Culture and Khaita Dances

Before the Diplomas for the newly qualified Khaita experts were presented at Dzamling Gar on March 31, 2016, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and Prof. Alkis Raftis, president of the International Dance Council, talked about the importance of the Khaita dances.

Presenter: We are very pleased to welcome Prof. Alkis Raftis here to participate with us in this very special event. Prof. Raftis is the president of the International Dance Council, a non-governmental organization founded in 1973 and based in the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris. The International Dance Council is an official partner of UNESCO and brings together the most important international, national, and local dance organizations as well as individual dancers.

Prof. Namkhai Norbu first met Prof. Raftis in Moscow in 2011 at the Dzogchen Forum organized by Yeshi Silvano Namkhai and soon after a collaboration began with the entry of the Vajra Dance into the Global Dance Directory of the International Dance Council.

Recently Khaita Joyful Dances have also been included in this directory.

It is our great pleasure to present our Vajra Dance instructors and Khaita qualified experts who will be receiving certificates from the International Dance Council.

Thank you so much for being with us on this special occasion.

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu: I am very happy to be here at this meeting of international Khaita Dance. I consider this to be a very important event and for that reason I am very happy that we have the president of the CID, Prof. Alkis Raftis here. Their recognition of what we are doing is very important and many people do not know about it. This is a more worldly situation.

We also have here Master Denys of the Shangpa tradition who is very important in that field of knowledge.

In general when we say ‘dance’, it is part of art. In art we have the arts of body, speech and mind, not considering that only painting is art. Dance is very important at the international level so for that reason we are supporting it.

Another reason that we are supporting it is that we are using Tibetan songs and dances. Why are we using them? Not because I am originally Tibetan. Many people think that. But this is not the principle. The principle is the situation of Tibet today. Tibet is a country that has been isolated for centuries and centuries. But isolated also with their culture and knowledge which have been authentically maintained for centuries and centuries.

Today, for example, when we speak about the spiritual path, like the teaching of the Buddhist tradition, sutra and tantra, this teaching has spread everywhere. However, in the real sense its original source is the collection of the 108 volumes of the Kangyur and its commentary etc. translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan in ancient times. We still have all of this [teaching] alive, not only in books but also the knowledge of it, the transmission, everything. We have more than 200 volumes of the Tengyur. This exists nowhere in this world, only in Tibet, and it is in the Tibetan language.

Today there is the danger of losing Tibetan language. Tibet is part of China and the official language is Chinese. And even though people study and learn Tibetan language, it is of no use for ordinary people, and in that way in one or two generations we can lose the language. So it is also very important that we support this culture, keeping it alive so that it does not disappear. For this reason we work with what we call Khaita: singing, dancing, and enjoying.

But this is not only for supporting Tibetans, it is also for supporting our own citizens. Today people are very agitated. If we dance and sing we feel more joyful and we can also relax. This is a kind of particular practice for all citizens in general and is very useful.

For that reason this authority is present here today. Thank you very much for being here. I am very happy that they are collaborating with us, it is very important. For that reason this meeting is very important and I feel very happy to be here with all of you. Also our representatives of the Dzogchen Community at the international level are present.

Now we will present the 60 dancers who qualified. They trained for many days. This is something concrete. Not only are they dancing, but they are qualified and they can teach.

Everybody welcome and thank you for being present.

*Prof.Raftis

Prof. Raftis: Dear Friends, dear professor, thank you for inviting me here. I’m glad to be with you. It’s my first time in the Canaries. I’m particularly happy to greet the first qualified teachers of your dances. But of course every time I give certification to teachers I’m happy, but today I’m more than happy because the dances you are doing have something special. You might think that Alkis Raftis goes to every country and says the same things to everyone, but you see I really mean it.

These dances have something more than the other dances. First of all they fully embody the ideas of UNESCO and the United Nations. They bring together people from dozens of nationalities and these people not only dance together, but they live together, they know each other and they go to their communities around the world and promote peace and understanding through dance.

As you know UNESCO gives priority to countries that are small and poor. Spain and Russia and the other countries you are coming from are not small or poor, but you promote the ideas of UNESCO because you consider yourselves part of a wider community, not only of your country, but citizens of the world. This world in the present situation in which we have so many problems with terrorism, with lack of respect for human rights, with illiteracy, with discrimination, with the economic crisis and so many other ills, it is important to get away from all of this and present an answer to it. You are an answer to that. So this is one very important reason why what you are doing as dance is special. This I say as president of the official organization for dance in the world.

But there is a second reason which is more personal to me and more to my heart. And it does not have to do with UNESCO or CID. It is dear to my heart because the dances you do are not only practice but also theory. If you go out and go to any dance school – it could be ballet or tango or salsa or hip-hop or belly dance or anything you want – you would be doing practice in that school. But your dances are linked to a theory. Professor Norbu just said it: this is part of a wider culture. You don’t do the dances only for fun. Of course, the dances are fun, they are so many things, but you are doing dances as part of a culture, and your dances are inseparable from that culture. These dances are not only like any other dance. They are more than that, because they are part of culture and part of history. As a person, as a dance historian, and as a cultural manager, I present my deep respect for what you are doing. Thank you.

See the Khaita Diploma Ceremony on Youtube