Our Fundamental Elements
Movement. Connection. Health. Motivation. Inspiration. Expression. Contentment. Ask almost any average person what they could use more of to counterbalance their busy lives, and you are likely to get a response that includes many of these basic constituents.
Ani, an administrative assistant who lives in Seminole, Florida, set a New Year’s resolution as follows: “I sit all day long, and work mainly alone. I long to move more and to connect with other people.” Raj, an in-demand heart surgeon in Tampa, states that he’s lost his inner fire: “I do my job well and I do it constantly. I know it’s important and for many years it gave me a great sense of purpose, but I’ve lost my motivation, which was the thing that inspired me to be a healer in the first place.” Indeed, movement, connection, and the inspiration to motivate our purpose are integral to our health and well-being, but our society tends to emphasize overwork and stubborn independence over ease of spirit and connection with others. Over time, that fire that once made us so excited to learn, to connect, to build our lives and have meaningful careers tends to die down.
If we listen closely, however, we can still hear the rhythm of our original self, the one who is reminding us that we are still meant to default to happiness. How? It’s that very yearning, expressed by Ani and Raj and--can you hear it?--you and me. That very sense that something is missing, and that call to move and connect and be inspired, are simply a collective invitation to return to our basic elements.
Movement, flow, and expression represent the Water element. Connection and contentment are Earth; inspiration and motivation are Air. Fire, the final basic element of our existence, is the purveyor of our ultimate authentic state: Happiness. Fire symbolically burns what no longer serves us while simultaneously discovering that within each of us is endless fuel to keep us blazing brightly, Fire reminds us that we are radiant and alive.
In the United States, and perhaps in answer to our uniquely overworked and more isolated American lifestyle, aided by the accessibility through YouTube and other social medias, there has been an increase in fascination with many styles of cultural dance from around the world. From more traditional Middle Eastern belly dance, the interest has expanded to other dance forms from Africa, France, India, Spain, and Central Asia, and plays with a variety of props from scarves and veils, swords, skirts, shawls, and Wings of Isis, among others.
Hip Expressions Dance Studio in St. Petersburg, Florida has added an exciting elemental prop that has its origins in Polynesian dance along with other traditions: Fire. The dazzling combination of poi balls, fire fans with culturally inspired dance and music creates a compelling presentation that Johanna Zenobia, director of Hip Expressions, and Karen Sun Ray, Show Director, call “Tribal Burn.” – It started as a way to integrate the new evolution of dance and creativity by adding blazing implements to fuel the dancer's creativity. It also serves to remind us of our basic elements, and to bring us home to our native ground of being. For both dancer and audience members alike, an immersive dance and fire experience can be a powerful conduit of self realization.
According to Johanna Zenobia, director of Hip Expressions, "What is incredibly amazing is that fire dance has now been embraced by dancers all over the world, fusing modern technology to create fantastic fire dancing props that were not traditionally available. This means fire dance is both the evolution of dance into a world of complete creative license - at at the same time, a return to the very ancient, primal source of life: Fire."
On April 1, 2023, Hip Expressions will be presenting their Tribal Burn event, which has been an annual tradition for almost two decades and is now offered twice per year. This year’s spring theme is “April Fool’s Masquerade” and will be a true representation of the possibilities and creativity of dance fusion. There will also be a pre-show featuring a traditional Ukrainian bandura musician that is not to be missed! For several years now, they’ve chosen Sacred Lands as the venue; this choice is meaningful in that Sacred Lands is a not-for-profit Tocobogan mound preservation site and cultural awareness and education preserve in the middle of urban Pinellas County: a place for all of us to come home to our essential nature. The event can also be experienced virtually. In addition to a portion of the ticket sales to benefit Sacred Lands, 10% of profits will go to Danube International, a local 501c3 that supports local Ukrainian war refugees in the Tampa Bay area.
More info and tickets can be found here: hip-expressions.com/showsevents
Tap into your elements and get fired up to dance!
Fire Dancing: A Look At The History & Different Types (windstarcruises.com)
Tribal and American tribal style invented by Carolena Nericcio. (worldbellydance.com)