Guest Blog: Dance Chief and Firekeeper Ferris Donoso tell us about her love for the Long Dance.
The first year I danced the Long Dance I had no idea what I was doing. I made a banner according to the directions, the explanations of the dance might as well have been in Navajo, we “danced” in mud so deep it took our boots off, if something happened to me I didn’t feel it, and I worried the whole thing I was doing “it” wrong. And I loved it and couldn’t wait to do it the next year.
So I have danced the Long Dance five times – six if you count the year I did it by myself in my yard in the tail end of a hurricane (Ask me about it—it was particularly hilarious). And last year when I couldn’t even get a solo dance together, I made a banner. In fact, I am still working on it.
I still love the Long Dance. You, of course, will have or may already have your own exclusive and unique experience of the Long Dance and what it is about. But for any of you who have not dance it falls to us who are inviting you to attempt to describe it.
For me, a lot of the Long Dance is about the Mystery and how I relate to it. The first mystery is why is it the called “the Long Dance”. It is the shortest of Grandfather Joseph’s dances. And what we do does not fit any definition of “dance” that I am familiar with. This is just the first unanswerable question.
All the questions and judgments of my life come up for me in the context of the dance. “What on earth am I doing here? Am I doing “it” right? Everyone else’s banner is better than mine. I’m not getting a vision, should I be getting a vision? Am I missing something? Does this drum make me look fat? And what the hell AM I doing here anyway? Why doesn’t someone just tell me and put me out of my misery?”
And so it goes. There are, of course, no answers.
If I am lucky, though, I get flashes of insight here and there, I get to have a good laugh at myself, and the absurdity of it all, and if I am very lucky, I get moments of dancing without answers, dancing without knowing, dancing simply because I said I would, dancing because I want to, dancing without reasons, dancing even when it doesn’t look or feel like I am dancing, dancing because I AM dancing, and so it the whole of creation. So, if I am lucky, I get to dance with the big Mystery and stop asking questions.
And all of this happens in the dark. After a few years my watchword became “It’s amazing what you can learn stumbling around in the dark.”
So the dance becomes a metaphor for my life—I get to see how I cope, how I make myself miserable, how foolish I look and how none of that needs to stop me from dancing.
And don’t let me get started on the banner! The banner usually extends the dance and its learning for me well into the year that follows.
All of this I get from the dance. But I always hope that I am, in some way, giving when I dance.
The nighttime, especially in the darkening time of the year, has always been seen as a time when the realities can mingle. The Long Dance is an opportunity to honor and celebrate the Beings, Healers, and Teachers of the “other” worlds. As I see it, with the dance we can affirm and strengthen our connection with them. We offer ourselves as bridges to bring their presence into our lives and give them access to our reality. Think of it as team building. The Beings who dance together, serve Spirit together.
This is the Long Dance. I would be honored to share this amazing dance with you and find out what your dance is like. --Ferris Donoso, Long Dance Chief
To learn more about the Long Dance and register to participate, click here.