Moving Archetypes draws on traditional Indian dance based contemplation practices to facilitate spaces of reflection and insight.
Archetypes are characters from myths and legends that represent complex emotions and stories. Moving Archetypes uses archetypes largely from Indian and Buddhist philosophies and sometimes from other classical philosophies. Connecting with them can help us understand that who we are and our life experiences are part of larger stories and patterns. We learn to use our body and mind to engage with the chosen archetype through dance set to music from all over the world, guided improvisation and reflection. The dance style combines specific techniques from Indian and western dance and includes:
dance theatre styles from India which have traditionally been used to embody archetypes for dance contemplation
Laban Movement Analysis based movement from contemporary western dance
guided simple movement improvisation
Connecting with powerful archetypes through dance contemplation can help us ‘get out of our heads’ and allow for experiencing feelings as spaces of reflection and insight.
No previous experience of dance or knowledge of archetypes is necessary.
Upcoming Classes and Events
Wednesday 10 to Friday 19 October
Dance Contemplation Intensive. Coinciding the auspicious time of the Navarathri Indian goddess festival, the workshop intensive invites participants into the worlds of the powerful Indian goddess archetypes—Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
Starting week of 12 November - 5 Weeks
Shanta (Peace) is one of the nine Rasas or emotional constellations in ancient Indian dance theatre. The course will introduce the Shanta dance associated with seminal Indian and Buddhist archetypes including Vishnu, Siva, Buddha and Tara.
Padma Menon has over 30 years of international experience as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and facilitator. She has performed in hundreds of venues all over the world and created numerous contemporary and traditional Indian dance productions for high profile festivals and venues internationally.
Padma enjoyed a successful career in India performing professionally as a soloist since the age of nine. In her early twenties she founded one of Australia’s first professional multicultural dance companies and established a national and international reputation for cross-cultural work. She has worked in Europe in the renowned Korzo Production House as house choreographer and her work has been showcased in international festivals such as Cadance and the Holland Dance Festival. The centre she founded in India in 2006 was part of the arts activism movement in India, working closely with human rights and social justice organisations to raise awareness of issues such as women’s rights.
Padma is an exponent of the Indian dance theatre style Kuchipudi which she studied from masters in the traditional lineage. She has also studied Bharatha Natyam and Mohini Attam styles of Indian classical dance. Padma also holds post graduate qualifications in Choreography specialising in Laban Movement Analysis from the Netherlands. She has also studied contemporary western dance, yoga and the Indian martial art form of Kalaripayattu.
+ What is dance contemplation?
Dance contemplation is an approach that uses dance as a way of reflection. Padma’s approach draws on the ancient Indian practice of Rasa where dance is used to facilitate a space for self-reflection and insight.
+ What does a typical class look like?
The main difference between dance contemplation and a regular dance class is where the focus is directed. Rather than focus on choreography and learning movement, dance contemplation invites participants to respond to the dance with a focus on feelings evoked by the archetypes. Drawing from Rasa practice, this approach is directed towards bringing awareness to our embodied experiences without mental narratives.
The structure of learning uses the contemplation framework from Indian philosophy which is:
- learning the material (sravanam)
- contemplating the material (mananam) through guided dance responses
- Nidhidhyasanam (expanding through guided dance improvisation to gain insights)
Every class has a basic structure which is:
Purvaranga: Making the space sacred
Dhyana: Preparing the body (warm-up with opening ritual)
Immersion: Learning the archetype physicality
Retelling: Finding your relationship to the archetype
Mastery: The take-away for daily practice
Reflection and questions
+ What will I get out of these classes?
Through the classes you:
- can connect with larger states of being that can expand your sense of a limited individual experience;
- find a place for movement practice that is empowering and integrating; and
- enjoy getting to know powerful archetypes from some of the oldest philosophical traditions of the world.
+ Why does Moving Archetypes use dance and movement?
Moving Archetypes uses dance because dance is the language of our bodies. Recent neuroscience research (please see Judith Hanna’s Dancing to learn: the brain’s cognition, emotion, and movement) affirms that dance functions in our brains as a language. But dance is more than simple verbal language because it can express complex feelings and emotions in symbolic and metaphorical ways. When compared to spoken language, dance is poetry.
Indian dance theatre traditions are sophisticated and powerful symbolic languages when accessed through contemplative practices. They offer a transformative practice that embraces feelings as its domain. Many contemplative practices struggle with the domain of emotions, often suggesting withdrawal or denial of them. The Rasa practice in dance is a way of ‘meditating’ through feeling.
+ Do I need to know dance to participate in the classes?
No. Padma will introduce you to bridging movement sections and also guide and facilitate more open, creative explorations of the archetype through movement. The classes are designed to encourage a non-judgemental approach to our self, our movement and to others.
+ Are the classes same as creative, self-expression dance?
No. Dance contemplation is not designed for a cathartic process where through self-expression you ‘purge’ your emotions. The aim of contemplation in the dance contemplation tradition is to expand from a sense of individuality towards a more connected experience of life and feelings. The archetypes provide powerful and empowering frameworks that can facilitate this process.