Incubating the Future: Integrating the colonialist shadow of our industrial-wild hybrid identities to access embodied revelation
Dance is a creative modality that can facilitate the re-wilding of culture that is desperately needed in our current global crisis. The “trance” dance orientation is especially valuable in its capacity to generate embodied insights and innovate relational patterns through focused and receptive intent. Industrialized lifestyles have severely impaired this facility in humans, and efforts to recover our wild natures are further impeded by an avoidance of our conflicting identities. Through acknowledgment of shame in our complicity with cultural toxicity, we glimpse the arc of possibility in dance forms that depend on authenticity and humility in order to access non-rational, visionary, and medicinal revelations that can seed new cultural directions.
Dance is a vast territory. In our longing for solace in a chaotic world, much of the creative movement we see today serves as a recreational escape with some hopeful opportunities for re-wilding culture through social and transcendent orientations (Mahin, 2013). Underworld journeys that delve into the “ecological unconscious” (Roszak, 1992) are more risky, inviting ancestral memories of both benevolent interdependence with the natural world as well as horrors of abuse and loss. Through “spiritual bypassing,” many of us have attempted to sever these shadow aspects due to feeling helpless about our dependence on industrial civilization. However, without proper integration, premature imaginings about sustainability may be sabotaged by our split loyalties.
Arguably one of the most essential legacies of the wild human, the trance orientation of dance is also the most endangered because it depends on an active human-earth covenant, which is founded on intimate knowledge of the energy flows of one’s landbase. Our conception of “nature” often removes humans from the equation and distorts our authentic and involuntary embeddedness in the world. To awaken the dissociated threads of interconnectedness, we must accelerate our learning about the mind-boggling complexities of human consumption and fully reclaim our rational commitment to replenishing the places we have divested. When the human-earth covenant is intact or repaired, trance dance is the internal communication mechanism of our shared circuitry within the living systems that contain us.
Violations of sacred covenants with our landbase are experienced in the body as shame. Though shame has been used in some contexts to subjugate our wildish heritage, shame can also provide visceral biofeedback about our adherence to our ethical standards. Within each of us lives both a wild, indigenous nature and a colonialist mentality, the latter of which is constantly perpetuating our self-domestication in the name of survival (Prechtel, 2001). A compelling internal pressure during a movement practice, shame activates a desperate impulse to bind together the gaping holes of the psyche through sheer willpower to achieve ecological wholeness. It forcefully reroutes excess attention that indulges in pleasurable embellishments, personal healing, or showmanship. By owning our stumbling incompetence without letting it destroy our willingness to stay engaged, we reset our target to a much farther end point and are thrust toward unforeseen potentials in our dance.
The trance dance orientation culminates in nonverbal brainstorming within a nonlocal council of an ecological community. The insights produced by trance dances are charged nuggets of non-rational, visionary, medicinal messages. They are emergent, moving patterns that apply themselves to the world through the interoceptive awareness of the dancer’s enlarged biomic self. These kinesthetic stories ripple through our relational matrix as opportunities for adaptive mutation. Rather than an escapist or symbolic performance, trance dance propels evolution toward sanity by generating the healthy root from which we can grow. The trance dancer calibrates her body to the vectors in play so it can fulfill its role as a saturated sensory compass and incubate the future, heartbeat to heartbeat.
Through lecture, visual presentation, group discussion, and an experiential activity, this workshop is an exploration of dance as a vital medium for cultivating cultural wisdom. It will incorporate references that examine the lived material relations of supply chains, “White guilt,” the Jungian shadow, and religious and psychological perspectives on atonement. Most importantly, the purpose of this program is to enhance our ability to listen for the dances that have the power to move our cultures, including ourselves, into balance.
Mahin, G. (2013). Dance orientations for re-wilding the self and the world. Retrieved from www.expressivetherapist.com.
Prechtel, M. (2001). The disobedience of the daughter of the sun: A Mayan tale of ecstasy, time, and finding one’s true form. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Roszak, T. (1992). The voice of the earth: An exploration of ecopsychology. Grand Rapids, MI: Phanes Press.
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