What I learned (again) is that CNN is full of shit. I live there, I know (personally) some of the dynamics. What we saw on TV was selected images, laced with drama. That's another story for another interview.

Wave Magazine Interview

09.11.2005   Matt Chittock, editor of Wave Magazine (Brighton, UK)


WAVE
Hi Wilbert, hopefully right time and place now…
So, my first question-
How did you discover Trance Dance for yourself?
 
WILBERT ALIX
It grew out of the old shamanic use of dance as a way to duplicate nature. This (I think) was the first way humans attempted to (energetically) understand it's surroundings. TranceDance as I use it is a contemporary version of this approach. It was my teacher Frank Natale who first showed me a contemporary way to approach Trance Dance.
 
WAVE
What do you mean by "a way to duplicate nature"?
 
WILBERT ALIX
In shamanic times people observed nature (animals, plant life, elements of nature like fire, the wind,... not just from a "visual" perspective but rather from a more kinesthetic perspective (feeling, emotions). So, they would dance in a way that mimicked animals, or the elements. As an example, Native American dances are 'animal' dances, or elemental dances... dances that interpret the movements of nature.
 
WAVE
Cool, socially speaking dancing has always been popular (obviously, as a way to meet partners!) but I think people have always loved to let themselves go in music.
Obviously attending one of your workshops is a very directed experience, can you describe what takes place at one, and the kind of affect it has on the participants?
 
WILBERT ALIX
TranceDance is conducted in a 'ritual' context. My definition of ritual is a "structure that makes you aware of something greater than yourself". TranceDance as I approach it is done in community but totally as a solo journey. I use 'darkness' as a catalyst to reveal deeper stories about our spiritual evolution. This is done with the use of a blindfold or bandana over the eyes. From an anatomical perspective, the eyes are the only sensory organs that grow directly out of the brain, so we are overwhelmed by light. Darkness is a doorway into the soul of humanity, and until we explore this we will continue to be distracted by the obvious and miss the deeper lessons that life attempts to reveal to us. So, TranceDance is a doorway into our spirit-self, not our ego-self which is what we are overwhelmed with when we rely only on what we see.
 
WAVE
What kind of music do you use? Is it organic, or recorded? Repetitive beats or ambient?
 
WILBERT ALIX
All of these actually. Each serves a different purpose. Most people relate to only organic music in shamanism, yet I see value in them all. Electronica is actually organic as well. It's based on the principles of a crystal, which is a HIGHLY formed element of nature. All electronica is actually created in machines that run energy through crystals. Repetitive beats are universal in trance ritual. It allows the dancer to transcend 'listening' to the music to actually being compelled by the sound, thereby making it possible for the 'soul' of the person to separate from their physical body and travel externally.
 
There is another form of trance which is not shamanic trance (soul journeys) but possession trance, which is when we invite a spirit into us, for guidance, healing, vision, revelations, etc. This is the most misunderstood form of trance, and (I think) the aspect of spirituality that humanity needs to explore. One way to understand this is looking at the concept of 'ancestors'. Shamanic cultures did not make a distinction between 'ancestors' and 'spirit'. For them this was one in the same. Westerners have bought a new story... the promise of spirit as a future relationship... one that one aspires to, not something that energizes us.
 
WAVE
As a fan of electronica myself, I thoroughly agree.
Obviously one of the biggest youth movements of the last 10 years has been the rave scene in which people have used drugs to reach other states through music.
Although by no means ideal (and potentially life threatening) do you think there is any value in these kinds of experiences?
 
WILBERT ALIX
Yes, but not chemical ones... in any form. These substances do not speak to the body/mind consciousness of humans... just the mind. If you consider that our 'minds' are more than "consciousness locked in the brain", and severely limited absent of our entire physical structure, then you can understand why anything that separates you from your body cannot be inherently spiritual. Our bodies are 'carriers of consciousness'. To eliminate the body creates a false sense of spirituality, much like women who complain that they can't have orgasms unless the ENTIRE body participates, including but not only in the brain. You can have a sexual experience at many levels, but it doesn't get spiritual unless the entire body is engaged. Same for substances. Unless they can 'metabolize' at a rate that the body relates to then they just provide a 'high', not a revelation of wisdom. Wisdom speaks in a larger language, and therefore requires a bigger receptor.
 
WAVE
Spot on...
Now, I understand that you were away from America when the tragic floods hit New Orleans this year. Obviously everyone understood the severity of the situation.
Not meaning to be crass but how did you feel about the disaster, and what did it mean for you personally?
  
WILBERT ALIX

Yes, I was in the UK at the time. I watched this tragedy unfold on CNN, like most of the world. What I learned (again) is that CNN is full of shit. I live there, I know (personally) some of the dynamics. What we saw on TV was selected images, laced with drama. That's another story for another interview.
 
From a personal perspective, I'm realizing that I will never again see actual places from my childhood. They are gone, forever. I am left with only the memories. New Orleans is a waaaay more significant culture than most people get. So much of the heart of art and music and spirituality in America was born in this city. I can't really imagine what we will do without her. It's still a reality that I am having a difficult time internalizing. Now, from a sociological point of view there was an aspect of poverty and complacency that so deeply permeated the culture that it would take an act of God to transform... which is precisely what occurred. Long story short... it will be the children of these families that will benefit from this disaster. They are now seeing a world that would never have revealed itself to so many. Like the phoenix rising from the flames it will be these people, whose lives were at a dead end, that will benefit from this story.
 
My intention is to return to New Orleans to help. I have a long history there... musically, I worked as a social activist, my family is all there. My purpose for returning is not only to revive an old story (although there are parts of our history that must be told) but rather to work with individuals who are interested in a new vision.
 
WAVE
Yeah, I know, CNN and Fox are as evil as they come...the BBC coverage was pretty good though, on Radio 4 they were actually phoning up victims of the disaster on cells in the US to find out exactly what was happening on the spot.
Not that it actually helped the victims.
 
Anyway, I need to sign off soon, but just one more question for you:
This interview you've kindly given will be in our Dec/Jan edition, when we're looking at the New Year.
What are your hopes for 2006?
 
WILBERT ALIX
I'm a hopeless optimistic... and I don't think there is any reason not to be. We're doomed as soon as we think we're doomed. 2006 is one year closer to 2012, the year the Mayan calendar completes it's cycle. What they believe is what I see on the horizon- that time as we know it will cease to unfold in ways that we're unfamiliar with. The obvious is that all things are complexifying. To what end is the mystery. What I have observed is that whenever anyone says that they want to be 'free', what they are actually saying is that they want to have a life not controlled by time. So, one way or another that's precisely where we're going. How humanity will fare is the question, but because I see things at the level of the soul then I can only say that it will be released, free of the body or within a new social structure that permits greater freedom. One way or the other we benefit.