Get to know some of our Circle Dance facilitators & some circle’s histories:
*Listings are from Northern to Southern B.C.
ROBSON VALLEY TEACHERS/HISTORY
Circle Dancing has been going on in Dunster since the mid 1990’s when Mair Smith and Roz Shepherd from Edmonton came to teach the first Circle Danceshop in Dunster for a few years in a row. Debby Ladoucer and her sisters danced in Edmonton with June Watts. Debby subsequently carried the spirit of the dancing circle for the first 15 years then was joined by facilitators Rashmi Narayan and Micah Yoder, to each of whom has danced at special events in their respective communities. A photo of Robson Valley dancers is on the cover of June Watt’s book ‘Circle Dancing – Celebrating the Sacred in Dance’. June has led an annual August danceshop in the Robson Valley since the late 1990’s. Hundreds of their dances come through June’s danceshops. Rashmi and Micah have travelled and explored dance from different teachers in North America and Europe and have brought many new dances to our circles.
RASHMI NARAYAN (VALEMOUNT/DUNSTER)
When Rashmi attended an evening of Circle Dance in 2001, dance had not been part of her vocabulary. But the music took over, and the body fell into sync with the steps, even the complicated ones. After circle dance became one of her regular spiritual practices in 2010, Rashmi travelled to San Francisco, Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto and UK for danceshops to be inspired by teachers and fellow dancers. She facilitates the circles in Valemount and Dunster and has choreographed a handful of dances as well. Rashmi thrives on movement because often Circle Dance is simple, and everything else complicated.
MICAH YODER (PRINCE GEORGE)
Micah has been dancing for about 15 years since joining the Dunster circle and attending the June Watts summer danceshop every year since. She has attended various teacher workshops in the lower mainland, Whitehorse and Dunster. She shared teaching dancing in Valemount and Dunster. Micah moved to Prince George 2 years ago and began teaching there, first in her house and currently at the Wellness Center where she works as an acupuncturist. What dancing means to Micah: Circle Dancing has brought so much love into my life and opened my heart. I enjoy the community of dancers and the beautiful friendships I’ve made. Dancing through the seasons and years, through many changes, through hard times and good times has been a entering meditation. I love how the dances speak to me and how the wisdom and messages of the dance come through and illuminate my life with joy.
NAOMI SILVER (SALMON ARM)
Naomi’s first introduction to Circle Dance was in the late 1980’s with June Watts in the Interior of B.C. where she lives on an organic farm. Since then Circle Dancing has been a beautiful and colourful thread in the fabric of her life. Over the years she has danced by herself and been part of different Circle Dance groups, each one unique on to itself. In some of these groups members have taken turns teaching dances and in others she has co-facilitated with a dancing friend. Presently she teaches a small group that meets once a month in Salmon Arm.
SARAH L’ESTRANGE (ROBERTS CREEK, SUNSHINE COAST)
Sarah began to Circle Dance in 2003 in Vancouver with Corinne Chepil’s group, and continues to feel the passionate joy of the dance. She has danced in B.C. Canada, with Friedel Kloke-Eibl, June Watts, Marina and John Bear, and Mihaela Yeung; in England with Lesley Laslett and Pablo Scornik; in Scotland at the Findhorn Sacred Dance Festival with Laura Shannon, Susanne Bartholomai and Kyriakos Moisidis; in Mexico with Frida Zalcman and Gwen Peterdi. Sarah started teaching in Corinne’s circle, then began a group in West Vancouver, and later co-taught with Wendy Anne Park. She has led taught in Gibsons and Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, and now facilitates a monthly Circle Dance in the heart of Roberts Creek where she lives.
MIHAELA YEUNG (NORTH VANCOUVER)
Mihaela has spent the last 16 years studying and teaching both locally and internationally. Her passion is traditional women’s dances, which she shares in the context of the culture and myths of ancient goddess civilizations. Mihaela has a degree in anthropology, and she is bringing her knowledge and life experience to the circles she facilitates. She obtained her Sacred Dance Teacher’s Certificate at the Findhorn Foundation and has studied with several internationally known teachers, the most influential of all being Laura Shannon. This included the 2 Year Training in women’s ritual dances, as well as numerous seminars in Greece and Bulgaria. These studies have grounded Mihaela’s knowledge and experience in the landscape and village life where the dances come from. Their energy comes alive through Mihaela’s loving, mindful, patient way in which she leads her circles. She offers seasonal celebration dances, half day workshops, and week-long women’s retreats.
WENDY ANNE PARK (NORTH VANCOUVER)
Dance muses have been speaking to Wendy Anne for many years with mystical experiences both while watching Thai Dance and in the dreamtime after witnessing Balinese dancers in Ubud. She has explored many forms of dance for the past 40 years including ballroom, tango, salsa, belly and African. She studied Polynesian dance for 5 years including competition and public venue performance. Wendy Anne began Circle Dance in September 2007 immediately falling in love with both the music and form. Soon thereafter, jumping into a training offering in Vancouver. She co-facilitated a circle for two years and has lead her own circle since 2012. Together with her husband John and his band Rondo Muzika, they co-create local live music dancing events. