The professors will tell you that performing arts - music, dance, theatre – all have their origins in religious ritual.
I can’t make a direct connection with theatre, but with music and dance I think it’s less about story-telling and more about timeless, primal forces that come from within.
Can anything express emotion as succinctly as a song? And when it comes to joy, can anything top dancing? But which is the chicken and which is the egg?
It struck me a few weeks ago during a gig when I was enjoying watching the crowd dance the night away. I realized these people weren’t dancing because they were happy, they were happy because they were dancing.
Sure, alcohol and maybe other substances were involved – but it wasn’t mindless goofiness. These people were disconnected from their everyday worries, but they were also connected to something more basic, more powerful. The dancing took them there. And their smiles were louder than the band. Then again … they were momentarily carefree, and the happiness caused them to dance. Maybe dancing and happiness are the same thing.
However it works, it’s a powerful, life-affirming force. No wonder the shamans got involved.