Inside an Evening of
This describes an in-person event.
Variations are made for online events.
Setting the Scene
The dancers gather, typically 15 to 30. I (Judith Hendin) introduce concepts of opposite energies.
Four non-dancers stand, one in each corner of the room. Their function is to ground and contain the energies to come. These non-dancing participants are invited in advance to carry this role, or they volunteer from within the group on the day of the event. Though they do not dance, they do participate in the sharing later.
In ShadowDance, I choose a pair of opposites. In my experience, the most direct selves that lend themselves well to dancing, are Nice and Not-nice. This simple pair of opposites opens the group to a wide range of strong energies that are relevant to most individuals and communities. Other opposites can be effective, as long as they translate vividly into movement.
Dancing a Pair of Opposites
Everyone spreads out around the space. (For every 10 dancers, a minimum of 450 square feet, or 40 square meters, are needed.) Movement begins with pleasant music, such as South American Indian flute, while the lights are turned up full. Everyone dances the Nice energies within—pleasing, sweet, kind, caring. I call out the names of people who have exemplified these energies, such as Mother Theresa. Body parts lead—nice hands, nice shoulders, nice hips. After 15 minutes, the room is energetically dripping with Nice-ness.
Then the lights are turned down low, and the music turns loud and fierce. For the next 15 minutes, everyone dances their Not-nice energies—selfish, envious, greedy, snobbish, bigoted—with stomping feet, threatening fists, jabbing elbows.
I call out the names of people who have exemplified these energies, such as Vladimir Putin or Saddam Hussein, or the current cruel despot. I say, "Touch the energy of Putin within yourself." I allow a few minutes for the dancers to explore this. After 30 to 40 minutes altogether, the dancing ends.
The Owning Circle
Most people are sweating and surprised at the range of energies within them. Then I ask everyone to sit in a circle. (Depending on the size of the group, everyone can join in one large circle, or they can make several smaller ones, which can be arranged symmetrically in the space. Pattern has power.) The four corner “grounders” join in as well. The lights are low, and music still plays in the background, but more softly now.
Each person is invited to name a real-life situation in which they need to own a distasteful, Not-nice energy that is uncharacteristic of them. For example, “My boss keeps criticizing me, even though he knows it hurts me. I now own the energy within myself that can criticize someone, and hurt them, and not care.” I caution participants against acting out these energies in the world, pointing out that the real aim is to hold the energies of opposites within our own psyches.
Any further discussion is kept to a minimum. Talking takes energy up to the Rational Mind and can reduce the power of energetic shifts that are occurring within the participants as well as in the larger field. The integration process may continue over time as each person gains access to the Not-nice parts within.
The benefits of ShadowDance can be both tangible and abstract. An individual may find tangible improvement in a real life situation. A newspaper headline the next day may proclaim the initiation of peace negotiations between countries. These are synchronicities that give rise to intriguing questions about a larger web of connectedness.
Reaping the Benefits
Although no formal background in Voice Dialogue is required for ShadowDance, it is important that participants are acquainted with, or feel psychologically comfortable with, the strong energies of disowned shadow selves.
ShadowDance can be structured as:
Introductory lecture – 1-3 hours
Evening event – 3 hours
One-day workshop – 6 hours
Two-day workshop – 12 hours
On-going group – meeting weekly for 3 hours each time
If you want to create a ShadowDance event yourself, Judith Hendin is available for consultation.