During August 2017 Vajra dancers of the UK gathered as usual to spend a week together practising the well known 3 dances of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s Longsal terma. These dances, as most of us are familiar, are practised on a circular geometric mandala with 6 male (Pawos) and 6 female (Pamos).
Subsequently many of us had the opportunity to learn ‘Dance of 12 A Khalongdorjekar – The Vajra Dance of Space’. This is a very simple and essential dance to practice to the sound of A. It is otherwise known informally as the ‘Dance of 12 A’. Its essential nature is reflected in that there is no need for a mandala or other external references. We can practice this dance on our own, in our homes or at any time.
Teaching workshop of the ‘Dance of 12 A Khalongdorjekar’ at Chögyal Namkhai Norbu London retreat 2015
This year however our normal routine of dancing was positively disrupted!
Cindy and Rowan have returned from a course of the ‘Khalongdorjekar – of the Song of the Vajra’. None of us really had a clue as to what this is or what was involved. My only clue was the fact that Cindy had been determinedly constructing a rope analogue of a new base mandala for this dance every Sunday at the end of our normal dance practice in the Cambridge fens.
Cindy explained: “Khalongdorjekar’ – means ‘Dance of Space’. In this dance we are moving to the sound of the Song of the Vajra. So this explains its name”.
The egg or ellipsoid shaped figure delineated by the rope represents a stylised Longsal symbol the lines of which we follow in this new dance. And what better medium than rope to use on the rough and mostly wet 🙁 grass camping area at Kunselling?!
It all seemed at bit impossible at the beginning of the retreat – rain, long grass and the unknown. However with Cindy’s encouragement we gathered one afternoon to lay out the rope mandala on the camping tump and open our minds to a new kind of Vajra Dance.
Cindy provided a rhythm soundtrack to calibrate our dance tempo. A brief description of how the dance goes is provided in the book ‘Vajra Dance of Space’ available from Shang Shung Edizioni.
“It appears that about 36 practitioners can dance together in one Khalong (mandala unit). The Dance starts with one Pamo/Pawo couple entering the Khalong, followed by another and another and so on, after a precise count. This enables many couples to dance simultaneously in one Khalong, passing each other without conflicting or compromising encounters … The symbolic movements are easy to learn and remember. The harmonious unfolding of the Dance depends mainly on the presence of practitioners, keeping the precise timing and connections to the sounds in the right location. This we discover together.”
So our experience was to get a brief taste of the possibilities of this profound dance: it was apparent that ‘technique’ was not the main issue. The main considerations being timing; harmonising with ones partner so as to reach juncture points of the mandala together. Spaciousness and focus were required in equal measure: focus to keep with the rhythm and spaciousness to keep a global awareness of the total movement and space of the mandala.
Each pair is moving to the syllables of the Song of the Vajra, however each PAWO/PAMO pair is moving through a different stage of the Song of the Vajra. The music simply stamps out the beat and each pair is in their own ‘Song of the Vajra’ dimension whilst also being on the bigger mandala of space. All in all we found a pretty mind blowing experience as we practised!
I felt this practice as a great symbol of the inseparability of our personal practice and collaboration with the greater sangha.
Next time we practice this I will make sure we make a video to share on Dzog Blog.
If you’re interested to find out more about this and the other dances please contact Cindy.
For those of you with transmission from Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, e copies of the book instructing the steps of this dance can be found by clicking this link.