From an earlier post called “When did you stop dancing?”
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?” Gabrielle Roth
This idea shows up in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Dancing in the Streets, where she connects the rise of depression with the disappearance of community dance celebrations.
Yesterday I went to the first folk dance class taught here at Kendal. I was surprised to find that instead of being tired afterward — I did feel a little out of breath at the end of the first dance — I was energized. I was surprised because I have done other movement classes, in particular line dancing, which I like because it involves dancing to music. But after a session of line dancing I often felt so tired I could barely get up the stairs.
What’s the difference between folk dancing and line dancing? Folk dancing feeds my soul. Part of it is the communal aspect, mostly we dance holding hands in a circle. I find holding hands to be so important that I don’t enjoy dancing on Zoom, or even in person where we socially distance and don’t hold hands. Thank goodness we are far enough out of the pandemic that we were able to hold hands yesterday. I even have more energy this morning, didn’t have to struggle to wake up.
When my friend Lynelle told me there was Sacred Circle Dancing on the green in Danville for fall equinox, I said “Sacred Circle Dancing, what’s that?” I got there, and they were doing dances I already knew around a centerpiece made of a candle and a bowl of water on a scarf. Something inside me said “I knew that.” When I still lived in Brunswick, I used to say that I went to Wednesday folk dance the way other people go to Church. I didn’t have the language to say “feeds my soul.”