Living/Dancing on a Threshold: Covid 19 as an instrument of spirit.  

The supreme mind of the universe has taken over.  And it is forcing us to live on that threshold between the old manipulative world as we knew it and a new world where each of us lives not to profit from other but to be in service to humanity.

If you analyze the numerology implicated in Corvid-19, the numbers 1 and 9 carry connotative meanings. ONE stands for standing and walking on our own two feet to get to our destination.  Forget manipulation!  NINE stands for Transcendence to universal love and spiritual laws that govern us, such as karma, spiritual enlightenment, and service to humanity.  Forget self-centeredness!

Based on this analysis it stands to reason that the pandemic is working with us, not against us.  Disturbing thought?  Yes, but necessary.  The pandemic and its relentlessly increasing infection rate stands in front of our eyes as a magnified representation of one of the worst symptoms that show our culture has been ill for centuries.  We have been infecting one another, unfortunately not with virtues but with vices.  Is it a surprise the supreme mind of the universe sends a plague to demonstrate by example what has been taking place all along?  

We are told the droplets travel 27 feet, but perhaps they only they travel that far to infect the ones that need the experience, the ones who need to look at themselves in retrospections, self assess themselves, their human value, their vices, and their virtues, or lack thereof. 

The result is that we are all witnessing the steady and steadfast murder of a culture by its own hand.  It’s not easy to watch the extinction of a culture whether you participated in its errors and vices or not.  Parents suffer when heir children are in pain.  But pain is necessary.  It reminds people of the existence of the human heart.  And this reminder is much needed, for it will be up to the people with the biggest hearts to reconstruct businesses not for a lucrative purpose but for the purpose of service to others, not with business in mind, but with compassion and solidarity in their hearts.  

Seen from this point of view, the virus is an instrument of spirit.  

We live at the threshold of a new world, a threshold that demands that we resist the pull from the past and the going back to what life used to be before.  We didn’t learn with the First Wave!  So here comes the Second Wave!  The truth is that earth is no longer flat.  The sun no longer revolves around the earth, and money no longer fuels power.  We are graduating from a world where most people were accustomed to be ruled by circumstances.  Our new world will be peopled by women and men or character who have the inner power to bend circumstances to their will for the betterment of everybody’s human condition.  These are people who can defy the elements to see change take place.  What is most important, is that these are people who can defy their own baser nature to see that their ideals come alive before their eyes.  (Julius Caesar.)

Now more than ever we women need to exercise the qualities of warriors.  Once I heard a shaman say: “A warrior knows no fear, strikes like lighting, flies off like a thunderstorm, is smart as a fox, is brave like a leopard, and shows his enemy no mercy.”  Our enemy is our old ways.  Yet we have the opportunity to say good by to the world as we knew it, the chance to turn the tragic into magic, and a pretty good chance to win this fight.  And we can do it only if we become part of something bigger than ourselves.  YET  if we women approach the reconstruction of our culture or the creation of a new world with a sales in mind, we are bound for disaster again.  For a new world that is founded on copying the wrong that others did in order to get ahead cannot and will not get ahead.  It will get buried deeper instead.  Does anybody want a Third Wave?  

When we are instruments of spirit, life is magnified.  A flu wouldn’t have any impact.  A deadly virus, on the other hand, has a deadly impact. 

COVIT 19 had to come magnified for us to see in it our own capacity to infect ourselves morally.  It needs to be grotesque, like Auschwitz needed to be grotesquely shocking for the world to see what evil forces in humans were capable of.  In a world run by manipulative forces, another form of evil, Corvid 19 pushes everyone’s buttons and demands that manipulation cease to be the number one method of achieving what people want in this world.  

A pandemic can move mountains, and so it seems with Corvid 19.  Changes have already begun to take place. Giving has increased, compassion, serendipity, concern for the fellow men, women, and children.  That a virus had to come to make us all get going with our own human growth!

Maybe in disguise 2020 will be our year after all.  Everybody’s year! It is my belief that  COVIT 19 will make of enemies friends. 


On Women as Spiritual Warriors

Published 2020/04/24

The world is unjust…the rich crush the poor, the whites crush the blacks, and yellow, the powerful crash the powerless.  It’s the class struggle.  You have to choose your side.  Either you defend the rich or you defend the poor.  There is no in-between.  And the historical process is that one day the poor will win, and they will make a just world, where life will be good.  Where none will be cast aside.   Pablo Neruda

Neruda was a Latin American poet who organized a heroic resistance that lit the path for the workers of the world.  We women are assuming a similar role today.  A role of leaders and of warriors.  In the midst of this pandemic we are in charge of lighting the path for those who have been left behind.  But first that requires some cleaning up.  However, we have been blessed with a good place to get started.  The streets have never been so clean and crime has never been so low; violence has dropped dramatically and solidarity and neighborly love have increased exponentially with the crisis.  It took a virus to push us to this threshold from where our only course of action is to work towards the betterment of everybody’s human condition.  

Lately we have been coming face to face with the spoils of war in the form of thousands of deaths.  But not all is lost.  In the history of mankind previous plagues have brought social change.  In the 13th century, after the Black Plague that devastated Europe, it took the society decades to implement changes, and for those changes to manifest themselves in everyday life.  I certainly hope that seven centuries have been long enough for us to have learned, and that this time we women will work steadily and steadfastly to expedite the healing of our culture.  If we don’t, 700 years have gone by in vain.

Each culture is different.  Ours being relatively young has not had the privilege of being founded on the legends of warriors.  Japan, to cite an example, is grounded on such legend, its samurai tradition. If you understand devotion, you will understand Japan.  This is a crucial message in the film The Emperor.  Japan runs on an ancient warrior code and obedience, it is explained in the film.  The Samurai as warrior is ingrained in that culture, and the culture is imbued with that tradition.  

We unfortunately have not lived based on a code of devotion, but on a code of greed.  The emigrants who populated this country came here in search of fortune, to make a dollar.  And that dollar idol took prevalence and grew roots.  Lacking a tradition of benevolence our culture anchored itself on the fleeting power of the word.  As we see in advertisement, political campaigns, and what not.  And vane attempts to fight against greed via speech and sermons have plagued our mass media,  but they have for the most part proven ineffective.  The film, The Great Dictator, in which Charlie Chaplin portrays a dictator is a parody of this. Here is an excerpt of the speech.

I don’t want to be an emperor.  That is not my business.  I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.  I should like to help everyone if possible…We want to live by each others’ happiness not by each other’s misery.  We have lost the way.  Greed has poisoned men’s souls.  We think too much and feel too little.  [But] Do not despair.  The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed. The bitterness of men who fear the wave of human progress… Let us fight to free the world.  To do away with international barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.  

Let us fight for a world of reason, the Dictator screams in a film that was made in 1940, almost a century ago.  Look what reason brought about as a result.  The Great Dictator’s speech ends up telling us to  Look up.. the soul of men have been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly… he is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope into the future, a glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us.  But were we ever really given wings?  Did we ever take flight?  In 80 years our culture has chained us to the floor up on corporate skyscrapers.  In Japan, however, history ran a different course.  In 1945, Emperor Hirohito, renounced his status as a God at the end of WWII, for a warrior is devoted to his people, and seeks his people’s wellbeing above his.

We women are now staring at a possible new blue print of life, and it is up to us to transform this blue print into reality.   And for that purpose we must become warriors.  Today I say let us fight for a spiritual world!  



Creative Altruism: Changing our Mentality

Published 2020/02/05 

People are usually kinder at the misfortunes of others rather than being kind to insure there shall be no misfortunes at all.  

The sex revolution, dance revolution, yoga revolution, they all paved the way to the altruism revolution, now in its onset.  Saving people we do not even know; saving them for saving’s sake, to better their human condition, not ours.  Being altruistic means having unselfish motivations.  Then it is true altruism. We empathize with those in pain as their feelings resonate within ourselves.  At moments when we experience compassion we either react verbally, a self-gratifying outburst of thoughts and words on how sad the sufferer’s conditions are, or we actually take action, lessening the burden of others even though it may increase our own burden.  This last one is the road less taken by most people.

The question at hand is how do we elicit more altruistic behavior in circles where the opposite behavior seems to be the norm: seeking power, opportunities, money or recognition?  The dance world is not free of these spiritual ailments.  The profession itself fosters self-centeredness, and to make matters worse, we lack role models who exemplify true altruism.  Dancers spend most of their time in environments plagued by envy, jealousy, and desire for power, all of which invite unkind behavior, or if it appears kind, there are usually hidden expectations. This standard behavior is quite understandable if we consider a basic psychological fact:  we usually do to others what has been done to us. If we have received kindness in the past, we are likely to be kind to others; if we have been subjected to unkind behavior, physical of psychological, by peers, elders, or teachers, we will develop these character traits.  Showing kindness will become more difficult, and becoming selflessly altruistic even harder.

But things can change only if we change our mentality, and our tool for change is meditation.  The American essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, author of Civil Disobedience, which argues in favor of disobedience to unjust state of affairs, proclaimed: Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.  It is not enough to be industrious. So are the ants.  What are you industrious about?  For centuries we have been industrious about material progress, wealth, and luxuries.  Once again I must agree with Thoreau: Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of live, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. 

If humanity has been able to progress from the stone age through the age of bronze, age of iron, age of steel to the age of enlightenment; and then from the industrial age to the age of information technology, why could it not continue to progress through the Age of Altruism?  Each new age puts an end to a previous age, annihilating the ignorance that permeated it and in so doing each age contributes to the advent of the following era.  The ignorance that precludes our progress in our era is the belief in the superiority of material wealth and of power over spiritual wealth. 

We are all disciples of experience, and challenging experience can teach us the value of changing our mentality, that mentality that says the way it has been is the way it has to be, that mentality that proclaims “long live the status quo” under which freedom and respect are violated in front of everybody’s eyes and nobody does anything about it.  It has been proven by now that democracy is ingrained in human DNA, as are compassion and collaboration.  Any behavior opposite to our true nature is a human construct that is the result of our own previous experiences, often unkind experiences.

In order to become altruistic first we must forget about seeking power, opportunities, money, and seek to be of service instead.   Second, we must act altruistically without expecting a reward for our actions.  Third, we must never regret an act of kindness regardless of its outcome.  And all of the above can be achieved, not through procrastination, or by wasting time in senseless, useless, and purposeless waiting.  In our role of teachers, choreographers, directors we cannot afford to procrastinate because our conduct teaches by example.  Our upcoming young generation of dancers, what do they learn from example?  Ballet technique?  Great! Physical fitness?  Also good! But more than those they need spiritual fitness now! And it all begins with the first lesson: One who goes alone can start today; but the one who travels with another must wait until the other is ready.  None of us has time to be killing time.   As if you could kill time without injuring eternity, Thoreau would add.

I write what I think in the same way I dance what I love, regardless of the critics.  Having quoted the mystic Thoreau, I quote now the politician Theodore Roosevelt, who spoke to this effect in the 1930s, also a decade of deep social transformation.  Almost a hundred years later his words still ring loud and sound:  It is not the critics that count, not the man who points out at how the strong man stumbles, how the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena.

