These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Self / Soul & Text] Dancing as a Spiritual Exercise

Posted on April 30, 2012 by David Bogomolny

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The dancing activity brought up some interesting issues for me, which I haven’t entirely sorted through. I was dancing alone in a corner for the duration of three dances, and I felt very free to move about as I wanted to. I had my eyes closed for much of the time, and I was focused on my own movements for most of the time – there were moments of distraction, but these were brief.

During the fourth song, I noticed others dancing around the room, and I found that I didn’t want to move from my corner – so I made myself dance about the room, navigating around my classmates and instructors. While my movements were more restrained (less expressive) than they had been during the previous songs, I found myself feeling less comfortable – I had felt safer in my personal dancing space.

I then challenged myself to dance back and forth across the shorter width of the room, rather than the length, and my discomfort increased. Finally, as I danced back and forth, I raised my arms fully above my head (previously, they’d been below shoulder level), and I found myself increasedly uncomfortable.

As I said, I have not sorted this all out yet, but I think some of my discomfort stemmed from having to keep my eyes open during the last dance. Navigating myself around the room nullified the sense of privacy that I’d been able to maintain with my eyes shut….