The role of Silence.
In Egyptian Dance as in Life.
We live in loud, stressed, machinal, productivity obsessed, running on the mice wheel towards nowhere (except precocious death), hysterical, fast paced societies. We struggle with time and the way we use it. We fight with the clock and make every second count, whatever that means.
I´m no stranger to this plague: the overdoing, struggling with time, rushing towards nowhere plague. It´s hard to keep ourselves immune when everything, and everyone, remind us “not to lose time”, to get busy and busier and even busier until we drop. And the personal anguish is real – I wish I my days had 48 hours, minimum. There´s so much I´d like to do, experience, see, taste, smell, enjoy and not enough time to cover it all.
Yet there´s one thing, amongst many, I´ve learnt from Egyptian Dance: we, humans, have created the concept of limited, straight line, time. According to the Universe – our real and only boss, the one who´s directing the whole theatre without shouting – , time is eternal and it happens in a circular mode. Egyptian Dance taught me there´s something called Eternity, a time without time, a place where I, and my dance, live forever; a place where living forever is not important. A place where I’m shown I Am Eternity. This art form allowed me to stop, to be present in this (eternal and ephemeral) moment; it gave me permission to “lose time” and do nothing.
Just be. Just feel. Just listen. Just surrender. Just enjoying, believing my existence is enough – I´m enough and worthy, no matter what I do. Or don’t do.
Funny how Egyptian Dance is considered – in Egypt and the whole Middle East as well as in Western countries although with less intensity – as anti-religious, an offense to public morality, order; an attack to good taste. Funny. Because Egyptian Dance is religious, in the truest sense of the word (religare=reconnect=bring together what was once dispersed/fragmented). I´ve studied, and experienced, different religions and none seems as religious as this dance. Not to me. It reconnects us with our Divine Self. You may call it Allah, God, Nothingness, Universe. All I know is this dance reconnects me with the best, highest, part of myself. And I know that part needs no name – it has no name.
Silence is therefore an integral part of authentic Egyptian Dance as well as authentic Life. Without silence, and pauses, we become extensions of machines, disconnected from the source, unable to be aLIVE and appreciate our existences. Without silence, we stop listening. Without silence, we become unrooted, disconnected from what matters, as crazy as the mice that keep running in the wheel towards exhaustion and, eventually, death.
I say: STOP. Listen to your heartbeat. Listen to nothing. Just stop. The world will not end because of it, I promise. You won´t be worth less because of it, I promise. In fact, the moment you stop, breathe, go inside and listen, it´s the moment you start living. And dancing.
Excerpt from the bonus material of “Om Kolthoum & Tarab for Oriental Dancers – LEVEL II” by Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.
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