Friday, June 29, 2007

yoga ballet

We began the dance rehearsal last evening with a really incredible warm-up led by our choreographer, Billy Rugh. Mr. Rugh had designed a sequence of flexibility and balance poses and movements combining ballet and yoga. From yoga I recognized child's pose and triangle poses and cobra, and pigeon and spinal twists. From ballet, which I never studied, Mr. Rugh led us through what he told us were a series of movements in first through fifth position.

It occured to me, as we moved seamlessly from Eastern spiritual practice to Western arts culture and back again, that ballet might actually be the yoga of the west. Both practices use the body as a vehicle for accessing higher states. Both practices emphasized the importance of breath, of focus, of relaxation and openness. The lines sought in the different postures were exactly the same: length, rising from the chest, feet pointed or flexed. The entire sequence left me invigorated and energized, just as does good worship, or a great arts performance, or a good work out at the gym.

Although we should be careful to distinguish aesthetic experiences from spiritual experiences, it's also true that both essentially aspire to beauty. Beauty is not all that God is, but certainly God is beauty. A straight lifted leg with a pointed toe, an arched back, arms raised over the head, whether in dance or meditation leads to the same holy end.

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