Astrology, Esoteric Arts and Dance - what's the linking factor?


Metaphysical relationships between music, elements, shape and colour

I was always fascinated with the fusion of shape, colour and sound. As a child, I grew up in a noisy, musical home with musicians practicing rhythms, playing melodies and "jamming" for hours on end. I tinkered with the piano, but my favourite thing to do was to draw, so was usually scribbling with music playing in the background. I guess that drawing pictures and shapes to the sound of live music in the background - the sounds of guitars, drums and piano - has influenced how I now feel and understand shape. Shape, music and colour to me, were part of a conglomerate language; they crossed and fused in ways that felt naturally connected, but no-one could explain.

At uni I began with the best intentions to become an architect, until I discovered bellydancing. This expressive 'in-your-body' art made architecture seem so dry, I left technical drawing and instead majored in painting and art history - both which resonated with the organic quality of dance. But I later realised that the essence of architecture was in fact the same as all the other arts. They ALL required an understanding of pattern and underlying order. The Confuscianists say "Music is the Architecture of Space". I believe that dance is the embodiment of music, the physical use of space created by rhythm and sound. Shape and colour too, resonate with structural, rhythmic, melodic and emotive principles in dance.

After living in Singapore for several years, where the awareness of the "chi" life force, body meridiens and elements of Budhism, Hinduism, Taoism are part of every day life, these ancient systems too, have shaped my experience of dance and movement. Religious and spiritual practices - almost all of which involve patterns within dance, prayer or movement in a spiritual sense - demonstrate attunement of the spiritual self with the physical self. As a systematic means to make sense of the natural order of the world, why wouldn't the ancient esoteric sciences become a creative base for the expressive arts?

Rhythm is mathematical, steps follow fractal patterns

1+2+3+4 +
1+2+3+4 +
1+2+3+4 + 1+2+3+4

Bellydancing has a logical side
- it follows the percussionist's rhythms and tempo. Usually steps are in even groups of four with the change on the 'four', ready to step or begin a new move on the 'one'. Arms and feet co-ordinate, hips and ribs isolate and muscle groups are focused on to create certain moves - shimmies, sharp accents or curvy taqsim. In the drum solo, the fancy hip-articulations follow the drum, and it is predicatable that most sets will be played four times, and on the last rep there will be a noticeable embellishment that says "change"! This is the analytical part - you need to be able to count with your body!
Geometry - both spacial, as the floor plan or within the body - is then created through numerical pattern. The main polygons - the square, circle (quartered or divided into eighths) and triangle are the core shapes in which we can move the body either on the spot or through space. Listen to the rhythm, the patterns, because the cues are in the rhythm arrangement. Rhythm rules the feet and lower body.

Tuning into the emotions of melody

The emotive side of bellydancing is spurred by the melodies
, instruments and range of keys played in compositions. Musical keys create vivid feelings - that's why music moves us emotionally. The lively Nubian dance, similar to spicy Latin Merenge or Afro-Brazillian dance is based around "joyful" harmonics played in the A, C and G note range - the "happy notes". Opposite in feel are the haunting, melancholic D minor and A minor based melodies - the soulful mawaal within Egyptian classics, quarter tone Turkish balads or traditional Celtic tunes. These "moody" notes" produce a deep, emotional quality. The art of tuning in - surrendering - to the music is to let the body sense what the music is saying and tap into the emotions and movements activated by the music. The way the musician has created and played the music gives a clue to the way the body responds, naturally. Dance to the flutes the gentle way the flautist plays, tremble with the qanoon in the same way it is strummed with fervour, accent your hips to the tabla when it is struck with sudden sharpness.
The chakras are all located in the body as energy centres or "wheels of light" and are each linked to a colour, an expression and possess a fundamental quality in the positive and negative. What I have looked at is how music becomes a part of this energetic, vibrational order.

What do ancient systems have to do with bellydancing?

Ancient systems of understanding the human body, rhythms, seasons and emotions
synergise various elements that directly correspond with body, mind and spirit. Naturally occuring numerical systems, colour spectrum gradation, the connection between the heavenly and physical bodies, geometry and other related principles serve as both catalysts and parasympathetic forces for human expression - physically, spiritually or emotionally. Essentially these systems - either esoteric, philosophical or part of religious belief, promote awareness and deeper understanding of one's self (and others) through parallel relationships between self and universial or elemental energies. Greek philosophers Pythagorus and Socrates spent their lives exploring the underlying order of the universe, numerical pattern and the sphere of arts in the divine realm. Chinese Confucianists believed, unlike many other religions, that the real and the ideal were one in the same - that form WAS the embodiment of the Creator, and hence promoted the arts as necessary to the highest order of human advancement.

The moves and postures of bellydancing suggest it was danced as a sacred feminine artform for thousands of years. The fertility principle and ritual stylisation of this dance for celebration and worship became synonymous with the ancient temples of Artemis, Aphrodisias, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Isis and even Hindu Temples. The art of bellydancing allows emotional expression, physically activates core energetic meridiens and re-balances the body. It improves confidence it takes the focus off the busy outer world and into the inner workings of the self. When the dance is experienced and deeply felt - in terms of rhythm, melody and emotion - it opens the senses to the powerful connection between art and the universial creative principle.

