MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West

Sacred Theatre & Dance


The Graces
Louis Janmot (1814-1892)

November 1998,
Author's Note:

When I was eight, I saw The Unfinished Dance with Margaret O'Brien and began taking ballet lessons.  I knew absolutely that my destiny was to be a classical ballet dancer.

I was wrong.  By the time I was sixteen, I knew that although I had endless patience with my mind, I had little for my body.  My memory held freeze-frames, not motion, which means I was very slow to pick up new choreography.  My mind, on the other hand, was lightning-fast --- so I left behind eight years of dance lessons as my priorities shifted from the physical to the realm of the imaginal.

Unexpectedly, the two realms began to converge more than three decades later in graduate school.  I wrote my Masters thesis on "Gods Who Dance."  Some years thereafter,  my 700 page doctoral dissertation had as a core element the origin myth of Hindu dance/drama, or Natya.

Paradoxically, I write about dance, but I rarely dance.  I sit for hours at my computer "webbing," but I rarely dance.  It is thus with a sense of gentle irony that I begin this page.......


THE JOY OF DANCE
Liturgical Dancer, Carla De Sola
(From The Spirit Moves,
published by The Liturgical Conference, 1977)
November 1998,
Author's Note, continuing.......
I was fortunate enough to have Carla among my friends on the Lower East Side of New York City during the 1960's and 1970's.  The first time I saw her,  she was dancing the "Magnificat" during a crowded Mass at St. Brigit's Church.  Tears ran down my face as I watched -- and I never again saw dance in the same way.  Carla, simply, opened the gates.  As a recent Catholic convert, she knew that reincarnation was considered heresy, yet she told me once that when she was dancing at a Eucharistic Conference in Philadelphia one year in the 1970's, she was swept into ecstasy and knew in every fiber of her being that she had been dancing like that for thousands of years.  If you've ever seen her dance, you'll know what she meant.  She totally manifested the joy of dance.
[July 2001 addendum: in 1974 Carla founded the Omega Liturgical Dance Company, which was given a home at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine {click on "Arts"} in New York City.  She currently teaches dance and Omega Peace Arts at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, where she founded another dance company, Omega West.]
http://www.az.com/~katrinat/heart/claybea3.htm
[Added 16 June 2001]:This is a wonderfully wise and deeply moving essay on what it means to dance:
“My grandmother told me never to trust someone who didn’t dance.”
Think about what it means not to dance and you will understand why it is so important. Someone who doesn’t dance has no way to let things go, to send them off in the whirl of wind and divine madness. He or she hangs on to everything, good or bad, with a tenacity which can come only from someone who has never released anything....
Don't miss this one.
http://www.earthchannel.com/aquarius/april/april.htm#Trance Dance
This is a moving essay by Loryn Martin Walton about her experiences with "Trance Dance," a form she discovered after the death of her husband forced her to decide if she would let her own spirit die, or find ways to nurture it.  Through simple dance techniques (including dancing blindfolded) and drumming, she found her way into joy.  She explains how it works:
Trance dancers experience the healing power of rhythm. Rhythm produces certain fundamental results because of the natural laws of resonance and entrainment. Resonance is the natural ability of something to vibrate to a frequency from a source other than itself. When we are surrounded by the powerful beat of drums and other percussion, the resonating systems of our body, including the brain, begin to vibrate in response. The beat is essential in altering brainwaves, entraining them from beta, which is the cycle of our daily activity and cognitive thought, into relaxed alpha and eventually the trance state of theta.
 (Note: the essay is part of an issue from Aquarius On-line and this page includes essays on plants, crosscultural music reviews, crystal-hunting, crocheting blankets for the teminally ill, nuclear dangers, etc.  All of them look interesting but I didn't have the time to read beyond the trance-dance piece.)
http://www.ecstaticspirit.com/Bistro/dance_ind.html
[Added 4 June 2001]: This is "Ecstatic Dance: Earthy roots of healing and divine communion" -- good quotes, good links (see below for 2 direct links).
http://www.ecstaticspirit.com/Bistro/dancefaq.html
[Added 4 June 2001]:From the above, this is a page of FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) on ecstatic (trance) dance.  It is sensible and clear:
...Ecstatic dance is a form of active meditation or prayer, where rhythm and music are used to move the mind into non-ordinary states of awareness, commonly associated with deep relaxation, meditative, and highly creative states. It is a way to travel between the worlds and journey into the deeper realms of the psyche as the shaman does.

