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Ms Laura Shannon / Dancing for hope in a time of war (2003)



Dancing for hope in a time of war (2003)



I wrote the following in Spring 2003 after a request from Frances Rose from Brazil. It has appeared in Brazilian and Californian circle dance newsletters and been circulated on the web.

Dear dancing friends,

As you know, I have spent my professional life studying traditional dances as deeply as I can, enjoying their connection to the rhythms of daily life. In my own daily life at the moment, I feel sharply aware of the terrible things going on in today's world, and sometimes burdened by the pain of this awareness. I often find myself struggling to find the strength to take a positive and public stand for peace, justice, tolerance and human rights, in the face of the forces which would stifle this voice. What helps me now is dancing, of course, and also knowing that the Armenian, Rom and Balkan societies, who have given us their dances, have survived many periods of extreme crisis and upheaval in their long history. The dances of these peoples can remind us of key skills which enable us to bond together and remember what is important during difficult times.

Faced with the complex challenges of life today, we need to renew our contact with the healthy optimism of this ancient knowledge more than ever before. Nothing helps me more, when I am feeling anxious or despondent about the political and ecological situation. We receive a great gift from other cultures who have given us their dances, and the gratitude and respect which we affirm in our connection to them is an important affirmation that we are all one in the human family.

As a citizen of the United States, I am sad and angry that it is my government who is, unfortunately, perpetrating many of the horrors that threaten the safety and sanctity of our human family; nevertheless, I am very grateful to the diverse peoples of my home country for having given me a rich tapestry of cultural diversity to grow up in. This has taught me the beauty of opening our hearts to the many colours, perspectives and teachings freely offered by the many people of the world.

When I dance, I feel connected with the earth and all those who live on the earth; with the sky and all those who live beneath the sky. This simple act of dancing in the footsteps of our ancestors in the human family confirms my faith that the positive forces of life, of love, of celebration and friendhip and forgiveness, are flourishing everywhere on planet Earth. Like the simple dance which survives and repeats itself in hundreds of circles in hundreds of places over hundreds of years, this life force will never be destroyed.

Much love,




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