Masculine and Feminine Principles

Integrating the body's masculine principles through structure, logic, counting and analysis will strengthen the base of the dance. Ruled by the left-brain, counted rhythm, logical floorplans and outward linear moves will facilitate the balancing of the masculine. Over-analysis, or over-concentrating from the left brain will tend to make dancers rather rigid and mechanical, lead by the right side of the body. It is very common for dancers from western backgrounds to begin and perform most moves on the right side of the body. In the Middle East however, you will notice that the dancers are much stronger on the left side and often the entire dance move is lead by the left hip. The left side of the body, ruled by the creative right brain enjoys the feminine principles of intuition, inwardness and deep feeling. Surrender, creative expression and flow are feminine and can open these intuitive channels in both men and women - in fact, any style of dance with a balance of structure and feeling can balance the masculine/feminine energies.

Chakra "wheels of light" and musical response
This diagram shows the colours of the chakra system and the associated instruments, musical quality and elemental properties.

Dance, Music and the Chakras
- COLOUR, mood, music, expression

Yogic chakra systems
- meaning 'wheels of light' allude to the subtle energies that emanate from certain parts of the body and resonate with a particular colour. Bellydancers may like to tune their costumes into this ancient theory - wear what colour you might need to heal a certain aspect. If you are experiencing the negative traits associated with the chakra, wear the correct colours and re-attune yourself with those qualities. The dance of the seven veils is a mythological dance that comes from the story of the Babylonian deiety Ishtar's descent into the underworld or the "Welcome dance of Shalom", which later metamorphosed into the Biblical story of Salome. The seven veils are represented by seven chakras and colours.

Red - base chakra is about deepest security, instinct, sexuality, passion, earthiness
Orange - centre (belly chakra) is about creativity, manifestation, birthing and power
Yellow - solar plexus chakra is about confidence, ability to shine, courage, strength
Green - heart chakra deals with emotions, love, grief, pathway to opening the heart
Blue - throat chakra reflects clarity, communication and speaking universal truth
Indigo - third eye chakra represents intuition, inner knowing and deep compassion
Violet - crown chakra represents highest spiritual awareness and divine connection

Which moves and mucic match each chakra? Further reading:
Chakras and Dance >>

Chromatic colours of the

The Astrological wheel of 12 parts relates back to the chakra sytem of 7 parts.

However, the colour traditionally associated with each house begins at the head and finishes at the feet - opposite to the chakra system.

The elements though are grouped into trines or triangles of the same colour density and purity - the Fire elements are composed of the three PRIMARY colours, the Air elements are the SECONDARY colours and the Earth and Water elemental triangles, split by the Cancer-Capricorn axis and black/white polarity, are lightened or darkened to create TERTIARY colours (hues).

In these two diagrams yu will see the FIRE and AIR elemental triangular groups first for clarity.

Then the tertiary colors and lunar light/dark element in the EARTH and WATER elemental traiangles.

IMAGINE MIXING COLOURS ON A PALETTE from the basic red, yellow, blue, black and white paint.

Alignment with other Practices

There are many esoteric arts that compliment the world's most ancient dance art, bellydancing. Yoga is a perfect complimentary practice for its poses and isolations. The colourful chakra system correlates with emotion and vibrational energy - even the colours are worth exploring with costume and veils. Also fitting is the Kundalini rising - the union of masculine and feminine elements, similar in the male/female complimentary and opposite forces, the essence of Zen and Yin-Yang philosophy. Chi Qong with the Chi (life force) found in the centre of the body, below the navel resonates with the Japanese Hara point located in the same part of the body, known as the "centre of the universe". This centre point, linked to the orange 'creation-energy' chakra in yoga, has always been the core energetic base for bellydance.

Over thousands of years the movements of bellydancing have replicated and mimicked the movements of ancient fertility rites of passage - primal celebrations of sexuality, ecstacy, earthly connection to the land, seasons and of course, childbirth.

Colour and the Body

The astrological houses link well with elemental qualities and parts of the body - and the colours are reversed from the Chakra colour gradation, but as there are 12 to the chakra's 7 (also the exact number of primary and secondary pure chromachords), we find that the elements of dark and light along with tertiary colours represent the other five areas. Where as the base chakra is RED in yoga and body maps in traditional Chinese healing arts, in astrology RED represents Aries for the head. Violet at the other end of the spectrum - the crown chakra, represents the astrological house of Pisces for feet.

The chromatics of the Chakras and the Astrological Houses are reversed from head to toe (with the addition of the light/dark lunar aspect that creates the intermediary tertiary colours). However, as you will see, they link up with planetary energies and parasymathetic biological systems, often referred to in Chinese medicine. The wholistic view of dance marries with many streams of philosophy, body work and healing systems.


Further reading: "Power of Dance" Wellbeing Magazine 2007 .....How to Apply this concept in Dance: Keti's AstroBelly



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