Friday, September 28, 2012

The Rituals that Hold Us Together

I walked into Dance Theatre Fairbanks's teacher lounge on a seemingly typical day.  Jentry and Jay were chatting with Shasta as they were getting ready for evening classes.  Bags, clothes, and shoes were spewed everywhere, which is nothing new.  All my dance stuff is on the floor just outside my locker instead of actually inside.  As I went into the back section to change I noticed Jay looking down at his old white ballet shoes.  He announced that he had ordered a couple pairs of black shoes and could finally retire these.  Dancers are shoe fanatics, so there was a lot of celebratory cheer in this announcement.  Yet, when I came from the dressing area, I was surprised to find Jay shredding his old white shoes, the bits dropping to the floor like bad dandruff.  Then he gestured for everyone to gather around.

Rituals, regardless of their purpose or how odd
they seem, are the threads that tie our separate
lives together in a deeper meaningful way.
"We need to have a proper send off," he said.  "You know, like sending the creative energy back to the spiritual world or whatever."

The four of us circled the shoes and launched into our cheesy version of a tribal dance, brought it to a complete frenzy, and then simmered into a complete laughing fit.

"Darn," I said when I could speak again.  "I should have recorded this!"

We all gently agreed that it was probably for the best that we didn't.  Then Shasta declared our ritual as one of those secret ritual that you read about, but never see on video.

"No cameras!" we said.  "No!"

They did let me take a photo of the shoes.  Then we went on to our classes for the evening.

As I get older, I appreciate the importance of rituals.  We use them to mark the start of an event, to give thanks, and to celebrate the change of the season.  It doesn't matter if your Pagan, Christian, or Jewish.  Rituals are the common denominator amongst people with different lifestyles and personalities.  The four of us in the teacher's lounge are similar enough, but our Ensemble Company is made up of 19+ dancers, not to mention other non-Ensemble students.  We have the love of dance to make us come to the same place.  We have certain games that allows us to build bonds and indoctrinate newbies (-BURP- Periwinkle!). And we have rituals to maintain these bonds when we're apart for a long time.

So if you see some person shredding their shoes (or whatever other sports do as pre-ritual prep), hang around the craziness to begin.  Partake, laugh, and then take pride. You're part of the family now.

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