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Shamanic Trance Dance

Posted by Hay Brunsdon on June 8 2017.

Our fabulous Nottingham based teacher Gaynor has been teaching dance for almost twenty years,  and was inspired to write this fascinating guest post for Polestars all about Shamanic Trance Dance.

 We think this form of dance would be a fantastically unusual hen party activity – what Maid of Honour and slightly stressed bride-to-be wouldn’t like to dance spontaneously whilst entering another level of consciousness?

trance dancing

My journey of trance dancing began in my early teens by dancing wildly to 1970`s rock music , unknown to me then, that this was an actual trance dance performed by Berber tribes that involved dancing on the knees and flicking of the hair This all started my journey on dance for healing, Shamanism and movement therapy when I later studied a Dance and Movement Therapy degree.

Trance Dancing was practised over 40,000 years ago before recorded civilisation. It is a spiritual practise rooted in Paganism often found in Shamanism and is universal. It can be found in many cultures and geographical areas in various forms including  Hindu Lord of the Dance (Shiva), Egyptian dance of the Zaar, Shamans of Siberia, Umbanda of Brazil, Yoruba of Western Africa and the Sioux of North America.

What exactly is Trance Dancing?

It is a spontaneous expressive and deeply healing spiritual dance in which there are no fixed steps, no right or wrong movements; it is your own personal dance from within to without, not based on artistic performance and technicalities but on healing, and it is relaxing and energising. Through the dance we awaken the body`s natural movement and energy flow and become more aware of who we are.

When you trance dance in many ancient practises it is believed that you  invite spirit to enter your own, becoming spiritually reunited. Spirit then releases negativity, allowing room for you to receive images from far memory which can be explored through trance dance by expressing joy, pain, sorrow, anger, anxiety, confusion and peace, and here spontaneous healing can occur.

An altering of your state of consciousness

Trance dancing involves altering your state of consciousness and is in some cultures a sacred rite involving sometimes prophetic vision; for example in the Egyptian Zaar ritual the central focus is usually a woman possessing clairvoyant powers, and the dance usually involves the collective rather than an individual with musicians finding a suitable rhythm the spirit responds to.  However in our day and age trance dance is practised with creative therapies and sets aside the belief of spirit outside of us and rather that you are a soul, and it comes from within.

The trance dance is generally concerns itself with visual imagery experienced in an individual’s imagination, when engaged in dance/movement. This may take a person into and altered state of consciousness, ie: similar to an experience of lucid dreaming – being in a dream whilst sleeping but in control of what is happening.

Also published in Pagan Dawn. Gaynor’s next guest blog will explore the principles of the 5 rhythms of trance dance.

Gaynor is running her own Shamanic Trance Dance workshop on Sept 29th, do email her to find out more: gaynorfairweather@hotmail.co.uk

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