Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Divine Spark: Inspiration as Sacred Quest

Inspiration is one of life’s profound mysteries, a capricious force that may be courted, but never coerced or commanded.  
Sometimes it’s a spontaneous eruption, sometimes it trickles in, and sometimes it floods the senses and overwhelms us.  Like the finger of God sparking life into Adam, the force of inspiration is an activation - an affirmative, catalytic transformation.  We are never the same after an idea bursts forth.  For a brief eternity, the veils of the Cosmos are drawn aside and the overwhelming poetry of existence is revealed. 
When Isadora Duncan journeyed to Europe, she accessed a deep well of inspiration in classical, renaissance, and neo-classical art that was based on classical Greek mythology. Paintings and sculptures such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” or the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” capture moments of mythic resonance that exist beyond time and space. 
They transported Isadora and transport us to the sources of our deepest dreams and ideals.  “Dreams are private myths.  Myths are public dreams,” wrote the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.  The great mythologies are the narratives which root our world cultures in deeper meaning and connect us to those versions of ourselves that exist in the realm of ideals, dreams, and epic visions.
The “Winged Victory”
inspires us to activate the power of the solar plexus, to imagine the arms as wings, and to FLY to mythic heights of heroism

In the mythic tales of the Greeks lie the foundations of Western Civilization – heroic quests, tragedies and victories that carry on the values of humanism which made Greek culture a fulcrum of evolution in the ancient world.
They were the first ancient culture in the west to recast the gods in human image.  Prior to the Greeks, the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Sumerians worshiped “composite” gods.  With animal heads, human bodies, tails, and such combinations, their deities were more primal, closer to nature and the raw and often frightening realities of earthly existence. Their powers were composite – in the pre-Greek cultures we see an aggregation of powers in one deity that the Greeks later separated into full personifications of the great forces that rule human existence. Love, Wisdom, Sovereignty, Justice, War, Nature, Fertility, the Ocean, and the Underworld were all represented by gods and goddesses who were the great Übermenschen of the epic sagas that shaped the Greek collective consciousness and inspired centuries of great art and thought.
Mythology is an exciting inspiration for the art of the dance. Myths give us images, text, meaning, and what choreographer Twyla Tharp called "spine" for dance-making.  They are narratives we can use to inspire us to add character and story to our choreographies.  But instead of simply telling someone else’s story, in mytho-poetically inspired dance we connect to the deeper reality of the myth and its power to tell our story as well. We are all heroes on journeys and quests, and the mythic heroes and heroines that inspire us are the epic heroes of legend AND the surging hero within.  We identify with them on a deep, unconscious level.  They permeate the cultures we swim in, flowing in from a deep ancestral well of soul-substance.
Through the study of Dance in an interdisciplinary setting, we can reveal and strengthen its dialogues with history, the sciences, and the arts. 
We can reveal the hidden likenesses between the art of the dance and the mysteries of the universe, and from these moments of recognition reclaim the mysteries of our sacred bodies while returning the dance to its rightful place as a sacred form of expression.
Through this interconnectedness, we can discover and reveal a more personal and authentic intention for dancing.
Together, we can co-create an experience whereby Life becomes Art and Art becomes Life, and through this union engender a deep transformation in ourselves, each other,  and our audience. 


“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.” - Ruth St. Denis

“The Dancer of the Future will be one whose body and soul have grown so harmoniously together, that the natural language of that soul will have become the movement of the body.” 
Isadora Duncan,  The Art of the Dance

The way my soul took flight when I first walked through the Louvre, when I first saw the Parthenon and the Great Pyramids of Giza, when I heard a Bach sonata, or when I first saw a Duncan Dance - that is the state of being that I want to contact, work, and transmit to others.  I yearn for increased creative dialogue between myself and the version of me that lives in that realm, closer to the Sources, the Mysteries, and the Forces of the Universe.  That part of me that knows its own divinity and knows the pathways between sacred body and sacred soul.

Both Isadora Duncan and Ruth St Denis believed that the Dance is a sacred art form, and sought inspiration for their work in sacred sources.  Ms. Ruth danced the Goddesses and mythic figures from the East, like Isis, Radha, and Kuan Yin. Isadora danced the forces of nature and inspiration, looking to the great mystical line of discovery that connects all great art back to the Universal laws ruling all of existence.  I hold both of these great Masters in the utmost of reverence - re-reading their books and studying their images and dances over and over.  Every time they spring into my consciousness fresh and new, igniting my soul and pulling me ever closer to my conviction that the force of inspiration is sacred - that it emanates from the Gods and contacts us through our sacred souls, and that every time we engage in its activities, we must do so with a deep reverence.  

 Adapted from the original by Ruth St. Denis

O, Divine Father and Mother, 
Makers of heaven and earth, 
Supreme artists of creation, 

I, your humble instrument, kneel here at your feet.

I listen for your inward word 
and I wait to behold your inward vision.

Cleanse me 
from all sin and self-righteousness; 
from all illusions of prided vanity and fear. 

Make me sensitive to your sounds, 
to your vision, and to your rhythms.

Let me express beauty, 
the wonders of your universe 
and the immortality of my own soul which you have given me. 

Allow me to enter that temple not made with hands 
wherein I may express the beauty of love and the majesty of truth.

In humble and surrendered gratitude - 
For life, for love and for wisdom 
I offer 
again and yet again to You, my heart, my body and my mind.
 - Ruth St. Denis, Wisdom Comes Dancing 


  1. Timeless dance, interconnecting the elements of nature and our own mind, body and soul. Beautiful writing Paola!

  2. Awwww, thank you so much, Keti! And as always, for your support and belief in me. You're such a great part of my journey <3