Hineni: The Dance of Presence
Rosh Hashanah 5772
by Rabbi Diane Elliot
I’ve striven for hineni and struggled with hineni—for whole-hearted, whole-bodied presence—for as long as I can remember. In the world such as it is, with so many assaults on the senses, so much information, so much pain and struggle, it’s been hard to want to bring myself fully, consistently here.
When I was a young dancer studying at the Nikolais studio on 36th street in New York City, one of the catchphrases that my teachers repeated constantly was “Show me!” When we would improvise or choreograph movements on a certain quality or idea, our teachers wanted us to place our whole bodies and spirits in service of that idea, to let it so completely permeate us, that we would become transparent, and only that particular quality of space or motion would be visible through us. The trick was to be so present in your movement that the everyday you—with all of your fears, insecurities, and blockages—disappeared, so that something else—something infinitely bigger and grander—something transcendent—could shine through.