Bali and Dance and Multdimensional Knowing
Out of the blue, I felt an overwhelming need to travel to Bali from my home in Maine. I needed to remember something important about sacred dance. I knew nothing more.
During my first lesson, I felt awkward and frustrated trying to coordinate my hands, arms, eyes, and feet. Both the unfamiliar rhythm and the music hurt my ears! I tried too hard to memorize the intricate movements, and my body felt rigid and sore.
“What’s wrong with me?” I asked myself countless times. “What am I blocking? Why is this so hard if I knew how to do it in a past lifetime? Or is my intuition about needing to travel halfway around the world to reclaim something a delusion?”
I labored and complained for two weeks while I struggled to memorize the movements. Several times, our skillful dance teacher ordered me to lie on the floor and practice the movements with my hands and let my feet enjoy a break. That made me feel even more hopeless. Laughter and delight eluded me.
After 14 days of consecutive practice for four hours a day (56 grueling hours), I decided to give myself a break. I heard loud gamelan music in the distance. Like someone under a spell, I ran in the direction of the familiar music. My heart quickened. My body vibrated. I recognized the rhythm of music and it felt like each cell in my body was exploding with recognition! I ran to the small bamboo house on the edge of the greening rice fields. My feet felt like they were on fire.
I knocked on the door of the house of music. I had not planned what I would say. A tall, muscular man dressed in a traditional white sarong opened the door. He smiled as I stammered that I remembered the music. I saw four young men warming up for the dance. As I nodded to each of them, I began to remember the steps to the sacred Clown Dance. Instinctively I knew that this was the dance that magnetized me to fly to Bali. Furthermore, I knew intuitively that as I retraced the steps of the dance I would remember even more. Time was running out. I only had one more week in Bali.
The man at the door, Marti G. Mart, was the chief choreographer of sacred men’s dance for the island of Bali! What are the odds of running into him on an unscheduled walk through the rice paddies? He looked straight into my eyes and said, “But, lady, you don’t understand. The Clown Dance is a sacred dance. Only for men. Women are not allowed to see it. Ever.”
I took one step backwards. Then I regained my balance and voice and stammered, “No, you don’t understand. I know the steps. I even remember how the steps go together. Please let me show you. I have traveled all the way here from New Mexico, in the United States, to remember this dance.” He shook his head from side to side and I feared that his gesture meant “no.” Without one more word, I rushed past him to the dance floor, and began to move to the music. My eyes, shoulders and hands remembered how to move in unison. As I continued to move to the music, I felt harmony erupt from deep inside of me. I giggled. At last I felt like I was “flirting with the gods” as Son-ai-yu had tried to teach how me to do. Minutes passed, and when the music ended, I crumpled to the floor in a mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion.
Marti G. Mart hunched down next to me and hugged me. The four young men approached cautiously and surprised me with sounds of delight. Relief flooded me and I laughed from the bottom of my belly like a man!
For seven memorable days I studied with the men. Secretly. Marti G. Mart never said a word while we practiced. He demonstrated, and we imitated for six hours a day. My body filled in what I did not consciously remember. My intuition whispered guidance. I felt graced.
My guidance was correct. I needed to travel to Bali to reclaim sacred dance and reinvest in my body. I also needed to re-experience how ancient ritualistic movement created a sense of harmony, ecstasy, and peacefulness within my consciousness. The only obstacle was my misperceptions. The notion that I was a “male” dancer had never entered my consciousness.
Excerpted from Awaken by Rosalie Deer Heart