I believe dance has long been a part of many spiritual paths. I know for myself,there is nothing more magical and empowering than that dance around a huge,energetic balefire with the Celtic drums going crazy. I saw an Aztec dance reenactmnt in Mexico too. Very nice. Does dance enter into your path or religion? How?
I remember reading about Joseph Campbell meeting a religious leader from some rather obscure religion in Japan or China. (Bad memory here.) Mr. Campbell asked the man about his religion's dogma. The man laughed and said, "we have no dogma, we just dance."
I wonder why it is that I cannot dance. I have no rhythm in my body. I can play the guitar and my guitar rhythm is like a metronome, or so I have been told by two recording engineers. However, when I try to dance I imagine everyone laughing or running screaming from the room. I feel silly if I even try.
I have been very blessed to discover a method known as InterPlay, which celebrates the wisdom of the body. Among InterPlayers, dance (which can be defined as any expressive movement of the body) is often considered sacred. Some use dance as their spiritual practice. I have Sufi friends who study "turning" as they prepare to become dervishes. They have told me for them the only way they believe they can truly pray is through dance. History itself is full of examples of spiritual dancing, not only among primitive peoples but among the civilized cultures as well. I propose the Shaker and Quaker cultures valued the importance of bodily movement in the spiritual context. In fact, I am almost sure the reason many puritanical religions shunned dancing was not because it lead to venal acts of the flesh, but because of the powerful connection it made between the individual and the holy.
Sadly, I fear our modern life has suffered due to a lack of dance. Instead of going out dancing on a weekend evening, too many people go instead to stand around and become intoxicated by drug and alcohol comsumption in excess. I think the rise in voilence in modern cultures could be attributed to some lack of dance, creating a dearth of ways for people to interact on a physical level with each other. And there is an old Celtic saying, "Never give a man a sword until he has learned how to dance." This is one of the reasons I am heartened by our fighting men making these viral videos based on popular dance tunes, themselves performing dance moves. I have a great deal of hope for a people which can "get their groove back!"
Me too,dancing and sword play should both be treated with respect! I'm ok with the alcohol in balance and dancing. I enjoy every form of dance from the spiritual to the ballroom(I probably like the waltz the least). Interplay sounds like us crazy Scottish dancing our rituals
I live for the Dance. It is wholly inextricable from my life, my soul, my faith. My daughters and I spend a lot of our winter training as well as making new dance clothes so that when Beltane arrives (enjoyable in itself, but also the herald of dancing season) we are ready to go and can just show up and dance all night!
At Brushwood, where I spend my summers, the Roundhouse/Fire Shrine (which serves as the bonfire area, drumming/dancing circle and general social area) is a culture unto itself. It is more than just the dancing, but being a Fire Dancer, I am, of course, more inclined in that direction. The outstanding Drummers, the Fire Tenders, the Fire itself, the Dancers... all combine to create an experience that could move the least sensitive person. We dance to honor the Sacred Fire, we dance to honor our drummers (both for themselves and for the creative aspect of our community that they symbolize), we dance to honor our Fire Tenders (both for themselves and for the protective aspect of our community that they symbolize), we dance to honor ourselves- the spirit that resides within us, the body that has carried us through life. This is just a basic example- I could probably write volumes on the subject. If you haven't guessed, it's a great passion of mine! And I would just like to say that if someone is looking to have this sort of ecstatic experience, Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY is an incredible, incredible place.
In our faith, dancing is more than just a physical act. It is a means of communication with the Divine, a means of expression, a means of making tribute or offering. It is full of nuance, much of which cannot translate into plain type. (Not that I'm trying to be secretive, just that it is something which cannot be conveyed without at least seeing it or, even better, participating). Much of our dance is improvisational, but there are specific traditions for some circumstances.
This year is a challenge for me- I had a bad disc in my back that finally gave way, so I'm dealing with the resultant nerve damage and pain. However, I did still dance at Beltane and I plan on dancing this summer. It is very much tribute to the ethereal power of the place and the Dance that I was able to do so even when walking can be somewhat demanding. In fact, rather than making it worse in any way, I have made significant progress since Beltane.
Thus, for me, Dance=Life
So I guess the short answer to your question is that, YES! Dance is a big part of our path, arguably the very heart of it!