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200 years and still dancing!

200 years and still dancing!
200 years and still dancing!
Ambassador's for Children volunteers join in dance with Kosovo refugees while in Serbia.

Get out your dancing shoes and start practicing. The town of Corydon is having a ball. The Bicentennial Ball is at hand as it kicks off the year-long celebration. Don’t wait until the last minute to try your shoes for fit or your steps for grace. You will want to be in top form for this historic event. It is a big gig. No, not as in snooty, but as in fun and memorable.
Think back over all the movies you’ve seen, the books you’ve read and the social events you’ve attended. Often found, lives have been changed while music played and bodies swayed. When people have chosen to highlight a special time on the calendar, they’ve held a dance. Sometimes the dances were in the form of a hoedown with participants wearing blue jeans. Other times they were formal affairs with black ties and swishy dresses. And there have always been those spontaneous affairs that took place at the end of wars as well as the reunions that followed.
When we mark something as important, we just can’t sit still. We get up, jump around and dance.
Don’t tell me you just aren’t the dancing type and you’ll sit this one out. I must admit to having those same cautions as you. I have never been very coordinated and always have gotten stiff when the prospect of dancing in front of other people loomed. I envied those who twirled around with looks of joy whether they knew the steps or not. Fortunately, it appears to me as though most of those on the dance floor these days are just jigging around in a free form. So don’t miss the fun and come Jan. 26 to the Gerdon Youth Center.
What can it be about a dance that causes us to use it to mark important times in the life of our community? The great ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov believes ‘Dancing is a reflection of the human soul. Dancing is the accumulation of all our previous life experiences.’ There has to be more than the mere mastering of the latest steps in fad for a statement such as this.
In a world where we all form from the same life forces, there seems to be an innate drive to stay connected to the greater whole. So often we feel isolated and distanced by incompatibility and discord. We feel others just don’t understand what we are going through. We feel incapable of communicating in an effective way with those we yearn to be close. We don’t understand other people’s religion, politics or habits. In fact, so much looks out of our control and threatening. Change is rushing about us and we miss those people and things that gave us a sense of belonging. Yes, we do often feel ‘alone in a crowd’ and we don’t like it.
When I’m in foreign countries, I often have a problem with the language of words. I don’t hear sounds well. I struggled with language studies in school and remember so very little of what did soak in my head then. The places I go around the world, people speak all kinds of languages and dialects, and it is hard to communicate even with an interpreter’s assistance. I have resorted to pantomime and smiling a lot in my travels or work. It is amazing how well we get along and become friends with hugs, laughs and tears.
This past autumn, I went to Serbia with the organization Ambassador’s for Children. A violinist named Lois Sabo-Skelton traveled with us and hauled her violin everywhere.
She played in monasteries, the royal palace, a refuge camp and orphanages, and her music brought spontaneous responses wherever we went. Babies bounced up and down to the rhythms while in the arms of total strangers. Old ladies cast off weary looks and joined hands with visiting Americans. Silent nuns in Orthodox monasteries shed tears as they heard the lying notes of the Irish song ‘Danny Boy.’ Orphans from Kosovo joined in with tambourines and drum sticks when this accomplished violinist from the Indiana School of Music played Bonaparte’s ‘Retreat.’ It must be something in the rhythm that bonds us. We join in and, as one, we lose our loneliness.
This all begins to make quite a bit of sense to me when I recall some of the information that has been directed my way this past year. I have read the work of Western scientists and Eastern mystics who stress that we human beings as well as our universe are bundles of energy. Apparently, our movement ‘ even if it is just a thought ‘ gives off vibrations as we go about our business. Energy is created by these vibrations and mixes and mingles with the energy created by other forms of life. In other words, we are all connected.
Even the political economic journalist Thomas Friedman in his book ‘The World Is Flat’ confirms that we are all one.
It all boils down to this for me: We are all made up of the same fluid substances that slosh around, either bashing up against other directional waves or are in sync and move in harmony with universal rhythms. We do better when we move in concert with life rather than in conflict.
Societies have always celebrated the beginning and the end of things with communal dance. I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that it isn’t about how good I look on the dance floor. It is about being a part of a living, moving body of people ‘ my people ‘ my people in our time and place. Whether you get up on the dance floor and really boogie away or simply join the toe-tapping gallery, let’s join together in our journey into the next 200 years of Corydon life.