It is also a contemporary expression of an ancient practice of inviting Spirit or life force energy to embody and heal the dancer.  Actually, the term 'embody' can be misleading, because this life force energy, this healing creative spirit is within us all the time already. The demands and over-rational beliefs of the modern world have served to fragment this awareness away from us, taking with it other vital aspects of the self. Ecstatic dance is a way of remembering this wisdom once again and recovering lost parts of ourselves....

http://www.ecstaticspirit.com/Bistro/paganpente.html
[Added 4 June 2001]:Again from the above site, this is a very personal, appealing page with the viewpoints of two people, a pagan woman and a pentecostal man, about a very special encounter with ecstatic dance.  The page is called "The Pagan-Pentecostal Ecstatic Dance Ritual: An Experience of Deep Ecumenism."
http://www.cincypost.com/news/1997/dance052397.html[Link updated 6/5/01]
[Annotation updated 6/5/01]   "Dance, for it is sacred," is the name of this May 1997 article in the Cincinnati Post about Ohio women (a minister, a dance scholar, and a choreographer) who are bringing dance into Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish worship after tracing its biblical roots.  As one woman said:
"Movement is not a verbal language, so it invites expression of the divine in very immanent ways."
About another, the author writes:
Ms. Smith said Christians should have no qualms about dancing in church because it's in the Bible, even if the word ''dance'' appears there only eight times.

''If you study the Hebrew scriptures, you see that they danced as a corporate body,'' she said. ''There's no way you can come to the conclusion that the Lord did not ordain dancing.''....

The writing style of the piece won't win any awards but the underlying data is worthwhile, especially for those who are suspicious of any art form using the body.

SACRED DANCE, THEATRE,
& MUSIC IN ASIA:
India & Nepal

Two Dancing Women
Har Jaimal, c. 1750 A.D.
(Pahari Miniature, Nurpur)

