Primus, Pearl - African dance
Type of Spiritual Experience
African dance can, like European dance – include celebration dances, dances as entertainment, and dances to aid relaxation and so on. But there are forms of dance in Africa whose sole purpose is to invoke spiritual experience and through this to heal or make rain or ask the composer and the spirits for help in some undertaking – in past times this was often war, but also included sowing crops or hunting. Or simply, as in most mystical pursuits – to feel one with the spirit world – to be one with the One
Because dance can have such a strong effect on the person and their abilities, some forms of dance are only taught to selected individuals and a considerable amount of training is given in the correct use of any powers obtained. A witch doctor [one able to combat witches] is one who uses the powers he has obtained for the good of the community, but a sorcerer is a witch doctor gone wrong – turned to bad practises.
A description of the experience
Pearl Primus – African dance
Who is the African dancer? Does everybody dance? Though everyone in a group does engage in a dance at one time or another, everyone does not dance. The professional African dancer is one trained from childhood to be a dancer. Having shown a special aptitude for dance language, he is apprenticed to a master, usually the oldest and most powerful of the dancers. These master teachers employ whatever method they feel is best. Their authority is absolute, their instruction unquestioned. These fierce guardians of tradition are charged with the divine duty to continue group values. They assiduously train not only the physical bodies but also the minds and spirits of those chosen as the dancers for the next generation.
Herbalists, healers, are trained to excel in dance. There are dances to ward off sickness and those to cure illnesses………... the dance is strong magic. The dance is a spirit. It turns the body to liquid steel. It makes it vibrate like a guitar. The body can fly without wings. It can sing without voice. The dance is strong magic……
The source of the experiencePrimus, Pearl
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
From African Dance – edited by Kariamu Weish Asante