The Altruism Revolution:  The Science behind Selfless Behavior and a more Caring Society.  Java Films: First Run Features, 2016.  

Thoreau, Henry David. Thoreau and the Art of Life: Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence.  Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2010.

On the Celebration of Being Alone: Playing at a theater very near you!

Published 2019/08/05

Bertolt Brecht’s theatre of alienation claims that everything that happens on stage is affected by one question: Who does what to whom and for what reasons? Therefore all theater is political, and as such it affects human relations, it makes audiences think, it gets them involved, not empathically, but rationally, and it can even motivate them to action.

With On The Celebration of Being Alone, one of three one-act plays by Ed Ballou playing now at the 13thStreet Repertory Theater in New York City, I sought to apply Brecht’s theatrical principles.  Far from giving us a straightforward slice of life in realistic terms, Paul Loper, who brilliantly plays the hero, a man named 46, gives us two dimensions of the character.  46, the man in the past who leads an unrecognized life and suffers with the realization that the system only feeds crumbs to him and to humanity and 46, the man in the present, who despite that past is able to have his celebration after all because he hasn’t been erased, as he demonstrates by closing the play with a victorious laughter.  He also plays the Narrator, who invites the audience to follow 46’s life path and ponder: 

“How many 46’s do we know? Do we even care to know them?”  

Having been away from directing theater for about seven years, I chose to apply the following Brecht’s theatrical principles to On The Celebration of Being Alone: characters in dialectical contradiction with themselves creating a divided hero, episodic action creating discontinuity through the use of repetition, songs, movement, written word, and the use of a narrator explaining and interrogating the dramatic material.  All these techniques disrupt empathy in the audience, alienates them, and invites an examination of the plays’s theme, crucial in Brechtian theatre.  Ultimately I sought to emulate a director as Brecht envisions that role: the director as a facilitator, not as visionary; the director as catalyst for new ways of thinking, not as promoter of the status quo; the director as an advocate of a collective creative process, not as the supporter of the work of a single artistic director; and the director as an invisible force, not ever present.  

Coincidentally enough, I directed this piece entirely on line, remotely, removed from the stage and the traditional ways of rehearsing actors, and in so doing I gave the stage entirely to the performer.   This complete removal, this self-dethroning of the director grants freedom to the actors, and to us the directors, grants us the opportunity to exercise humbleness and grow spiritually.  In the words of Brecht scholar David Barnett, it also helps to undermine the hierarchies that can exist in the theater systems and leads a shift in its power relations, thus contributing to the much-needed spiritual advancement in the theater arts.   

On Giving and Receiving

Published 2019/04/11

To be giving is a quality of the human heart.  At times in our lives we give; later invariably there will be moments when help will come our way and it is our turn to receive.  There is nothing bad in receiving, but what we do with it does matter, for there is a great difference between Receiving to give and Receiving to accumulate wealth.”  

RECEIVING to give creates a cycle of solidarity in the community.  These are spiritual communities that honor both giving and receiving, like in the case of ashrams where this cycle or giving-receiving-giving is never broken and sustains and supports the community.  We too have excellent examples of giving-receiving-giving cycles in the dance world: after school dance programs and scholarships for promising dancers.  At the moment of training they receive, but those same dancers will undoubtedly give when the opportunity comes because it is a basic psychological fact that we do to others what was done to us.  If we received plentifully; we will give plentifully.  And so we are planting and nurturing a crop, which in Mahatma Gandhi’s words, is made of innumerable seeds, leaves and fruits of giving which are the fullest possible nutrition to mankind.

Unfortunately this beautiful cycle of giving can be broken, particularly in capitalist societies where naturally the gain is the game.  In capitalist circles people receive to use it for their gain and the result is using solidarity to make profit.  What is worse, once the cycle is broken then it can become a manipulation and hoarding game that feeds greed. Then the seeds, leaves, and fruits of greed will follow, and these, alas, are the emptiest possible nutrition to mankind.   Mankind, man + kind = Giving.  How come this so transparent equation became mercenary?  Giving is simple and openhearted.  Giving is not selfish giving, interested giving, nor manipulative giving.  We don’t give to claim because to give means to love, and here I quote Gandhi once again.  Love never claims; it ever gives.  

In our dance and particularly ballet circles let’s give the wanting-to-be dancers dance power and dance freedom and their dance will flourish. Their hearts will dance as much as their bodies, or even more so.  Let’s give this new generation of ballet dancers the knowledge of dance: technique, history, choreography, for certain, but even more crucial is to give them the truth of dance, that truth that says dance is for the spirit of all of humankind.  Then we will have truly given them freedom.  And beyond that the greatest gift we can give them is to banish fear from their hearts,  the fear that what is given to them has a price and the time will come for them to pay, or even worse yet, expect them to pay before they receive.  

We must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of ocean are dirty, the entire ocean does not become dirty. Mahatma Gandhi.

Contemporary Ballet:        How Contemporary is ‘Contemporary’?

Published 2020/01/30

I first studied Contemporary Ballet at San Francisco Dance Center, home of Alonzo King Lines Ballet, in those times when established companies began to open their company classes to help fund their companies.  More than a decade later I have again the opportunity of taking Contemporary Ballet classes, now in New York, and I have the privilege to take them with Laura Bernasconi, whose classes I used to frequent with delight at San Francisco Dance Center.  Her manner of teaching and her personal style caught my eye in those days, and even more today as I see the path her teaching career has taken throughout the years. 

For most people Contemporary Ballet refers to a ballet technique known for its off-center turns and balances, floor work that includes turn-in positions, and innovating movements infused with modern dance technique, which are grounding yet also uplifting. The word contemporary itself specifically refers to the present moment and to events that are happening now, as we speak, such as the rise of the new consciousness, which is a big part of our contemporary world today.  Yet my question is how much of this new consciousness is informing contemporary dance companies today?  How many of them show a progressiveness of thought and heart and act accordingly?

We have to move on with the time, and must look at what the times are dictating if we are to survive, and our times tell us to cherish kindness, non-competitiveness, collaboration, and most of all, universal love.  Yes, love, that word that has been so misunderstood and mistakenly used for centuries.  This new consciousness also teaches us that we are all teachers to each other, which is an aspect that Ms. Bernasconi fully brings into her class; we are all teachers to each other inside the dance studio.  Here is the example of a teacher/dancer/choreographer who has indeed moved on with the times!  Her classes are infused with that positivism that makes all the difference.  They are uplifting and empowering.  They don’t foster envy but collaboration instead.  Dancers are partners in learning and teaching and are encouraged to stand by their knowledge rather than hide behind their ignorance.  

For me Contemporary Ballet comes from the inside out, not from the outside in, imposed by the will and art of a choreographer.  Contemporary Ballet, to be truly contemporary should not instill fear, further the superiority of others, nor foster envy or create inadequacy. In truly contemporary ballet classes, there is no room for shame, nor for self-deprecation.  The world is moving beyond the focus on the power of a few and the submission and endurance of abuse by the many.  Today the trend is towards survival of the many through liberation and non-attachment. 

Human beings are capable of self-renewal; accordingly we dancers are no longer passive victims at the mercy of our superiors; we no longer have to be prizes or muses. Instead, we are learning to be independent artists who can heal the world.  Such healing takes place in Ms. Bernasconi’s class.  With a healthful approach to teaching ballet which results in radiating compassion, empathy, genuine joy, in addition to sharing valuable information from all the movement methods that inform her teaching which speak for themselves (Alexander Technique, Feldenkreis, Gyrotonic, Gyrokinesis, Hatha Yoga) Ms. Bernasconi stands as a leader in the contemporary ballet industry.

The Greek God Poseidon, god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses was the first to predict: “Love will come to rule the world.  Women will rule the world.”  But we can’t do it if we continue to play the role of a muse or continue to “pay the dues” in order to become professional dancers. We must move on with the times, become dancers, choreographers, and teachers who, like Ms. Bernasconi, radiate happiness, because those who are noble in thoughts and deeds gain happiness without trying (unlike those that by trying so hard to be happy never succeed.)  

It has been said that the greatest part of happiness is wisdom.  Applying these very wise principles of our emerging new consciousness to our ballet experience shows wisdom.   Ms. Bernasconi chose to become wise, so did I.  It is my hope that our example will encourage and inspire dancers (who may become teachers someday) to move towards independence, respect, humility, selfless collaboration and the creation of companies that will open their company classes motivated not by monetary needs but by the spirit of sharing.  

We are learning to live in the Now, and if contemporary ballet does indeed reflect changes in consciousness, then Contemporary Ballet could very well become our dance of hope, for I believe it is up to the “cleansing will” of contemporary ballet dancers where hope lies.  And when all comes to pass, it will all end in reconciliation and hope.  Because after all that has been said about progress and change, let us not forget the words of Amor Towles, author of Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow:  

Each generation owes a measure of thanks to every member of the previous generation.  They advanced the arts, making sacrifices for future generations, so by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect.  

Contemporary ballet cannot be truly contemporary if illumination is missing.

Image: Ardent Dancer by Richard Young. Oil painting of Drew Jacoby.

On Karma & How to Burn it

Published 2020/04/03

Whatever deed I shall do – good or evil—I shall become the heir of it.  Traleg Kyabgon.

The late Swami Vivekananda, know for introducing yoga to the west, tells us:  “Everything we do is karma and it leaves its mark on us,” which means that “we have the power to make ourselves.”  It is a very simple process.  People doing bad things create negative karma for themselves.  People doing good thinks create positive karma.  

Vivekananda clarified something crucial for us: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  At times of crisis like we live now, we can best assess how our earthly existence or human experience reflects our spirituality, or lack thereof.   Our character surfaces as it really is, and we are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror of our own creation: ourselves.

Character is manufactured by Karma, says Vivekananda,   and Will is caused by Character.   However, free will often runs wild, we become greedy, and our actions bring about bad results for others, he explains.  Yet, it is not the good or bad act itself that determines whether something is good or bad; it is its effect.

Our foe is the five poisons of ignorance, desire (greed), anger, jealousy and pride, says Vivekananda.  They are at the root of our verbal and physical actions, which result in karma.  However, our actions, which initiate in the mind with a single thought, may or may not continue through either speech or physical bodily action, but more often than not they do. Vivekananda gives us examples of some actions that bring about negative Karma.  Verbal action: abusing others, speaking untruth, detracting from the merit of all men, talking idly. (Incidentally, When we speak badly of others we eat their karma, says Vivekananda.) Body actions that cause karma include taking what has not been given and injuring creatures (of all kinds), and infidelity.

Many sages teache us that through mindful meditation we may stop creating negative karma for ourselves.  Traleg Kyabgon in Karma:  What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it Matters, tells us that through meditation we cultivate mindfulness and awareness, processes that allow the mind to transform before we incur in actions that may bring negative results to ourselves or others.  With the sword of prajna (insight) everything is demolished, Kyabgon explains.  To develop insight then is the crucial step.  Insight arises from creating positive karma and doing what it takes to overcome negative karma,  he concludes.

