There is a story about a village where all the women washed clothes together down by the river. When they all got washing machines, there was a sudden outbreak of depression and no one could figure out why.

It wasn’t the washing machines… It was the absence of time spent doing things together. It was the absence of community.

We’ve gotten so independent. We’re “fine” we tell ourselves even when in reality we’re depressed, we’re overwhelmed, we’re lonely, and we’re hurting. “We’re fine, we’re just too busy right now” we say when days, weeks, months, and years go by without connecting with friends. 

We’ve become so isolated and it’s hard to know how to get back. It’s so hard to know how to even begin to build the kind of relationships our hearts need. And I think In our current culture, it’s just not as organic as it once was. It’s more work now.

Because you know, we have our own washing machines. We don’t depend on each other to do laundry, or cook dinner, or raise babies anymore. We don’t really depend on each other for much of anything if we’re being honest.

In Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, she says that being lonely effects the length of our life expectancy similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  I think we’ve treated friendship and community like a luxury for far too long; it isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

For a year now, as humanity we have experienced so much isolation and disconnectedness from each other and from the community that for many people this had far-reaching consequences starting from physical but most importantnly mental health. Children were disconnected from their friends at school, adults from their co-workers and in general, we couldn’t celebrate community and friendship together through events and parties. Even such important rituals such as weddings, funerals and birth were stripped of the important aspect of community witnessing and celebrating these rites of passage. This alienation from the whole also causes people not to take Earth as part of themselves and hence creating ever more pressing environmental issues. 

Dance and ritual create community, drawing people together both emotionally and physically. Ecstatic (or trance) community dance has the intention of bringing people together so they can connect first to themselves, then come in resonance with the members of the community and then come into resonance with the nature and cosmos itself. Through group dancing we have the opportunity to tap into the life-sustaining source giving the individual a sense of belonging. In ecstatic dance there is no division between the performer and the recipient (audience) and so we feel the unity and oneness and equality with the source, with the Earth and with the community more easily. The Catholic church didn’t like this spontaneous aspect of the ecstatic dances and found them too equalizing and revolutionary as they posed a threat to the hierarchy. Therefore gradually all these intuitive communal dances were banned all around the world and those that survived usually remained secrete. 

“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire”…George Bernard Shaw

Dance has long been revered for its power to restore both body and mind. Through time and culture it has also reinforced the bonds of community and allowed us to uncover the deeper aspects of who we are as human beings. Dance has also been used as a manner of worship, celebration, story-telling and myth-making, and to celebrate important rites of passage. Ecstatic Dance can simply be defined as a free-form style of dance inspired by music, allowing the body of the dancer to move freely without judgment or concern for the refinement or graphic aspect of the dance. It is gently facilitated with and dancers are invited to explore movement with particular areas of the body and to explore bigger themes as a whole through their movements. With it being an unstructured and un-partnered form of dance, different rhythms and forms of movement can freely be explored by the participants.