An immersion into the mystery that is existence: through the body, through
dance - that is the journey Iris Stewart takes us on, if we so choose.
Dance, of course, is well known for its capacity for freedom of expression:
though at that, not practiced by many in modern life. In this wide-ranging philosophical,
spiritual, archaeological, historical, and personal search, Iris experiences,
finds and intuits that dance is and can be something even more encompassing-spirituality
at its deepest. It would seem that dance was the earliest means of tuning into
that essence which is better felt than described or conceived; practiced through
the whole cycle of life - nativity, survival, passing.
It also seems that tracings can still be found in dance that link us to the
whole range of hominid life, and of all life, and of all time and space; but
here again we get to where words fall short. In the book, however, you will
find suggestions gently directing to many of the myriad physical paths to explore,
individually or in communion with others.
You will also find that the dance community, primarily women, is and immense
repository of philosophy and tradition, that has been given little respect or
acknowledgement in mainstream circles. Say, Anna Halprin back through Martha
Graham, Ruth St. Denis, Isadora Duncan, Antonia Merce`-seen as free spirits
most certainly, but beyond that very much in touch with that deep range of life
that is mostly lost in modern life. Also profoundly able to express it through
all the senses, as well as intellectually. Much has been written about this
by these and other dancers, but that rarely reaches beyond a small circle.
This book, then, especially holds the potential to benefit individual people
(including males!), as well as the world as a whole, for what it explores really
is the feminine principle in its deeper aspects, which of course involves all
of existence. The realm includes ancient and modern Temple dances, Liturgical
dances from all the major religious traditions (yes, Christians have/do dance
in worship); the shallowly named Belly Dance (which the author calls WomanDance
from its association with childbirth), Tribal Dancing, Sufi Dancing, Circle
and other Folk dance, Flamenco, and Modern Dance.
Finally, it also includes extensive source notes, bibliography, and other resources,
such that it could be considered a bible of sacred dance!
Steve Cochrane, Reviewer