Dancing with Speeches #10 Dancing Alone

There is no speech to dance with this week, sometimes you dance alone, moving to sound, through space and oblivious to time. A solitary experience with bodies all around you, in and out of step with the music, counterpoint and counter-cultural, you might find your way or perhaps join with the hum and become another note, another step in the forever dance. The whirling prayer of a Dervish in union with his God, pivoting and channeling divine and human energy into a single cosmic thread uniting heaven and earth seems to make sense to me in times of ferment when everything is swirling around and mixing the energies to achieve ecstasy.

I think the most famous dancing alone moments of my time are depicted in the haunting song They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo) – a song that is a metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women (arpilleristas) who dance the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, holding the photos of their loved ones who have disappeared in the Pinochet regime. Tragedy echoed in every step so eloquently put to music by Sting.

When I dance alone I hold neither the thread to heaven, or the photo of loved one to my breast, I am often in the act of longing. Longing for clarity to find in myself and the movement the moment that will be both moving on and holding still – which is perhaps exactly what both the Dervish and the Chilean mother are doing too?

Longing is a lesson born of desire. Before the desire is manifest, it’s fruit is already sour or bitter, gone bad by the attachment to what might be. Longing is laced with ache. Hanging on will only lead to loss and disappointment, moving on and leaving the longing behind is the only course for compassion and self preservation. Dancing alone becomes real when the dance is for the self and contained in the moment not waiting for another to join or to be visible on a crowded dance floor searching for meaningful “come dance with me” eye contact.

I wasn’t able to dance with the speech of another this week. There was no space to invite another in, or a rhythm I could find to compliment. Dancing alone is not like bowling alone, it is an act of pulling your self together and taking responsibility for those bits of the dance that are for you alone. It is an act of self interest and self expression. It is not for others, although the world might be watching and witnessing what you have to say for yourself. Dancing alone is moving on and holding still.


One of my favourite books from the 70s


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