DANCE IN SHAMANISM, KAGURA DANCE

Aggiornamento: 24 mag 2021

In shamanic traditions, music and dance are part of many rituals led by the shaman who is able to contact the right spirits for certain healing or divination purposes. During shamanic rituals, music and dance are not artistic performances, but tools that allow shamans to enter a state of trance. Each animist culture has developed its own ritual, music and dances.

An example of this is the Kagura dance, of very ancient origin and developed in Japan based on the legend of the sun goddess Amaterasu and the goddess Uzume, who by performing in a provocative dance, attracted Amaterasu out of the cave. This dance is at the origin of the art of regulated movements, including dance, pantomime, theatrical or oratory action of Japan, and therefore also at the origin of Nou (a form of Japanese theatrical drama). It is performed on certain holidays, by masked actors in damask silk dresses, together with music from flutes and drums, in the surroundings of Shinto temples. The ritual that includes the Kagura dance is usually divided into three moments: in the first part the context is prepared by purifying and arranging the place for the chosen divinity to manifest; the second part, which occurs when the divinity has arrived to watch the show, consists of the actual dance and performances to entertain and amuse the spectators; finally it ends with specific farewell songs and dances.

In Italy they have also always used dance as a tool for trance, healing and liberation. The Tarantism, for example, is a cultural phenomenon of southern Italy, which refers to a collective healing ritual including music and dance. Usually the person who sought a cure was a young country woman, who presented symptoms of physical or psychological discomfort, attributing them to the bite of the taranta (symbolic animal with the appearance of a spider). The healing ritual, in a nutshell, consisted in preparing a space in the young woman's house with ritual objects and colored fabrics, then calling musicians to play with appropriate rhythms and vibrations to make the lady move and dance to enter a trance, until she discovered what kind of tarantula? had hit her and thus could heal; although sometimes it took days before the ritual could be concluded. In recent years, “tarantism” has seen a cultural transformation of this rite which has increasingly become a dance and theater show for international audiences.



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