By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times
Everything moves. And everything moves to a rhythm. And everything that moves produces a sound; that is happening here and all over the world at this very moment. Our ancestors noticed the same thing when they tried to escape from the cold in their caves: things moved and made noise.
The first human beings perhaps looked on this with awe, and then with devotion: they understood that this was the way that a Superior Being communicated with them. They began to imitate the noises and movements around them, hoping to communicate with this Being: and dancing and music were born.
When we dance, we are free.
To put it better, our spirit can travel through the universe, while our body follows a rhythm that is not part of the routine. In this way, we can laugh at our sufferings large or small, and deliver ourselves to a new experience without any fear. While prayer and meditation take us to the sacred through silence and inner pondering, in dance we celebrate with others a kind of collective trance.
They can write whatever they want about dancing, but it is no use: you have to dance to find out what they are talking about. Dance to the point of exhaustion, like mountain-climbers scaling some sacred peak. Dance until, out of breath, our organism can receive oxygen in a way that it is not used to, and this ends up making us lose our identity, our relation with space and time.
Of course we can dance alone, if that helps us to get over our shyness. But whenever possible, it is better to dance in a group, because one stimulates the other and this ends up creating a magic space where all are connected in the same energy.
To dance, it is not necessary to learn in some school; just let our body teach us â€“ because we have danced since the darkest times, and we never forget that. When I was an adolescent I envied the great â€œballerinosâ€ among the kids on the block, and pretended I had other things to do at parties â€“ like having a conversation. But in fact I was terrified of looking ridiculous, and because of that I would not risk a single step. Until one day a girl called Marcia called out to me in front of everybody:
I said I did not like to dance, but she insisted. Everyone in the group was looking, and because I was in love (love is capable of so many things!), I could refuse no further. I was ridiculous, I did not know how to follow the steps, but Marcia did not stop; she went on dancing as if I were a Rudolf Nureyev. Little by little I felt that my body was loosening up.
â€œForget the others and pay attention to the bass,â€ she whispered in my ear. â€œTry to follow its rhythm.â€
I paid attention to the bass. And the sensation of freedom grew at each instant, while the others lost interest and left us in peace. The more my body moved, the more the light of my heart revealed itself, and the more I learned â€“ perhaps from myself, perhaps from the ghosts of the past. At the end of the night I was already another person â€“ I had overcome a psychological block and found myself a girlfriend who would be very important in my life.
At that moment I understood that we do not always have to learn the most important things; they are already part of our nature. In youth, dancing is a fundamental rite of passage: for the very first time we feel a state of grace, a deep ecstasy, even if for the less tuned-in it is all just a bunch of boys and girls enjoying themselves at a party.
When we become adults, and when we grow old, we need to go on dancing. The rhythm changes, but music is part of life, and dancing is the consequence of letting this rhythm come inside us.
I still dance whenever I can. With dancing, the spiritual world and the real world manage to coexist without any conflicts. As somebody once said, the classic ballerinas are always on tiptoe because they are at the same time touching the earth and reaching the sky.
Â© Translated by James Mulholland