Authentic native dance and music has always touched my soul in such an overwhelming way that I often have to run and grab a tissue to soak up the salt water spilling out of my eye sockets. Long hair comes in handy as a curtain to hide behind from the curious glances of the puzzled people around me. In the lovely accented words of Jude’ Law’s character in the movie The Holiday, “I’m a major, major weeper!”
Indeed, I relished dancing the night away in the nightclubs when I was younger and bendier. Music and dance provided a much-needed escape from the boring routine of predictable life in a small town. Out on the dance floor, my usual self-consciousness melted away as the rhythm took over every cell of my being—pure bliss. I felt like I’d been on vacation for weeks afterwards. Dancing was fun!!
I first saw a live Hawaiian dance show in Maui, and then later in Kauai. And I stood there, poolside, with tears streaming down my face. How embarrassing—there’s no crying in Hawaii!! I now own a gorgeous Fender Ukulele, but my playing can’t hold a candle to the melodic sweetness of the Hawaiian musicians.
Another memory is when I went to visit my parents back in my BC hometown and a native parade happened to be going by. My Mom and I stopped to watch. Once again, I heard the native singing and drumming, and a piercing pain wells up in my chest and spills out of my eyes. I pretended not to cry, but I honestly could have stood there and loudly bawled my eyes out the entire parade. Seriously, who cries at parades??!
I don’t know why I have this heart-wrenching reaction every time I hear authentic native music or witness a culture dancing their dances and singing their songs. Does it remind me of how free and happy I once felt dancing the night away? Do I feel the pain of their ancestors and centuries of oppression and suffering? Is it my own pain and oppression I’m feeling? I cannot say for sure.
One thing I do know is I am witnessing pure beauty, pure abandonment of body moving to the rhythm, pure freedom of expression. These joyful celebrations seem to be missing in so much of our everyday lives, relegated to mere festivals and concerts, and that is unfortunate.
How has music and dance touched your soul?