Inside an Evening of
Setting the Scene
The dancers gather, typically 15 to 30. I (Judith Hendin) introduce concepts of primary selves, disowned selves, and their 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. 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 can open up the group to a wide range of selves that have strong energetic components 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, of space are needed.) Movement begins with pleasant music, such as South American Indian flute, while the lights are turned up full. Everyone dances almost a caricature of the nice energies within—pleasing, sweet, kind, and caring. 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 the caricature of their not-nice energies—selfishness, envy, greed, snobbery, bigotry—with stomping feet, threatening fists, pushing elbows.
Then guiding the participants during ShadowDance, I call out other opposing characteristics and give the dancers time to try them on. I also call out the names of people who have exemplified these energies—Mother Teresa, Saddam Hussein, or other public figures. I say, “Just for a moment, touch the energy of Mother Teresa within yourself.” Or, “Touch the energy of Saddam Hussein within yourself.” I allow a few minutes for the dancers to explore this. After 30 to 40 minutes altogether, the dancing ends.
Sitting In Circle,
Embracing the Opposites
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. In movement, 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 he or she needs to own a distasteful, “not-nice” energy that is uncharacteristic of them. For example, “People keep criticizing me, and I feel hurt. I now own the energy within myself that can criticize someone else, and hurt them, and not care.” I frequently remind the participants against acting out these energies in the world, pointing out that the real aim is to hold the energies of opposites within their 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 finds access to the not-nice parts within. Very often, individuals hide strength and power in their not-nice parts.
The benefits of ShadowDance can be both tangible and abstract. An individual dancing opposites and connecting them to real life situations lives out a tangible experience. A group dancing opposites may stir energy at a collective level. That is, obviously, an abstract experience, and there is no way to verify it. Sometimes 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
ShadowDance can be structured as:
Introductory presentation – 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
Consultation - If you want to host a ShadowDance event yourself, it is highly recommended that you first receive consultation with Judith to learn more about these events.
Although no formal background in Voice Dialogue is required for ShadowDance, it is important that participants are acquainted with, or feel psychologically comfortable dealing with, the energies of familiar primary selves and the strong energies of disowned shadow selves.