One of the hottest days this year. Driving down the M11 and M25 round to Collier's Wood - near Wimbledon. The roads were almost empty as England were in the process of being knocked out of the World cup. We were booked to hold a dance in a little community hall that we have visited a few months previously. The bookings were low - to be honest we were not even sure that there were any bookings but Kate thought there were a few people who had said they were coming. But the nature of what I seem to be doing is a lot about trust and a willingness to give where there is an invitation and willingness to share. We left a bit late and didnt have much time to spare - but I felt well aligned for it - whether in fact people turned up or not. But they did. I think we were about a dozen all told though i didnt count. Barry and Andy joined on guitar and Steve joined on percussion on some songs.
Initially there was a reserve and perhaps a reluctance on some level - it was so hot that to touch was to sweat - let alone to move.
I started with a circle just to be connected, to arrive and set an intention.
Then began with Shalom Aleichem. I had only recently found the vocal recording of this and learned the song, so although it is a classic circle dance it was its live debut for me. A lovely cool peaceful melody and a gentle and easy start. Its wonderful for me how such 'old' and much danced dances are brought freshly alive with singing live. Its like a new relationship from being set free of a recorded fixity. We danced this again later in the evening.
We had some that had never or hardly danced this way before and I saw that the level of danceability in the group as a whole was at a fairly beginner level.
We went on to dance:
Thalassa - such a delight to sing. A greek love song full of longing and loss. Choregraphed by a late German teacher ‘Dimo’, this has a very simple part that I always love to dance where the dancers come into the center (we usually hug) and side close around, come out again and side close to the starting place. The other part has a grapevine, then turning into chekassias where the nature of the longing invites a unique movement - even though the ‘step’ is ‘a grapevine followed by a turn’.
Dro Retourne - this is fun and an icebreaker and a mindstopper too with arms and feet at once and a lighthearted nonsensical rendition. We danced this again later in the evening.
One Love (Lets get together) is a Bob Marley song with a simple dance from June Watts. This was requested in error (it was actually Faith that the dancer wanted). But it is bright, positive and is one of the few with English lyrics and some lovely lines. I invited free dance as a paralell option but this doesnt often happen yet (though I forsee that it will).
Faith is a Toots song calling for peace and love in our community. I always acknowledge that this came - like Bob Marley’s music - out of a context of music as a message of peace in a divided and strife torn Jamaica. Also in English and a sort of raggaefied gospel song. Very inspiring. Always too short no matter how long.
Lioube : It is still an amazement that such a lovely song and dance could not only come to me but come through me. The dancers werent quite sure of the sequence but we repeated this later in the evening and it really came through. Sometimes I feel we could dance this all night.
Hora Medura. Well before our break I suggested that we go into the heat and be free of having anything left to try to keep cool. The bonfire or campfore dance is a rowsing uplifting Israeli dance with a lovely moment of stillness amidst the otherwise fast movement.
Karev Yom is one of the simplest dances and I felt it would be good to come out of the break with as well as being a vehicle of coming present without moving a lot and getting hot straight away. Many dancers didnt just join but sat and watched. I know if I had called the circle first and then shared it they would have all danced but I like to try and invite some freedom and spontanaity too.
Erev Shel Shoshanim (‘Evening of roses’ from Israel) is a summery evening dance. I wish I could sing it like Nana Maskouri!
Daronee holds a deeply heartfelt call. I wont bring more words into trying to describe this song but there is both a brokenness and a rapture. A simple ritual dance with a strong presence.
Ivoushki is one of the most recent new songs in my repertoire and this was its live debut. Gypsy passion in a slow earthy plaintif cry of love. Andy Bettis choregraphed a simple but lovely pattern of sways and side together sides that fit this perfectly. The dancers were not needing to learn anything demanding at this stage and Ivoushki was a perfect finale.
To list the songs and dances and try to say anything in words is makes for poor reading I would think. There is nothing that can begin to speak in words what the experience is of sharing these dances in a growing mutual delight. For indeed the dancers were uninhibitedly glowing and in my remarking on this part way through thye evening it was apparent that I was no less bright with joy.
Three and a half hours on motorways disappeared from my mind and body - as did the mind that measures in terms of profit and loss. I will need to attract more dancers to pay the costs involved if this is to be an ongoing event, but there is a desire in me to keep this alive and sharing itself and not let a lack of affordability stifle its coming into being as a vehicle for such a presence of felt and living participation.
There is a lovely blessing in discovering that our dance has been an initiatory awakening for new dancers.
I am as keen to say 'thank you' as they are. For only that which you have given and has been received do you get to keep. And such is the fruit of our lives. Heaven is not somewhere else. Sometimes vision breaks through and perception aligns with essence rather than the distortions of egocenrtic thinking. When we let it.