This project is the first in a series where small but essential fragments from different cultures are examined in detail. The intent of this series is to promote through the performing and visual arts, an informed acceptance of different ways of looking at the world. Human societies have developed a dazzling variety of cultures, much of this diversity arising from the creative impulses of people, from the past, as well as the present. The art and myths of these societies offer us a rewarding entry point into a different world - a world of exciting ideas and concepts.
Our theme is the Dancing Shiva. Two components are available:
1) a bi-lingual (English and French), illustrated, 30 page booklet
2) A 10 minute DVD
People living side by side, but following different cultural traditions, are a common feature of many human societies. Canadian society, with its diverse ethnic make-up, is unusual only for the rapidity with which the various cultures of its immigrant populations have come together. Among the most prominent features of cultural diversity are the range of myths developed by different societies and their expression in the visual and performing arts.
This material is designed to promote tolerance, mutual understanding and respect through a better appreciation of mythology, as presented in traditional visual and performing arts. Myth and the arts are powerful keys to unlocking other cultures and recognizing the humanity and creativity inherent in all of us.
Approaching a culture from the perspective of its arts such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, theatre or writing may seem daring, as these activities tend to develop their own codes and aesthetics.
The image of The Dancing Shiva has become synonymous with Indian culture. It appears on works of art and ritual objects, on book covers, magazines, menus, tee-shirts, paintings and advertisements. This image is universally recognized as one of great beauty, its attraction deriving from balance, symmetry and harmony. This much can be appreciated by anyone, without any special knowledge. However, on a deeper level, many aspects of the image allude to ideas with profound meanings specific to Hindu philosophy. Here, dance is a philosophical metaphor for the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction.