Sacred Circle Dance - a Means of Renewal

Lynn Frances

One of the most significant events in my life is the discovery of Sacred Circle Dance. I first came across it in 1982 'by chance' - or was it? I was at a 'Green Gathering' camp where I danced morning and evening for a week: by the time I left to go home I was 'hooked'. Yes it does feel something like an addiction in that I cannot imagine how I would cope if I could not dance. Yet it is the healthiest addiction I know - in fact it is positively healing!

What are these dances? They are international folk dances done in a circle holding hands. So everyone is attempting to do the same steps (although it does not always work out that way!) and you do not have to have a partner. The dances come from all over the world - Greece, former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Israel to mention but a few. The music is beautiful, some of it reminiscent of sun-drenched Greek beaches and some very emotive, such as the Israeli songs about finding a homeland, some sad or thoughtful and some exuberant and energetic.

Dance as an immediate experience

Sacred Circle Dances come in many guises from the gentle to the assertive, from the slow to the fast, and from the simple to the complex. They are a wonderful means of expression: for instance, we can experience in a very immediate way the vitality of spring in a fast dance such as Ekis Lisko Horo from Macedonia; we understand the enormity of an arranged marriage when we do the slow, thoughtful bride's dance, Hora Miressi from Romania; we feel deep tenderness, love and gratitude in the Israeli dance, Ahawat Hadassa, to a beloved niece; and we can even acknowledge our own feelings of aggression when we dance like a warrior in Arap from former Yugoslavia (and this is surely a safe way to express this type of emotion).

The recent choreographies from within the Sacred Dance movement add another dimension to the experience. We can fly like the White Bird to atmospheric music on pan pipes from South America; we know what it is like to open and close like a flower with the sun in the Dandelion Dance; and we celebrate the joy of life in Hallelujah Eloihim.

Harmony of the circle

What is it that makes Sacred Circle Dance so special? That is a very difficult question to answer because it is different for everybody. Yet it seems to move people in a very special way. Maybe it is because we are holding hands, and physical contact is a rarity these days. The circle itself is a very powerful symbol of wholeness and completeness. Add to that the movement and the harmony of all doing the same steps and you have a powerful combination.

People talk of coming to an evening class when they are absolutely exhausted or have a headache - they could hardly drag themselves out of the chair. Yet after a few dances they have revived and found a new lease of life. How can this be? It seems to be a paradox that movement, sometimes extremely energetic, and often a little taxing mentally, should bring renewed energy, yet that is what we experience in the circle.

It is quite remarkable to be in a circle at the beginning of a day or evening and after just one dance there is a harmony among the members of the group which is truly amazing. We may not even know each other's names; we certainly know little or nothing about each other. Yet the feeling of unity is there - a feeling that I have never experienced in any other setting. Everyone is important in that circle, everyone is equal: there is no judgement, good or bad.

A safe place

The symbolic nature of dancing in a circle (wholeness, healing), making the same movements (unity), being equal (harmony) and getting simple enjoyment from our own efforts (freedom) seems to be the essence of Sacred Circle Dance. Some people have a real problem around dancing: their past experience has made them believe that they 'cannot dance'. Suddenly they discover that a Circle Dance group is a 'safe place to be' - it is even a safe place to make mistakes! The tension of 'trying to dance' drops away and we can allow ourselves 'to be danced'. For that is what happens: the mind no longer inhibits the dancer, the body is danced and the circle moves in perfect harmony. I can never full express the wonder of Sacred Circle Dance - its joy and energy, its beauty and peace. It has to be experienced. If this article has moved you, why not try it for yourself?

This article first appeared in the quarterly magazine 'Christian'.

Lynn has been teaching Sacred Circle Dance since 1983, when she discovered its powerful effects in her own journey of self-transformation. In her workshops she has developed a reputation for creating a special atmosphere in which to relax, have fun and come to a deeper self-understanding. She teaches regular classes in Surrey and 'Self Awareness in Dance' workshops nationally and internationally. She has built a reputation for her imaginative use of these dances as a medium for bringing life to concepts which are difficult to grasp. For further information please contact Lynn.

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