By Parker Barry
“The theme was ‘who am I and what is my purpose?’” Ari Ziegler, a senior at the University of Puget Sound said.
Last Saturday at 10:30 a.m., students gathered in Thomas 201 for the “Dance Your Prayers” event, hosted by art/dance facilitator Maggie Silverman. “Dance Your Prayers” was a conscious, ecstatic dance event in which students had the opportunity to express themselves through unchoreographed dance, drawing and poetry. At the beginning of the event, Silverman told us to start walking or dancing around the room, free from the pressure of judgement. After dancing for around an hour, we sat on the floor and did fifteen minutes of drawing with pastels.
“We got a large piece of paper and some pastels and for fifteen minutes we drew, to answer the prompt: ‘who am I right now?’ Then we went around the room and showed our drawings — not to pass judgement, just to acknowledge them,” Ziegler said.
The point of ecstatic dance is to express oneself through dance and art within a community with a disregard to judgement and insecurities. As the event went on, and we danced and screamed and made animal noises, people become less and less reserved and you could truly feel the energy in the room lift into joy and camaraderie.
“This event, and the work that I do, touches on the need in our society to slow down and to tune into our bodies, our minds and our spirits. To escape from social media, the constant feeling of everything being ‘out’ to take the time and the space to truly feel,” Silverman said.
This event really showed how much the energy in a room can change and affect you on an individual level. By the end of the event I felt close with everyone in the room, even though I barely knew anyone’s name, much less who they were. The last thing we did as a group was stand in a circle, arms around each other, and sing in unison with our eyes closed. You could feel the love and care that everyone had for one another.
“I see myself as a teacher, and a guide, giving people tools so they can take them back into the real world. A guide in expressive dance — a nonverbal way of communication. The practice of seeing each other’s movement, and understanding who we are through our movement and art. Getting away from our stereotypes, and who we think we are and also who we think others are,” Silverman said.
One of the main points of this event was to provide students with tools to feel connected to their body, feel good and feel in general. In our society, there is a disconnect between body and mind and conscious dance is a way that a person can meld the body and mind to create more understanding within the soul. It is important to remind students that no matter how difficult life, and living in our society gets, you always have dance, you always have poetry and you always have art.