http://www.webindia123.com/dances/frontpage.htm

[Added 14 June 2001]:From Web India comes a general page on the major dance traditions of India -- it's a great place to start browsing: just keep clicking on links at the bottom of all pages because there's no overall site map. (Note: this site is double-listed on my India/Dance page, where I annotate it more fully.)
http://www.bharathanatyam.com/home.html
This is specifically on Bharata Natyam, which may be the oldest of India's classical dances.  The handsome site offers brief but informative essays on the legend, history (quite well done), and "aspects" (i.e., technical and experiential components fusing into dance/drama) of this dance form. [Note: the site is trapped in frames so I can't extract individual links.  This site is double listed here and on my Geographical Regions / Asia: India: Sacred Theatre and Dance page.]
http://www.narthaki.com/bhnatyam/bartntym.htm
[Added 14 June 2001]:This is an overview of Bharata Natyam for those who want something short and concise.  I enjoyed the following brief description of dance and dancer:
...The salient features of Bharatanatyam are movements conceived in space mostly either along straight lines or triangles. In terms of geometrical designs, the dancer appears to weave a series of triangles besides several geometrical patterns....
http://www.webindia123.com/dances/bharatanatyam/technique.htm
[Added 14 June 2001]:This is a much more detailed page on Bharata Natyam dance technique in which the dancer creates a series of triangles with her body.  Descriptions are fairly technical but still interesting to a non-dancer.  Links at the bottom will take you to more pages on this dance form -- these include a look at costumes, makeup, music, and performances.
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Shrine/3155/bnatyam.html
[Added 14 June 2001]:This page is by a dancer-devotee who gives some interesting personal and technical insights into Bharata Natyam (ignore the spurious "folk etymology" offered as an explanation for the dance's name).  I planned to delete this one, but when I re-read it, I found parts of it quite engaging.  For example, here's one little story I haven't yet come across elsewhere:
...There is also another story which says that Godess Parvathi tought this dance form to Usha, daughter of Banasura, a demon. Usha taught the same to the Gopikas of the city of Dwaraka, Lord Krishna's birth place. Thus the divine dance form Bharatanatyam was introduced to the mankind....
http://www.boloji.com/dances/odissi.htm
Among India's many dance forms, Bharata Natyam is more angular and athletic; Odissi is lyrical, curving, flowing.  This is a fine essay, "Odissi, A Tribute to Divinity."
...Odissi is not merely a dance form. It is a synthesis of beauty, grace, rhythm, melody, spirituality and devotion. It provides a feast for the eyes, music for the ears and succor for the soul. Through this dance, the danseuse pays obeisance to the Lord in all his myriad manifestations. In essence this unique dance form is a tribute to divinity.
[This site is double listed here and on my Geographical Regions / Asia: India: Sacred Theatre and Dance page.]
http://indiantimes.com/Dances.htm[Broken link 6/01-- but see other India Times links on my new page: Geographical Regions / Asia: India: Sacred Theatre and Dance.]
This site on India's dance, both classical, semi-classical, and folkloric, is a long, beautifully written essay on these many dance forms.  The material on folk dance is especially well done, and all the more so because such data is rarely encountered elsewhere on the web, and nowhere in such depth.  With its wealth of information on sacred lore and history, this is a wonderful introduction to India's world of dance.  As the unnamed author writes:
Joy is the core emotional experience common to all living beings, and one of its most spontaneous and transparent expressions is the act of dancing. Dance has been a function of man's life, even from the primitive to the most cultured community. Perhaps before man began to speak and to paint, he began to dance.
In a world of dance, India's traditions remain strong and still connected to the joy infusing their roots.
Note:
For many more links to these and other dance traditions of India,
please see my page under Geographical Regions / Asia:
India: Sacred Theatre and Dance

A Masked Monk from Tengboche, Nepal
[see directly below]
http://www.infohub.com/ARTICLES/monks.html
This is a detailed and fascinating account of "The Dancing Monks of Tengboche" from the Khumbu region of Nepal.  Here, annually, a Buddhist Dance Drama is enacted by the monks of Tengboche Monastery.  The essay is well written and has several small photos (see directly above for one of them).

SACRED DANCE, THEATRE
& MUSIC IN ASIA:
Japan

Fuji Musume
(in the role of the Wisteria Spirit,
who appears as a young maiden to dance of love)
[From "Kubuki for Everyone": see directly below]
http://www.fix.co.jp/kabuki/kabuki.html
This site has a great deal of charm -- it's "Kabuki for Everyone" by Matthew Johnson.  There's a great "morphing" clip of Ichimura Manjiro as he turns into one of the female roles he plays; there's a section on how makeup is done; another on history (this art form is disparaging in its attitude towards women); there are great photos from various plays (see above); and my favorite section has wonderful sound effects from Kabuki instruments (each one of which made me smile with warm memories of a day spent watching Kabuki in Tokyo in 1962).

Although Kabuki is usually considered a secular, earthy art form, it was created by a "shrine maiden" in the 1600's.  About these origins Johnson writes:

Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater. It was founded early in the 17th century by Okuni, a shrine maiden who brought her unique and lively dance style to the dry river beds of the ancient capital of Kyoto, and over the next 300 years developed into a sophisticated, highly stylized form of theater.

Though Kabuki was created by a woman, since early on all roles have been taken by men. Men who play the roles of women are referred to as "onnagata" female role specialists. . . .

