Trance Dance is a healing tool with its roots in many ancient cultures.
I first encountered Trance Dance in the work of Leo Rutherford, I experienced first hand 'being danced by the beat' out of my head & into my body. As I learned more about the healing tradition of African and North American drum dance my own path opened as a shamanic drummer. This is my experience of the dance as it has evolved through the workshops I have led over the last five years.
The process of Trance Dance seems to fall into three stages;
Firstly a building of trust - getting to know the others in the group. We do this physically with movement and mirroring games and people start to reveal who and how they are to the group. Next to find a partner who will be with us during the dance, noticing what we need and keeping us safe
Then to the dance itself. Dancing one or two at a time with their eyes closed the dancers accept the safety provided by the rest of the group. As they let go deeper into the dance their bodies spontaneously express whatever needs releasing. The dancers partner and two or three others surround them, keeping them from collisions. The supporters use their intuition to decide what it is the dancer needs; perhaps more space or arms ready to catch them if they loose their balance, a hand to hold or voice to support the dancers own shouts.
The dancer often comes to 'points of resistance' when they loose their balance or energy, with help they push through these till they have gone as far as they want to.
The drummers meanwhile have a similar role. Matching the dancers energy. Not pushing with their drumming but watching closely for the shift or breakthrough in the dancers movement and following them. The energy forms a circuit between dancer, supporter and drummer, sometimes slow, sometimes a reaching a crescendo of passion. Following the flow to stillness.
In this way it seems a perfect embodiment of love and relationship through acceptance, support, intuition and energy exchange - the dance of holding and being held. The dancer has the safe space to show the parts of themselves they may have found difficult to express and so they move deeper into love of themselves.
The dance ends when the dancer has gone as far as they are able and at that point they are helped to a comfortable space by their partner who stays with them to nurture and support them, always listening to what the dancer needs and wants from them.
When everyone who wants to has danced we reach the final stage of the day. A quiet closeness as the group comes back together, perhaps holding each other in gentle contact. People find their place in the center or on the outskirts of the group according to their needs.
At the sharing some have been moved by the feeling of being safely held by the group and others by the chance to follow their intuition in supporting others . A quiet time for integration and re-centering is then needed. Many people have moved energy that has been stagnant for a long time; this culture doesn't make many safe spaces for strong passion - whatever kind of emotion it contains. This often leads to blockage, unhappiness and illness.
We need to dance and drum as much as every other culture throughout history. We need times to be in our body instead of our heads and to feel the ecstasy of letting go. In Trance Dance we can learn to trust that our bodies know what we need to do. And we can learn to accept and love ourselves and others in the process.
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