A Poem in Motion // Don't Go, Don't Go by Mirabai

A Poem in Motion, Mirabai | Ruby Josephine

Lately, I have been on a pretty good roll of spending 2 hours in the studio at least once a week, working solely on personal material. While eventually I would like to make this even more regular, it is a small victory to get myself there every Thursday at 9:30am for the past month or so. 

When faced with the prospect of self-inflicted momentum in the morning, involving putting on dance clothing, finding a taxi, finding change for the taxi, and finally warming up my body fast enough to bear dancing in a completely non-insulated studio, it can often seem much easier to go back to that dent in the couch where I do my cozy writing and reading. 

However, I have been on a streak of motivation that I am determined to not let die. In a creative’s life there are always low and lazy periods, so it is all the more important to ride the flush of energy while it’s alive. My current streak has been flowing from the tail end of taking so many inspiring classes while I was home in December and from the constant probing feeling that in these weird and “interesting” times (socially and politically speaking), it is important to keep creating work that contributes to the good of the world. 

Tuning out and shutting down does not feel like an option anymore. I bring my frustration to the studio and see what good I can morph it into. As a result, I have a handful of different ideas that I keep flip-flopping back and forth, resulting in a sort of dancer’s schizophrenia and I cannot for the life of me decide which one I should turn into real material. 

Dance Me a Poem | Ruby Josephine

Instead of choosing a larger concept, the other week I decided to revert back to making small studies. I had been thinking of turning my last Poem in Motion post into a series, so I dug up an old piece of writing I copied a while back and began to play. I found this poem in a beautiful book of translations by Robert Bly, titled The Winged Energy of Delight. The new-age-y (for lack of a better term for it) part of myself instantly fell in love with it’s imagery and quiet, feminine power.

In Bly’s book, the poem is preceded by a little biography of the author, Mirabai (also known as Mira, as she calls herself in her own work). She was a 16th century Indian poet, singer, seer and sage who steadfastly devoted her life to the joyous worship of Krishna. Frequently singing and dancing herself into ecstasy, she created a name for herself as a rebellious, resilient and liberated woman (you can read more about her here). Basically, just the kind of inspiring figure whose spirit we need these days- someone around whom I could probably create an entire solo. 

For now, however, here is my movement interpretation of Mirabai’s poem, Don’t Go, Don’t Go. I decided to include the text within the video, but you can find the whole poem below. 

Don’t Go, Don’t Go
Mirabai

Don’t go, don’t go. I touch your soles. I’m sold to you.
No one knows where to find the Bhakti path, show me where to go.
I would like my own body to turn into a heap of incense and sandalwood
and you set a torch to it.
When I’ve fallen down to gray ashes, smear me on your shoulders and
chest.

Mira says: You who lift the mountains, I have some light, I want to
mingle it with yours. 

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*Note: Bhakti in Hinduism is most simply described as emotional devotionalism, also referring to a spiritual movement that started around the 15th century across India. 

Happy almost-end-of-the-week. Stay inspired. xo