But what if we have not been able to stop our tongue or our hand and our actions already created negative karma for us? Then the only remedy is to burn our negative karma.  Vivekananda explains that We do not try to get rid of bad karma.  We wear it down.   The expression to burn one’s karma is often used, because that is what it feels like when you we in the process of wearing it down.  How do we go about burning our karma?  According to Kyabgon, through Vipassana Meditation: Insight meditation which helps us develop insight, and as a result it destroys karma and all our karmic traces and dispositions.  Ideally, I should add, through insight meditation we will be able to stop the karmic process before it becomes painful for us.  We must remember that, as Vivekananda explain, it is the exhaustion of our karmic propensities and tendencies that is the ultimate aim.  

This days we are in the process of living the burning of our karma in our own flesh.  We have been a culture rooted on competition, at all levels, personal, sport teams, corporate world, etc.  However, competition arises envy and kills the kindness of the heart, Vivekananda warns us.  And here we are, facing the results of all our past actions that showed our lack of heart. 

For those of us in the performing arts, it’s worth keeping in mind that The ideal student teacher relationship is not that of a master and a slave, but a true meeting of two minds, as J. Powell explains in Tibetan BuddhismThe highest men are calm, silent and unknown.  And I would add: less frantic for recognition, less eager to be known via Facebook, Instagram, or Twiter, and humble in the pursuit of their art.  

When we free ourselves from karmic forces we rest from the pain, we are free from it, and we just work to find our own self realization.  As William Penn writes in Some Fruits of Solitude, We are strangers to our own genius. We have been so busy working, making money while facilitating the achievement of other people’s dreams, wrong as they may have been, that we have left our own genius unattended.  

So, what to do during these long days of captivity?  Kyabgon tells us that if you really want to advance on your spiritual path and aim towards enlightenment your reward is that once enlightenment is achieved, your action will no longer produce karma, which is the requisite to attain Nirvana.  But until that day comes, let’s follow Vivekananda’s advise: 

“Be at rest, Be free, and work,” (to develop your own genius.)

Swami Vivekananda.   Karma and Karma Yoga.  Munger, India: Yoga Publication Trust, 2010. Traleg Kyabgon.  Karma:  What it is, What it isn’t, and Why it Matters.  Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, 2015. William Penn.  Some Fruits of Solitude.  Green Forest, Arkansas: New Leaf Publishing Group, 2012.

On Admiration vs Envy

Published 2019/02/04

We go to the ballet to admire beauty, talent, artistic genius.  However, admiration often masks envy, and the seats of the theater welcome indiscriminately both a public that either admires or envies, or both.  The admirers radiate love towards the stage while the second group exudes jealousy. Yet we all have a role in the community, and we must acknowledge that envy masks admiration as well, and so the two sides of the coin spin on its edge.

The most important learning experience during our lives is not to learn how to get rid of our vices, but how to transform them into virtues, which is a lot easier than to get rid of them.  This is the power of transformation. To transform envy into admiration we need to evolve.  It requires moving the source of our reactions up the chakra scale, which is achieved through yoga. Yoga allows the awakening of the supreme energy that resides in all of us (Kundalini Awakening) and lets it rise up, removing the debris accumulated in the chakras, allowing the energy to spin freely and rise unencumbered.

Someone said to me: If you must make a mistake, don’t make the same mistake!  Make a new one!  Even better would be not to make another one at all, I say.  We can stop ourselves from committing the same errors of the past if we change the source of our reactions.  Envy is born in our guts; it’s an instinct that is triggered when we feel threatened because at the bottom of every emotion is fear.  The thought I don’t dance as well as she does allows fear to set in, fear not to ever be as good, fear not to be chosen for the role, fear to look less accomplished, etc.  Profound admiration, on the other hand, emanates from the heart.  How gloriously she moves!  There is no other underlying feeling in such a statement.  It is pure, sheer admiration.  The transformation requires striking off one’s own ego.  The ego is so busy seeking and envying external beauty that it neglects developing and nurturing its own internal beauty.  But once that personal beauty is awakened, there is only place for admiration in our hearts.

On Renunciation from Attachment

Published 2019/02/17

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo opened an immense realm of spiritual experience to man, the expansion of consciousness or Supermind.  However, still today man’s blind attachment to his desires, impulses, passions, ambitions, greed and ego makes of him a slave of his physical body.  He is still concerned with raising his “standard of living” based on material progress instead of on spiritual progress.

One must first become aware of the problem before taking the next step: solving it by aspiring to ascend to a higher plane, above one’s mundane physical reality.  To see the need for change is primordial to rise to the Supermind, yet we get attached to life, get enamored of it, and submit to the demands of physical life, acting as if satisfying those demands of life, its impulses, desires, passions, greed and ambitions, were the highest goal of man.  The universe comes to the individual with one question, with one demand—that we should know and master it.  But instead of understanding and mastering life people go on playing with it, submitting themselves to it and generally go round and round.

There is great truth in the ideal of renunciation from attachment to these impulses and desires.  It proves that inner spiritual progress is more important than material possessions, that self-control is greater than self-indulgence, that Spirit is greater than physical existence.  This drive for progress, for amelioration changes man’s consciousness, widens his awareness, expands his being.  Man’s progress no longer lies in moving towards fulfillment of his vital desires, mental ideas and his emotional needs but in growing, ascending to a universal consciousness, and from there to the transcendent consciousness.  That is the real line of progress of the individual. And it is possible. The capacity to give up things is always found in those who have attained greatness, who break away from the downward gravitational pull of desires and ambition.

It is necessary for man to accept the truth that Spirit is the ultimate Reality.                 And when the spirit calls one has to recoil from matter.

(From Sri Aurobindo’s lectures The Life Divine, 1966 (pp. 28-33.)  Sri Aurobindo was an illuminated  philosopher, who formulated thoughts about the control of the mind over material energies, the conquest of matter by the Spirit.  In Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of integral yoga, Supermindis the intermediary between the Spirit and the physical world, that which enables the transformation of common beings into Divine beings.)

On Yoga as a Foundation for Children’s Artistic Expression

Last Modified 2019/03/22

From a physical point of view, yoga impact the practitioners` body in terms of muscular strength, tendon/ligament efficiency, balance control, and overall physical health.  However, beyond its physical benefits, the transformative effects of yoga are even more powerful and relevant.  For those who aspire to develop movement self-awareness and expression through dance, know that yoga has the ability to awaken the dancer who lives dormant within us, but also be aware that such awakening is the result of a personal daily yoga practice that focuses not only on physical asanas but, more importantly, on introspection, personal growth and a change of consciousness. The result is a high level of artistic expression, which in turn, in due time, will bring healing as we, a New Generation of Dancers, will help create a world where power seeking, envy and the fostering of vanity will have no place.

But that is for adult dancers in the Western world, where that change of consciousness is required.  But what about children, who are being instructed in the art of ballet and who unless taught differently will become adults who would also have to go through that change of consciousness.  What if that change would not be necessary, because the right consciousness was always there?  At the Aurobindo Ashram in India, where I have done volunteer work, guiding dance teachers on how best approach the teaching of ballet and the choreography for their annual programs, the educational emphasis is spirituality.  Within that context, children are taught   At the ashram dance is taught as a celebration of light.  



On Beauty and Grace

Published 2019/02/04

I dance under the banner of God’s grace.  This means excellence of character takes priority over excellence of achievement.  There is for everyone a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) This is my time to dance now (not a counterfeit dance, something that looks like dance but isn’t, like counterfeit money, which looks real but isn’t) but truly dance, free from any restraints.  For when a dancer is in spiritual bondage, then joy and dancing are lost and we are left with nothing but tricks: high extensions, multiple pirouettes, etc.

Dance is a means to communicate and demonstrate, a means to motivate and liberate.  It motivates people to a place where they can receive god and frees them form the physical bondage.  Dance is prophetic: it originated with god communicating through a dancer to the people and it served to bring edification, exhortation and comfort.  Provided it seeks to see the audience turn their eyes in God’s direction dance honors its name, because dance begins in the heart, and not in the feet. It is an instrument of God’s purposes and visions.  Dance is Grace, of the divine kind. The Beauty is in the Grace.

When we dance under the banner of God’s Grace, we, in a Zen-like way, are unashamed of our abilities. We look forward, develop a goal, believe in our ability to reach that goal and work to achieve it.  We remain independent and do not let others dominate us.  At the end of the day we leave the results to God and eventually everything falls in its place.

Let us carry our torch of Beauty and Grace with humbleness and light the way as we march!

Unconditional Love

Published 2019/02/11

We live our lives to learn the lesson of Love.  Not romantic love but unconditional love.

If we are looking for someone to love us, we are missing the point because we should be looking for someone to love.  If we only want to love those who are beautiful, rich, successful, etc. then we are also missing the point because that is not selfless love.  If we insist on having the person we love next to us, we are really missing the point because that love is tainted with selfish attachment.  If we have an EX whom we no longer love but we still call “my EX” then we definitely missed the point, for true love is eternal and not possessive.  (Besides, if it is my “EX,” it is definitely no longer MINE.) Ultimately, to love means accepting all virtues and flaws, all perfections and imperfections, all strengths and weaknesses, in other words, being able to love the way the verb to love requires, unconditionally!  The lesson of love does not consist in being able to say “someone has loved me,” but being capable of saying “I have loved.” And if I loved deeply, uninterestedly, irrevocably, then I have loved wisely.

On Renunciation from Attachment

Published 2019/02/17

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo opened an immense realm of spiritual experience to man, the expansion of consciousness or Supermind.  However, still today man’s blind attachment to his desires, impulses, passions, ambitions, greed and ego makes of him a slave of his physical body.  He is still concerned with raising his “standard of living” based on material progress instead of on spiritual progress.

One must first become aware of the problem before taking the next step: solving it by aspiring to ascend to a higher plane, above one’s mundane physical reality.  To see the need for change is primordial to rise to the Supermind, yet we get attached to life, get enamored of it, and submit to the demands of physical life, acting as if satisfying those demands of life, its impulses, desires, passions, greed and ambitions, were the highest goal of man.  The universe comes to the individual with one question, with one demand—that we should know and master it.  But instead of understanding and mastering life people go on playing with it, submitting themselves to it and generally go round and round.

There is great truth in the ideal of renunciation from attachment to these impulses and desires.  It proves that inner spiritual progress is more important than material possessions, that self-control is greater than self-indulgence, that Spirit is greater than physical existence.  This drive for progress, for amelioration changes man’s consciousness, widens his awareness, expands his being.  Man’s progress no longer lies in moving towards fulfillment of his vital desires, mental ideas and his emotional needs but in growing, ascending to a universal consciousness, and from there to the transcendent consciousness.  That is the real line of progress of the individual. And it is possible. The capacity to give up things is always found in those who have attained greatness, who break away from the downward gravitational pull of desires and ambition. 

It is necessary for man to accept the truth that Spirit is the ultimate Reality.  And when the spirit calls one we recoil from matter.

