The Healing Power of Dance – Ecstatic Dance Scene in Bali
Ecstatic Dance has ecstatically exploded into a conscious dance movement all over the planet and is also one of the key events to join in Bali. If you think Bali is all about serene yoga classes in lush settings and meditation in bamboo huts, that´s just the day-time activity of the spiritual scene here! What initially started in Ubud at The Yoga Barn on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, has now expanded all over the island with a whole range of alcohol-free, free-form dance events in Ubud, Canggu and even the remote islands of the Gilis. Coming to one of these dances, you cannot only expect a long cue of people eagerly awaiting the dance space to open, but also lots of sweat, rolling on the floor or screaming in euphoria to the next track! And all of this without alcohol or drugs, can you believe?
Why is Ecstatic Dance special?
What sets Ecstatic Dance apart from a regular party in a club or a dance lesson with a teacher is that it is not only a work-out, but also a work-in for body, mind and spirit. It is a mindful space created for the yogis searching to expand their movement in a free and non-dogmatic way, the hippies who don´t need the drugs anymore to vibe but still like community and dance, the contact improvisation lovers, spiritual musicians and dancers, energy healers, therapists, meditators and long-time travellers, all looking for a conscious community to connect and dance with to simply let loose, shake it out or even release long standing trauma from the body. A dance is an intentional space in which anything that is felt is invited to either be integrated and healed or dropped and let go off.
How does Ecstatic Dance work?
The trick is to let the body drop into its intuitive knowing of the right movement at the right time, to release energetic blockages, increase body awareness, deepen the breath, de-stress, get out of the head and into the cells and soften the muscles in a way that is needed right now. Simple medicine from yourself for yourself.
Each dance is free of any kind of stimuli apart from the music and the space created together with the co-dancers! Because once the music sets in and increases from softer, flowing and melodic tunes to more vibrant, eclectic and tribal tracks, the innate capacity of healing energy awakes by itself. Many first-timers in these dances find themselves dancing like never before, not even stopping towards the end when the DJ already brought the wave down to invite the crowd to relax in Savasana or sit in meditation together. Some dancers are so en-tranced by the music and the vibe that their dance only stops when the lights get turned on again and everyone is invited to join the final sharing round, sitting together holding hands or giving hugs to the person next to you, sharing a few words of wisdom of whatever emerged in the dance for everyone. It´s a different kind of high –a high vibration. And a different kind of connection with the people in circle, a heartfelt connection.
The Roots and Ethics
The movement itself, which goes by the brand name Ecstatic Dance with similar dances all over the world, was born in the 2000’s in Hawaii by founder Max Fathom, who was inspired by a concept called ‘Body Choir’, originally created in the 90`s in Texas. These events were the first ones to promote a drug-, alcohol- and talk-free space for free form movement and conscious community, as a gateway to higher states of consciousness and the feeling of freedom through physical expression guided only by eclectic DJ’s and live music.
The guidelines for Ecstatic Dance therefore are simple, yet profoundly different from a regular party:
- No talking on the dance floor
- Dance barefoot
- No drinks or drugs on the dance floor
- Dance to move yourself free, not to impress
- Respect the space of another person, your own and the space you are dancing in
The dance then becomes a sacred container in which anything is allowed that can be released, integrated or felt. It´s a prayer to ask for guidance from the intuition within. It´s an intimate experience with Self, but also with the others in the room. In most of the dances the facilitator asks the dancers to set an intention before they start, to dedicate their dance to a specific outcome, wish or desire, so that the energy that is set free through the dancing, jumping and moving is channeled in a specific direction.
Dance as a Prayer
The music ranges from electronic to house, tribal and world music, sometimes accompanied by live percussion, didgeridoo or singing depending on the evening. Some facilitators adhere to the 5Rhythms system of Gabrielle Roth, which takes the dancers through 5 different types of music and therefore emotional states related to the chakras, to work not only with strong energies, but also the softer ones. In her terminology dance is a prayer. A meditation to go deep within. A healing method to restructure the DNA of the cells by being intuitively moved by the energy within. It´s a way of meditation without needing to know a system or a method, freeing the mind, letting the body´s inner wisdom take over. Your body is your guru.
Even in ancient Neolithic times cave paintings were found that showed people dancing in tribes. Every indigenous, shamanic community in the world uses dance as a way to connect with spirit, awaken the Soul and shift the energy within. A medicine man will always ask when somebody comes with an illness: When did you dance the last time? When did you sing the last time? Dancing, music and singing brings joy to the soul and harmony into one’s life. The sound of the carefully selected music helps to slow down the brain waves, soothes the nervous system, increase the vibration in the cells in the body and therefore change cellular memory from negative experiences to positive ones. Whatever is realized and released on the dance floor, has shifted permanently oftentimes.
Furthermore, these dances are all-inclusive to gender, age and culture. Anyone who feels the desire to express him or herself through movement is welcome here! Through the no-talking rule it´s also a safe space especially for women who simply want to dance without the hassle of fending men who are trying pick them up. It´s a creative space of body expression and inner journeying. And I don’t know of a better place to experience this than in Bali and especially with the community of BaliSpirit Festival!
Ecstatic Dance Experience at BaliSpirit Festival
At BaliSpirit Festival, Ecstatic Dance belongs to one of the favorite workshops. Being part of the day- and night time program, people can join the experience whenever they feel in the mood for dancing or shaking it off. In addition to pure Ecstatic Dance classes, there can also be workshops that include it as part of the whole experience. For example when attending a cacao or breathwork ceremony, it can easily happen that the participants are asked to get up and let their bodies move to the beats of music.
Join us at the next BaliSpirit Festival and experience Ecstatic dance for yourself!
Article written by Anne Haack, an intuitive coach and psychic healer, Reiki Master, yoga and meditation teacher, movement facilitator and DJ. Having followed the path of yoga for more than 17 years, her work is based on the Divine Feminine, the Tantrik system of the chakras and Kundalini energy.