is not only available to dancers to make it easier for them to learn sequences; it is there for all to experience who enter the room. It is an awesome thought and gives us dancers a great sense of responsibility, yet it is happening without our necessarily realising it!
Are we then creating a sacred space when we dance - a space in which the healing energy of the dance is retained and is accessible by any who enter? This makes me wonder whether the sacred sites of the ancient Celts may have been created by 'dancing energy into them'. It is said, for instance, that the stone circles were danced around and within. If my theory is correct the stones would have held the energy of the dance just as the walls of rooms do.
This leads me to wonder which came first - the sacred sites or the ley lines connecting them? Maybe these lines of force came into being when the energy level of the sites was raised by dancing or gathering in circles. The energy would then flow between sites as it does in an electric circuit.
It is fascinating to speculate like this, yet it really is not important to know the 'answers' in a scientific way. Change is definitely occurring and Sacred Dance has become an element in that change for many people. Community is being created and harmony found which most people do not experience in any other part of their life.
Dance on in joy.
1. Sacred/Circle Dances are international community dances. They are danced in a circle holding hands, with everyone doing the same steps, thus no partners are required.
2. Some years ago scientists were investigating the behaviour patterns of monkeys on a series of islands. They fed them sweet potatoes and one of the female monkeys suddenly went to the sea and washed her potatoes. Soon the other monkeys on that island followed suit. This in itself was not surprising, but it was then discovered that when the hundredth monkey started to clean potatoes the troupe on the next island also started to wash theirs. A pattern of behaviour had been established in a remote community seemingly by virtue of the number of monkeys adopting that pattern elsewhere. We have also seen this occur among the tit population with regard to pecking the tops out of milk bottles to access the cream on the top.
Lynn Frances has been teaching Sacred Circle Dance since 1983. She is particularly interested in using dance to help people to experience directly aspects of life and esoteric teachings that are difficult to grasp at a mental level. Thus people come to a greater understanding of themselves. She is available to run day and weekend workshops on a variety of different topics connected with Sacred Circle Dance and/or self awareness.
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