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About Dance Within

Dance Within with LaLanya is a unique dance experience. Watch the sample clips below, and read more about what sets us apart.

Sample Clips

Clip 1

Double-Hips – Hip Circles

Clip 2

Flowing Arms – Hips

A Brief History of Dance

Dance Within believes dance is ultimately an expression of women’s and men’s relationship to themselves and to the group. In Dance Within, the emphasis is on the dancer dancing for him- or herself, without competing, experiencing the source of the psyche as the source of dance, the full joy of dance, inspired by the drums, without an undue emphasis on reproducing external forms.

Dance Within believes that dance with drums takes modern dancers back to the very first forms of dance, albeit in a modern context.

Drumming created a feeling in the body, akin to a pulse in the heart, which prompted a movement in the body, akin to the flow of blood, an interpretation of the drumbeat. We will never know whether the drumbeat or the dance movement came first, but they evolved together.

There was no formal choreography as such, just spontaneous movement, an interpretation of the drums, with a lead dancer interpreting the rhythm and mood of the group.

Dancing to drums created a trance experience, as the ego got led into the greater psyche, tapping sources of energy much greater than itself, permitting some dancers to dance literally for days without stopping.

The trance state allowed the person to experience his or her own origins in the psyche. It was, of course, more frequently found in women because they are the originators of life, more likely to be mediums. Within caves and grottoes, primitive people could experience that reconnection to the mother and the origins of self, but dance allowed the psychological and physical reconnection to the same origins in a more complete way, permitting an acting out of that connection.

Dance transformed over time, as men and women changed their relationship to themselves, having begun to live in a world of order and reason, within a highly structured society. People’s mode of dancing reflected that.
Movements became defined, structured, with inhibitions, reflecting the character structure of the dancers and their role as people whose lives were defined, that is, structured and inhibited, especially in the upper classes.

The shift of control to words and rules, designated roles, and therefore postures and permitted attitudes, created an overemphasis on the upper body over the lower body. Drums were lost as the chief instrument of dance, and music and careful gestures became the rule.

The lower half of the body, women, and physicality and sensuality became the domain of inferiority, if not evil. The emphasis was on self-control, a Stoic approach to life, and approach regulated by reason and by law. Among the Scots, for example, women were not permitted to dance.

At a certain point, dance was seen as a throwback event fraught with the possibility of moral lapse, and drums were essentially absent from what little music there was.

As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, ballet was born. It took the continual movement upward and out from the center of the body, anti-gravity, subjecting the dancer to a top-down control that reflected the aspirations of Western culture, even seen in the architecture of the period.

Society in the New World, however, incorporated the drum beats of Africa, creating new music in both North and South America that allowed the expression of the lower body and changed popular culture forever. This included Jazz in New Orleans, the Samba in Brazil, and the Tango in the brothels of Buenos Aires in Argentina. It all fit into a more democratic, less elitist culture, freed of the heavier emphasis on etiquette and formality of the Old World.

As the wave of development of dance reached France, Josephine Baker and Jazz were seen as totally inimical to French culture by some of its leading intellectuals.

What we really have in this modern version of dance with drums is the freedom to go back and experience the source of the psyche and dance with rhythm as we did as primitive people. Only this time, we can do it with the control we learned in other forms of dance. This combines both the top down control and the bottom up inspiration and creativity, permitting the dancer, as in the past, to access the center of the psyche outside of the ego.