Guest Contributor Susan Osberg Shares Her Discoveries in Dance Ritual and Spiritual Connection and Invites Us to Participate
Dance as Trance Dance as Ritual
EMBODIED RESEARCH CONTINUES: A Look Back at 2010’s I and We While Anticipating a Summer of Ecstatic Exploration in the south of France
By Susan Osberg, of Dance Across Borders
This 2011 will be the third summer of our Dance Across Borders investigation into embodied thinking. We will discover how rituals and meditative practices inform performance and direct imagination and conscious intent. We will look at a variety of international traditions and find the ecstasy and imagination in everyday tasks. It is a research project taught by three DAB originals, who have connected to a spiritual process through dance : Catlin Cobb, Mireille Feyzeau and me - Susan Osberg.
Catlin teaches from a Shamanic tradition, Mireillefrom a vocal and contact improvisation base, and I draw on my interfaith Sufi, Yoga, Buddhist and healing practices. Each of us has had a long career in the world of contemporary dance, but one need not be a dancer to participate - last year Dance as Trance Dance as Ritual had a salt maker, a cheese maker, several musicians, actors and a clown, as well as dedicated dancers. Presented by Alice et Autres, Dance as Trance Dance as Ritual is a workshop in Bordeaux, France that takes place at Jardin d’Alice, on Mireille Feyzeau’sfamily vineyard in the lush countryside .
2010: Notes on THE I AND THE WE
Photo by :Dance As Trance Dance As Ritual
In 2010, the focus was - transforming personal story, called by the rather fancy name- Elements of Autobiography in our Collective Landscape. The short translation in French was The I and the We.
The negotiation of that boundary between individual and the collective seemed to be the summary of the workshop experience. Right away we dove into the deepest depths with no mercy. We began with some traditional practices to give us our ground. Catlin started with the journey for the animal, Mireille with breath, and I began with Sufi ecstatic dance. By the second day, we went for the great dissolve-- interpreted as dismemberment in Shamanic work, bones in contemporary release work, and,in Sufism, activities of dissolution such as whirling. These experiences took us beyond the walls of our comfort zones leading us invariably to the prime question-- Who are we? What is the I in the we?
Susan Osberg: On 2010's Dance As Trance Dance As Ritual Experience
To say what happened would be near impossible, but something definitely did.
One of the things that seemed to come up was UNITY.
Being together without giving ourselves up, adding our unique positions, but being able to dissolve them as well.
There was an awareness of an explicit and implicit order to things.
The intensity of the first few days made me wonder if we could sustain the pitch without a drop out rate, at least flagging intent. But letting go gives room for renewal. The progression seemed straight forward enough but after the dissolve, how do you put yourself back together and what would it be, how would it look, the new I and the we?
In my memory of the process, I am aware that there was a five-part connectivity that ran through the events and it
1. Staying with yourself, staying with your experience
2. Joining with others, and the desire for connection.
3. The connection between the self and Self
4.The connection between the self and an object or another
5.Contact with the natural world.
There seemed to be an urgent need for sensory communication with nature which was easy to do in the lush setting of the Bordeaux country side.
People who were not accustomed to non-verbal experience found their way into it.I was interested in the process of people who had difficulty thinking in an embodied way, because I am so accustomed to it. There were also those with many performances under their belt, and the question there was " how does one keep it connected and real, so expression and action do not become automatic technique or the ego’s holiday?"
Dance as Trance Dance as Ritual is not a therapeutic workshop. It is more of a spiritual creative process where we dive into the work at hand with the spirit and imagination of children. We do not make the object of the work ourselves. As a matter of fact, from a Sufi perspective, we try to go beyond ourselves. Certainly, aspects of our personalities jump out, put their foot down, go for a long walk, or decide to be a child again and play all day. The best way we’ve found for working out the kinks, is for the three teachers to be in dialogue at the end of the day, for cooking to be communal and for the Indian ‘talking stick ceremony’ to be the ritual to enter dialogue.
Photo by :Dance As Trance Dance As Ritual
We asked a question – what do you want to change in the world and what do you want to change in yourself? Some people chose to poke fun, some to rant about something that bothered them, others answered from a truly inspired place.
The personal rituals on the day of silence, were wonderful to watch because they were all dances with nature. That day a cricket landed on me and stayed with me the whole morning, sometimes on my pant leg, sometimes on my head. The power dance around the fire hits people differently. I’ve done it twice now and each time I’m standing with a drum or a rattle and have no intent of dancing around the fire and then spirit takes me on a wild ride. Surprise. It’s all quite mysterious.
The last group rituals were site specific rituals of intent, where each group decided what they would address and it progressed seamlessly as a journey from one group to another outside in different spots on the vineyard, and ended with a wonderful, full group celebration through the ashes of the stone circle fire pit.
To say what happened would be near impossible, but something definitely did. One of the things that seemed to come up was UNITY.Being together without giving ourselves up, adding our unique positions but being able to dissolve them as well. There was an awareness of an explicit and implicit order to things.
For more information on 2011's Dance as Trance Dance As Ritual in Bordeaux contact: