On Dance, Beauty and Divinity

Anis: (...) If you are performing a piece that deals with the proxemics of humans, that is a slightly different, I suppose, way we look at it: to whose gaze are you performing? As opposed to, when you are dancing the proxemics of the other, in the sense if you are looking at the whole divine fashion of the presence of God, Spirits, whatever you call it, and there's always a continuous presence of the judge because the product of the process is a salvation, is devotion as opposed to the product of the ego, in dancing without the presence of that. So, it's a slightly different way of looking. My current work, um, because of the lakunan*, the understanding of Islamic dance, and you know, of all the faiths in the world, the most misinterpreted notion of dancing and music making is in Islam, because you know, and I always ask this question to the Mullah, Mufti, whatever, people of the faiths, and I say:

"Cite to me one citation within any of the page of the chapters of Qur'an's texts, that prevents you from dancing."

There's none, there's none. But there's a verse that's there - God is so beautiful, so you can't imagine how God is so beautiful. And because he or she, or what it, is so beautiful it loves beauty. So when you can make anything that's beautiful, not only to the eye, to the ear, to your senses, then you are trying to reach a sublime, reaching the divinity.

And then we look into the dancing of the very specific sectorial group in the Muslim community, the misunderstood Mevlevi, the Whirling Dervish, so said imperial analyst, you know? And that has nothing to do with whirling. What whirling, comes from the observer who observed it. From a preconceived idea of turning around, which is not what the Dervish are feeling. So, that is how I am saying here, is how would you teach a person who is not of that particular group of methodology and teach to do the dance of the Whirling Dervish. It looks like a Whirling Dervish, but do you have that quality. You have that elements of violence, you see, to get closer, you're always in a constant state of violence.

Um, put it this way, it's very confusing, since this is raised, I would like to share this afternoon, um...you need... even during the prayers, the Muslim prayers five times a day, every time you do the prayer, it looks very serene from the observer who is observing, it's so serene. But the person who does it is continuously trying to focus the focus, cause focusing the focus is so difficult. Because you cannot be distracted. Because you are, at that point of time, emailing God, put it that way (laughter). And you cannot have that transmission, you know, be broken. You have to finish the last sentence. That is the best analogy today, I can say, because you are connected. The moment you get in and the other bell rings, you're dialoguing, you cannot break that dialogue, because if you break that dialogue, there are no prayers. You have to redo it again.

(...) Personally I go through this balance of the need of wanting to tell and feel that my telling is heard. As much as I want to dance and be able to project that my dancing is acknowledged. I want to do a traditional form, and that my traditional form is traditional. I want to do a classic form and that is classical.

Now that continuously pushes you, pushes me in a constant, constant emotion of ruptures because I want it to. Whether it is a question of the invisible or the visible judges. I like, Jennifer, I like this wonderful... I've copied this statement -impeding that - I love it. Because I think, I feel it now that it is quite true when you say, whether it is visible or invisible it doesn't matter. But the context of you being gazed by the other, and whoever, whatever the other is doesn't matter, you have to define who the other is. But obviously when we do dancing, aren't we not constantly aware of the fact that without anyone hearing us, still facing something that is staring, a something and then you interpret it another way. And then you see that, of course, cause eventually when in that invisible become visible.

When you are on stage, the invisible in the studio become visible on stage and that is a different issue entirely I think. So I think the, eyes of the beloved that you citied, for me if I look into this, this spiritual divine dancing, it's very potent, it's very powerful because I believe in, in trying to deliver the bhakti, the devotion. You have to find the best ways that you cannot break the communication of the communion. And that, in dance, is an ever-present thing.

So again, I will affirm the fact that yes, yes by acknowledging the visible invisible judges, you would say invisible, but I would say, some others would say, the invisible are visible, while others would say otherwise, right.

For example, a good example, I work with the aborigines in the rainforest in Malaysia, in the mountains, it's very interesting, performing at night, nobody but us. And they uh always, constantly refer to the presence.

"Can't you hear, can't you see?" There's nothing you can hear, nothing you can see, but, "Can't you hear, can't you see?"

In fact, that kind of words are put into the chant as almost a reminder of the constant presence of the gaze of the other.