We approach Khaita Joyful Dances in order to deepen a theme that is common to cultures and traditions: dance as a form of therapy, giving a sense of well-being, and dance as meditation or prayer. Two currents: one scientific and medicinal which sees movement or dance as an unconventional approach to the well-being and care of the person, the other spiritual and refers to profound teachings.
Khaita is a Tibetan word which means “Harmony in Space”. “Kha” meaning space or sky, “ta” meaning harmony or melody.
The Khaita Dances arose from the teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, one of the leading contemporary representatives of Tibetan culture and teacher of the Dzogchen tradition. The choreography comes from songs that, as Chögyal Namkhai Norbu points out: “(…) … these songs are really communicating something. This is very important. They do not come down to the streets to demonstrate, but they sing a melody. People also like to sing: they listen, they sing, they reflect a bit, and gradually they get an education. It is very powerful!” (Page 15, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, ‘Message from Tibet through songs and dances’, Shang Shung Publications, 2017).
The dances are adapted or choreographed by the dancers according to the teacher’s instructions and the movements and the mudras take on multiple meanings. On the one hand these dances give support to a culture with precious spiritual teachings, singing with its multiple functions, the meaning of words, and then we add the gestures or mudras to the dance.
Through these dances we support a profound cultural and spiritual heritage, but in addition, singing with its multiple functions and awareness of the gestures in the dances bring us to a relaxed presence. Dance is a universal patrimony, and this type of dance with its steps, gestures, and musical style “creates a feeling of relaxation in the participant who is willing to let go, “, as Adriana Dal Borgo, perhaps the best and more experienced presenter of Khaita Dances in the Western world, points out.
The dancer “should not follow the mind” or try to understand the steps and gestures in a rational way, but enter into the experience. Repeating steps and gestures, as with many practices of the Eastern tradition, allows the student to learn from the experience itself and make his or her steps, gestures and dances become his or her own.
For the Western mind this is initially very complex. Westerners want to understand, observe, and learn. But those who approach this type of dance in this way are bound to fail in their intent and get bored. Being able to “not be conditioned by the mind” allows the participant to enter into the more meditative dimension of these choreographies, and manage to live the experience more enjoyably, because he or she is present in what they are doing: dancing. The dance then takes on its value as being meditative, therapeutic, and giving a sense of well-being. One can then deepen the experience by understanding the meaning of the dance and the words and studying the steps.
Since 2011 about 180 dances have been choreographed. In 2011 and 2016, the Khaita Joyful Dances received recognition from the international CID/UNESCO organization.
The Dzogchen Community Cultural Association is a non-profit association that brings together people interested in following and applying the teachings of Prof. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and is a place where people who travel the same path to knowledge can share and exchange experiences. The Association has a center called Merigar in Tuscany and many affiliates in Italy and around the world.
Khaita Joyful Dances at ‘Lo Spazio’
Article by Elena Fossati and Adriana Dal Borgo