Last March, Narabali and I were talking over instant messenger, and we started to discuss dance and its place in ritual. After a while, we started thinking about its place in Indo-European culture and belief, and how it has been used in many IE practices throughout time. Particularly of interest, I thought, was how ADF doesn't actually address the idea of movement or dance in ritual in any way, even though all festivals and gatherings usually have some kind of dance workshop.
Dance is also an integral part of many ADF members' religious and spiritual practices. As we accept this and attempt to help build the practice for our members, we need to remain mindful of this, or we risk alienating certain members by failing to adequately provide for their spiritual needs. Never before have we avoided attested practices in a modern context, and ADF has always been very good about providing opportunities for the outlet of skill and worship (consider, for example, the Scholar's Guild, which is primarily involved in using skill in studies and research for worship, and not inherently religious itself). Certainly, no other Guild can provide for the needs that a dancer has in ADF, and no Guild offers any training for those who wish to express themselves, not through words, but through actions. Every method of worship and spirituality needs to be considered as valid and useful to us, and our efforts to explore outlets that can bring us closer to our deities (not to mention make our rites more interesting and fun) should be explored. Simply put, the presence of dance and movement at festivals, rites, and in the broader Pagan community shows that there is a strong current toward expression of spirituality through these mediums, and from the number of persons interested, I think that this trend is carried through into ADF, and we need to recognize this.
For a non-dancer like myself, it's interesting to think about why I became involved in the formation of this Guild. Of course, there are people who will tell you that I love to dance, that they've seen me do it time and again, but while this is the case, I do not seek to learn the steps to specific dances, nor do I really care to express my worship through movement and dance. Really, what is important to me is that the people who desire this outlet, who wish to dance in order to please their deities, are able to receive training, discuss their methods, and simply enjoy themselves in worshiping as they see fit.
My hope for this Guild is that it will not only provide this outlet, but that it will help to draw people into ADF who are interested in these forms of worship. I feel that by providing quality workshops, offering training, and opening up new avenues of worship for people who may not have thought about it in this way before, we can truly grow in our religion, helping to make each other more spiritually sound. Keeping with the tradition of the other Guilds, which are designed (in part) to provide training and outlets for worship, as well as to help ADF as a whole grow and change, I think that the Dance guild is a nice fit. Everyone is welcome, for everyone can dance (even if you dance like me) in the joy that is our worship.