In addition to everything else, the site offers several fine links and a fabulous bibliography by Kabuki scholar, Sam Leiter, author of the Kabuki Encyclopedia.
http://www.aichi-gakuin.ac.jp/~jeffreyb/kabuki.html
This is Jeff Blair's fine Kabuki page.  Designed to be clear and functional, it offers lengthy summaries of a large number of Kabuki dramas.  There are excellent links at the end to other kabuki-related sites on stories and art.
http://www.kt.rim.or.jp/~snoo/index.html
This is "Snoo's" site on the 12th century temple-born art of Noh theatre.  Under "History and General Information" you'll find a well written text on Noh's long history in Japan.  Check under "Synopses & Highlights" for great stories, but above all, near the bottom left of the page is a small new link to "Snoo's noh diary" that offers a marvelous essay on a drama about a serpent-woman; this wild play is currently being revived in noh, despite serious safety issues (note: the font is very small in this diary section so I found it a bit hard to read, but well worth the effort for the inside look it gives into the world of noh).
http://gojapan.about.com/travel/gojapan/library/weekly/aa120899a.htm
[Added 14 June 2001]:From Shizuko Mishima at about.com comes an interesting little essay on Kabuki Theatre -- she offers an historical overview as well as where Kabuki may be found in modern Japan.  The page also has good hypertext for those who wish to explore further.  Aboutg the role of women in Kabuki, she writes:
...Although many women played female roles in early times, the Tokugawa Shogun banned appearance of women in Kabuki plays in the early 17th century. As a result, all female roles are played by male actors called Onna-gata and the beauty of the Onna-gata became one of the most distinctive features in Kabuki performances....

RITUAL DANCE IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Muu dancers from ancient Egypt
(From Greg Reeder: see directly below)
http://www.egyptology.com/reeder/muu/
This Egyptology site reprints Greg Reeder's scholarly paper, "The Mysterious Muu and the Dance They Do," originally published in the prestigious journal, KMT, Fall 1995.  The paper is an engrossing, carefully reasoned and footnoted exploration of muu-dancers and the role they played in funerary rituals; it is illustrated in B&W.  [Note: this site is double-listed on my Egyptian Religious Beliefs page.]

MIDDLE EASTERN ("BELLY") DANCE


Detail of Belly Dancer
[Artist Unknown]

http://www.bdancer.com/history

[Added 4 June 2001]:  This is an excellent site from a Society for Creative Anachronism publication.  The sections are carefully researched and illustrated.  About "Belly Dance":
...The dance which Americans know as "belly dance" has gone by many names. The French who found the dance named it "dance du ventre", or dance of the stomach. It is known in Greece as the cifte telli (also the name of a Turkish rhythm), in Turkey as rakkase and in Egypt as Raks Sharki.  Middle Easterners also call it "danse orientale" to distinguish it from the "balady", or country, dance.  It developed through the influence of many different areas and continues its long process of development today....
Topics covered are: Part 1: What is Belly Dance?; Part 2a: Greece/Macedonia/Bible/India; Part 2b: Ancient Egypt/Medieval Egypt & Ghawazee; Part 2c: Turkey/Ottoman/Persia/Spain/Gypsies; Part 2d: Islamic Prohibitions in Persia/Trance Dancing & Zar Cult/Berbers/Conclusions; Part 3: Costuming.  There's a great deal of fascinating data on this site.
http://shanmonster.lilsproutz.com/belly/
[Added 4 June 2001]: This is the "Shanmonster's" page on "Belly Dancing" -- she has quite a few categories so it's a good place to browse.  (Note: another of her websites -- a very scholarly one -- is on my Burning Times page.)
http://shanmonster.lilsproutz.com/belly/gallery/statues/belly103.html
[Added 4 June 2001]: From the "Shanmonster's" section called "Bellydancers & Harem Girls--A Historical/Cheesecake Gallery" comes this lovely little page with a tile showing two dancers, and a close up of each.  I love their grace.

