Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dancing for Change

Last night, my hubby and I watched an amazing documentary called War Dance, released in 2007.

It follows a group of students at a northern Uganda school who make their way to a national music and dance competition in the southern part of the country. All of these kids live in a camp of 50,000 people displaced by the horrible internal conflict in that country, caused primarily by a group of rebels, the dreaded Lord's Resistance Army, who commit horrible acts of violence on the country, especially in the northern regions.

The stories of the children's lives are wrenching. The filmmakers, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, did an incredible job presenting their individual stories and the collective story of this group heading off to the competition.

Readers of this blog (many being my dear friends) know of my love and devotion to dance as a sacred act. This film really helped to bolster my belief about the power of dance and music to transform people's lives — in this case, reconnecting these children with their humanity and their relationship to their history and ancestral power (something the rebels are robbing them of on a daily basis). As they were dancing the Bwola, a dance of their tribe, called the Acholi, I could see the power of their ancestors manifest in their bodies (as well as being able to see the actual spirits surrounding the children at the competition). It was breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring.

I am coming to believe more and more that the power of movement is not something that is just for special occasions — it's necessary to our equilibrium, personally and collectively (and by collective, I mean not just the human family, but our connections to the Earth and her many children).

I think committing to intentional dance on a regular basis would be a fantastic idea for many of us. Whenever I do yoga, belly dance or the tarantella, I start by honoring Mysterious Ones and/or ancestors and state an intention something like,

"With this dance,
I go deeper into the
Rose of Compassion.

I go deeper into my work
As a Priestess of the Body
A Priestess of Dance
A Priestess of Movement.

I know that my body
Changes my life;
I know that my body
Changes the lives of those around me;
I know that my body
Changes the world."

Then I dedicate that session's positive energy to someone or a group of people. Often, it's for the health and peace of my beloveds, and sometimes it's for those who have hurt me in my life (that was an energetic doozy at last week's bellydancing class).

Then I throw on a tarantella or Indian chant or James Brown or some Mary J. Blige and work it out.

Our bodies are the spell.


Donald Engstrom-Reese said...

I dread and long to watch War Dance. Thank you for sharing your review of this film.

I have been fully conscious of the songs and symphonies of my own flesh, breath and blood for many years. But recently, I too have felt a call to dance more, to move more, to embrace myself as a human body more than ever before. I notice myself dancing little dances while I work in my gardens. I notice myself rhythmically shuffling as I do my prayer walks along the Mississippi river. I am also becoming more aware of the rhythmic beats that accompany my workouts at the gym.

I look forward to learning some of the new dances of power that are coming to you, Gregory.

Grace said...

This was a very meaning post, Greg...and I feel you are absolutely right. All you have to do is watch a baby who - without forethought, self-consciousness or encouragement - naturally bounces and smiles and moves to music.

Dancing is part of my DNA :) and I've noticed that if I go long periods of time without dancing, 'something' shifts in me...I lose some juicyness or whatever. Interestingly enough, most of my significant relationships have been with men that don't dance! LOL

I REALLY got to change that...dancing is LIFE ;)

Jenny Miller said...

Hi Greg, I followed you over here from your comments at TNG, which are uncommonly reasonable and nice.

My parents are moving to Uganda in September, basically to dedicate their lives to helping those kids. I've been avoiding War Dance because I get so angry...but, your post makes me think maybe I can focus on the uplifting dancing.

conniewonnie13 said...

Hi Greg,

Your blog, Donald's Walking in Beauty and Grace's Wild Pomegranate have contributed to profound change in me. Little did I know when I started to read these powerful words what great change lay ahead and within. I have felt "locked up" for so long that I've almost forgotten what gifts I have to share. You're very presence is encouraging and delightful. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your experience.


Greg Fletcher-Marzullo said...

Hi, Connie,

Thank you for letting me know that you're out there reading this and responding to it in such positive ways for yourself. I hope you continue to rediscover the things you bring to the world!