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Tribal Trance Dance

{written by : Ernesto Ortiz}

Article word count : 1211 -- Article Id : 277
Article active date : 2011-02-12 -- Article views : 9117

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I was surrounded by darkness, a darkness produced by wearing a bandanna blindfold. It created a sensation similar to having my fingers in my ears, but this time it was a visual “silence” with my eyes closed, instead of a silence produced by plugging my ears. The music was...

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I was surrounded by darkness, a darkness produced by wearing a bandanna blindfold. It created a sensation similar to having my fingers in my ears, but this time it was a visual “silence” with my eyes closed, instead of a silence produced by plugging my ears. The music was loud and tribal, with passionate rhythms that I could feel all over my body. It was as if all of the cells and neurons in my body were responding spontaneously to the music. The darkness was so beautiful, supportive, and complete, and I wasn’t dancing with anyone and no one was dancing with me. I could not control my body. It was simply responding spontaneously to the music. Sweat was pouring down my whole body and at times I could not even feel my body…I was alone dancing in this darkness. I was Trance Dancing!

As I expanded my awareness, I could feel the others dancing around me. I could not see them, but I could feel them and could feel well beyond my normal perception of reality. I started to hear sounds coming from the other dancers, sounds of ecstasy, and an occasional gentle touch of someone. If I wanted, I could feel as if my dancing was mimicking the movements of another.

Wow, what a rush! The music changed, turning wild and I… found myself in the forest, running along beside a black panther. She was guiding me, taking me for a ride as the music disappeared into a background of explosive sounds, primitive sounds…I was feeling my primal self. I kept on going with the panther. We went over a river to a water hole where we stopped and I jumped in to swim. My body was all wet, and I was in total communion with nature and the elements of my experience. The music changed again and again, going from wild to mild, and after an hour and forty-five minutes of dancing the music turned to be sublime. It elevated me to a space, a sacred space that I have felt before: a delicious space of completeness and reverence, of ecstasy and total elevation of the self.

What an experience! And to think that some people have to use drugs or substances to alter their consciousness to feel this way! We accomplish this with powerful evocative music, movement, and the Trance Dance breath.

What is Tribal Trance Dance? Trance Dance, as we know it today, is a blend of ancient rituals with a modern techno-twist. Ultimately, it is a way of recognizing our ancient heritage and applying it to our modern lifestyle. We can go as far back as we can in time and we find evidence of it in the history of dance and movement.

If we look at Shamanic practices from all over the world, we can clearly see that our original relationship to dancing and movement was for the purpose of connecting with a Higher Self, to worship, and to heal. Our ancestors viewed nature -- the earth and all of its elements -- as sacred, as an expression of God and the Divine. The goal, then, became to duplicate nature, to mimic what we saw as a part of creation of life and death. To duplicate nature through movement and sound was the first and most powerful way to connect with God and Spirit. We learned to use our bodies as the instrument that could carry the energy and the vibration to make this possible. We learned how to dance to ecstasy, to celebrate with our bodies that we were alive.

Spiritual dancing is a cross-cultural phenomenon. It is something that we witness in all cultures from every continent on this planet, each simultaneously embracing unique dance forms based on that particular culture’s environment, their perception of reality, and the animals and elements of nature present within their domain. Their purpose in dancing has universally been to enter the consciousness of, or become the spirit of, the sun, moon, and various animals and forms of plant life. It was to call in the spirits or to drive them away.

Indigenous people -- and we all come from indigenous people -- have been called the guardians of the Earth. It is an apt description and goes beyond a mere acknowledgment that indigenous people are respectful of nature and it’s resources. Indigenous people are descendants of the original inhabitants of the planet that have been colonized or overrun by others. But even then they have not lost their passion for dancing and expressing their connection with the Earth and with Spirit through Ritual Dancing.

We have some beautiful examples from around the world, including many Native American nations from the US and Canada, the aborigines of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand, the Saami of Northern Scandinavia, people from innumerable oceanic islands throughout the globe, and more. We have examples of their ritual music in the Balinese Keckak, the Hawaiian Hula, the Kayapo from Brazil. The beautiful Wodaabe from North Africa chant, clap, drum, and dance for seven days in ritual and pleasure.

The instruments that are used also play an important part of the Ritual Dance and the induction to an altered state of consciousness. We have instruments like the drum that mimics the heart beat, the didjeridoo, rattles, the human voice as is used by Tibetan Tantric singing…all are used to drive us deeper within the self.

Through these dance rituals, participants believed that the spirits within nature could empower them with abilities such as courage and compassion, as well as reveal insights into the future. After my experience with Tribal Trance Dance I can say that this is indeed true. The sense of empowerment I felt as the result of running with my black panther friend and animal guide, and the way my body felt: this is very likely quite similar to what native people feel like after one of their rituals.

Anyone can Trance Dance because there are no steps to follow and no external expectations. The Higher Self knows the steps, and once awakened, Spirit takes over. It is a journey out of your head and into your heart and body, something that we modern humans seem to need so much.
Dance is synonymous with Prayer, a demonstration of reverence. Dance is a doorway to the soul or spirit within and if you dance into the state of ecstatic trance you will connect completely to the healing powers of Spirit. Trance Dance is pure ecstatic energy. Trance Dance is the vehicle by which you become that energy and that"s what makes it remarkable. At the level of Spirit, anything is possible. Trance Dance is meditation in motion, the vehicle that takes you from outward to go deep within to explore and be an active participant in that exploration. We use the body as an instrument of the Divine, and we engage in the exploration of our feelings and emotions, aided by music and the breath.
So where do end up after a Trance Dance experience? Well, to me we end up in a state of very deep meditative and ecstatic bliss, a state of unlimited potential, and a sacred space where spontaneous healing occurs.

Author Bio :
Noted artist, author and healer, Ernesto Ortiz has devoted his life to exploring and communicating the language of the heart, primal movement and deep inner spaces. Over the past 25 years, Ernesto has taken thousands of people on a journey from physical and emotional inertia to the freedom of ecstasy, from the chaos of the chattering ego-mind to the blessed emptiness of stillness and inner silence. For more information email @ or

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