Paola Minekov


Dancers Art Series

Dance and Ritual - in search for movement

25 April 2024

The Sacred Dance: Ceremonial Dance and Ritual


Dance has always been an integral part of human expression, an ancient ritual, used for celebrations, mysticism, attraction, connection and storytelling since the beginning times.


Beyond its artistic and cultural significance, dance is a powerful tool for enhancing one’s physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. The practice of connecting with our inner being in an uninhibited way, through rhythm and movement, has been passed down for centuries and is still alive in the contemporary folklore of some cultures, including my native Bulgaria, where the traditions of the Nestinari and Kukeri still capture the imagination of adults and children alike. This is a use of dance that emphasises the importance of moving, rhythm, energy, and flow in connecting with our spirit. It is also a tradition which has been largely lost to us in the west. Yet, the many forms of ritual dance carry deep spiritual meanings.



Expressive Dance in my Paintings


As an artist I have always been interested in Dance - the grace, the energy, the resilience of the dancers fascinate me. I paint both classical dance like ballet and modern dance in a variety of colours, exploring light and motion. While I enjoy watching dance performances, I rarely sketch real dancers for my paintings, most of which I have painted from my imagination. 


A photo collage of 6 impasto oil paintings of ballet dancers, each painted in a different colour scheme - white, yellow, blue and purple.


Yet, as I set down to plan my new series of Dancers paintings, I realised two things. I have, for the moment at least, exhausted the theme of classical ballet and with that realisation my research led me down an unexpected path. Researching the history of dance, I read, watched videos and spoke to people. I realised that as with most things, our western society had tried, and rather successfully, succeeded in taming dance, too. Yes, in the last century or so we’ve witnessed new dance movements, and a darker and wilder beat alongside the cheerful pop tunes. Trance dance comes to mind in name, at least. But as I observed the use of choreography, and self conscious ordinary people attempting to, sometimes awkwardly, look cool, aggressive, wild, or whatever, while dancing away on Instagram, it hit me. Many of us have lost the ability to move with the vibration of the earth.



Dance Rituals and Ceremonial Dance


And then I learnt that across Europe now there is a movement to rediscover our inner dancers, the ones that move intuitively, authentically, spiritually, almost as if in an act of worship. These gatherings are not religious ceremonies though, or not only anyway. These are people in search for the ecstatic dance, sometimes through religious traditions, yes and sometimes through a whole new transformative journey of self-discovery.


And these are the people my new art series will be about. Not just the performers or the professional dancers. 



Dance like no-one is watching


Feel the music pulse through your veins as you move in harmony with the rhythm, letting your body vibrate with your emotions. With every step, twirl, and leap, you shed the weight of the world and embrace a sense of inner freedom. Dance, like any art form, transcends language, allowing you to communicate your deepest thoughts and feelings without uttering a single word. It's a form of self-expression that knows no boundaries, one you don’t need to learn. Because trust me, we all have dance in us. And that’s why my next paintings will be about you, inspired by the tapestry of all dance forms, both ancient and modern.


From ancient civilisations to modern wellness practices, dance has proven to be a transformative tool. Allowing intuitive movement, dance as we feel it rather than the way it's expected to be, we can tap into our innermost selves, connect with our spirit though dance rituals, and experience a sense of wholeness and balance, much like in an ecstatic trance. 


Join me as I explore the mystical tradition of connecting with our spirituality through movement and dance.

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