Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Battle Dance of Durga

In dance, we can tell myth through our bodies. In dance, we can get to the drumbeat heartbeat of myth - we can access directly the part of us that responds to myth with emotion and action and movement.

This is the battle dance of the Hindu goddess Durga against a demon king:

See the way that combat is made a dance - the combat between warriors, and between life-giving strength on the one hand and belligerent, life-destroying ambition on the other. Durga is the fertility goddess, the grain goddess who with her breath called her slain warriors back to life; Mahishasura the raksasha demon shifted in shape from a water buffalo to a war elephant to a man but could find no shape in which he could defeat Durga, that goddess of life and war whose name is Sanskrit for invincible. The life that bursts crops and human beings from the earth may be challenged, but can not be held back for long.

The dance commemorates and enacts that conflict, and the victory when gods and world unify to drive out the rot that infects the world.

In what other dances do we enact myth, living the myths that drive us through the activity and song of our bodies?

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