Amit Kapoor
Crafting Visual Stories with Data

Dancing Soul

Finding the moments to let go.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ― Aldous Huxley,

It is a cold mountain night and it has just hailed furiously. I have been in a dark and quite mood for most of the day, much like the sky now. There are seven of us and we have all just finished dinner - made more enjoyable by the company we shared than the food we ate. We are all planning to go in to Buddha hall and attend a kirtan. And I am not so sure, whether I am up for it. But I still go along as that is what we all have agreed to do. I walk in to the kirtan as nearly one of the last entrants, slightly wet with all the rain still coming down.

It is a long rectangular hall with not more than fifteen people huddled at one end. There is one (hippie) guy calmly singing hindi bhajans in a strong western accent and playing the guitar to go along with it. And an another one accompanying him on a dholak. I don’t know whether I would be would be able to sit through this for long, but I still park myself at the side. A couple of minutes in and I am getting restless.

And then she looks at me and says let’s dance. And I know that is what I want to do. We both get up and go to back of the small gathering where there is space in this long hall. And we start to move and dance and whirl. And dance not with each other but with the song within us. There is music not only from the bhajan but also from all the rain outside. The music ebbs and flows as the electricity keeps going and coming, but it does not matter. And in five minutes or so, the two of us are joined by everyone in our group and a couple more. And dance we do till the music stops.

“Dance the stories you cannot put into words”
— Isabel

I believe we all have a dancing soul within us. Something that wants us to move to music that we hear and often times to the music within us. For some one who lives in his head all the time, getting in touch again with this dancing soul within me has been liberating. I have danced and moved more in the last few weeks, then I have ever in my life. In doing so, I found some moments where I could just let go and not be in my head. Moments of just slow dancing, playful dancing, sensuous dancing, and joyful dancing. And I cried dancing to the song of forgiveness within my own heart.

And then there is Whirling…

“You have said what you are.
I am what I am
Your action in my head.
My head here in my hands
with something circling inside.
I have no name
for what circles
so perfectly”
— Rumi

If you can fall in love with something at first sight - for me that is whirling. I have always felt an attraction towards sufi music and the whirling that goes with it. But I had only watched it in movies as a performance that goes along with it. And then I saw two people do it. One with a masculine maniac energy with gay abandon and the other with a feminine grace of flowing beauty. I will never forget watching her whirl for the first time in the back of the mandir to a music that I could not hear. But just to watch the calmness and peace with which she was whirling was so beautiful. And I knew this is what I want to do and feel too.

So, I asked her to teach me how to whirl. And it was so amazing to whirl. I don’t know whether it is a mediative activity or just the pure joy of whirling that you see in the eyes of kids when they do. But I really loved it. It is like everything is rotating but there is something that is not. Everything is fuzzy outside but it is so calm inside. And I did whirling for a minute, for five minutes, for fifteen minutes and for nearly twenty minutes over the next few days. And it did not matter how long I whirled, I could always find moments of peace within me.

Here is a short rhythm dedicated for the dancing soul within all of us. Because you know someone somewhere is whirling in the world at this time.

14 May 2016