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Happy Dance

U.S. Army Sgt. Tierney Nowland teaches the Macarena to an Iraqi army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade during a break from a cordon and search mission in Ameriyah, Iraq, May 16, 2007. Nowland is a combat cameraman with the 982nd Signal Company out of Wilson, N.C. --U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisha Dawkins

U.S. Army Sgt. Tierney Nowland teaches the Macarena to an Iraqi army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade during a break from a cordon and search mission in Ameriyah, Iraq, May 16, 2007. Nowland is a combat cameraman with the 982nd Signal Company out of Wilson, N.C. --U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisha Dawkins

A dose of infectious dance floor favorites like the cheesy* Macarena” and even classic waltz melodies may just be what you need to fight off the flu and other maladies…. In separate studies, scientists from… Sussex University and the Max Planck Institute… discovered that listening to approximately “50 minutes of uplifting dance music increases your levels of antibodies….” Apparently, after listening to dance-worthy ditties, the subjects’ levels of the antibody immunoglobin A were heightened. This was welcome information as immunoglobulin A is the immune system’s first line of defense against any threat of infection…. Aside from keeping you healthy, a dose of dance music can reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Dr. Ronny Enk, a neurocognition expert who led the Max Planck Institute research team, explains: “We think the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement….” In any case, Dr. Enk emphasized that they “did not use relaxing music, but rather exciting music that were joyful dance tunes from different centuries.”  simpleology.com

Throughout the history of religion, dance has been a way of expressing that deep religious sense of glorying in, being in tune with, being in step with, God and the Universe. Doubtless because it is a way of expressing something deep and powerful, dancing is there in virtually every major religion, from the prehistoric wall painting to the whirling dervishes, from the Buddhist and the Shinto dances to the Hindu Shiva “Lord of the dance.”The Rev. Andrew Sails, the Mint Methodist Church, Exeter

* Sister Alma Rose takes exception to the modifier cheesy in this very interesting account of the therapeutic value of dance music. Sister Alma Rose adores the Macarena.

Lord of the Dance

Dear Sister Alma Rose My parents will not allow me to dance. They say that dancing is a sin. Do you think that dancing is sinful? —Itchy Feet in Ithaca

Dear Itchy — Your parents surely believe that they are doing what’s best for y’all, but Honey, the Scriptures command the Children of God to dance. Show your folks this passage from the Book of Psalms:

Praise [God]… for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. —Psalm 150:2-6

Dancing Classrooms in Omaha, Nebraska

Dancing Classrooms in Omaha, Nebraska

Sister Alma Rose does not know what a timbrel is.

Sister Alma Rose still gets goosebumps when she recalls the first Dancing Classrooms* performance she ever saw — dozens and dozens of fifth-grade children, mostly from poor families, the boys in crisp white shirts and ties, the girls in their Sunday best, solemnly waltzing or gleefully stepping to the Swing.

Then and there, Sister Alma Rose decided she wanted to teach in the Dancing Classrooms program, and so she did, and everything she’d heard was true: The first class, about half the kids was suspicious and surly, and the boy children and the girl children acted like each other had the pox. The second class, they was cautiously interested. The third class, they was having themselves a fine old time and all but cried when the session was over. After ten weeks, the shy children had blossomed; the aggressive ones had learned courtesy and discipline.  (Studies have shown that Dancing Classrooms alumni do better socially and academically than their peers.)

Omaha Dancing Classrooms kids get ready to Rhumba

Omaha Dancing Classrooms kids get ready to Rhumba

Dancing heals. Dance can be sacred. Dance is as necessary as a heartbeat and as instinctive as an inhalation. And Honey, if y’all can’t persuade your folks to allow you to dance (and y’all keep trying — be persistent, but don’t y’all whine or nag), then at the very least you can tap your toes to dance music and heighten y’all’s immunoglobulin-A levels. Sister Alma Rose herself prefers listening to reels and hornpipes and the music of Riverdance; they do get her blood goin’.

Prayerlight

In your night, I dance in misty morning
song, an emissary of the dawn, but not
quite tame enough, perchance, to be a
ray of light, nor yet an angel – how I
yearn to gain the discipline – but God
indulges me and smiles, and pulls me
home when I exhaust myself with
roaming through the galaxies and being
tossed about by solar winds and such. Then
I regain my balance and remember what I
meant to do – I, an emissary of the
dawn, assigned to strew the sky with
pearls before the sun breaks through. But
first I have to loop and twirl, unable to
resist, and stop to scoop a bit of bright
and ancient, innocent delight from moon
and sun and distant star. And then I go to
where you are, as torch or candle – more,
according to my whimsy, though, as
pixie-light; and there I hover at your
bedside, loving you with radiance that
spreads above and then around you. Warm,
you smile, believing that you dream,
but I am genuine, precisely as I seem, as
God created me to be – an emissary of the
dawn, a dancer in the morning song, one
who meanders as unweary time looks on.