SUFI DANCE

Rumi (1207-1273)
(from the now-defunct Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi site)
http://www.erowid.org/spirit/traditions/islam/islam_sufism.shtml
Ths Sufis, or "whirling dervishes," are probably the world's best known ecstatic dancers.  This wonderful site from the Vaults of Erowid gives a short introduction and then provides great links to Rumi (who founded the mystical Mevlevi Order of Sufis), the history of Sufism, teachers, music (including sound clips), books, and much more.  (A few of the initial links are broken but don't be discouraged from trying the rest.)

EUROPEAN SACRED DANCE,
FOLK DANCE,
& SACRED THEATRE

Greek Women Dancing
[From Anna Mavromatis' site: see directly below]
http://www.firstnethou.com/annam/dancehis.html/
[Annotation revised 6/2/01]:  This is a fine series of essays on the history of Greek dancing by Anna Mavromatis.  The illustrated pages are attractive and the author promises frequent updates.  Currently, she offers the following topics:  Introduction; History & Evolution; Characteristics of Greek Dances; Byzantium; and Greek Dancing Today.  There's also a bibliography in English and Greek.
http://users.hol.gr/~grdance/start.html
This is the website of "Living Museum of Greek Dance," a government supported dance/theatre troupe in Athens:
On the pine-covered Philopappou Hill, opposite the Acropolis, a 900-seat open-air theatre was built especially for the "Dora Stratou" company. The stage was designed by famous Greek painter, Spyros Vassiliou. . . .
The webpage gives information on this fascinating company, their dances, research, costumes, theatre, and much more.
http://historymedren.about.com/msubdrama.htm?COB=home&terms=mummers&PM=112_300_T
[Added 14 June 2001]:This is "General History of Medieval Drama," a page with a handful of well chosen, annotated links by Melissa Snell, the Medieval History guide at about.com. Links cover miracle plays, mystery plays, mummers, and general history and bibliographies.
http://www.n-link.com/~ifccsa/pajdusko.html
This is a Bulgarian dance known as Pajdusko Horo.  The site gives technical instructions for dancers.  There are also links at the end to such topics as costumes and weddings (note: all the image links are broken).
http://www.n-link.com/~ifccsa/horo.html
From the same site as the above, this is another Bulgarian dance, the horo, also technical.
http://www.mindspring.com/~ginbirch/eefc/archive.htm#archive
[Added 16 June 2001]: This link goes to the discussion archives of the East European (i.e., Balkans) Folklife Center in Berkeley, CA.  Quality is mixed, as on any discussion list, but there's a good search engine and you might enjoy browsing here.  For example, I looked under "weaving" and found a very interesting post on movement, music, and weaving in the Balkans.  "Thrace" also produced some interesting results on music and musical instruments.  You can search by date, topic or author.

SACRED DANCE IN THE AMERICAS


Dancing Maize God
Maya, 700 AD

http://www.britannica.com/eb/print?eu=119492

[Added 14 June 2001]: From Britannica.com comes an excellent, detailed, long page on Native, Meso, and South American dance.  (I just wish it were illustrated!)  It begins this way:
The dances of the American Indian peoples are comparable in many ways to the folk dances of Europe. They represent forms passed down over centuries and modified through interaction with foreign and other Indian cultures. The origins are similar, lying in religious rite; in attempts to invoke magic and thus cure illness or assure success in food production, hunting, and warfare; and in such life-passage rites as birth, puberty, and death....
It's a rich site with many hypertext links.

ZULEIKHA: STORYDANCER


Zuleikha in performance
(This photo and the one below are © by Parvati Markus)

http://storydancer.com/index.html

[Written 6/3/01; added 6/17/01]: This is a Category of One, for I know of no one except Zuleikha who is a "storydancer."  I'll never forget the first time I saw her dance in early 2000.  Her risible face shifts constantly -- one moment she's sparkling, then haggard, suffering, haughty, desolate, laughing, radiant.  She moves effortlessly through a wide range of characters -- courtesan, child, crone, elf, maiden, king, lover, sprite, mother, giraffe, fox, old monkey, and countless other animals.

