Sweet Medicine Dance Coordinator

Role Name:  Sweet Medicine Dance Coordinator

Role type:  Event Coordinator

Sweet Medicine Dance

Role Purpose:  The Sweet Medicine Dance is a highlight of the GOC, a community activity that requires considerable site preparation.  The intent is community involvement in preparation, but the coordinator’s role in planning, communication and oversight is critical.  This coordinator must work with the drumming coordinator and wood coordinator.  The dance is intended to be trance-like and uplifting as well as celebratory, so we encourage costumes and ceremonial garb or whatever you wish to wear to dance your dance.  No extra drums are allowed, but rattles are fine.

Responsibilities:  Before the GOC  

This coordinator position requires extensive preplanning, beginning right after the planning meeting by understanding the GOC perspective, planning the layout such as direction of entry, banners, flags, etc., and a backup plan in case of rain.

During the Gathering

Communicate the intent and specifics of the event to all attendees, encourage participation in preparation of the site for the dance, select people to smudge and ensure they understand the responsibility and have appropriate equipment.  Select and prepare fire starter and fire keepers.  Be available to the fire tenders, drum coordinator and greeters during the event.

Signal the conclusion of the event.

After the gathering

Prepare and forward an event summary email to Steve Lake at stevelakeforgoc@gmail.com telling the council what worked and what didn’t work well, new ideas for future gatherings, problems with the event or people. Any changes that need to be made for future event.

The following are eight points to consider as you explain and give instructions for the dance:

1. Have some kind of general discussion the dance, designed especially for those who are new to the GOC.  This can occur on the morning after the opening ceremony at the general gathering before the speaker.  There can also be a workshop about the dance, though that wouldn’t speak to all at the Gathering.

2. Discuss how the dance circle is the emblem for all of life: it’s round, it has four directions, it has the fire of life in the center, the source of light and strength: when we go to fire we go to Creator/Energy/Spirit for renewal and power and razzmatazz.  The circle has the edges where it less Spirit and more individuation: as we go out from the fire we enter the realm of the individual self.  And it’s in the dancing between the center and the outer rim that we weave our life of Spirit-driven, individualized manifestation of that life that courses through and around us.

3. How the dance is the culmination of the few days at the GOC.  The opening ceremony puts us on a spiritual plane where, even if we are not fully aware of it, we act under the penumbra/ in the mist (or midst) of Spirit, where nothing happens by accident, where each encounter/each conversation/each occurrence carries meaning and direction and message, where Spirit is directing us as we go thru the time on the mountain.  And the dance is celebration, the processing of, the demonstration of this Spirit-directed time.

4. The dance also allows us to incorporate what life has been like for us in the near past (past few months, past year, last time since being at the GOC): we can dance its blessings, its tragedies, its joys and sorrows, its losses and gains, its realizations, its discoveries and its mysteries. 

5. The dance also allows us the chance to dance/honor our aspirations, hopes, our wishes for the next phase (months, year, weeks).

6. Even if we don’t dance in the circle, we still participate in the dance.  Wherever we are in the encampment, we hear the drum; even if we retire early, we go to sleep with the drum and the chants reverberating in our psyche.  So, we hold the dance in our hearts, we honor the dancers and their dancing.  If we sit around the outside of the dance circle, we “hold” the dancers in spirit and love, to support them, to honor them with our watching and our praying.  And as we do that we can we can realize that, even on the outside, we, even on the “outside,” are part of the dance.  Last summer, I was struck at the absolute beauty of the dancers, how they looked so stunning in the dance outfits, their buckskins and their fringes and their jewelry and their fine robes and shawls.  And the entire group was as one as they/it moved around the circle.

7. The dance circle is full of the social aspect of the GOC, but it is diminished if there is casual socializing in the circle.  And when we enter the circle thru one of the four entrances, we should do so with consciousness and reverence; likewise, when we exit.  It’s good to say a prayer when we enter or leave the circle.  I was taught to say a prayer for all of our relatives.

8. It’s good to have an intention for the dance, the why of, the reason for the dance.  What we wish to dance for.  It can be simply to dance the joy of the gathering, of our participation and interaction with the others at the Gathering.  The intention can be a plea, a request for help or guidance.  The intention can be a request for intervention on another’s behalf.  It makes no difference what the intention is, but it makes a big difference that we have an intention when we enter the dance circle: it concentrates the attention, raises awareness, heightens energy, makes us more alive.  It is unimportant if the dance takes a turn away from our intention, for we will be more alive to the turning, be more in tune with it as the change occurs.