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Daily Helping for December 30th – 2020 – Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva

A photo still from a performance of the Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva. The dancer in front is looking straight at the camera, while dozens of arms appear at her sides from the dancers behind her.

Ready for more inspiring art? While searching for group dance pieces, I somehow landed on this video. I watched it once and my jaw dropped. I watched it again in amazement, and then a third time just because the visuals were so beautiful. I then did a little research to gain some context about what I was watching. That’s when I learned that in Buddhism, a bodhisattva is a person who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and is currently on that path. The thousand-hand bodhisattva depicted in this video refers to Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion and the Goddess of Mercy. She has a thousand arms to help those in need, and each hand has a thousand eyes to watch over the world and keep it safe. I love it.

I think it should go without saying that this dance piece is extraordinary. The level of synchronization alone is astonishing. And I used to be a synchronized swimmer, so I’m intimately aware of just how hard that can be. The level of precision in this video is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. At some points, it’s almost like watching an optical illusion. But then my mind was blown even further.

While researching the history of the dance itself, I discovered that the Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva is the signature piece of the China Art Troupe of Disabled Persons. I think my brain imploded somewhat when I discovered that all of the dancers in this piece are deaf and/or visually impaired. Furthermore, the orchestra is composed of blind musicians. I mean… how? Just… how? I can’t even begin to imagine performing this piece with full use of all five senses. What these dancers are doing just takes it all to an entirely new level.

Of course, after learning the full context of this artwork, I had to watch it again. And again. And many more times after that. It was mesmerizing. I hope I never stop being amazed at the beauty of what artists can create.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!