Dance as Text (2006)

In this seminar I would like to suggest that we begin to approach traditional Armenian, Rom and Balkan dances as sacred texts. These ancient dances contain encoded wisdom, handed down through many generations from our ancestors in the human family, which is still relevant to our lives today.  Each dance transmits a specific and valuable meaning in a nonverbal language of danced patterns and symbols which is subtle, precise and sophisticated. Historically, women have been kept largely illiterate and the Feminine has been excluded from religious texts and doctrines, yet the intelligence and relevance of women’s wisdom is no less for having been codified and passed down in nonverbal ways. These dances show the power of survival despite oppression and invite us to be more fully at home in our bodies, and open to the joy of life.

Jean Shinoda Bolen says:

“The more circles there are, the easier it is for new circles to form; this is how morphic fields work. Each circle is a regeneration of the archetypal shape and form that draws from every woman's circle that ever was, and each circle in turn adds to the field of archetypal energy that will make it easier for the next circle. Morphic fields and archetypes behave as if they have an invisible pre-existence outside of space and time, become instantly accessible to us when we align ourselves with that form, and are expressed in our thoughts, feelings, dreams, and actions. The circle is much more than the experience of this generation, a sacred circle especially.
“Poetry uses metaphors and analogies, draws from the symbolic level of the psyche, and is the language of the soul. Poetic imagery is also compressed information.”

From The Millionth Circle, by Jean Shinoda Bolen, 1999

I believe this is true of ancient dance steps and song texts as well, which can be seen as women's poetry, passed down through countless generations of dancing circles through the ages.