AN OLD ACTIVITY THAT FEATURES DIFFERENT MEANINGS, FROM THE SEXUAL ATTRACTION TO THE PHYSICAL WELLNESS AND THE HARMONY WITH NATURE.
Whether it is a ritual to attract the partner, a propitiatory custom, a pastime activity or an experience of inner wellness, the dance represents one common aspect in human history. It is a sort of a needing instead of an invention and It is an element that many people worldwide have in common. From the natives of Australia to the pre-Columbian people, from Russia to Argentina, every country discovers a ball digging into its roots. Nowadays we can admire the legacy of these dances and try to find out their links with the past.
How not to start from Africa, our cradle and the first nest of the human dance. The Masai people use to practice a ritual ball that is called Adamu, or ‘jumping dance’. The men in the tribe gather in circle and start to jump at the sound of the drums. They jump as high as they can. And they can not touch the ground with their heels. Around them, music and support from the tribe encourage them, and their moves are symbols of strength and toughness. There are some elegance features to complete the picture, like their typical red clothes and necklaces full of beads that flow attached to the dancers’ neck. This is a way for men to show themselves in front of the women.
Somewhere over the rainbow we reach Aloha, Hawaii, and the mythic dance Hula, the worldwide known ball and the symbol of these wonderful islands. Sensual moves of the pelvis harmonize with the movements of hands and feet. The rustle of the long Hawaiian skirts goes along with the dance and the music. Hula is an inn to the joy of living. People dance as an offer to the sun, to express love for nature and its creator. It is a ritual to place their own soul near the Earth and its five elements. It is a growth (Hu) of our inner fire (La), through the movement, the sound and the harmony between them.
In the holy territory of India, more specifically in the Kerala state, one of the oldest proofs of the subcontinent comes on stage. Kathakali is a dance-theater art form, where the performers wear lavish customs and put some heavy and eye-catching make up on themselves. Actors play scenes related to the traditional Indian epic poetry, out of Mahabharatha and Ramayana. They are all males, for feminine roles too. Their preparation includes techniques for mental concentration and physical skills, that they take from old martial arts such Kalaripayattu, original from Kerala as well.
At last, we leave exotic places and move to the old Europe, which, although its name, takes us to one of the youngest dances among the ones we already saw. A type of dance that has spreaded worldwide and has become a symbol of a whole community. Irish folk dance and its origins can be found in the XVI-XVII century. Dancing masters who travelled around teaching these practices have conducted, till today, three different types of Irish dance, each one with peculiar rhythm and techniques. These are the dances known as Reels, Hornpipes and Jigs. Dances for entertaining and having fun, today also used in real dancing competitions.
Text by Francesco Cutello