Transcendent Play
Richard Powers

Many of my points about partnering relate to dance as transcendent play.  This is a term used by Diane Ackerman, who wrote a book on "Deep Play".  She explores the concept of play from a variety of perspectives: how it is defined, what species participate in it, and the roles it can play in a culture.

In exploring levels of play, Ackerman focuses on the deep absorption that is often attained during sustained periods of play, likening it to the ecstatic states of religious or spiritual practice.  Play is important in our lives.  We need time and space to step out of our everyday world to play, for our own satisfaction, pleasure and sanity.

"Deep play is an absence of mental noise — liberating, soothing, and exciting," she says, "Deep play means no analysis, no explanation, no promises, no goals, no worries.  You are completely open to the drama of life that may unfold.  We spend our lives in pursuit of these moments of feeling whole."

It is deeply satisfying to reach this state of "informed instinct."  This is yet another reason why I focus on attentive, spontaneous partnering, as opposed to rigid rule-based dancing and memorized patterns.  Social dancing can be one of the ultimate experiences of transcendent play.

More thoughts and musings