Posted by: Vesper | October 25, 2017


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Welcome to DANCE TO AN ANCIENT BEAT.  (For the dance notes, please click on the titles above.  There are links to the music on most pages.  May they inspire your inner dancer.)


dancer fDANCE is an old, old language, older than words. It’s a language of inner sense, of feeling, listening and being moved.  Whether an expression of joy, a prayer for peace, or leaden lament, dance is an age old declaration of what it is to be human.  It connects us to each other, to our ancestors, and to our generous Mother, the Earth. 


AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of First Nations’ peoples as sovereign dancers of this land is hereby declared.   I wish also to respect elders’ knowledge.  Their dance, from time immemorial, has woven patterns of well-being into the heart of our Mother, the Earth.  I thank all for their generosity in welcoming us boat people to their Country.


IN DANCING, we step out of our head-space and enter the body boundless.  So, as US poet, Edwin Denby, said:

dancers pair‘There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a world of good!’ (from here).

To whose ancient beat do we dance? May it be Mother Earth’s!                                                                 

Vesper, 2017


BY THE WAY, old dancers never die. They just step out of time!

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Posted by: Vesper | March 26, 2021

Arm-chair Dance 2

Ok, Earthlings?!

Still breathing? Let’s dance.

Nothing you feel like dancing about?

Oh! I know that feeling too!

When there’s nothing to dance ABOUT,

perhaps we can dance FOR life & the living!

Ok, Earthlings, here’s a DYI dance guide~

RESPECT FOR THIS BODY ~ Yay! You’ve made time for your body! So here’s a hand gesture for stilling the mind: I touch the tips of my middle fingers together, as well as my thumbs, while curling the other fingers down towards the palms; my thumbs rest at the sternum, with elbows lifted to each side. Oh, look, there’s a heart shape, wearing a witch’s hat! Yes, I have a vivid imagination (Kalesvara Mudra, from Gertrud Hirschi’s ‘Mudra’s Yoga in Your Hands.‘ )

RESPECT FOR THE FLOW ~ Yay! The music’s playing. Now can you can switch your brain to airplane mode? Ok, I’ve got nothing against your brain. I’m sure it’s very useful. But if you’re thinking about your moves, how can you enjoy the feel of your body? Can you zip your inner monologue, & go with the flow? Tracing infinity symbols in the air gets the flow going for me. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t have a womb to listen to, how about listening to the womb of the Mother who gives us all life? MUSIC: Voice of the Womb, from Lineage, by Marya Stark.

RESPECT FOR LISTENING ~ MUSIC: Welcome to the Australian Bush, from Australia-Natural Soundscapes, by Andrew Skeoch.

RESPECT FOR OUR LIMITS ~ Do you ever feel awkward when you dance? I do. But I reckon, this is a gift. Awkwardness lets me feel where I’m tight and tense. I’m made of human, after all. I’m not made of sponge rubber. I don’t always bounce back. But gentle stretching, shimmying, shaking, flicking, gets the blood flowing so I can more gracefully explore my limits. MUSIC: Firebird’s Child, from Blessing, by SJ Tucker.

RESPECT FOR LISTENING ~ MUSIC: Rain Storm, from Shoalhaven, by Peter Mumme.

RESPECT FOR THE DARK MOTHER ~ Dark Mother? She lives in hedgerows in the UK. Her other name is Blackthorn, for Her sharp thorns make a haven for nesting birds. WEIRD culture links darkness to the bad, and light to what’s good. It’s not always been this way. In Old English, ‘niht’, night, feminine in gender, was thought of as a wondrous womb that gave birth to the day. Abbi Spinner McBride sings, ‘O Dark Mother, Lead me inward, Down to the cave of my heart.’ Closing my eyes, shutting out the flickering world, unknowing, I let my movements guide me to the cave of my heart. MUSIC: O Dark Mother, from Enter the Center, by Abbi Spinner McBride.

RESPECT FOR LISTENING ~MUSIC: Powerful Owl, from An Evening in the Australian Bush, by Andrew Sheoch.

RESPECT FOR EMOTION ~ Emotion comes from the Latin ‘emovere‘, meaning to move out. It’s the nature of emotion to move through us, not to stay and overwhelm us. When there’s a knot in the belly, when the skin is clammy, the face feels flushed, or or the breath is held, when things get uncomfortable, I’m for taking a deep breath and admitting, ‘Yep, I’m having a human moment.’ And if the fabric of life is ripped by tragedy, if I’m numb with loss, dance keeps me breathing through the complex rhythms of grief, until what was torn is rewoven. The Portuguese style of dance and song, Fado, meaning fate, owns life’s shitty stuff, transforms it into a beautiful thing. I take a breath, and another, and let emotions dance. MUSIC: Saba Deus, from Quarter To Six, by Idan Raichel, sung by Ana Moura.

