Mnemosyne Dance

About Mnemosyne Dance -

Ancient dances were cultivated by generations of people and elders moving over and throughout their lands for thousands of years.  Their songs celebrate more than just their cultural and personal lineage, history, wishes, thoughts, and dreams: their music traces the movement of their steps over land, the melody and voice of the seasons and the elements at play, the movements of the dance express the movement of a people across, in, through and with a body land- and the wisdom of how best to live and move in harmony with that land. Dance is the integration and embodiment of wisdom that speaks a common language of rhythm and dance of human experience and survival to all people, esoteric mysteries we all understand if we would just listen. To lose these dances, to lose their meaning, would be a great loss to humanity.  Attuned to their movements and rhythms, we too can learn or relearn how to reconnect with our bodies in a healthy way and stay connected throughout our day and lives much as the ancients did.    As we reconnect with our own internal rhythms, movements, and breath through these ancient traditional dances of our ancestresses and ancestors from around the globe, we can regain the peace of mind and grace and ease of living they once knew.

Today  there is great danger of losing these dances. Traditional culture and art, especially its dance is being destroyed since the earth and patterns of life which have long established these dances, their movements, their rhythms, their costumes, their purpose,  are changing and  being destroyed.  It would be a deep loss if these jewels were to be destroyed by the waves of technology, industry, transportation, communication, mechanization and commercialization sweeping the world today.

Keeping with the oldest of wisdom traditions, Mnemosyne Dance seeks out and learns these traditional cultural and sacred dances which she ultimately hopes to be able to present  four annual performances to the community that will become a body of wisdom and knowledge to pass down to subsequent generations of dancers that build their own traditions of dance. These performances center on archetypal themes that cross cultural, religious, geographic, professional, socio-economic, educational, and every other kind of boundary in order to unite individuals in a common celebration of shared human ancestry.  Each performance is to celebrate a major seasonal inception and marks the beginning of another human archetypal cycle: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn/Fall. These performances will highlight the four major cycles of our creation and procreation cycles:  Rites of Courtship-Spring-new beginnings/birth/courtship transition into work,  Rites of Union-Summer-blossoming/ripening/marriage/union, Rites of Separation(including Rites of Passage)-Fall-Autumn harvest and transition into end of work, and the Festival of Lights: Rites of Remembrance (Death, Ancestral Honor) –Winter- quiet/rest/new dreams/new ideas/death/stars/mystery.  Both traditional dances and traditional dances interpreted for the stage are to be included in performances – some of the artist’s vision, and as many traditional dances as can be gleaned from elders and presented publicly as possible.

The performances will include women of all ages and from all backgrounds and training- ideally daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, nieces, and friends- to carry on and pass along the dances by building new traditions that will forge bonds of trust and joy between them.

Mnemosyne intends for performances to be created not just for an audience (huge spectacles, like contemporary performances) and not just for participants(the most traditional of traditional cultural dances, inner rituals & mysteries) but for both.  A new genre of performance in which the participant can enjoy what they are doing and experience the experience as much as the audience can be entertained and included with what is happening among and between the dancers is hoped to be refined and developed. This model combines both traditional ritual and contemporary spectacle performance into a new genre.

Participating in Mnemosyne Dance also provides women with real, powerful external and internal dance practices in order to create not just a superficial vision of a dance company, but a real dance  ‘village’ or community dedicated to their ‘work’ or art, to themselves, and to each other that then will translate offstage to the audience and move them to dance more.  Part of what makes the experience so ‘real’ for participants is that Menemosyne revives the ancient tradition of having Middle Eastern dance as an internal discipline as much as an external practice. (After many centuries of war and oppression, this aspect Eastern and Middle Eastern traditional dance training as an  internal discipline has been lost.) This includes the use of breath practices, visualizations, and energy practices as well as external movement practice, much like the practice of Hatha yoga and martial arts.    

Hopefully, the process of learning dance through Mnemosyne is transformative for women, building meaningful, powerful, and beautiful women to function in life as beautifully and powerfully as on stage.  Mnemosyne dance provides a place to  develop self esteem, to build self confidence through the accomplishment of goals (performance) and self mastery, to  gain acceptance and emotional support through a community of like minded individuals which develops into a true community and feeling of belonging to something greater than oneself.  Ultimately, like the great master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan stated, the goal is to develop a beautiful world of beautiful people – and we spread our beauty by dancing!

Dancers: Dorianne Castillo & Kristina Koutsoudas, Persian Classical dance
Photos Courtesy of J. "jay" Thomas Ford, NightSky Creative.