(From Sri Aurobindo’s lectures The Life Divine, 1966 (pp. 28-33.)  Sri Aurobindo was an illuminated  philosopher, who formulated thoughts about the control of the mind over material energies, the conquest of matter by the Spirit.  In Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of integral yoga, Supermindis the intermediary between the Spirit and the physical world, that which enables the transformation of common beings into Divine beings.)

On Reflection vs. Reasoning

Published 2019/05/29

 Nobody expects dancers to become philosophers, but a small degree of understanding of how the processes of reflection works will come in handy at a time when life requires us to change so many of our beliefs, and so fast.  “Why should I change my beliefs?” you may ask.  Because more often than not we acquire beliefs not through a process of reflection, rather we form beliefs in unreliable ways, and we are powerfully influenced by external factors that mislead us.  For example, we are influenced by our interactions with others and by stimuli presented to us bellow the threshold of awareness, or subliminally, which affects the truth of the beliefs we acquire.

Reflection is the process of applying serious thought upon the beliefs that guide our actions.  However, reflection, as a process, can be misleading if we are unaware of its shortcomings.  According to Hilary Kornblith in her book On Reflection, reflecting on our beliefs often only succeeds in making us more confident on our beliefs, and reflection results in self-congratulation rather than in change.  Therefore, to think longer and harder about the accuracy of our beliefs may be entirely useless, particularly when we are so confident that we fail to see how incorrect those beliefs were in the first place.  All this results in sheer confabulation, Kornblith claims. (Confabulation: erroneous belief based on fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted information.)

Yet reflection plays a crucial role in self-assessment and self-evaluation, and if that self-scrutiny brings us to a crucial point where we question the validity of our not so reliable beliefs, then we ought to replace them by reliably acquired beliefs, whether we acquire them with or without reflection, with the aid of consultation or better yet, with the aid of critical thinking and reasoning.

Reasoning is the process of thinking about our beliefs in a logical, sensible way, which will often challenge our erroneously founded beliefs.  A higher order of mental state is required though, based on rationality, intelligence, and a conceptual capacity and ability to question the validity of knowledge.  Consider the anorexic dancer that Kornblith uses as example.  For the anorexic there is no difference between the self-controlled dieter who carefully follows a plan to lose fifteen pounds and the anorexic who pathologically starves herself to death.  For this dancer truth is not available under conditions of reflection because he/she is subject to profound errors about fundamental features of his/her own psychology.

In such cases, and others not so extreme, reflection is useless and takes us to a state the experts call the infinite regress, meaning the internal monologue, which is the results of reflection, does not allow people to see their errors. Yet we want to avoid that state of remaining permanently confident on our beliefs without supporting evidence and we want to transcend instead to a state I will call the infinite progress, which is a higher-order of critical assessment and belief formation.  But in order to achieve this, Kornblith warns us, we must be attentive to our intellectual capacities and abilities as well as our weaknesses and limitations.

The ability to articulate one’s reasons in any detail, even to oneself on reflection, is a highly specialized skill, one which requires a good deal of education and training.  Thinking about reasons qua reasons is especially abstract, and it is something which does not come naturally, even to many who have a good deal of education. (pp. 83-84.)

It is important to understand that before we can take that quantum leap from infinite regress to infinite progress, we must question ourselves: “How did we arrive at our beliefs?”  Then we must reflect, “Is this what we ought to believe?” And finally we must ask ourselves: “Could that belief possibly have been inaccurate?” But if lacking capabilities keep us from answering this last question, then what?  If we cannot say: “Yes, that belief is incorrect” we can’t move forward.  Yet we have the moral responsibility to transcend this infinite regress.  Our times require that we do so.

Hilary Kornblith. On Reflection.  United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2012.

On Giving and Receiving

Published 2019/04/11

To be giving is a quality of the human heart.  At times in our lives we give; later invariably there will be moments when help will come our way and it is our turn to receive.  There is nothing bad in receiving, but what we do with it does matter, for there is a great difference between Receiving to give and Receiving to accumulate wealth.”  


RECEIVING to give creates a cycle of solidarity in the community.  These are spiritual communities that honor both giving and receiving, like in the case of ashrams where this cycle or giving-receiving-giving is never broken and sustains and supports the community.  We too have excellent examples of giving-receiving-giving cycles in the dance world: after school dance programs and scholarships for promising dancers.  At the moment of training they receive, but those same dancers will undoubtedly give when the opportunity comes because it is a basic psychological fact that we do to others what was done to us.  If we received plentifully; we will give plentifully.  And so we are planting and nurturing a crop, which in Mahatma Gandhi’s words, is made of innumerable seeds, leaves and fruits of giving which are the fullest possible nutrition to mankind.

Unfortunately this beautiful cycle of giving can be broken, particularly in capitalist societies where naturally the gain is the game.  In capitalist circles people receive to use it for their gain and the result is using solidarity to make profit.  What is worse, once the cycle is broken then it can become a manipulation and hoarding game that feeds greed. Then the seeds, leaves, and fruits of greed will follow, and these, alas, are the emptiest possible nutrition to mankind.   Mankind, man + kind = Giving.  How come this so transparent equation became mercenary?  Giving is simple and openhearted.  Giving is not selfish giving, interested giving, nor manipulative giving.  We don’t give to claim because to give means to love, and here I quote Gandhi once again.  Love never claims; it ever gives.  

In our dance and particularly ballet circles let’s give the wanting-to-be dancers dance power and dance freedom and their dance will flourish. Their hearts will dance as much as their bodies, or even more so.  Let’s give this new generation of ballet dancers the knowledge of dance: technique, history, choreography, for certain, but even more crucial is to give them the truth of dance, that truth that says dance is for the spirit of all of humankind.  Then we will have truly given them freedom.  And beyond that the greatest gift we can give them is to banish fear from their hearts,  the fear that what is given to them has a price and the time will come for them to pay, or even worse yet, expect them to pay before they receive.  

We must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of ocean are dirty, the entire ocean does not become dirty. Mahatma Gandhi, 

“Ugolino’s Agony” by Jean Marcellino, 2016. Charcoal pencil, 27 x 21 inches.

See Jean Marcellino’s work at:

Life’s Metaphores:  Understanding COVID

If life feels thick these days it is because it is clogged with our own sins.  Perhaps that is what Covid 19 is here to tell us.  The virus stands as a mirror to us all and is one of the greatest life metaphors we have seen in the past two centuries.  All those infected with greed see themselves magnified in the infectious desease.  They see themselves as they are, infectious, because greed runs free and rampant in our culture and what it’s worse, it is taught rampantly as well.  Covid 19 comes in the form of a cold, mirroring cold people, not warm from within but warm out of interest.  Covid comes with fever to people who have to burn past karma.  And the metaphor goes on.  The Corona virus requires us to be constantly cleaning our hands.  Somehow I am reminded of Lady Macbeth, who after her crime she kept washing her hands only to see that the blood stains on her hands could not be washed away.  Finally, those who die of the virus die gasping for air, which is essential.  Karma once again. We, blinded by greed and by the search for power, took away from the underprivileged that which was essential, food, shelter, education, love and respect, and clean air.

I ask:  Could it be that the virus affects not anybody arbitrarily but those who are standing in the way of their own spiritual growth, and that of others, and in so doing they are standing in the way of the advancement of the human race?   Are we vulnerable to this infectious desease in return for our sins? For in the end the universe does take care of people as they deserve it.  

To many people life these days feels like a science fiction movie.  Yet we need no extraterrestrial monsters to come from a far away planet.  The monsters are right here.  It’s us.  This time I am reminded of the playwright Jean Paul Sartre’s play No Exit.  Sartre says it brilliantly.  People are our own hell.  For many Christianity is over.  The innocent no longer pay for the crimes of the guilty ones.  That means that at this moment evolution is in the making.  There is no missing link this time.  We are going straight from the Homo sapiens with a capitalist mindset to the homo spiritualis guided by a spiritual heartset.  There is no in-between.  We either adjust or we perish.  So I say: Let us fight for a spiritual world! 

As women in the performing arts, we are tired of suffering for other people’s errors, and tired of the suffering that comes as a result, because they would not help where help was needed, or they would not include, where isolation was obvious. At least they would not unless they would “get paid.”  Well such currency that implies abuse is unacceptable under this new paradigm we women are pushing forward.  We are free at last!  Perhaps it is time for the world to listen to the wisdom bestowed by a higher power unto us, women warriors.  

I am now reminded of Julius Cesar’s famous quote warning Rome that life was in danger: Beware ides of March. Well, we have gone through that. We are now in the midst of the Ides of April.  Are we ready for the Ides of May?


Spiritual Fitness:  Becoming our own Heroes.  Part I

Published 2020/03/30

So all the gyms are closed; all the dance schools are closed, and we are being forced into a time for introspection.  But, but…  “The show must go on!” No, the show cannot go on! Times have changed!  Our lives have changed!  Now it is time for us to become heroes.  Not wait for them to appear out of thin air, but to realize that the only heroes coming our way can only be our selves. We are the heroes we need.   

To be spiritually fit in these times of evolution means to undertake a heroic journey, a heroic act to face the truth. The truth, any truth, liberates the heart, and looking at the ugly part of one self and face that truth is heroic!   

To be spiritually fit means liberating within one self that force that is greater than any thing we have known so far, that spiritual force that has been kept repressed because of our misconceptions and attachment to the physical/material forces we have chosen to abide by in the past.

To be spiritually fit means forgiving oneself, to begin with, and then others.  It means dropping all judgmental criticism, anger, violence toward our selves and others, even if those other people are wrong.  Being spiritually fit means doing away with violent solutions (arranged accidents and what not) against those who threatens the status quo we are so attached to. 

To be spiritually fit means living vertically, not horizontally.  Looking up, pulling up, like ballet dancers, like redwood trees, aiming upwards towards the heavens.  Horizontal living is engrossed on the mundane; it exercises the base chakras of sexuality and animalistic instincts.

Ultimately, Spiritual Fitness means taking a quantum leap into freedom.  Liberty is not given; it is taken.  When you fight for your liberty, you are not afraid of death, and when you seek freedom for yourself it is with much heart ache that one looks around and sees how “Freedom gets killed in front of your eyes and people do nothing,” to quote Danton, the great French revolutionary hero.

We are speaking of doing push ups with the heart, crunches with the soul.  A pelvic lift becomes a heart lift.  The current times are demanding that of us right now, even if it means risking our own safety, our own life.  These times demand that our alliances be no longer for the sake of stardom, but for the sake of others’ wellbeing.

These times are here not to demand action from us; action is not a requirement, although action is a change and as such it is welcome.  However, the understanding of our errors of the past is crucial.  To acknowledge them as errors is crucial.  After this first recognition, then we must learn to look at our ways of the past in light of the developments of our present.

Suddenly –I Shone in all my might, And morning rang its round. Always to shine, To shine everywhere, To the very depths of the last days, To shine— And to hell with everything else! That is my motto— And the sun’s!  Mayakovsky


Spiritual Fitness: Becoming our own Heroes.   Part II

Published 2020/03/30

Einstein’s fear was that someday someone would figure out a way to blow up the people and leave the buildings standing.  But Einstein had confidence in human kind and was also the one who said: Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish for its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. We have lived all our lives climbing the material ladder of success and we have been judged accordingly. However, we were meant to be spiritual beings all along!  We have been climbing the wrong ladder, that’s all.  

