Empatharian is a merging of dance and meditation. It has the benefits of whole body movement and expression that is dance, as well as the benefits of mindfulness, breath, and focus that is meditation.
What is Dance, Actually?
According to Wikipedia: Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture.
An important distinction is to be drawn between the contexts of theatrical and participatory dance, although these two categories are not always completely separate; both may have special functions, whether social, ceremonial, competitive, erotic, martial, or sacred/liturgical.
The more participatory Ballroom Dancing, Dances of Universal Peace, and 5 Rhythms Dance are several modern forms with some of the benefits of Empatharian, being social, sacred, or deeply expressive.
Ballet and modern dance, as well as many dance forms from other cultures, are more performative theatrical forms, especially made to inspire and arouse the viewer/audience, which Empatharian shares as one of it’s cherished aims.
How is Empatharian Different from Dance?
Empatharian is different from most dance in some major ways:
- Empatharian is easy to do, simple to learn, and doesn’t require great technique or flexibility. Most dance forms (omitting Folk Dances and Dances of Universal Peace) take years of work to perfect, and are done by professionals, and specialized amateurs.
- Empatharian does not require music, though it’s fun to use music. You can do it in a rhythmic or arrhythmic way, just as you would have a conversation with someone, one sentence at a time.
- Empatharian movements are a specific symbolic language, each movement representing a particular word/concept/abstraction- a sign language in whole body movements. Some dance forms are similarly story-telling with specific movements representing specific words, such as India’s Bharatanatyam, or the Malay form with almost 9000 words, that can do a Shakespeare play! But most dance forms are not a specific communication like that.
- Empatharian is not a particular cultural expression. It is without nationality or historic culture, though perhaps it resembles Egyptian hieroglyphs more than anything. Because of this quality of being neutral, it is able to express more universal communication without colloquial expression that can be misunderstood.
- Empatharian does not need to be done in pairs or circles, and is able to be seen from a far distance. Empatharian is easily done with social distancing, though individual choreographers may wish to have the participants interact in various ways.
- Empatharian is a spiritual practice, with an ethic of wholistic body-mind-spirit thinking. Though Empatharians may move their hips and body, their effort is not towards sexual seduction, but rather a spiritual beckoning, and sexualized movements are not encouraged.
- Empatharian can be done by ages 4 to 104, easily and enjoyably. It is a practice to bring the generations together, although the different age levels may enjoy associations in similar aged facilitated groups.
- Trained facilitators of Empatharian groups are there for talking circles, which is part of the practice. Not only is Empatharian a movement practice, it’s also participatory talking, improvisational art making, and doing workbook/journal processes.
- The purpose of Empatharian is for universal understanding, beyond words, like many dance forms, but it’s reach is beyond simple emotional relatedness, or even spiritual understanding, it is actually peace-building in its structure and purpose.
- Empatharian is different from improvisational dance (although there are improvisational dance periods in each session). Empatharians will choose and create their demonstration for each session, agreeing and clarifying their meaning and intentions as they do. But the gestures of Empatharian are theoretically a language, always reflecting the same meanings.
When is Empatharian Dance?
There are times that Empatharian is performed in a Showcase event of some kind. When it is shared with an audience, it transforms a bit, and is actually Dance. If it is being danced, and not simply moved as a sign language! So, you CAN dance Empatharian, and dancers will love doing Empatharian and finding a larger space and culture to share with, perhaps.