"Long, long ago," she begins, as she stands before you in timeless, colorful, flowing  garments, her lower legs wrapped in strings of large bells.  She fixes you with her huge eyes  -- "even before e-mail."  Her eyebrows lift and her face crinkles into a gentle smile.  The delicious incongruity of an ageless woman speaking of "long, long ago" in terms of very recent technology brings a shiver of delighted surprise.  Then she tells a story, often an animal fable, her entire body dancing with her voice, delineating it, tracing it in the air with her limbs.  She shifts through the emotions of her characters, taking you by surprise as she adds her humorous parenthetical wit when you least expect it.  Her feet thump on the wooden stage, her bells mark the rhythms, her expressive arms control the space around her as the confident, funny, droll voice claims your attention.

  The stories come from many traditions, both Old World and New, for Zuleikha has studied with many masters around the world (including India, Afghanistan, Japan, Turkey, Bali), yet the underlying approach, the deliberate weaving of emotions, expresses the ancient Hindu concept of Natya, "danced-theatre," or "theatred-dance" -- an art form in which story and dance merge to create a sense of wonder and delight in the viewer, emotions designed to shift one into a more all-encompassing vision of reality.  Her rich, full-bodied performance is filled with a sense of cosmic laughter.

I've seen her dance three times now and each time she concludes with an "offering" she's created to bring deep peace to the soul of each viewer, a peace which she then intends will spread out into the world.  She does this by spinning, whirling, in multi-layered cream-colored robes that flow around her in varying speeds, depending upon whether a particular layer is of flowing silk, crepe, or satin.  She spins to the left, endlesly, on and on, arms hidden in sleeves nearly twice as long as her arms are.  No human can spin so long without collapsing in dizziness.  Yet she keeps whirling -- not a Sufi whirl, although the effect is similar, but her feet are less constrained: they move -- there's no central axis. She whirls endlessly and after an impossibly long time she ceases to turn in one direction and her creamy robes close around her.  A second later she's serenely whirling in the opposite direction.  She says she never gets dizzy.  She simply sends out love as she whirls.  Watching her change directions, then change again, all the while whirling to exquisite music, it gradually becomes apparent that no human could possibly continue to do this.  One's vision then shifts.  One enters what the Celts call the "thin place" between the worlds.  She becomes a primordial being at the dawn of creation spinning life into being; she's one of India's seven sages, or rishis, kicking up the dust of stars as she spins through space, creating the cosmos; she's the Axis Mundi; the Prime Mover; Ananke, Plato's goddess of Necessity, turning slowly through the skies with her whirling spindle.  Her audience watches speechless, spellbound, disbelieving, rapt, astonished.  Eternally in one direction, then in the other, then reversing again, and again, again, until one is immersed in the rich layers of time, on and on, washed in the generosity of a cosmos that could so overwhelm one with such endlessly ongoing wonder.

It is an unforgettable experience, never diminished by how many times one sees it.

I've been profoundly enriched by what Zuleikha does -- and have been so inspired that I too have been spinning for more than a year now -- not the same as Zuleikha, nor for as long, nor with such serene grace, yet I've found my own rhythms and my body finds them more enthralling than any other physical movements I've ever done.

Check Zuleikha's website -- if she's  doing a performance or teaching a class in your area (and she travels all over the world, teaching children in India and elsewhere in Asia and the Third World as well as performing in the USA and Europe), don't miss her.  She should be declared a "national treasure."