Some people come to the world being already spiritually fit, like many other are born with physical attributes like athletic bodies, or brilliant minds, like Einstein. Yet we all carry the spiritual gene in our hearts. We owe it to the next generation to put that gene to good use, to clear the path, make life more palatable, more humain, more respectful, more harmonious.  We, today heroes in gestation, can then show the path.

Undeniably to become spiritually fit will bring along the experiencing of two of the most paradoxical emotions a human being can experience: What Amor Towles calls the bitterness of joy and the sweetness of despair. Yet we can no longer think as mere human beings; we must think as an evolving species, as we face this sisyphean task (a task of such demand that can never be completed.)

However, if we live in the NOW, a requirement to survive our current life threatening challenges, then we don’t think today about the day when we will have finally become a fully spiritually fit race. We just move, step by step, shinning in that direction.

The love dimension transcends the physical dimensions of time and space. We have to say good-bye to the world as we know it.  We are presently, irrevocably saying good-by to the world as we have known it.   And if the time to die comes sooner than expected, we can choose to die like heroes do, like trees, standing on our feet, reaching up to the sky. 

The poem by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas comes to mind:

Do not go gently into that good night.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Two quotes by Amor Towles also come to mind.

If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.  One must make ends meet or meet one’s end. 

Yoga and Ballet: Know Thyself

Published 2017/03/11

Who am I? Whence? Whither?  Ancient questions.  Yet these questions of ages find their answer in the calm silence of the yogi’s heart.  Self-Knowledge cuts ignorance, ego and desire because we are not the gross physical body of the senses.  We live in the subtle body; we move with the inner instruments, the mind, intellect, and the emotive mind that records all past impressions.  Yoga reveals that we are devoid of self-sufficient ego, attachment, desire, and self-seeking.  Yoga brings us to an Inner communion with the Divine, and through it we can attain Atman, the flame of Divinity in all of us, which brings us eternal peace.  When we discover this peace in the core of our being, we find our inner self.  Then we know ourselves, because we free ourselves from the bondage of the senses, we throw away all that is non-self, and the Divine’s presence manifests itself in us.

Let the Divine mould you, move you, and fulfill Itself in you.  Open yourself pure and clean to the divine influence.  This is what it tells you to do:

Aspire; you can have. Call; help shall come. Seek; you shall find. Love; love shall embrace your heart. Surrender; and  be rich in equanimity. Meditate upon that which you really are, the Atman.

Wise thoughts from Yoga, Sadhana, and Samadhi, by Dr. Pranab Bandyopadhyay which can guide all of us humans, and all of us dancers to the fulfillment of our dreams.

Illumination: Transforming 7 Vices into 7 Virtues.

Published 2019/06/24

Whatever beliefs you hold about reality, the universe will prove you right.  

If we believe that the universe is generally kind, and that generosity attracts plenitude, then people’s transformation cannot be anything but successful.  According to Alberto Villoldo in The Shaman’s Way of Healing, it all begins with rites of initiation that allow us to heal through our own power, instead of recruiting others to be bit players in your emotional dramas. (p. 5)  We go through several rites of initiation throughout our lives, for example birth and marriage, but one of the most challenging rites is Sagehood or wisdom, the passage from ignorance to illumination. 

It all happens in the brain, though you may feel it in your heart.

First it is necessary to admit that our lives are enslaved by old emotions that have been programmed into our brain and run our lives subconsciously. As opposed to feelings that are authentic, new, fresh, and of the moment, as Villoldo explains, emotions are like viruses infecting our Primitive Brain.  The Primitive Brain is concerned with physical and emotional survival, perceives the world as predatory and is focused on the four F’s of survival: feeding, fornicating, fighting, and fleeing. It occupies itself with seven emotions, which are confronted during initiations: 

Wrath, greed, lust, sloth, envy, gluttony, and pride.

These emotions appear to give us power, but alas, the wrong kind of power!  They are responsible for our current strategies for survival: big fish swallows little fish and power structures gobble up the little guy.  Through these strategies the weakest is eliminated in the struggle for existence.  However, as Villoldo explains, new research in evolutionary biology suggests that there is another successful strategy for survival: 

Wisdom and cooperation.   The wisest and most cooperative will survive. 

Fortunately we have two brains, and the New Brain, the Neocortex, which has only recently evolved, comes to our rescue.  The New Brain perceives a world where we tear down fences and people collaborate toward peace and sustainable lifestyles. (p. 34) Important to us is that the New Brain can be triggered into action, either through meditation or by practicing the seven virtues of the neocortex: 

Peace, generosity, purity of intent, courage, compassion, temperance, humility.

Self-transformation is manufactured by our higher brain, but higher order thinking cannot prevail when all we perceive is scarcity and danger, and we think our purpose is to fix our problems and ease our suffering.  (p. 47)  What about other people’s problems, and other people’s suffering? Higher order of thinking only happens when we engage the new brain in our quest for personal growth, and as a result not only our pain, but the pain of others is spared.

Villoldo tells us that for self-transformation to develop into sagehood we must go through four stages of initiation: 1. Awakening. You can no longer live as who you were. 2. Great departure.  You leave your job, marriage, house, and city.  3. Tests. You replace old roles, identities, beliefs, and behaviors by new ones.  4. Illumination. You resurrect after dying to all the limitations of your old identity. (pp. 86-90)

After surmounting the four stages of initiation and enduring an epic journey facing demons, those demons will be conquered: Wrath will be conquered by Peace. Greed will be conquered by generosity. Lust will be conquered by purity of intent. Sloth will be conquered by courage and effort. Envy will be conquered by compassion for oneself & others. Gluttony will be conquered by temperance. Pride will be conquered by humility.  (107)

To achieve illumination all we have to do is make a simple but crucial shift that awakens the faculties of our higher brain.  Then we realize that we are a spark of the divine, always in concert with Spirit, and a paradise opens up to us, a paradise that offers a new way of surviving:

Through courage, insight, joy and creativity. 

We realize that paradise is a brain state, not a place. Paradise is where we see beauty while others see only ugliness. Where we bring truth to places where others only experience deceit. Where we behave with integrity where others feel compelled to compromise, Where we become co-creators amidst the exquisite workings of the universe.   (pp 28-29)

Our current nuclear deterrence policy, Mutual Assured Destruction (which has a most revealing acronym: MAD) is a product of primitive brains in action.  Do we want more of such policies, or do we want to make the switch that will allow us to create righteous policies that will hasten our evolution beyond a mere predatory humanity?

Down with Darwin!  Upward with Divinity!

Alberto Villoldo, The Shaman’s Way of Healing.  New York: Hay House, Inc. 2010.



Published 2016/07/03

First came the theater revolution, then followed the dance revolution, and now we live in the midst of the yoga revolution.  We finally got to the core of it all!  If theater, the most external of the three, evolved from the mind, dance, as bodily expression, surfaced from the body pushing it beyond thinkable limits.  Now with yoga the spirit, fueled by inextinguishable inner forces which work hand in hand with powerful cosmic forces, are at work and will result in collective transcendence to a higher plane of existence.

The surging of the arts was a step stone, it prepared the ground, so to speak.  Yet throughout the centuries during which the arts have been flourishing, the pervasive presence of the critic belittling  theater productions for what they do not accomplish, or dancers for the less than perfect pointed feet, we must make certain we yogis do not provide more fuel for their criticism.  We don’t want to be accused of falling far behind, brandishing yoga certificates but carrying on without sufficient compassion and empathy.  Let us not forget that yoga finally arrived to teach us that is not our role to criticize and point the finger (though pointing it at ourselves is perfectly appropriate) but to help each other ascend to this higher level of  evolution.

Yoga with its Kundalini awakening abilities will become the fuel that will ignite a different caliber of human being, a higher caliber of artist.   Here come the actor, director, dancer, teacher who do not seek recognition for themselves but who step out of their ego trip to prepare the stage for others.  Granted, in their eyes these others may be less talented, less efficient, less deserving, but then again what is important is that we all arrive to an understanding that we are part of the cosmic plan for evolution, that without our appartently insignificant part in the equation the polishing and the asencion of this new spirituality would be curtailed.

In this acknowledgment we are all given the opportunity to become the best expressions of a human being we can possible be, an expression that differs drastically from the expression to which dancers, actors, directors and choreographers are used.  It is the expression of our humanity, based on compassion, giving opportunities but not for one’s gain, fostering of the arts in others for no other reason than to see that other person thrive and shine.  We will have arrived there when finally the name of the company is left out from the poster and in its place the dancer’s name will glow with well deserved recognition.

Similarly, performers have much growth to do, as they often sabotage themselves from this spiritual advancement, by speaking from ignorance, mixing personal with professional goals, not only judging but being eager to judge, wasting time and energy in gossip, speaking ill of others who often speak well of them  (you wonder why.) 

Unfortunately, jealousy, the most pervasive of human emotions, still looms in the wings of theaters during play productions, dance performances, and music concerts. Perhaps the day the performing arts are no longer plagued with jealousy and other weakening emotions the monopoly of the egotistic artist will collapse.

On Altruism = All True!

Published 2019/04/14

True leaders give themselves in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve them.  J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership. 

Altruism, like so many other words that bear the same meaning, benevolence, kindness, charity, magnanimity, selflessness, humanitarianism, means to be able to think of others first, to accommodate to others, for the welfare of others not for that of our own.  It is our unselfish regard for others without expecting to be rewarded, as opposed to a self-serving attitude.  Fortunately for all of us, altruism is innate, although not instinctual, says essayist David Rakoff. Everybody is wired for it but a switch has to be flipped because it is not enough to have altruistic thoughts for humanity. There is no such thing as altruistic thoughts; there are only altruistic acts.  Two great altruistic leaders of our greatest times in history have the following to add.  

Theater Vision

Published 2016/07/03

When I think about the most compelling piece I have directed not a particular play comes to mind but a specific audience composed of homeless and corporate people who broke bread together at a dinner theater event, the premiere of Shujman’s thought provoking one-act play Stand Up and Walk.  Sitting side by side, they watched how in the play a merchant finds a homeless man sleeping in front of his music store and promptly tries to get rid of him, but the homeless man’s cunning discussion on the issue of homelessness persuades the merchant to trade clothes and roles with him, throwing the merchant in a compromising situation once a police man appears, and as it would be expected, judges the two men by the clothes they are wearing.  The implications were enormous, and the mixed audience who after the show split into their accustomed groups and left in kin company carried within themselves more than just a meal to digest at home.

Themes at the core of our spiritual evolution surface in this timely play: the judgmental attitude and spiritual poverty of the privileged class contrasted to the wealth of the homeless people, seen in their lack of attachment, their street-acquired wisdom, their survival skills measured by their freedom and their strength drawn from their nomadic nature.  (Let us not forget than in pre-historic times it was the nomads who survived, while those who stayed attached perished.  And for those who may have not noticed, we are back in nomad times.)  In this play all our prejudices and assumptions are exposed to the naked eye, leaving the property owners and law abiding citizens, mesmerized by the fragile glow of materialism, as the true “underprivileged” ones.

