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Pathways to Ecstasy, Avignon Festival, France 2010

No end, no end to the journey,
no end, no end never,
how can the heart in love
ever stop opening? - Rumi

'Pathways’ is an exploration of the archetypal journey of the soul through sadness and isolation towards the ecstatic release of self through the simple movement of turning. It is inspired by Sufi poetry and the dance of the dervishes but this dance is not the traditional dervish dance of surrender and communion with the Beloved.

The dance explores the pilgrimage towards surrender and the perceived distance from the Beloved. It is both an instrument of expression of pain and a means of healing. It moves back and forth between reactions of the everyday self and freedom from self. According to shamanic and mystic traditions ‘the cure for pain is in the pain’: the ecstasy comes through permitting the shadows, fear, sadness and emptiness to be expressed without entanglement. Gradually the dance unravels the threads that bind the soul to time.

Birds make great sky circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn?

They fall, and falling
they’re given wings – Rumi

The journey moves through poems and interviews with people in Avignon, through music from Bach via Turkish rap and Nina Simone to the ecstatic Sufi music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance, in the middle of the fighting.
Dance, in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free – Rumi

Through the dance the illusion of separation perpetrated by time and mind melt away. No longer trapped between the memory of pain and desire for redemption the soul rediscovers its own beauty of Presence. The ghosts of the past are placated and exorcised, fragmentation is woven back into wholeness. The face of the dancer at moments emerges from the trance of self to reflect a glimpse of ecstasy. When the mind stops seeking to grasp the experience then the body becomes light as if made of air. The dancer is no longer separate and the emptiness is no longer full of restless shadows but starts to be blissfully empty, timeless.

The whirling creates the quality of patience out of nothing, impresses with waiting for nothing the mind's pressure to endlessly move towards something, to want something. Then suddenly the ecstasy comes out of the nothingness, so overwhelming a liberation from the small space of self that one is ready to give up all the other wanting for that new greater end of want.

There is no end to this story
no final tragedy or glory
love came here
and never left.

Now that my heart is open
it can't be closed
or broken
love came here
and never left - Lhasa 'Love came here'

› temenos theatre

› on shamanism

› amazon dreaming '05

› hooked to infinity '06

› between the worlds '07

› the dream-maker '08

› a thousand ways '09

› pathways to ecstasy '10

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