Kali: The Archetype of our Times

Contemplating the Dynamic Feminine Through Dance

Kali is one of the most powerful archetypes in Indian philosophy. As a symbol of stepping into the unknown, Kali invites us to engage with reality fearlessly and creatively. She exists outside of time and of all social structures that interpret this reality.  She  brings us to a space of dynamic ambiguity and beauty.  She asks of us to embrace the totality of reality without polarities and judgment. She also symbolises ‘tasting’ the forbidden, challenging those aspects of reality, and of our own selves, with which we are fearful to engage.  The workshop will embody physically these concepts associated with Kali.  Participants will discover Kali through sculpture, narratives, associated archetypes and concepts such as the 64 Yoginis.

Workshop structure and approach

Archetypes are mythical characters from all cultures that are mirrors of ourselves. Connecting with powerful archetypes through dance can help us link with larger narratives and find strength, creativity and power in everyday life.
The contemplative choreography used in the workshop draws from ancient sculpture as well as the sophisticated theory of accessing archetypes described in the ancient text on Indian theatre, Natya Sastra.  It will also use archetypal theories as elaborated by Carl Jung and others, such as James Hillman, to bring these practices into a contemporary and everyday context. The use of dance as the medium of accessing and discovering the archetypes will draw from Indian Tantric traditions where the focus is on symbolic and embodied forms of representation and where the feminine principle is central to the understanding of the nature of reality.

The aim of the workshop is to connect our personal narratives to larger, timeless and universal patterns and in this way help us understand – without judgement – our complex and rich state of being. The workshop has the potential to promote well being by allowing us to connect creatively and mindfully with archetypal energies in a safe and non judgmental environment. The approach draws from the transcendental and transformative traditions of Indian philosophy, rather than from the catharsis focused western theatre traditions.  Dance is embodied philosophy in all cultures and, in Indian philosophy, it is as much a sadhana, or spiritual discipline, as it is ritual. The workshop draws from this approach to dance and links to the temple dance traditions where the dancer, the danced and the spectator were all part of the transformative experience of Rasa, or the feeling of union with the universe.

No previous experience of dance or archetypes is necessary. You can hear Padma talkng about this workshop here.

Indicative Schedule

9.30- 11.00 am Introduction, core physicality of Kali through sculpture
11.00 am break for morning tea
11.15 am-12.30 pm The Yoginis
12.30- 1.30 pm Lunch
1.30 -3 pm Emotional polarities: Chamundi and selected Dashamahavidya archetypes

10-11.30 am Tasting the forbidden
11.30 am Morning tea
11.45 am – 1 pm Consolidation session
1- 2 pm Lunch
2- 3 pm Performance of work by participants (voluntary); Performance of Kali choreography by Padma Menon; Questions and reflections