Ed Ballou’s The Glimmer dealt with disillusion; however, it also showed the way out of it: Teaching, mentoring, life coaching, educating, inspiring are the step stones into a new dimension of life where the denigration of our fellow men has ceased to exist giving way to the uplifting of our fellow men’s spirit.  This spiritual encounter validates the intelligence, talent, and humanity of teacher and disciple, and it opens the door to a world where two new human beings can grow within themselves.  Theater of this kind is not propagandistic; it is didactical; it has a purpose beyond entertainment; it takes audiences beyond their laughter and tears to a place within their hearts where they too see a void that can be filled by lending a hand to another fellow’s hurting heart.

I long for a theater that will be something other than what it has been for over the last two centuries.  I would like to see theater move onto a different arena, away from the “slice of life” philosophy that saw the birth of so much wonderful drama over the 19th and 20th century, which incidentally I love.  This is the 21st century, and while Williams, Albee, Miller, and Chekov along with a troupe of powerful playwrights overseas will live forever in the heart of those who love theater, including mine, times are changing, and so must we.  Whether we like it or not, we live in a dark ages all over again   Darkness is all around; at home, at work, on the streets, day and night, and surfaces most unexpectedly in places where you though brilliancy reigned. Would it not be wonderful to see the birth of a theater that would help us all on our journey from our darkness into light?” “Sun is the date, for theater and for all of us within this new paradigm we have.” For if the theater of this 21st century is not of an uplifting nature then theater will remain in a black box, physically and metaphorically, and that would be just plain too much dark.

 On Altruism: (Continuing)

True happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed. The Dalai Lama.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Martin Luther King.

Many will say that altruism is masked self-interest, with which I would partially agree, as I agree with H. L. Mencken, cultural critic, who claims: A large part of altruism…is grounded upon the fact that it is uncomfortable to have unhappy people about one.

Ballet: Why “More” isn’t always better.

Published 2019/01/26

I believe we agree unanimously that dance stands as one of the most physical manifestations of the freedom of the human spirit.  Yet we all exist among paradoxes, and dance is not free of its own paradox. Despite the supremacy of the spirit over the physical body in moments of virtuosity, dancers may be still among the currently most oppressed professionals in our culture, subjugated to treatment that may have been acceptable in previous centuries, but counts today as unacceptable.

One of the most compelling paradoxes in the dance world is found in the ballet industry.  Such beauty, such expressiveness, such freedom of movement, such a chance to shine!   Yet for all the freedom dancers enjoy for a fleeting moment on a stage they pay with years of what today is considered to be physical and group psychological abuse, which may breed occupational neurosis among dancers (unconscious methods of coping with internal conflictsresulting from the influence of their profession.) And since it is a basic psychological fact that unconsciously we do to others as they do to us, few dancers question the status quo and unfortunately history repeats itself.  A domino effect takes place: First the rise of the great choreographer, then the birth of the ballet muse, and the resulting abuse.

Where do the directors, teachers and choreographers stand in this picture? The originally male dominated ballet industry has seen in the last decades an increasingly growing number of female choreographers and artistic directors. Yet the inherent oppression in the profession has not disappeared entirely just because women tend to be more compassionate than men.  It continues to be a profession that is based on the use of others, their bodies primarily, but also their spirits.  Their bodies are the choreographers’ instruments of expression, therefore ballet dancers still continue to be told what to dance, how to dance, when to dance, where to dance, for how long, even what to wear when they dance, not to mention the price they are told they have to pay for their right to dance.  The ballet canvas continues to show what Degas pictured in the 19thcentury, a choreographer-centered learning environment…minus the stick, perhaps.

Today ballet has a chance to be depicted differently.  This new canvas would show how the professional ballet world accommodates unwillingly or reluctantly a new generation of dancers, the adult ballet dancers.  What began as an infiltration has become a phenomenon and the dance spirits of these dancers are flooding the ballet schools worldwide.  However, unlike previous generations of ballet dancers who submitted to the demands of the dark world of ballet in exchange for that fleeting moment on stage, this new generation of aspiring ballet dancers are demanding freedom, at all cost, at all times.  These are dancers who say no, who question, who rebel against the status quo bringing a rebellious breath of change to the ballet scene.  Let us not underestimate their value. The adult ballet learner who has not been in contact with dark forces from an early age comes from a place of light and brings that internal light to the ballet world, where it is much needed. Those who began on day one, growing up in a dark world, and the ones who began at a much later day bringing radiant light, albeit not the greatest of techniques, are indeed sharing the dance studios and stages today.

The small artist is usually an honest artist, that’s why he or she remains poor.  Capitalism, based on the freedom for enterprise only succeeded through corruption and abuse and it proved that “More” and “Bigger” isn’t always better!  To the rescue come two yoga concepts to lighten up the ballet scene: Transcendence and non-attachment.   Our answer is transcendence from attachment, from the “my syndrome” of Western Civilization, the My Company syndrome in the ballet arts, which may begin humbly and selflessly, but with growth looses its humbleness and selflessness.  We live in desperate times; we are dismantling all surrounding barriers that attempt to keep the spirit captive, and in desperate times people do desperate things.  The writing of this analysis by an artist claiming a place in the ballet world for herself and for those like her who will follow is also a desperate step.  But alas, a straightforward and plainspokenstep!


On Compensatory Ballet

Published 2019/04/21

We all have had a compensatory behavior at least once in our lives, that is we have done something to compensate for what we have not been able to live or achieve in our lives.  Most compensatory behavior is a positive experience, like Adult Ballet is for many dancers.  In committing to the pursuit of technique that will allow them to actually “do” it someday, even if the movements look more butohesque than balletic today, they feel redeemed somewhat for a past that they could not live or was denied to them. 

It is important to notice that when adult ballet dancers “dance” the compensation will not take place in a future that is to come, they compensate right there and then. The connecting body, mind, and spirit tap into that ephemeral reality that transcends their physical bodies and at that very moment of dance they are elevated to a higher plane. They cease to be the lawyers, doctors, researchers, etc. and they become dancers. Little matters that tomorrow they will be back at court, the clinic or the laboratory. When they dance they are transported to a spiritual platform. At that moment they identify themselves with the dance, ephemeral as it is, not with the ‘role’ of dancer, which would pull them back into their material reality with all the expectations and judgements attached to it.

Compensatory behavior can also be a negative experience, which also takes place as a response to unachieved dreams. People allow themselves to be influenced negatively by others because they feel they have failed in their efforts to be who they wanted to be or do what they wanted to do, and they compensate for that lack anyway they can.  Everybody needs a place to belong, and for the person who needs to heal that spot of unachieved reality sometimes any place where they can achieve some level of compensation is better than none.

Unfortunately, being in the wrong place at the wrong time may lead people into violence, for violence is a classic type of compensatory behavior. We see it every day, close and away from home. We must keep present, however, that our current challenging times do not justify additional violence. We live in times when people can barely keep with so much psychic activity; they are often alarmed, scared even, and they are taken beyond their limits, which invariably results on a less than desirable conduct. At times like we live today we don’t come to one another to create more problems; we come to each other with solutions. There is no need for orchestrated accidents to save the day. Nobody really needs to be injured or eliminated; we all just need to be tamed.

Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrewd comes to mind. I see a woman may be made fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.   

And how do we resist? With the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. 

Adult Ballet

Published 2019/01/05

The Adult Ballet phenomenon that has taken the stage over the last four decades questions more than anything our understanding and conception of aesthetics and beauty.  The mirror does not lie, and technology has provided us with more than enough gadgets to record what we can or cannot do; what we look like in the physical world while spiritually we feel that we soar through the sky like eagles.  The phenomenon brings us face to face with the issue of transcendence of our physical reality in order to advance towards a spiritual realm, where the True-Self reigns, not the tricks a physical body can or cannot do.

A ballet teacher said once to me:  “My classes are full of monsters.”  If that which stands in front of us is a mirror to our nature, then he should have understood, or at least I hoped so at that moment, that all these “amorphous dancers” who crowded the studios were needed to bring about a much needed transformation in the dance world.  For many ballet teachers it must have felt like a dance version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  The darker the teachers’ nature, the uglier the “monsters” parading in front of them, attempting to execute with untrimmed and untrained bodies movements which had obviously meant for the Gods.

I speak with no derision towards adult dancers, having been for many instructors a “monster” myself throughout my years of training.  Yet I have seen myself progress from “monster” stage to something more, let’s say “palatable” for the instructors, while simultaneously I have seen the instructors transcend their limited perspective on what makes and/or does not make dancer.  Our era of spiritual transformation points us both, adult dancers and instructors, in the right direction.  We all understand our limitations: physical limitations for the dancers, and spiritual limitations for the instructors.  It is thanks to this interplay that the ballet world is changing.  So hurray for all those adult ballet dancers who found it in themselves the strengths it takes to look ridiculous and know it, to look at themselves in the mirror with all their physical limitations and yet go on, and to develop the discipline it takes to live their life dreams not focusing on the finish line but on the journey that brings them closer to it, one class at a time.

On Complacency in the Face of Change

Published 2019/06/10

Problem-solving skills, which are very much in demand today, come in very handy, but it is not enough to have those skills, we have to exercise them.  Needless waiting only resolves into inaction; inaction brings stagnation, and stagnation only reinforces the status quo.

Problem-solvers are driven by a desire, a need for improvement in their environment. That drive is coated with the courage, the energy and the discipline to tackle the problem, plus the ability to focus and get the job done.  Yet, problem-solvers are rare in the performing arts world, and the question raises: How do we make problem-solvers out of complacent people?  The very nature of the performing arts builds up their ego.  In addition, so many aspects of our culture foster complacency. Fashion, the selfie craze, and all video technology that fosters self-adulation create distractions that result in a needless postponement of action. 

Complacency + Distractions = Procrastination

In addition, distractions by way of electronic gadgets, tech games, etc. consume the vital energy needed for action.  Focus goes out the window because technology encourages scattered thinking, and all texting, emailing, connecting efforts only contribute to a disconnection from the self.  And add to that keeping up with our psychic connections.  Talk about a waste of time!  

Procrastination + Tech Games + Time Waste = Disconnection from Self

My readings have taken me lately to David Barnett’s discussion of one of Bertolt Brecht’s characters, the Philosopher in Buying Grass.  “ …many factors…prevent people from learning (i.e. becoming wiser) through experience.  For instance, when certain changes in a situation come about too gradually – so gradually as to be imperceptible.” (p. 41.)   Barnett gives the example of two nations with the same problem.  “New Zealand was the first nation to give women the vote in 1893 and why did Switzerland only bring in such legislation nationwide in 1991? Values that may seem obvious to one group of people may not be so to others.” (p. 74)

Dragging Along + Cultural Differences = Lack of Learning = Lack of Wisdom

To complete the equation comes Compliance.  We feel we have to comply with job regulations, beliefs, demands, and times goes in endless pondering while inaction settles in.  Compliance is fearfulness, because change exposes aspects of our social make-up, and we would prefer to leave them unspoken. 

