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What is Comos About?
Cosmos is a multimedia dance work, reconnecting, art, spirituality and inner healing for the environment. In the course of this page we’ll be unpacking what that means.
If ever you run out of things to talk about, try asking people what art is. You’ll get many different responses. What that shows, if nothing else, is that art matters to us and it has power. It can grab our imagination, make us think differently. Picasso’s Guernica, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Dangerous too – give people an idea and they might change the world. Can’t have that sort of thing, can we?
So we’d like to share a few of our ideas. We believe that art can be a real force for the good – because, whether it’s a painting, music, drama or dance, it can make us look at things in a different way, free us from the prisons our minds are often in. It can image the world as it might be. It can speak across barriers of culture or language. For that, it needs to be beautiful.
No big theories here – just as we know people are truly beautiful by the effect they have on others’ lives (maybe just by a glance), so we can tell beautiful art by its effect on others. Beautiful isn’t the same as pretty. Cosmos doesn’t shy away from darkness, violence and death – but that’s not where it ends either. Because such grim realities are part of life, Cosmos seeks to offer vision and light, and to be a channel for light and power to overcome the darkness. Which brings us on to our next pillar:
Seldom, perhaps, have people been more aware of our need for healing. The trauma lodged deeper that our consciousness, the pain that won’t go away, but which simply has to if we are to move on and live the potential within, escape from the inner prison, and relate as we would wish to the people we love. Sometimes talking about it is just what’s needed – but it’s not always enough.
We have to remember too that we are as much body and spirit as we are mind, so all three need to be involved in healing. All through the ages, in many different cultures, you find testimony to the amazing power of music, poetry, dance and music to heal – either doing it or just experiencing it. Perhaps a part of this is the actual frequencies or sounds, the connections made by the words, the light of colour and the effect of movement on the body. That benefit may pass to animals and plants, stones and water as much as to people.
Also, because much traditional art is ritual – connecting the community with the seasons and the spiritual realm which shape its life – then, provided it is done from a pure heart and with a real spirituality, it draws people out of themselves. Our wounds too easily make us in-focussed and self-obsessed, ill-equipped for relationship and community, let alone environmental action. But art that heals reconnects us with reality – from introspection to ecstasy, from disorder to peaceful order, from psychosis to cosmosis. Then, we can bring our own restoration and healing to our environment.
That’s a bit like the art question, isn’t it? Everyone’s got an opinion, but just you try to get a definition… No doubt, though, that spirituality’s becoming more and more important to many people. For many people in Britain, though not all, this is expressed through adherence to a particular religion, a faith community. This can be a great community builder, but also a source of conflict and division. As a result some people feel that religion and spirituality should have no part in public life, but without it, we often feel flat, uninspired and lacking.
Among the Cosmos artists you’ll find a great variety of religious adherence. Dominic White, the composer and director, is a Catholic Dominican friar and priest, and this is reflected in the structure and inspiration of the Cosmos music. It’s based on the Christian year, as it connects spirituality and season, and the ancient chants of Dominic’s community, who seeks to live a life which bears witness to the spiritual hope that is in them. Robert, the visual artist, is an Anglican Christian. Anaish, dancer and choreographer, is Hindu; Shah, the Sufi whirler, and Abdul, director of the media side, are both Muslims. All of us are open to the spiritual in our lives, and our rehearsals together involve spiritual preparation as much as practical work.
We’ve no ambitions to create a new “super-religion” or reduce everything to a “common ground” that will satisfy no one. Rather, by being sensitive to the sacred in others and in nature, trying to live authentically, rely together on the power of the Source, the Beloved, the God who is ultimately beyond all names, we are able to make connections with each other, and be channels together of whatever is given to us to pass on. We’ve found it’s a pretty good recipe for community, our next pillar
Artists have a reputation for being highly strung and impossible to work with, and while that’s a stereotype, it’s not totally untrue either. We dare to say no to that stereotype, in ourselves and in our working together. The result is great: peaceful collaboration, justice, trust, and mutual nurturing – the kind of attitude we need to build the community and save the natural environment.
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