May 21, 2012

“So You Think You Can Dance at an Outdoor Music Festival?” ~ Cassandra Smith


This week, Saturday Night Live took on dancing at music festivals.

In the sketch, Mick Jagger impersonated Steven Tyler as one of the celebrity judges. Jewel and Carlos Santana (played by Abby Eliot and Fred Armisen) joined Tyler commenting on three festivalgoers vying for the title of Best Dancer at an Outdoor Music Festival. The three contestants danced to The Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band and Phish’s “Sample in a Jar.” (The video is not online currently due to copyright reasons, but a poor version of the sketch can be found here.)

Jeet Kei Leung’s TED Talk called “Transformational Festivals,” explains dancing ecstatically with one another till dawn is a symbolic recreation of ancient ceremonial rites and returns a sense of mythos that is missing in mainstream culture.

I think Leung is probably right. Because if he is, what I do with my summers sounds a lot more profound. But if you’ve been to one of these festivals, you know it often ends up looking more like this:


So, dancing like an idiot obviously goes on at festivals, especially if drugs and alcohol get involved. But I think when there is a little bit less mushrooms and a little bit more awareness, dancing at a festival can be a an intense and epic experience.

Shiva Rea, “yogini firekeeper, sacred activist, global adventurer and leading innovator in the evolution of prana flow yoga,” agrees. She thinks and teaches that dance as ritual can connect us with the inner nature of Shakti.

Rea gave a TED Talk about dance at last year’s Burning Man, called “Tending the Sacred Fire”:

So, this year when you’re festival hopping, dance however you want. If people point and laugh, just tell them, “I’m finding my inner Goddess, eff off.”


Cassandra Smith is an editorial intern at elephant journal.  She is a fifth generation Colorado native who believes dance has the potential to liberate human consciousness from its cultural prison.  Cassandra formerly trained at Boston Ballet and is currently a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism, sociology and philosophy. Read her blog at cassandralanesmith.com.

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