The dance that imitates the animal world.

A dance is the formal result of a certain kind of symbolic transformation of reality. The instinct that moves the dancer is that of measuring and forming the space with his own body. In the archaic conception life is certified by the presence of movement. A primary characteristic of every living being is that of having a shape and a movement. So, the imitation of those shapes and movements is for the archaic man the most adequate way to catch its force and magic. The animals themselves are keepers of magical powers; imitating them means to seize this power and control it. The imitation is attained by a continuous and precise observation of nature and by its exact application to the real.

trois freres 2

 Trois Frères cave (Ariège, France, from Breuil). Scene “of charm”. The masked human figure follows with a hopping gait a group of animals playing the musical bow, a one-string instrument whose sound is amplified by the mouth, which acts as a sound box. The action of the famous “sorcerer” is magic and addressed to the animal world. The dance which imitates the animal movements also wants to reach the magical effect of subjecting them to the power of the hunters, to propitiate their breeding or appease their spirit after the killing.

arco musicale

 The Bushman of Namibia still plays the musical bow today.

boscimani 2

At the center of the ceremonial space a group of Bushman shamans is engaged in the dance of the mantis (Kaggen), god of life and Supreme Being of the San. All around the men and the women close the circle accompanying rhythmically the dance with hand clapping. The events mimed in the dance belong to a cycle of myths on the creation of the world that the Bushmen hand down from generation to generation. (Kalahari desert, State of Orange, South Africa, from Lewis Williams).

danza navajo
Cheyenne Sun Dance. “When you are able to play inside the eagle bone, then a new world will open before you and you will see with the eyes of the eagle.” (Nepalese Shaman)


Autore: Gaudenzio Ragazzi

(English). My name is Gaudenzio Ragazzi, a long time ago I graduated in Philosophy with a master in History of Theater. To realize my thesis on the "origins of dance", a theme that still today boasts only two or three specialized researchers in the world, I became a scholar of Prehistoric Iconography. In the last thirty years I have not been able to escape the responsibilities of life. So, after the death of my father, I led the family artisan company that produces tailored shirts. A few years ago I decided that it was time to resume my studies and complete the research I had started as a young man (that nobody else had yet completed). Good luck Gaudenzio! Mi chiamo Gaudenzio Ragazzi, molto tempo fa ho conseguito la laurea in Filosofia con specializzazione in Storia del Teatro. Sono diventato uno studioso di Iconografia Preistorica per realizzare la mia tesi di laurea sulle "origini della danza", argomento che ancora oggi vanta nel mondo solo due o tre studiosi di una certa levatura. Negli ultimi trent'anni non ho potuto sottrarmi alle responsabilità della vita. Così, dopo la morte di mio padre, ho guidato l'azienda artigiana di famiglia che produce camicie su misura. Alcuni anni fa ho deciso che era arrivato il momento di riprendere i miei studi e di fare da vecchio quello che non ho potuto fare da giovane (e che nessun altro nel frattempo aveva completato). Buon lavoro Gaudenzio !


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