“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” –Daniel Hillel
A five-by-seven greeting card in subtle tones with lovely script preserves these poetic words by Daniel Hillel for me. I happened on it one day while browsing in the bookstore of the all-women’s Franciscan college I attended more than thirty years ago as a dance therapy major. This simple and elegant reflection of only a dozen words captured for me both the essence of my personal journey, and also the spirit of healing evident in the principles of therapeutic somatic work as they were being presented to me at that time in my dance therapy studies. I’ve kept this little card as an important reminder over all these years with its current location being the very center of the inspirational bulletin board adjacent to my desk at home.
Hillel’s words speak to me not only of the inevitable ups and downs of life, but also a willingness of the inner spirit to persevere and to prevail. They create a gracious frame for experience that honors the beauty of whatever comes as an essential component of the greater forward creative motion of life. Among other inspirations, this Daniel Hillel quote encourages me to understand life as dance – as a flow of inspired relational movement. It reflects a rhythmic dynamic process of engagement with life. Each time I read it, I am encouraged to forgive myself, accept what is, and try again…all the while holding it all as a part of the “dance” of my life. As it poetically illustrates important essential truths for me of both my personal unfolding life experience and of the nature of inspired living, it also subtly encourages my awareness of the layered or dimensional nature of my being — body and soul, frail humanity and dancing spirit.
When dreams dance!™ – my personal contribution to the emerging field of co-creative dreamwork and subsequently co-creative living – organically arose as I reflected upon and applied my ever-unfolding understanding of life as a richly dimensional, creative and relational “dance.” A personal history blessed by significant inspired, non-ordinary experience coupled with both formal and informal study of the transpersonal underlies its development. With a dream life that has been vivid and often lucid since my childhood and having personally experienced the transformative and healing touch of divine agency in and through my life, often through dreams and working with them, I am inspired to make sense of and to make more broadly applicable the efficacy of intentionally engaging — of co-creatively “dancing” with — the Soul’s impulse toward wholeness through dreamwork and through co-creative living.
Just as the creative aliveness of my spirit (in communion with Spirit) has been evident since childhood in my sleeping state, these inner creative fires found concurrent expression in my waking life through dance and expressive arts. The frequent eruptions of spontaneous, joyous dancing with which I often filled my childhood home, and which consequently led to years of formal dance training, eventually converged with my study of contemplative traditions and transpersonal psychology resulting in the recognition of an intrinsic “dancing” nature underpinning all of life. I came to understand that the principles of embodied creativity which arose and expressed themselves spontaneously through my child self, and which I studied in depth in my undergraduate work as a dance/dance therapy major were, in fact, manifestations of the divinely sourced creative principles inherent in all of life. As this understanding simultaneously became more deeply rooted in my being and bloomed in my daily awareness, it quietly bore the sweet fruit of subtle healing and enduring hope as I often found myself “dancing” with Spirit in the midst of my very ordinary life.
This same hopeful spirit of creativity and dynamic responsiveness underpins the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis, developed by G. Scott Sparrow, Ed.D. Many years of working with and sharing dance/movement as a creative, somatic modality have imbued me with an embodied awareness attuned to recognize the essential elements of authentic creativity when it is present. I have recognized in the FiveStar Method™, which is based on the co-creative paradigm, a reliable conduit for connecting and working with the fundamental soul-level creativity that underpins the most essential impulses of human life both as encountered via dreams and in the correlated content of waking life. While incorporating a significant appreciation for the imagery presented in the dream, this approach to dreams builds on the hypothesis, first proposed by Ernest Rossi (Rossi, 1972), that dreams are created through the interactive relationship between the dreaming mind and the dream itself.
In five steps – best understood sequentially, yet adaptable and flexible in practice – the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis puts the global response set (including feelings, choices, actions, etc.) at the center of the dreamwork process. From this orientation, the dreamer is empowered to engage in a process of personal discovery and exploration with very hopeful implications for her development or healing as the patterns of dreamer responses revealed within her dreams give way to new, more adaptive responses in waking life.
Much like the Hillel quote, and beautifully reflecting the process of creative improvisational dance, when working with dreams through the co-creative paradigm via the FiveStar Method™, the individual finds herself in an engaged and progressive process in which whatever is encountered potentially contributes to the ongoing “dance” and to the life of the “dancer” or individual. In both, the FiveStar Method™ and creative improvisational dance, the creative agency of the individual in relation to the content presented them is the heartbeat of the flow of life – the dance – that subsequently emerges.
I am reminded of the common idiomatic expression, “It takes two to tango,” which sprang from the 1952 song by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and generally references when the interactions of persons or entities are inextricably paired with both parties sharing responsibility for the outcome. (Tréguer, Retrieved 2018) In dance, a tango is predicated on the paired creative engagement of both partners; without this dynamic pairing of partners, there simply is no tango, no manifestation of expressive creative life, if you will. So, too, the co-creative paradigm of dream work elucidates the underlying process from which dreams emerge, much like finding the hidden spring from which a bubbling brook is sourced. Awakening to and understanding the co-creative “tango” of dream life opens an individual to the hopeful potentiality of this inner creative “dance.”
But who or what are we “dancing” with through this approach to dreamwork? One might reasonably assume that a correlation exists between the dreaming ego and the waking ego of the individual, and this correlation is commonly assumed. But what of our “dance/tango” partner? And what are we to make of the dream imagery from this perspective? Without some degree of supportive study, referencing the content that is emerging to meet the dreaming ego simply as from the unconscious offers only minimal insight or helpfulness. Various theories and approaches to dream analysis offer an array of possibilities from which to understand the possible sources of consciousness expressing through the dream.
Based on the co-creative paradigm of dream analysis, particularly the work of G. Scott Sparrow, Ed.D., When dreams dance!™ is predicated on the understanding that dreams occur in service of the intrinsic human urge toward healing, wholeness, and integration, whether they are addressing needs of the body, emotional content or psycho-spiritual dynamics. It also rests on the belief that this imperative toward wholeness, as expressed through the rich and diverse terrain of dreams, is revelatory of the soulful, divinely sourced nature of being human. Recognizing a greater Source from which the dream’s core imperative toward wholeness arises, When dreams dance!™ explores the potential of engaging with and deepening one’s relationship with this greater Source, with the creative and integrative imperative of the Soul, through co-creative dreamwork (particularly the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis) and through soulful, embodied practices and applications.
It is my hope that When dreams dance!™ will make a helpful contribution to the creative flow of life – the “dance” – ever seeking soulful expression throughout your days and within your dreams.