**”Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” Martha Graham
Just a well-worn step up from the sidewalk of a busy city street and we find ourselves in the rehearsal hall of an Afro-Cuban dance company.
The Maestra welcomed us and explained that the dance we were about to see was a traditional story of the “Journey of Everyman “ from the Yoruba tradition at the core of Santeria. I was particularly interested in this as I see myths and folk stories from all traditions as teaching stories. They help us learn how to accept what is, and teach us ways in which to strive to live meaningful lives.
As an integral part of Santeria this was indeed a parable.The story that this dance told was about the difficulties, temptations, the rites of passage, that beset our way in life and which can bring our attention to the powerful presence of the world in which we live.
Indeed, in this dance the individual encounters both foes armed with knives and the beautiful Sea Goddess, Yemaya.
Yemaya, who is also the mother of all living things, represents the world with which we must learn to live in harmony.
The drumming and singing drew us into the story being danced. We felt the tests and struggles we were watching on stage, as if they were our own.
The dance was hypnotic, the storytelling about purpose and meaning in life for us all was compelling. In the end we also understood that the purpose of the dance company was to transmit their sacred teachings.
“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. The body does not lie.” Agnes de Mille
In Cuba, the dance seemed to be everywhere, just waiting to happen: on the Malecon, the seawall in Havana, where musicians and people gathered in the evenings; centers where seniors met weekly to dance danson; vendors laughing and dancing salsa between the sales of refreshments outside the old fortress El Morro.
I leave Cuba with much to reflect on what is really important in living.
These posts began with stories about the famous old cars of Havana and so as a ending note – the car that brings the dancing young refreshment vendors to work.
Muchas gracias y hasta luego!