This is the first in a series of personal sharings from people who have participated in the For The One Dances as crew or dancers.
"My first experience with medicine dances was the For The One at the Center for Peace in Tennessee, USA and the thing that I kept seeing there, over and over, was that this is a community, almost a family. I'm very new to this kind of spiritual work (although it resonates with me in a very natural way), but I attended this dance with a sense of openness and willingness to serve. I felt welcomed instantly and made several new friends over the course of the weekend. I became part of the community.
So, before I get into my impressions, I'll describe the dance for the sake of people who haven't been to a dance, starting with the arbor. It's a circular space, about thirty yards in diameter, with a tree in the center. The dancers walked, danced and sometimes ran from their personal spaces on the outer rim of the arbor, to the tree in the center, and back, like spokes in a wheel. Also inside the arbor were moon-mothers and sun-fathers, kind of spiritual life-guards for the dancers. The gate for the arbor is traditionally in the east, and this is where people enter and exit the arbor during the ceremony. There's a fire in the east gate, which is tended by two dedicated fire-keepers. There is a drum, a big beautiful people's drum, which at least four people played whenever there was dancing. Finally, the chiefs stand in the east gate, watching over everything.
I served as a dog-soldier, which for those that don't know is a support role for many dances. If someone needs something like wheat-straw for a muddy path, or assistance carrying something, then it was my job to help fill the need. This seems like a reasonably easy job, and on the surface, it is. Dig a little deeper though, and we find where some of the heavy-lifting comes in.
I felt connected to the dance in a way I'm still not able to articulate fully, but it has something to do with the energetic forces at work in and around the dance. In addition to whatever small services I was providing, there was an undercurrent of SERVICE that laced through everything I did. On the one level, there I was, basically acting as a kind of camp facilitator for this big ceremony, and on another level I was experiencing a pull, like a sub-sub-sonic vibration on some unknown spiritual wavelength that was drawing me in. I was serving the physical, but also the spiritual. I was carrying things and doing things, but I was also holding the space. I stood outside the arbor, waiting for someone to need something, but I also moved with the drum, I connected with the fire and with the dancers, and I sang along, lending my voice to the chorus. I held the energy of the space and the spirit of the dance in my heart and I was connected to it. That was my first dance, and it was a big one.
It was an amazing experience, and it taught me something about myself along the lines of "get your head out of the way, lead with your heart and know that whatever happens will be perfect." I'm still digesting this information.
Overall, I feel so priveledged to know some of the people I have met in the dance community. I cherish the love I see and feel and the warm welcome I have recieved, and I look forward to my next dance."
"My dance experience has always been very positive. There are emotions involved, but experience helps keep a person grounded and able to hold space. That's on a personal level. Also on a personal level, but more tuned to the group is bonding. The dances produce strong friendships that last not only beyond the dance time, but for years. For me those connections are how "For the One" works."