Monday, August 3, 2015

a new class ritual

Peace, Love, Respect for Everybody

This is a phrase I heard from Donna Graham, an African Dance teacher and performer I met years ago when I rented her studio (Dance Space) in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Her dance classes always ended with the students in a circle sharing a quiet moment of centering and dedication to the community, reciting the mantra "Peace, love, respect for everybody." It was powerful. It made you feel that a positive force was at work in the community. That was twenty some years ago and I’ve never forgotten it.

This year I've begun this ritual at the end of class (if I remember!) - we gather for a quick "pinkie circle" and recite the mantra together. 
people holding pinkies in a circle
Pinkie Circle around the article! 
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all classes or gatherings ended this way? It could help create a strong and supportive dance community. This mantra is specific, it’s pro-active, and it goes beyond “being nice”. A healthy community takes more than just being nice!

There will always be people who don't see eye-to-eye. What are you going to do about it? Civilization isn't a "given" - it must be learned by each generation. Look at the news to see the precarious state of our civilization today: warfare decimates age-old cultures while the rest of the world wallows in self-gratification. Compared to this, how petty our dance world tiffs are, yet we let them provoke us to bad behavior.

Where does it end? It matters - because each action we take toward others becomes our default moral code.

Every action, every remark to or about others paints a clear picture of our feelings; and that can influence others, for good or bad. Face to face or online, it’s easy to tell when someone is being 'dissed' - that is, disrespected or dismissed.

It's not just about dance, it's not just about ourselves, it's not even about being “right". We’re all playing in the orchestra of civilization. Tune yourself to the melody of love.

Treating others right takes more than just “being nice” to their face. Whether or not your peers or teacher disrespect other dancers, have the courage to stay true to the Golden Rule, treating others as you’d wish to be treated. 

(originally published in ZAGHAREET! "For Beginners", Jan/Feb 2015)

Yours in dance,
Anthea "Kawakib"
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