GENERAL & CROSS-CULTURAL
SACRED DANCE / THEATRE

Women At the Well
[Link updated 29 May 2006]
(Crone, Mother, Maiden)
Artist: Kathleen Logan
(Veronica Sacred Theatre site -- see below)
http://www.erowid.org/spirit/dance/dance.shtml
[Annotation revised 6/2/01]:   From the non-profit Vaults of Erowid comes this eloquent little essay on dance's matriarchal roots in a number of cultures:
...Ancient worshipers of the Goddess attributed the initial creation of the universe to her magic dance over the Waters of Chaos, or the Great Deep (Hebrew Tehom). With rhythmic movements she organized the as-yet-unformed elements, making orderly patterns that the Greeks called diakosmos, the "Goddess's Ordering. She is still found even in the Bible, as the spirit that "moved" on the face of the Deep before God spoke the universe into being....
There are also many good links at the end.
http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue10/iyer_toc.html
[Added 24 July 2001]: This fascinating site is entitled "Sculpture, Dance and Heritage: animating dance sequences from temple reliefs using movement modelling software."  There is much to explore on this site.  Here's the opening from the "Summary" by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Iyer of the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford University:
This article discusses research carried out in 1999 at the School of Performing Arts of the University of Surrey, Dance Studies Department.  For this research project, computer animation modelling techniques were used to recreate a series of dance movement sequences depicted in the reliefs around the balustrade of the main temple at the Prambanan temple complex in Central Java, built in the 9th century CE....
http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/MichaelJackson/museum/lowband/floor_2/lowband_inq.html
[Added 4 June 2001]: This is a fine site with a historical focus on dance.  The internal links don't really tell you much of the site's scope so I'm including its actual subsections: A Brief History of the Power of Dance; Dance in the Ancient World: From Egyptian Pharaohs to the Ecstatic Dance of Dionysus; The Middle Ages: The Banning of Dance and Underground Dance Raves; The Dawn of the Renaissance and the Birth of Ballet; and Dance in the 20th century: Individuality and Expression.

The page is lively, sensible, intelligent (I wish it included a bibliography).  There's also a section called "Exhibits" -- some fascinating stuff here, very cool.

http://arttech.about.com/library/weekly/aa102998.htm?pid=2836&cob=home
[Added 14 June 2001]:Masks have played an ancient role in ritual, theatre, and dance all over the world.  This is "Explore the Wonderful World of Masks & Maskmaking" by Sharon Silvia at about.com.   She offers 2 lengthy, illustrated, fascinating pages on the lore and history of masks in Greece, China, Native & Meso America, and Africa; there's rich hypertext taking you into many alluring byways; there's also a great section on contemporary artists who create masks.  Finally, Silvia offers lesson plans involving masks for teachers and homeschoolers.  Note: the link near the bottom of her first page to the second page (which has more great photos and a "how to" section) doesn't seem to work so here's another that does, just in case about.com doesn't fix the current error: Sharon Silvia'sMasks, part 2.
Children & Communal Dance
This is a special site from Dr. Dina (Franz) Hartzell, who received her doctorate from the Mythological Studies Department at Pacifica Graduate Institute.  After the August 1999 shootings at a Jewish daycare center in Los Angeles, Dina e-mailed her reactions to a private list of Pacifica students.  Her special emphasis is on the deeper power and ecstatic comunitas potential of dance.  She writes, for example:
...The Findhorn people say that community dances work on the earth the way acupuncture works on a human being--the ley lines are positively affected and harmony (in the sense of unanimity rather than uniformity) is supported.....
About teaching children to prepare for danger:
...it seems to me that there are ways to live which glorify life rather than "preparing" to face attacks....
I was very moved by what Dina wrote.  Her insights are important and I wanted them to have a larger audience.  With her permission, I created a webpage for her words and have linked it directly to this section on Sacred Dance.
http://veronicasacredarts.org./index.html [29 May 2006: dead link -- here's the new one, but it takes forever to load on a dial-up modem; unfortunately, the links I've mentioned below have now vanished]:  

