Monday, April 13, 2015

Dance Outside of Yourself

Get Outside of Yourself

Every year, the city of Savannah, Georgia hosts one of the most amazing music festivals on the planet. For 17 days there are about 8 concerts a day. No two are alike and that exact concert will never happen again. Artists of different genres and backgrounds appear on the same stage jamming together, playing everything from the music of Appalachia to the sounds of South Africa.

I heard music from Persia and Brazil; there was Cajun and Creole, Reggae and Chamber and I was renewed.

On the last night, a group called DakhaBrakha ( was to perform. The festival’s creative director, Rob Gibson had introduced each performance with a brief history of the music and the land from which it originated.  This musical mad genius had informed us that we didn’t want to miss the last night of Ukrainian dance music.

My friends and I chuckled at the fact that we should ever be caught dancing at a Ukrainian dance party, but we also admitted that we didn’t know what we were laughing at.

I grew up to the black music of the 60’s and 70’s. When I became the only one of my family to attend a Pentecostal church, my music took another turn and gospel was all that I believed I could hear.

I went away to college and was introduced to all of the famous musicians I had completely missed; folks like the Rolling Stones, and practically everything else that wasn’t black gospel.

I joined the jazz band as a vocalist and had a voice major as a roommate so my musical taste began to expand. I love and listen to music from all over the world and yet the thought of a Ukrainian Dance Party made me wonder what the organizer was up to.

In that instance of my own stupidity, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was the one who should be laughed at. I’m old enough and degreed enough to know that I don’t know what I don’t know.

So my friends and I went to the party, but we didn’t dance; hardly anyone did. We were all paralyzed by the brilliance of the group before us and so we could barely move or even breathe.

DakhaBrakha, sounded African, American, Native, and Latin. They were Europe rolled into Japan and jazz, hip-hop and gospel. Their harmonies were as powerful as their drumming and the accordion is now a favorite instrument.

I sat in awe of the music, in awe of my own ignorance and in awe of a life that gets bigger with each new awakening.

There is so much more to see and hear.

Step outside of yourself and the comfort of the ignorance you have created and you will see that there is so much more to dance as well.

Be you, be open, be new.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

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