LIPA dance show Kali Yuga looks on the bright side of life
There's a lot of noise on the Internet about 2012. Some, basing their theories on Mayan calendar cycles, say we can look forward to fiery annihilation in December. Others, who have been busy with calculators, calendars and Hindu teachings, say this year marks the end of a dark period in our history and the start of a golden era.
Although I hesitate while writing this, not wanting to tempt fate, I'm pretty sure we won't be dashing for our tin hats come the 12th month. NASA says so, too. Many brush off the second theory as a concoction of religious teachings and myths cooked up by conspiracy theorists, albeit less morbidly pessimistic ones.
These theories, and many like them, should not be read literally, though. They seem symptomatic of the human condition. A lot of people, judging by the gargantuan mass of web pages dedicated to conspiracy theories, are in a spiritual semi-vacuum, looking for something to believe in and feeling disenchanted by what Western society has to offer. We are, I think, looking for a change of some sort.
This brings me (in a very roundabout way) to the Liverpool connection. At the end of May, LIPA's dance department staged Kali Yuga, the name being the gloomy era in history in which we currently live, according to Hinduism. The production was inspired by the rich seam of Hindu teachings that say humanity experiences cycles of spiritual breakdown and regeneration that last thousands of years.
People have used these same teachings, along with calendars, to come up with the theory that 2012 marks the end of Kali Yuga and the start of a new age of enlightenment and harmony.
Kali Yuga the show tells the story of a young person searching for spiritual enlightenment in 2012 against the frenetic backdrop of modern Western society.
The director and choreographer, Jacqueline Jones, explained: "2012 is seen as a turning point for humanity, a chance for us to connect, to change the way that we live with one another.
"The message is one of hope and transformation as opposed to doom and gloom. I want audiences to leave feeling uplifted. But our dancers will take them down to dark places - to explore the dark contours of the human soul."
It's particularly fitting that these concepts are being explored through dance. Unlike actors or musicians, dancers tell their story, and connect with their audience, purely through movement. There's something appealing about the simplicity of it all. They don't need instruments, microphones or scripts (although there is music and a set in Kali Yuga!) Their art, in some respects, is raw and primordial.
For us as a society, there is no going back to the simple life. We're too set in our ways. But there's no harm in learning from the ancients and slowing down a little, and reflecting on what's important in life.
2013 probably won't herald breakthrough changes in human relations, but let's hope it does mark the start of a steady, much-needed shift for the better.