Just Dance! The Secrets of Sundance
This Labor Day weekend we will dance the Sundance for the 23rd time. That’s a long time to do one party, but Sundance holds a special place in my heart and for many people in our community.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the many themes of Sundance over the years. In that article, I commented on the connection between this year’s theme and one of its predecessors. Sundance 96: was Rainbow Rites: Invocation to Dance and the current theme is Sundance 2010: Rainbow Rites 23: Tribal Revival. In that article, I reprinted a verse written for the 1996 Sundance. At the time, I had no thought of “reviving” it for Tribal Revival, until my sister—the artist Mary Beth Ramsey (and Sundance graphic designer)—reminded me how much she liked it and how well it would tie the pages of the current Sundance invitation together.
So, once again the words “Come all you who dance – awaken, rise, and listen to the sound of the heart beating, the drum beating…” will define a Sundance theme for me. These words remind me that the heart of Sundance, the spirit of Sundance, is found in the people of this community, the people who call this place home—even if only for a few months of the year.
As I sat down to start writing this column, I had in mind something called “the secrets of Sundance”—the things that go on behind the scenes or that might be overshadowed by the bigger aspects of the event. Quickly, I listed several things about which to write, but right off, I knew that the first secret of Sundance is simply its spirit.
Sundance was born out of time of deep struggle, when AIDS was untreatable, and death was all around. It was a time when only love could see us through the “dark ages” of the epidemic, and in our frustration and pain our small Rehoboth clan gathered together to do what little we could to help. All over the country, others did likewise, and eventually things got a little better, and our friends stopped dying…so fast.
At the heart of Sundance, that spirit still lives. Like a diamond in the dark, it catches the light and empowers us to keep going even though the world is much changed from the days of its beginning. In a spirit of love and hope we gather together each year to celebrate the end of the season and to honor that spirit and rejoice that it lives among us still.
The second secret of Sundance is its loving heart. I see it in the more than 200 volunteers it takes to make the event happen. I see it in the generous donations from hundreds of Sponsors and Hosts and auction donors. I see it on the dance floor in the faces of those who come back year after year to celebrate their summer friendships and families. Sundance was born of love and it remains and act of love after all these years.
The third secret of Sundance is its people. Sundance couldn’t happen without the many leaders who pitch-in to make it work. A deeper look at the folks on the Sundance Team Captain’s list, would reveal the great dedication of busy people who no matter how tired and worn out they might be at the end of a summer season, still find the time and the energy to give to Sundance and to provide the leadership it takes to produce it.
For me Sundance has taken on a mythical quality. I’m moved by its secrets—by its spirit, by its heart, and by its people. When I say “come all you who dance” it is a ceremonial call to join the circle of life that surrounds us, to joyfully acknowledge the changing seasons, the changing world around us, and the simple fact that we are, for now, still here, still able to dance and celebrate with friends the passage of another year.
All are invited! “Come all you who dance!
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.