* The Dancing Classrooms phenomenon started in the early 1990s with one man’s vision. Pierre Dulaine began Dancing Classrooms in 1994 with a single fifth-grade class of thirty students. The program has grown to some twenty thousand dancers a year in New York City alone. Dancing Classrooms expanded to Omaha in 2006 and has since spread to several other U.S. cities and Canada. Get Dancing Classrooms going in your city! (Check out the feature film Take the Lead and the stirring documentary Mad Hot Ballroom to see what all the excitement is about.)

Healthful Dance Music on the LifeIsPoetry website

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3 thoughts on “Happy Dance

  1. Have you heard Sidney Carter’s CD “Lovely in the Dances” ? (The guy who does Riverdance lost PR points when he didn’t send any credit that direction.)

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  2. Here is a blog post on “dancing meditation” from MeditationIsEasy.com
    http://meditationiseasy.com/blog/meditation/dancing-meditation-be-one-with-the-god/#more-52

    God is a dancer, the creation is his dance

    Let me tell you about a meditation technique which is a very popular technique in the Sufi tradition. I would explain a simplified version of this technique. This technique is Dancing meditation.

    If you think about it you will find that dance is one of those rare creative expressions in which the creation and the creator becomes one.

    When a sculpture make a statue, his creation – the statue and he himself remains separate.

    When a painter draws a painting , the painting remains different from the painter.

    When a poet writes a poem, the poem remains separate from him.

    However, when a dancer dances; he becomes the dance itself. Dance is not possible without the involvement of dancer. You can not see the dance and the dancer separately during dance.

    In the mystic tradition it is believed that God is a dancer and his whole creation is his dance. The existence is nothing but God who is expressing himself in infinite ways and infinite emotions. All that is happening now, everything that is happening on this universe be it positive or negative – in its collectiveness is nothing but a dance of God.

    When somebody dance passionately, he (or she) – the individual become one with the dance. When this happen, the dancer fades away, only the dance remains. Whether we believe it or not, when somebody loses himself in the dance, the entire process of his dance becomes a part of dance of the God. The person – the individual lose his identity, he becomes a part of dance of God – he becomes one with God.

    Please read the first line of above paragraph again – “When somebody dance passionately”.

    Passion – this is the key.

    There are two types of dance. First is the dance of the performers. They dance with a certain pattern in mind. They practice a lot, learn various steps and dance consciously. The main motive of such dance is to impress others. Either to impress a lover or to impress an audience or judge (like what happens these days in Dancing competitions). When somebody dances as a performer, he can never bring passion in his dance.

    I know many of you will contest my saying so. In fact there are many professional dancers who dance with great passion, they are such a perfectionist. However, with all due respect to their perfection, I still say that they dance consciously with a proper plan in their mind. They still dance for their fans. There are very few of such professional dancers who dance for the spiritual experience. There is always an aim of any material gain in their dance –something that can boost their ego in some way. It’s another thing that they have mastered the art of dance to a great perfection. However, still they are far from a passionate state of dance which I am talking about.

    The other type of dance is the dance of a religious man. He dances with a passion. He dances for the pure joy of dancing. He never cares for what people would say of his dancing. He never cares for other’s opinion on his dance. He doesn’t dance consciously. He doesn’t learn any dancing technique. He never cares for dancing steps. He just dances. He dances and become the dance itself. He merges himself in the dance and while he does so, he becomes a part of the dance of God. He becomes one with the existence.

    The method of Dancing Meditation

    Let us see how you can dance with passion as described above.

    Choose your favorite music. No matter what kind of music it is, the main criterion is that it should be your favorite one. Now play that music in a room which has enough space for dancing. As the music starts playing, start dancing. Don’t be conscious of your step. Just dance with full passion. Don’t care about how you are looking to others. Just dance with your heart. Dance on the tunes of that melodious music. Don’t control your action, don’t’ plan , don’t judge. Just dance.

    “Live as if there is no tomorrow. Dance as if no one is watching.”

    Dance and let your body do what it wants to do.

    Keep dancing for at least 10 minutes (if that seems more; then dance for only 5 minutes. But dance with passion. No strings attached).

    Then stop! Switch off the music. (It would be better if you ask in advance someone else to switch off the music after 10 minutes so that you can stop immediately).

    After you stop, lie down on the floor or bed. Don’t do anything. Just keep lying and allow various sensations of your body to enter deeply into you. Be a witness of the energy that flows in your body. Just be a watcher of all that happens in your body. Keep in this state for 10-15 minutes.

    Now wake up. Be compassionate and thank God (or to the higher power if you don’t believe in God) for giving you this experience. You are a new man/woman now.

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  3. I love the idea of dancing to my favorite music by myself… when “no one is watching…dancing for the pure joy of dancing…and becoming part of the dance of God.” I will do it!

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