Ecstatic Dance and Shintaido, Connecting Heaven and Earth

Brad LarsonImage, ShintaidoLeave a Comment

I had the pleasure to lead the intro/warmup section to FreeDance in Natick last week, connecting some central ideas from Shintaido with free form dance movement. (FreeDance is the “high energy freestyle dance experience” with live drumming by Drum Nomads).

A central idea: use our movement to connect with nature around us. Even if we’re dancing inside a building, we still have the sky above through the roof, and the ground below our feet. Our aspirations don’t stop at our hands — they continue up and up, beyond, and we can continue reaching up, beyond just lifting our hands. And the floor is our connection to the ground, being rooted. We can feel the weight of our bodies connect with the earth when we jump and land.

In Shintaido, there is a special state called “ten-shi-jin” when you connect to both heaven and earth. To be extended by aspiration, and rooted at the same time. It’s central to Shintaido, and can be part of dance movement as well.

We also focused on partner exercises — to be able to quickly and seamlessly connect with your partner, moving across the floor together palm to hand. And we finished with the ever-popular seaweed (“wakame”) partner meditation, leading into the remainder an evening of freestyle dance and blissful percussion sound bath at the end.

One goal of any Shintaido instructor is to communicate what you can feel in your body when you use movement to connect beyond yourself, with nature and in community. It’s a goal shared with ecstatic dance (and all the variations), and I look forward to exploring more.

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