http://www.veronicainstitute.org/aboutus.html

[Added 4 June 2001]:This is a small group of fascinating women who form Veronica ("true image") Women's Theatre Company.  Of particular interest is a moving, lengthy Founder's Story about the journey of founder/director, Frederica Chapman, through Christianity and Jungian therapy to a sacred theatre which honors the divine feminine.  I also resonated with Chapman's passionate, thoughtful page called The Earth.  I, and many others, share her views -- and I wish her work well.
[5/29/06: as mentioned, these links are now dead but I'm keeping them "live" in case they are ever restored.]
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/3622/index.html
"Sacred Dance from New York to the World" is a site offering contemporary information and links to sacred dance.  The opening quote from Carla De Sola is striking, as is a rich, lengthy, well researched 1997 paper by Merlla McLaughlin, "Sensing the Sacred by Dancing the Divine," that you can click on -- if you have the time, I highly recommend reading this one.
http://www.ravenrecording.com/workshop.html
This site from The Moving Center is about the healing dance techniques taught by Gabrielle Roth, author of an excellent book, Sweat Your Prayers.  The site covers the basic principles of Roth's approach in some depth and then gives information on workshops, training, etc.
http://personal.vallnet.com/~lora/Lorddance.html
This is an attractive pagan site with lyrics by Todd Alan to "Lord of the Dance."  It's a nice paean to some of the myths underlying dance.
http://camt.nyfa.org/artquarry/   [Link updated 14 June 2001]
 [Annotation updated 14 June 2001]:  This arts search page is a service of the New York Foundation for the Arts.  You can simply type in "dance" and get several hundred entries.  Or you can use three additional pull-down menus to further refine your search.  Overall, you'll find an exhaustive compilation of links covering everything from costumes, funding, competitions, performance schedules, archives, mailing lists, and much more.
http://www.io.com/~hbp/folkdance/fd.html
[Annotation revised 6/2/01]:   This is the International Folk Dance Resource Guide.  It's constantly changing but currently covers Scottish Country Dancing, Morris Dancing, Country Dancing, and many international groups.
http://users.pandora.be/aads.vzw1/   [Link updated 26 September 2002]
This is a Belgian (Flemish) site with books and CDs relating to worldwide dance.  The listings are by country as well as dance type.  The scope of what is covered is impressive -- and much of what they offer is unavailable elsewhere.
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?Mything Links' General Reference Pages:

MythingLinks Search Engine
Cross-cultural, Multi-regional, Interdisciplinary Collections
General Reference Page  (online libraries, reference help, literary texts, world languages, word-lover sites, help on writing research papers, copyright information, film plots, themes, and/or films representing various historical periods)
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Teachers' Reference Page for Primary & Secondary School Education
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Menu of Common Themes, East & West:

Animal Guides
Animal Deaths in Europe: Of Cows & Madness
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Creation Myths I
Creation Myths II
Crones & Sages
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Food: Sacrality & Lore
THE  FOUR ELEMENTS
EARTH:
Land: Sacrality & Lore  (mountains, caves, labyrinths, spiral mounds, crop & stone circles, FengShui)
Earth Day & Environmental Issues
Earth Goddesses & Gods
AIR:
Air: Sacrality & Lore (air, wind, sky, storms, clouds, weather lore)
Air, Wind, & Sky Goddesses & Gods
FIRE:
Fire: Sacrality & Lore (fire, northern lights, green-flashes, Elmo's Fire)
Fire & Solar Goddesses & Gods
WATER:
Water: Sacrality & Lore(water, wells, springs, pools, lakes)
Floods & Rainbows: Mythologies & Science
Water & Lunar Goddesses & Gods
Green Men
Music
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Birthing [forthcoming]
Rituals of Death & Dying [forthcoming]
Rituals of Puberty
Rituals of Devic Weather-Working: An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Sacred Theatre & Dance
Shamanism
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Time(Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Wars, Weapns & Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Weaving Arts & Lore (Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa

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Latest Updates:
25 August 1999; [Nedstat added 19 August 1999];
2-3 June 2001 (redesigned + checked all links);
4 June 2001: began grokking new links (note: undated ones come from 1998-99);
5 & 6 June 2001; 13 & 14 June 2001; 16 & 17 June 2001; 24 July 2001 (Ned.3.0 + new links); 9/26/02: updated a URL.
29 May 2006: updated Veronica Institute's new URL -- the site was so much better before, however!