Status quo + Compliance + Fear of Change = Inaction

Brecht proposes in his play Buying Grass to clear our mind of distraction, so we can produce those thoughts and feelings that will help transform the field itself so that change might take place after all.  We must transform our feelings of resignation into anger. (Correctly placed anger that motivates us to action, as opposed to misplaced anger that results in unnecessary violence towards innocent others.) 

Our past actions were product of a time and place; our present actions will be the product of our current time and place.  The time is Now, and the place is the Workplace.  Once we allow ourselves to transcend our limitations (complacency, compliance, fear, etc.) we can start moving towards change.  Change begins to stir inside of us first; it gestates inside, and later moves outward into the community, but only if we act upon it. We have choices: to let change be imperceptible and risk that it will coagulate into a nothingness that will perpetuate darkness, or we let it surface and manifest itself into perceptible action that will bring further change and will let the light in.

I dream of a day when every dancer will wish to experience, not the triple pirouette or the highest jeté, but experience a drive for inner growth, for action, because the world gets better by fixing it, not by talking about its problems.  Fear will always stand in the way of change because fear stands at the bottom of all human emotions.  And what do we do with fear?  We face it.  


David Barnett.  Brecht in Practice:  Theatre, Theory and Performance. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing Co, 2015.



I am truly a lone traveler

And have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends,

Or even my immediate family, with my whole heart.

In the face of all these ties

I have never lost a sense of distance

And a need for solitude,

feelings which increase with the years.


Solitude is a feeling that we experience when we truly belong to ourselves, not to others.  Loneliness, on the other hand, is a feeling of not belonging to a world that ignores us and seems not to care about us.  Another great mind, Kenneth Wilber, American philosopher and mystic, explains that solitude lays the foundation for clarity of thought, which in turn results in mental health and prosperity, allowing us to uplift others through our own personal example.  His integral Theory of Consciousness explains that what each of us has to offer of greatest value is the example of that which we are.  Our words can add to that example, our thoughts can add to that example, and certainly, our actions add to that example.  But the key for any of us—in our desire to uplift this world—is to make more clear decisions about what we want to be at any point in time—and then to be that.  And then give that, for we only have what we give.


Solitude is quite different from the loneliness that a great number of people feel, which is very well portrayed in the play On The Celebration of Being Alone by Ed Ballou, which I will be directing this summer in New York.  It is a portrait of a little man, like millions of  fulltime job holders he is known not by his name, but by a number, because his real name is of no consequence to his superiors.  With him stand thousands of seamstresses behind sewing machines working like ants in the fashion industry, thousandsin hundreds of assembly line jobs in every city in the world.  His “belonging” to the industry equals invisibility, anonymity, being taken for granted, often being taken advantage of.  Worst of all is that like people in such positions he becomes insensitive to his situation; he stops feeling, except for hunger and thirst, perhaps.  But inside there is a big hollowness.  It is the story of the common man, the worker who becomes a daydreamer while at work, or after working hours because there is no time and energy left to live his dream, a daydreamer who lives the “ought–to-be” life, not his free life, the daydreamer who lives a dream of isolation.  There is no consolation, no solace for such type of belonging.  In the play On the Celebration of Being Alone, the character flirts with suicide.  He is drawn to its flame like a blind, crippled moth.


Like Einstein I am a lone traveler.  I love my solitude and I am not alone.  I teach, reflect, meditate and make myself like water around the rocky mountains of life, face the sun and shine along.  Allow me to teach this by example: the value of solitude.

This reminds me of one of my favorite songes.  Moustaki.  “Ma Solitude”
Pour avoir si souvent dormi
Avec ma solitude
Je m’en suis fait presque une amie
Une douce habitude
Elle ne me quitte pas d’un pas
Fidèle comme une ombre
Elle m’a suivi çà et là
Aux quatres coins du monde
Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude
Quand elle est au creux de mon lit
Elle prend toute la place
Et nous passons de longues nuits
Tous les deux face à face
Je ne sais vraiment pas jusqu’où
Ira cette complice
Faudra-t-il que j’y prenne goût
Ou que je réagisse
Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude
Par elle, j’ai autant appris
Que j’ai versé de larmes
Si parfois je la répudie
Jamais elle ne désarme
Et, si je préfère l’amour
D’une autre courtisane
Elle sera à mon dernier jour
Ma dernière compagne
Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude
Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude

Ballet: How Adults Learn.

Published 2019/04/09

Michael Knowles, creator of Andragogy, a science of adult learning, insists that there are qualitative differences in the way children and adults learn.  For the purpose of this article I will base my discussion on his findings and also on the discussions by Consuelo Undurrage Infante in her book How do adults Learn?since she lists a series of experts whose knowledge can guide us to help adult ballet students be successful in their learning process.

To discuss the learning process of adults it is necessary to take the following relevant information into consideration.  Adults can be grouped in three stages, which affect learning: young people between 20 and 40, mature people between 40 and 65, and late adulthood after 65 (Erick Erickson.)  We have to distinguish also between the concepts of Pedagogy(children) and Andragogy (adults) and distinguish two types of intelligence, fluid and crystallized.  What is important here is that this crystallized intelligence, which includes the development of language, oral and written, instead of deteriorating with time increments as the years go by.  This knowledge can have an enormous repercussion on dance, since is considered by many to be a form of language.

A teaching situation implies the creation of a right atmosphere and an adequate human relationship in order to facilitate learning, which is achieved by reinforcing a conduct.  Acceptance, approval, love, and the language used are powerful reinforcements of human learning.  The bigger the positive reinforcement the more we learn, and an immediate and continuous reinforcement makes the learning even more substantial.  Punishment, on the contrary, because it inhibits, reduces the probabilities that learning will take place.  We must not forget that adults come to ballet classes with numerous experiences, they use more abstract thinking, have a definite self concept and a self esteem that allows them to act as independent people, as a result, it is always more efficient to use a positive reinforcement that a punishment because it affects positively their self esteem and their feeling of competence, a crucial element in adult education.

The adult learning situation must be an educative situation, not a lucrative or a social situation. Here motivation is crucial because it plays a central role in learning.  Adults arrive at a learning situation intrinsically motivated. It is their motivation to achieve and their hope to be successful that propels them forward while fear of failure inhibits them.  The ideal situation consists of strong hope for success with a low fear of failure.  And in the measure they observe others be successful this augments vicariously their feeling of self efficiency and motivation, based on the belief that if others are successful they will be, too.  Adults who believe in themselves are capable and competent; those who projects into the future learn.  Besides they know they must act with certain urgency because time does not wait for anybody.

It is also necessary to take into account that in spite of a high level of motivation, after 40 years of age two great changes affect learning:  1. Auditory and visual receptors slowly loose precision, which lowers and affects negatively the quality and the quantity of the basic information necessary for learning.   2. The speed of the nervous system responses diminishes due to the drop in energy level.  Also it is essential to understand that when we learn under pressure these two conditions intensify because of the anxiety this pressure produces.  Consequently, in an open adult ballet class where the instructor’s voice is barely audible and where pressure and tension are the norm the learning process is not being facilitated but rather prevented.  It is not the lost of agility that implies loss of ability, rather it is the slowing down of the response under pressure, which can become even slower due to the anxiety that interferes with learning.  It is true that stress and anxiety can energize the teaching process but they can also paralyze it.  Adults in a ballet class may feel vulnerable and in a rather precarious situation, which makes learning even more difficult, and they can appear to the instructor as childish and immature.  We must also add that if the pressure causes frustration and this in turn causes a feeling of shame the level of anxiety will invariably increase.

Anxiety is a stress response or a fear towards something in the exterior world.  It is an alert signal (Brundage and MacKeracher.) In an adult ballet class, where many groups of people are represented (those who look for new options, former dancers who look for another place to belong, and those who are there to compensate for the lack of an childhood experience) feeling anxiety is normal. Aggravating it will result in incompetence because anxiety affects thinking, perception and learning.  Anxiety tends to produce confusion and perception distortions. Anxiety diminishes concentration; it reduces memory and alters the capacity to make associations. (Kaplan and Sadock.)

Adulthood does not imply an intellectual deterioration, only the psychic functions develop differently.  Superior functions of intelligence and affectivity translate into a spiritual progress, into wisdom and maturity.  And since dance is meant to be for the spirit, and since the spirit is superior to matter, isn’t this spiritual progress beneficial for learning ballet?  Isn’t ballet the classic example of the supremacy of the spirit over matter?



From a biological point of view, during a stress the hormones adrenaline and cortisone are released creating psychologically a desire to escape, confusion, disorientation, and distortion of reality.  Fatigue, tension, anxiety and irritability follow, and if the aggressive stimulus remains then come exhaustion and apathy or chronic stress. (Lavanchy).  It is obvious then that the adult requires a non-threatening environment to insure a proper and fulfilling learning experience. Besides, we all have fundamental need to be appreciated and loved (Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) which facilitate learning if they are positive.  Therefore the essential attitude of dance instructors is to respect and to value adult learners because this affects their self concept and self esteem.   (Self-concept is cognitive, these are beliefs and ideas about one self while self-esteem is affective, it is how one values oneself).

The educator’s role is to help acquire abilities, is to divide the material in manageable parts, is to present that material within a relatively short period of time, is to give a periodic reinforcement, is to involve the adult students and allow them to learn the material in a relatively short time without having to discover it for themselves under pressure.  The educator must help them learn to become professional, must coordinate, support, and encourage.  At this point it is most crucial to emphasize that dance educators can not be motivators if they are in a toxic institutional environment, if their own social role is not valued, if they are not well paid, and if they are not in the best of health or if they are themselves stressed.

We cannot assume that there is homogeneity among the adults in a ballet class, and we must not forget that what the student learns, is not necessarily that which the educator wants to teach, but a reconstruction or interpretation that each of them gives to the information given.  If educators do not use the best teaching strategy having the adult learner in mind but instead they use a teaching strategy that accommodates them, depending on their own learning style, we can’t possible expect any substantial learning. The case of the professional dancers who become dance educators deserves our consideration here.  For them the task is even harder because their experience as young learners did not exemplify andragogyconcepts that facilitate adult learning, so these concepts are entirely new to them.

Adults in a ballet class share a common destiny, they have objectives and goals, standards of conduct and conditions, and have roles, like the role of leader.  Yet we need to clarify the concept of leadership. Long ago we used to think that a leader had to be a person with special characteristics that make them stand out, but today we know that any member of a group can become leader.  Leaders are those who help the group achieve their goals, those who influence the level of motivation and capacity of the group, and it needs to be said that these leaders not always have to be the dance educators.

Adult learning is an encounter of adults.  Those who teach learn, and those who learn can also teach.

(Closely based on the text of Consuelo Undurraga Infante.  ¿Cómo aprenden los adultos?  Santiago, University of Chile Editions, 2004.)

Raja Yoga: Path for Spiritual Progress

Published 2016/08/22

A vast majority of people still associate yoga with a mere physical discipline that promotes rapid weight loss, pushes flexibility beyond its limits, and includes some sort of meditation. Perhaps the more informed public with a deeper understanding is aware of the spiritual transformation that results from disciplined yoga practice and may even know of the rather long list of possible yoga types available to assist them in their path of spiritual transformation. (See previous posting for a comprehensive list.)