RESPECT FOR LISTENING ~ MUSIC: Echoes Across An Ancient Land, from Australia-Natural Soundscapes, by Andrew Skeoch.

RESPECT FOR ALL THAT IS ALIVE ~ Yes, for all that is alive, even creepy crawling bugs. Insects are remarkable. They breathe through tiny holes all over their bodies, just like an open window, letting in the air! Are we humans so different? The pores in our skin need to breathe too. Let’s be aware of our breathing, as we dance. Can we let our minds merge into the movement moment of All-That-Is Alive? MUSIC: Mother of All That Is Alive, from Songs of healing, by Lisa Thiel.

RESPECT FOR LISTENING ~ MUSIC: Bar-shouldered Dove, from Birdsongs in the Australian Bush, by Del Richards.


Posted by: Vesper | March 21, 2021

Armchair Dance

Thanking the Body

If you can breathe, you can dance!

So let’s do it together! In the comfort of our own chairs.

What do we need? Simply enough space to swing our arms.

Every one’s welcome.

DYI dance guide~

THANK YOU, EVERY-BODY! Here’s respect for all living things on Earth. Here’s to seeing every-body as our siblings. Like Ngarrindjeri/Kukatha/ Pitjantjatjara singer from South Australia, Ruby Hunter, said: ‘You are my sisters. So you’re Tiddas!’ Let’s dance a big thankyou to every-body here with us. MUSIC: Tiddas, from ‘Sing About Life’ by Tiddas.

THANK YOU, BODY! Let’s cross our arms and give our bodies a gentle selfie hug. Let’s gently squeeze our upper arms, and then move these easy squeezy massaging hugs slowly down the length of our arms. And again. And again. We’re worth it! And now when when you rest how does your body feel? What can you sense in your muscles? Any changes in your breathing? Yep, let’s listen to our bodies. MUSIC: ‘Fling,’ by Charlie Mcmahon/Michael Bartolomei (Warner Chappell) from  Gondwana’s, Travelling Songs, 1994.  Details from Trove. 

THANK YOU, SHOULDERS! Sitting in one place too long, our shoulders can get stiff and tense, yeah? Let’s lift and lower them. Let’s roll them forward and back. Let’s shimmy & shake! MUSIC: In The Name Of The Dance, from ‘Blessings,’ by SJ Tucker.

THANK YOU, BREATH! Opening our arms wide to each side can open up the chest & help fill our lungs with air. Let’s breathe and let our arms follow the rhythm! MUSIC: Ancient Mother, from ‘Ancient Mother,’ by Robert Gass & friends.

THANK YOU, BELLY! You bag of emotions. You dynamo of vital organs which gives us energy! Let’s shift our minds from our head down to our bellies, and be mindful of our gut feelings. Let’s tilt out pelvis forward and back, gently rocking and gently massaging those vital organs. Let’s also rock from side to side. Rocking is balancing for the body. It’s calming for our inner sense too. MUSIC: Luskell, Ma Bagig (Rocking My Boat) from ‘Comptines & Berceuses de Bretagne,’ by Yann-Guirec le Bars.

THANK YOU, MUSCLES! Muscles can’t push. They pull. They relax. They never work on their own, but in pairs to give us a range of motion and flexibility. Yay, our muscles duets! Our personal pas de deux! MUSIC: I Feel Love, from ‘Oriental Night Fever,’ by Barbara Eramo & Stefano Saletti. This is mellow. More upbeat is Donna Summer’s disco version. And on video.

THANK YOU, HANDS! How busy are our hands! Let’s bring them close together, but not quite touching. Let’s move them as if rolling a ball between them. Can you feel the warmth of your energy between them? When I’m too weary to armchair dance, I’m thankful for Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras, Yoga in Your Hands. The Life Mudra is made by putting the tips of thumb, 3rd & 4th fingers together. I find this calming. And it lifts my spirits. MUSIC: Dum Dumda Diddle from ‘Rua’ by Rua.

THANK YOU, HEAD! Seat of sight, smell, hearing, and taste, it’s easy to think that the head is in charge. Like the conductor of an orchestra or choir. But watching my Pop conduct, I learnt that this activity is not about control, but about listening. A fine conductor will listen to all the players or singers, and bring them all together. By the way, when playing strings in an orchestra, you can’t hear yourself, unless you’re playing too loudly. There’s a life lesson there somewhere. Let’s listen to our body wisdom! MUSIC: Return Again, from ‘Songs For The Inner Child, by Shaina Noll.


