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Planetary Dance — Introduction

Moon dancing around the Earth -- Planetary Dance

Actually, Planetary Dance came before Planetary Philosophy. Planetary Dance is, as its name suggests, a dance that takes place in many places around the world. Planetary Dance was created by the very widely known and respected dancer, dance teacher, and dance score creator, Anna Halprin, along with an evolving Planetary Dance Community.

From Their Website

The Planetary Dance is an annual all-day ritual of healing and community renewal. It brings people of all ages and abilities together in a beautiful setting to dance for a purpose. The Planetary Dance Community invites people all over the world to join in a dance for peace in their own communities and peace with the Earth.

“It’s going to take the willing commitment of enough people to say we will heal this earth. Every step is a prayer, and we must pray together for the healing of the earth… The circle is an act of unity, and the four directions give it stability. It’s the squared circle which is the archetypal mandala of harmony.”

I’ve been fortunate to be part of that community since the beginning 33 years ago and something of its historian and philosopher.  Working with Anna and the Planetary Dance Community first got me thinking in a “planetary’ context.

I’ve written about the Planetary Dance from three different perspectives:

A Story

This is not “THE” story of the Planetary Dance. Everyone who dances the Planetary Dance comes away with their own version of its story and they add to that story every time they dance the dance again.

I am telling this story now, because I have participated in the Planetary Dance and the events that led to its creation since the beginning and, for many years, I have told a version of this story as one of the offerings at the Planetary Dance on Mt.Tamalpais.

Three Visions

Three visions stand out as being significant in providing inspiration and guidance in the evolution of the Planetary Dance.  Anna received the first vision during the time when she was leading the Search for Living Myths and Ritualsworkshop before the creation of In and On the Mountain. The second vision came just prior to making the decision to undertake Circle the Earth. The third vision happened shortly before the initiation of the Planetary Dance.

A Philosophy

Just as there is no one story of the Planetary Dance, so there is no one Planetary Dance Philosophy.  Anyone, regardless of their philosophical or religious persuasion, can participate in the Planetary Dance as long as they embrace it as “a dance for peace among people and peace with the Earth.”

It is true though that many people who participate in the Planetary Dance view it as a ritual dance in which the dancers are dancing to accomplish an explicit purpose in the world. They recognize that the tradition of ritual dance goes back thousands of years.

And Spencer Koffman has written:

Don José and the Planetary Dance

Anna HalprinIn 1980, Anna Halprin (who helped pioneer postmodern dance) and her husband, Lawrence (a renowned landscape architect), gave a workshop “A Search for Living Myths and Rituals Through Dance and the Environment.”

At the time of the workshop, five women had recently been murdered on the trails of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.  In response to the “Trailside Killer,” the Marin County sheriff closed all the Mt. Tamalpais trails.

The workshop participants desperately wanted to express their feelings and reclaim their mountain.  Anna chose ritual dance to accomplish those desires.