Walking my dog the other morning there was the slightest drizzle. Enough moisture to activate the garden smells of sages and the earth and fresh enough to get the birds singing in an excited way. I chatted with a woman I did not recognize who looked a bit worse for wear. She was not ‘fit’ like many women I see in my neighborhood. Her clothes hung loosely. Her steps shuffled. It was clear to me that she would not be leaning into a high-powered tech job later in the day. She walked in a quiet, enduring worried sort of way that was familiar to me. Walking slowly on her way into the building where doctors have offices for who knows what kind of consultation or maybe just a blood draw.
As we crossed paths on the sidewalk we exchanged pleasantries and a mutual appreciation for the evidence of rain. It has been a particularly dry year. Just recently, our region was officially declared to be in a drought. Even the illuminated signs on the highway announce this new status and implores drivers to conserve when there are not more practical messages about traffic congestion to convey. Together we wondered about the smells that the bit of moisture had activated and she told me she intended to join some friends later in a rain dance. Did I know that if you want rain, you spin clockwise and if you did not want rain you should move counterclockwise?
I have been thinking about this winding of weather, of the power of community dance and deeply rooted heritages for the past week. Today, I finally googled rain dance, searching for some how to’s and deeper details about the practice and habits of the dance. I discovered that turquoise and feathers are good to wear and that you should spin with arms raised in a clockwise direction. Winding instead of unwinding. While turning, you should chant, in any language your wishes and desires for rain.
More than this I cannot tell you. I really don’t have the expertise to say ‘This is how you rain dance.’ However, I am curious and I have been haunted by thoughts of clockwise vs. counterclockwise movements after this casual chat and thought that I would claim it as an inspiration for my own dance on March 28, 2014 – the date for dance anywhere.
Each year, for 6 years now I have joined in this quixotic moment of global dance. Some years dancing solo, other times with a group of children at a school or with random self-selected set of dancers at Art Museum sites. What I do where, is informed by my emotional countenance and how it fits my enthusiasm for private vs. public gestures. It seems to alternate years. Last year I hosted a dance of hand gestures at a local Art Center. This year I have decided to dance my rain dance privately, outdoors at a regional park in the hills above my home. Sibley is known for its volcanic evidence and several labyrinths. One of my frequent walking destinations, it is very dry in the summer and magical at times when the fog is blanketing the gullies and sweeping across the peaks.
This year, while dancing privately, I am interested in the idea of dancing with anyone else who thinks that dancing for rain is an idea whose time has come. I long for rain and for connection with a mutual conscientiousness for our beautiful and fragile earth. I invite any others dancing anywhere who may have weather worries and feel like spinning… to spin accordingly and spin with purpose.
I invite you to be my partner in a collaborative rain dance.
Dancing here and elsewhere for dance anywhere
Costume: I will begin my dance wearing turquoise
Motion: taking a clockwise spin and repeating the clockwise spin with arms raised
Voice: declaring my personal, heartfelt intentions for rain.
Preparations: Between now and then I will be stitching up a costume to meet the requirement of turquoise.
Immediately afterwards: I will post on instagram, tumblr and twitter
@objectplace @danceanywhere #raindance #clockwise #danceanywhere2014
A week or so later: Early April I will group all of the #raindance entries in a storify post and if we do get more rain I will be very very grateful.