Clearly, learning to lead the dances involves much more than just getting to know the movements and melodies of dances. This is may be the starting point but there is much more to be experienced and assimilated before one can masterfully lead the dances. There are a number of components necessary for study and I call these the foundation stones of the Dances which are: Breath; Sound and Voice; Body Awareness; Rhythm; Concentration; Attunement and Magnetism; the Unity of Religious Ideals; the various Walking Concentrations of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis; and the Spiritual Lineage of the Dances. The main focus of such a course will be to explore more deeply the foundation stones, their application to the dances and how they enhance the skills of dance leading.
There would be work with aspects of the various walking practices each weekend even though they are covered in more detail at certain times. Everything we do would be related to our work with the dances and the dances themselves will invariably play a prominent part in each session. The original dances of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis are essentially the cornerstone for the path of mastering the Dances and we will study these dances in some depth. We will also study primarily, though not entirely, the dances from the Dance Manual, Foundation Dances and Walks.
The path of dance leader is essentially a path of service, of self-development and self-mastery for the benefit of others. As prospective dance leaders we all begin with strengths and opportunities for growth. It requires great and sustained commitment. The more we put into things the more we get out. As we devote ourselves to the path and efface ourselves in the dances and their associated practices things happens to us and through us. Each of us has the opportunity to develop our own authentic style of leading dances. One does this by experiencing as much, as fully as one can; completely assimilating all that one has experienced, perfecting it and making it your own; and then it is an easy matter to turn all this around and become an effective instrument for the dances. As well as committing to learning to lead the dances we also have to make the commitment to work on ourselves and do what it takes to overcome our limitations.
Although at the moment there are no dates scheduled for another training what follows gives an indication of what was studied in the previous course. Over the years I have held several two-year dance leadership training courses based on a series of eight-weekend sessions. Subsequent courses may follow a different pattern so please consider the following as one possible way forward.
Session 1 – Toward the One: Introduction to the Course and the Foundation Stones. Element breaths; basic element walks; basic sound practices. Dancing several of the basic foundation dances. Exploring some of the dances of Samuel Lewis. How best to approach dance leading; the beginning steps.
Session 2 – This is not my body: Body Awareness, Rhythm and the Walk.
Body Prayer. The body is the Temple of the Divine. Practices will be given for developing awareness of the whole body. Awareness of the whole body of the dance circle. Basic element walks and combinations. Wazifa walks. Sun and moon practices and walks. Various dances reflecting the qualities embodied in the walks. Dance leading sessions in small groups.
Session 3 – In the beginning was the Word: Sound and Voice.
The articulation of the Sacred Phrase with the voice is the primary component of the dances. Voice is breath amplified. Practices will be given to help one develop the awareness of sound and its effects and techniques to help you to discover and cultivate your own natural voice. Listening Skills. Developing awareness of the dynamics of the voice in the dance circle. Group dance leading sessions.
Session 4 – This breath is the one that counts: Breath, Heart and Magnetism.
Development of the flow of breath: techniques for developing awareness of the breath as energy. The breathing process and how it affects everything we do. Tuning in to the swirling and flow of the breath in the dance circle. Dances to reflect the breath. Practices for developing heart awareness and inner magnetism. Group dance leading sessions.
Session 5 – Planetary Walks and Spins.
Murshid Samuel Lewis developed walking concentrations based on the planets. He called this Astrological Yoga. Mastery of these and other walks aids development of the whole personality and creates the ability to shift between various energetic states. Dances to reflect at least some of these walks. Further group dance leading.
Session 6 – Concentration and the Dances.
Concentration practices. The use of Energy Centres in the walk and the dance. Centre Walks. Meditation and atmosphere in the dance. More on the development of Heart. Group dance leading sessions.
Session 7 – My House shall be a House of Prayer for all people: the Unity of Religious Ideals and Universality of Spiritual Experience.
Dances to reflect this unity. Group dance leading.
Session 8 – In the Footsteps of the Teacher: Tassawuri Walks and Embodiment.
Longer dance cycles and how to lead them. Dance creation. Additional components necessary for the Dance Leader
If you are interested in participating in a future DLTC then please contact me so that we can discuss whether such a course would be suitable for you. The path of the dance leader is not for everyone. Many begin this journey and for any number of reasons do not see things through.