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General News · 21st October 2008

Experience the fun of dancing with others, invite sacredness into your life and create a sense of well being and community. Everyone, regardless of dance experience, can easily learn these dances. No partners or dance experience required !

Join me, Lola Murray, for an introduction to Sacred Circle Dancing this Sunday October 26 at the Quadra Community Centre from 1 to 4 PM. Fee is $15, concessions available for teens. Cortes ferry pick up available with advance notice.

Our ancestors danced together without regard to being “expert”, but rather to share with each other. I danced with a Sacred Circle group in Edmonton for many years and am eager to share this lovely way of building community with my new friends on the Discovery Islands.

A good time was had by all at our first workshop in September. Join us in Room 3 this Sunday to find out what it’s all about. If you can’t make it, there’s another intro workshop on Sunday November 16. Price discount if you sign up for both!

Dancing in Circles – our common history

Once upon a time, they say, we danced throughout our lives - as we worked, played, ate, slept, fought, and loved. We danced to petition and appease the gods, to help the sun rise, the rivers flow, and the plants grow and thrive. By dancing we understood our power and our place in the universe, and through dance we transmitted this understanding to the next generation. We danced to celebrate life: its rites of passage, from birth to death; through the dance we attuned to and imitated the rhythms, cycles and the awe-inspiring process of nature, and we danced to express our joy, fear, grief and hope. To live was to dance.

Most importantly we danced together. We danced in a circle, the very symbol of unity and wholeness. Our circles created a sacred space, within which we created and recreated our cosmos and our realities. Outside was chaos and the unknown - within the circle was order, power and community.

Then came the rise of cities and trade, suppression of "pagan" forms of celebration and worship and the ravages of industrialism. We lost touch with our earth and our communal unity. Our dance became more purely social; the circle became opposing lines and squares, then broke into couples, until recently we see the ultimate in dissociation - dancing alone, unaware of the whole and isolated from one another. The circle of the dance was broken, but the need for it remained deep in our psyches, in the places where we remember our wholeness.

What is Sacred Circle Dance?

Sacred Circle Dance was developed in the sixties and seventies by a German Ballet master, Bernard Wosein, who noticed that some of the European folk dances that he collected seemed to hold a deep meaning of wholeness when they were danced in community. As people gathered in the village square to celebrate a birth or wedding, for example, there were simple dances, in which everyone participated, that seemed to codify a sense of the spiritual. Bernard called this “heilige tans” which is holy or wholistic dance. His ideas found a ready audience at Findhorn, ( from which the movement grew to where we are now, with dancing circles across the globe – and now on Quadra!

How is Sacred Circle Dance different?

Belly dancers, square dancers and international folk dancers can tell you the secret of communal dancing: dancing together creates community wordlessly and fast. What circle dance has that these other forms of folk dance may not, is a conscious focus on group awareness and on personal transformation.

We see our dancing as a moving meditation which embraces the wholeness of body, mind and spirit in the context of loving community, by using the rhythms of the natural world and the steps of ancient peoples, and - most importantly - with the sense of the sacred that was so much a part of our ancestors’ lives and which has almost no place in ours.

That sounds a bit airy fairy!

To experience the dance as more than just physical movement does require something we may not be accustomed to—and certainly are not used to in groups. It requires holding still in silence for a few moments and becoming attentive to your experience. Nobody asks you to say anything about whatever you discover for yourself: we just remain in the dancing circle, in silence, at the end of a dance for a few moments before starting on the next one. We tend to favor dances that car¬ry more overt meaning: generic ones like turning from the dark to the light and specific ones like a bride’s taking leave of her childhood home. And there are some that are just pure fun!

But I’ve never danced before!

We teach every dance every time, so don’t worry. Our dance repertoire draws on the rich traditional dances of the Balkans, Greece, Israel, Romania and Russia as well as the modern choreographies to all kinds of music from around the world - including contemporary music. We strive to encourage dancers who may have dif¬ficulty “getting” the steps to do what they can. If you can’t turn easily in three steps, just take three walking steps to keep up with the movement of the circle. If your arm hurts and you can’t do a shoulder hold, we’ll find another hold for you, or put you at the end of a line on your “good side.” The aim is always to make the experience of the dance accessible to the people who’ve come.

Take a moment for yourself

Take a breather this Sunday and treat yourself to something new. Teens especially welcome, and both women and men. Good fun & great companionship. Come on – you know you want to! You can register in advance at QCC 285 3243 or contact Lola for info:

With files from John and Marina Bear, Judy King and Rowan Scott