During the winter Olympics, a commerical sponsored by Cadillac, showcased the (alleged) North American obsession with work, disdain for down-time (vacations, relaxation, fun) and deep satisfaction with material acquisitions (e.g., nice cars). An A personality-type executive states brashly that other countries may think it is acceptable to sacrifice productivity for pleasure (at which point he slips in a n’est-ce pas to clarify that he is taking a jab at the French, those connoisseurs of pleasures and self-indulgence). But this just does not fit our more virtuous, aggressive, goal-focused attitudes and our insatiable desire for more stuff.
I know this attitude well, as likely most of us in this culture do. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it does makes him rich. So what if money can’t buy everything? Happiness is overrated anyway.
So how does dance fit in to a culture that is totally obsessed with achievement and possessions? Not very well. In other cultures dance, movement, music is accepted as an essential and integral part of life and love and community (see photo above). But not so for us nose to the grindstone NA’s.
This brings me face-to-face with the existential question, “How do I give myself permission to dance? How do I answer the inner critic which says that I am being lazy or irresponsible or self-indulgent or (horrors!) effeminate?”
”Dance therapist, Michele Lemolo coined the term Universal Rhythmic Intelligence to articulate the fact that there is a natural rhythm or vibration that is alive in each and every moment in the universe. As human beings we can dance and move in the flow with this rhythmic intelligence, this vibrational frequency in each moment of our lives.” (Brian Piergrossi, www.entheos.com.)
So that is the answer. Motion and music are an expression of our intrinsic nature. We dance because it is in our DNA. It is the most natural thing we can do.
Even more compelling, it is an expression of the soul and structure of the universe. It is as integral to life as the motion of the sea, the orbiting of the sun, photosynthesis and plants.
To not dance is to do violence to our spirit and distance ourselves from our source. To dance is to move in unison with the heartbeat of the universe, the breath of god.
Yes, this does require shedding my goal-oriented, acquisition-focused mindset, if only for an evening. But in exchange it provides something far more enriching and soulful than a shiny automobile every could. Who knew?