Posted by: Vesper | February 9, 2018

The Power of Two

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IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY not to be missed: a visit from an old dancing friend, the light and lithe, the lovely, Madryn Silverlake, and Adelaide dance-teacher.  So on went the lyric ‘Happy Hens’, followed by the more boisterous ‘Heart of the Dance’.  And I was impressed by the patterns  the two of us created together, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes opposite, sometimes in symmetry, sometimes not.


‘TWO’ is from the Old English feminine declension ‘tƿā’, pronounced ‘twar’.  The masculine form ‘tƿeġen’, pronounced ‘tway-n’ survives as the English ‘twain’.  Yes, as in ‘mark twain’, the US nautical term for two fathoms . Twin is from Old English too.  It’s all about being closely related, together, doubled or paired.  In contrast, duality, from the Latin duo, meaning two, refers to independent things, often standing in opposition, as in mind and body.


DO YOU THINK of yourself as some body with a mind? The ancient geek Plato takes the cake for this duality.  He reckoned mere mortals could only be imperfect shadows of heavenly forms.  But when the body died, the spirit could return to its divine perfect state.  Yet, rootwise, spirit means breath or air, quite physical, really.  It’s from the Latin spīritus, related to spīrāre, to breathe (OED).


DO ALL HUMANS suffer from this body-bad/mind-divine split? I suspect not. In the 5th century BCE, the Buddhist teacher Śāriputra taught that ‘consciousness’ and ‘form’ are  inseparable, interdependent, and without moral value.  He said: ‘It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another’ (Nalakalapiyo Sutta: Sheaves of Reeds. You can read more here).  And even earlier than that, did not the Ngarrindjeri, the First Nations’ people of the waters, rivers, lakes & Coorong, live in a very connected world of all things seen and unseen,  brothers and sisters with other creatures?  Hasn’t First Nations’ lore, for thousands upon thousands of years, reminded folks to think of others, and to share?


A VERY SPECIAL ALCHEMY’ happens when folks do things together, says Canadian science journalist, Alex Hutchinson. He explains:

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There’s really interesting research in the role of groups that you get different changes in your brain chemicals if you do the same work-out with your friends than doing it alone…There’s something about being united with a common purpose with other people when doing things together, and sometimes even doing them in sync. So there’s something about dancing, for example, that creates different brain chemicals, dancing with other people in sync, compared to doing it by yourself’ ( ‘Human endurance: what are our limits?’  More here).


WHEN MADRYN and I danced, I suspect the two of us entered the matern of the dance.  And it danced us into a togetherness that felt wise beyond words. What’s a matern?  It’s from the Latin māternus, and like its cousins matrix, matter, material and maternal, is formed from māter, Mother, the womb that gives life to us all, as in Tellūs Māter, the Mother Earth goddess [OED].


MATERN’S male counter-part, the pattern, is more common.  It’s formed from the patrōnus, the patriarchal protector of people and places. Rootwise, patron and pattern are the same wordDoes not the pattern come into being from within the hidden depths of matern’s creativity? 


SO HERE’S to the power of the matern, dancing us into earthy wholesome patterns of togetherness. Yes, here’s to the matern of the pattern, and the power of two!


Ps. Was it mere coincidence that Madryn was my recent dance partner? Her name, it seems, comes via the Cymric, from Dea Matrona, the Gaulish mother-goddess.


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Posted by: Vesper | January 7, 2018


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It was wonderful to welcome three Hogmanay first-footers to the dance studio yesterday.  Ok, so it was a few days after Hogmanay, but they were the first to cross the threshold for 2018.  A good excuse for a bit of party.  (I don’t get many visitors out here).


Did my three intrepid guests trip the light fantastic?  Mmm, depends on your definition of ‘trip’.  They did trace the dance-floor’s octagonal labyrinth.  Something like this:-


Octagonal Labyrinth


‘And did those feet in 4/4 time
Walk the maze with measured mien?
And was the holy Source of All
In Vesper’s pleasant lab’rinth seen?’ (apologies to Bill Blake, 1804).


No, but the dance studio now has laughter lines, on account of all the dosado & vis-a-vis squeezing past each other on that ridiculously narrow twisted path.


Upon reaching the centre one of my friends jumped for joy.  I held my breath and stared at the dodgy floor:  it had been breached before.  Out here so much feels as if it’s falling apart.  Thankfully, this friendship has held, stuck together by shared loves.  Joan teaches healthy land management.  Freya teaches how to travel the land ethically.  Nicola teaches care of this land’s seeds.   ‘I feel love’ expressed my heart-ties with these three wonderful well wise souls.  And for the greetings & gossip they brought from Traditional Owners.


Love is a landscape that weathers the changing seasons, and grows more beautiful in its rounds of sorrowful, sweet aging.

Vesper, January 2018


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