Why we dance: To dance is to pray, to pray is to heal, to heal is to give, to give is to live, to live is to dance.
By and © MariJo Moore
Dancers from different nations in splendorous regalia dance the spirituality of their cultures into being as they pay homage to an ancestral tradition as sacred and important as rain. Agile and full of purpose, their artistic movements bring chills to the soul. In his book, The Primal Mind, author Jamake Highwater states, "Dance is the inclination of primal peoples to idealize action as a magical force. They believe that dance can shape the circumstances of nature if it can focus its contagious powers on animals and
supernaturals. Through their dances they touch unknown and unseen elements which they sense in the world around them."
In other words, serious dance is prayer that can open a doorway to a connection with the total universe. A way to find that "inner being" who recognizes and appreciates the spiritual essence of interdependence and gratefully ask Creator for recognition of the needs of his or her people in return.
There seems to be a renaissance of the spirit of dancing in most Indian nations these days. Some dances that were thought forgotten are being danced again. Many American Indians travel the powwow circuit not only to earn a living, but also as beautiful representatives of their nations. Of course, there are those who dance mainly for the onlookers and attention they may receive.
These dancers are easily spotted by sensitive Indians, and it is my hope that they will come to realize that ego has no place in honoring the spirituality of traditions.
Those who dance as an offering to Creator are keeping traditions alive and setting reverent examples for the young people of their nations. They are the ones who realize that to dance is to pray, to pray is to heal, to heal is to give, to give is to live, and to live is to dance.
To these dancers, I say "Dance on and on and on ...we need your rhythmic, heartfelt prayers."