What remains elusive to the public, however, is the means by which we can still the mind, quiet it, and domesticate it, so to speak, in order to provide a virgin soil on which the spirit can grow. For the mind has metamorphosed into a wild beast as a result of the stressful existence in sensory centered cultures that invite materialism and excess as means to accomplish happiness. Mind Cultivation, then, the taming of the mind, stands as the foundation for all ulterior spiritual growth to take place. Think of it as the tilling of the land before planting the seeds and the maintenance of the soil and crop before the harvest. Regaining our spirituality (for we were born with it but lost track of it along the way) is undeniable a Herculean task, but only in the measure we make it our mission in life will we accomplish it, and with it a new level of consciousness that will arm us with the right powers to unveil unfounded myths, depose false leaders, and rid us from the burden of corrupt politicians. As C.W. Leadbeater states in Man Visible and Invisible, The political mission of our century has becomes our spiritual mission now.

Raja Yoga, also known as Mind Yoga, Royal Yoga or the Eight-fold Path Yoga, uses Mind Cultivation (Quieting and Taming of Mind) as foundation on which the eight limbs of spiritual transformation are erected, much like a skyscraper is constructed on an unshakable foundation.  These eight limbs are: 1.Yama (Self Restraint or abstensions from untruth, stealing, greed,) 2. Niyama (Commitment to purity,contentment, austerity,) 3. Asanas (Physical Poses or postures) 4. Pranayama (Control of vital energy through Breathing,) 5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses,) 6. Dharana (Mind Concentration,) 7. Dhyana (Meditation,) and 8. Samadhi (Enlightenment or Union with the Divine.)

YOGA:  Mind Cultivation

Published 2016/09/04

In What is Karma? Traleg Kiabgon defines Mind Cultivation as the means to strive to be calm and observant to minimize the impetus of our unthinking behavior.  The first approach to mental cultivation, he explains, is the pacification of unbridled thinking, which will reduce negative habits, ‘unthinkingness,’ and distractions.

To pacify unbridled thinking and disengage the mind from its usual thought patterns, use the following Root Chakra Chart.  First, inform yourself on the Muladhara Charka, its functions and issues resulting from the poor functioning of this energy center.  If any of those functions or issues rings a bell, choose this chakra as the object of your meditation.  Meditating on the Muladhara chakra benefits all of us, as we are social beings seeking harmony in relationships, and we invariably derive stress from conflicts with relatives, friends, coleages, sometimes even with whole communities.

Before beginning your meditation find a quiet place where you can enjoy solitude.  Choose a time of day or night when you will not be disturbed.  Prepare the space: adjust light, temperature, music, burn incense if you wish.  Assume Sabasana position on a bed, mat, or blanket, close your eyes and breathe normally.

To conduct the meditation focus the mind on the symbolic image associated with it.  Close your eyes and fix that image in your mind.  Let go of all distracting thoughts that may interfere with your concentration on that mental image.  If the mental image vanishes, maintain the focus on the color associated with that chakra.  You may add the mental sound associated with it to maintain your focus.  Do not invite nor dwell on personal issues related to the first chakra.  Doing so would defeat the purpose of the meditation which aims at bringing deliverance from the burden of such thoughts.

In conducting this or similar meditations involving the other six chakras (check future postings) you will be exploring other types of yoga, explained in a previous posting.  Focus on the Chakra Symbol: Yantra Yoga.  Focus on the Chakra Name:  Mantra Yoga.  Focus on the Syllable Sound by repetition:  Yapa Yoga.  Exploring various types of yoga will bring you closer to an understanding of the immense scope of this spiritual discipline, which will contribute to the cultivation of your mind and to the ultimate transformation yoga brings forth:  A superior human being.

Types of Yoga

Published 2016/08/22

Anusara Yoga: Based on universal principles of alignment that open the body in a safer and graceful flowing way.
Ashtanga Yoga: Synchronization of breath with a progressive Asanas producing intense internal heat for purifyication and detoxification purposes, resulting in improved circulation, a stronger body, and a calm mind.
Bhakti Yoga: Ascetic devotion through worshiping images, scripture studies, ecstatic singing, focus on Vishnu, rendering services and servitude, paying homage, cultivating friendship, and surrendering to self.
Bikram Yoga: A hot yoga class based on a set series of 26 postures, including two pranayama exercises.
Hatha Yoga: Withdrawal of senses from external objects. It includes asanas, pranayama, meditation, purification, and mudras.
Iengar Yoga: Distinguished by the use of props (blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs, and bolsters) in order to reach the best possible alignment, allowing the bodies to open up.
Integral Yoga: Commiting to a change in life or existence not for one’s sake but for the earth consciousness.
Jivamukti Yoga: Vinyasa style yoga practice centered on a scripture theme.  It includes chanting and music in addition to vigorous asana practice and pranayama.
Jnana Yoga: Distinction between body & soul, self and the supreme, real and unreal, dispassion, detachment, indifference to pleasure and pain.
Karma Yoga: Develops character and union through action.
Kayakalpa Yoga: Postpones the aging process.
Kriya Yoga: Purification of physical self and mind through Pranayama, directing energy up and down the spine.
Kundalini Yoga: Expansion of sensory awareness. Uphold values, speak truth, compassion, servitude.

Mantra Yoga: Repetition of words that create transformation through their vibration, not their content.
Mudra Yoga: Hand gestures used for numerous purposes, including self healing, protection, and spiritual advancement.
Nada Yoga: Vibration. OM. “Sound energy in motion is the building block of the cosmos.”
Power Yoga: A fitness-based approach to yoga with vinyasa components (Flow and holding of asanas.)  Often equated with ¨Gym Yoga.¨
Yantra Yoga: Balancing the mind and focusing on spiritual concepts via the observation of symbols or geometric figures.
Yapa Yoga: Mantra repetition via speech, whispering, humming, mental repetition, and writing, awakening Kundalini and stimulating charkas.
Yoga Nidra: Yoga of Sleep. Sabasana.

Theater: On The Artist’s Role

Published 2016/08/08

Excerpt from “Reports of my Death,” which unlike Mark Twain’s, have not been greatly exaggerated.

(Lights come up in the midst of an interview with the press. ANNIE is in the light. The voices of the reporters come from the back of the audience in the dark.)


Ms. Moreale. Is it true you are writing a new play about your experience with the CIA?


I am just wooing the material.


Will you tell the true story, or will you bend it a little?


If the writer is an artist, he can’t be a liar.


Would you say you’re writing Reports of my Death because you’re upset with the CIA?


A play is nothing if it isn’t somebody on fire. And I am a woman on fire, a woman against a fear of art and ideas in a country where the free exchange of ideas should be encouraged, not hidden in secret files kept by a paranoid immigration service.


Ms. Moreale. Wouldn’t it be easier if artists would stay out of politics? Their fate would be less problematic.


Artists are provocative by nature. They can’t help it, and so their fate is often unenviable. Artists, in unveiling the corruption of our leaders contribute to an evolution from what I call the aesthetics of terror to the aesthetics of hope. 


Ms. Morealle, you live a very eccentric life. Would you say that your experience with the CIA contributed somewhat to your eccentricity?


Talent goes with eccentricity. And as they  say, every genius grew up bitter and misunderstood. For me, the smell of carnage and gunpowder is still in the air. I have gunpowder under my skin, you may say. And yes! I owe that to the CIA.


Aren’t you afraid to expose your personal life publicly like that?


Writing is a personal business, but there is a dignity about revealing yourself. The author of a play is also a character; he’s almost the hero.


And after all is said and done, then what? Why even bother?


Because a culture is as great as its dreams, and its dreams are created by artists. Assuming that if artists are allowed to do their job. Which they not always are. They are silenced more often than you want to believe, right here, under your own nose. 


Why did you choose to live in the United States.


Because I thought that only where there is liberty art can succeed. But I was wrong. About the liberty, I mean.


Aren’t you afraid of the obstacles you will encounter along the way?


When a woman has something to say and passion enough to say it, the obstacles are far from insurmountable. I’ll make it all come back from the echoes of the past. You shall see! The sun will rise at midnight.

(Copyright 2000)

Dancers and ESP

Published 2016/07/21

Quantum Leap in the Performing Arts

Extremely gifted people, dancers among them, are developing the psychic gift of telepathy as part of this evolutionary process so many of us refer to as our spiritual revolution.  In The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, Dean I. Radin writes that artistically gifted people might have an edge on apparently anomalous cognition with unusual access to unconscious imagery, remote viewing capabilities, and telepathy, the ability to exchange information between minds without the use of ordinary senses.

Most artists who have developed these new abilities, may be unaware of where they come from, of their powers, of ways to handle them, and even more importantly they may be unaware that they are transferring their own creative ideas to others, unconsciously.  Just like a painter can communicate telepathically a landscape design, or a designer a new fashion trend, so the dancer/choreographer, in seeing an internal mental image of a movement may be allowing that image to be seen by others who are “tuned into” his or her telepathic wave.  Choreographic and production concepts can also be taken, in their raw state before their creators ever have a chance to develop them.

The repercussions of such evolutionary step can however be devastating, particularly for artists who are “on the rise” or who are ‘in the zone” or in “flow,” to use Radin’s terminology, as they often become the target of unscrupulous minds.  Just like a predator thief stocks a wealthy banker, assaults him and in matter of minutes gone are wallet and credit cards, so psychic pirates stock a brilliant mind for whom the stars have aligned themselves in the sky and in matter of seconds gone are brilliant ideas, ground breaking concepts and an artist has become victimized.

The ramifications of ownership are compelling.  Whose work is it? The artist who conceived the idea or the producer who put it on stage first? Is the artist who conceived the idea still free to produce it after the idea has been pirated and used?  Before we could speak freely about psychic powers, Carl Jung said ideas were stored in the collective unconscious accessible to everybody.  Today we may claim that an idea could have been channeled simultaneously into more than one mind, but if none of the above applies, and people are actually utilizing their psychic abilities for piracy, then we are in the realm of theft of intellectual property, or in this case, artistic property.

This telepathic power development calls for an even further evolutionary step, that of just learning to give our ideas: at best willingly and unconditionally.  However, in the absence of such “willingness to give,” submitting to give unwillingly, reluctantly, grudgingly may be just what we need to go through to bring us closer to our spiritual goal, which I see as “becoming the best expression of a human being that we can possible be.”

The sad or happy truth, whichever way we choose to look at it, is that there is no apparent way out of this predicament for the artist.  To continue to stew in that lawsuit culture that clinches to ideas of “property ownership” founded on greed but which only ended up tearing people down, is no alternative at all.  Nevertheless, while the way to proceed may be just to give, the need still exist to raise consciousness among the “takers” to develop a set of morals concomitant with the needs and rights of the “givers” in this epoch of spiritual transformation.

I saw a T-shirt caption that read: LIVE, LOVE and RUN.

I would revise it thus:  LIVE, LOVE and GIVE!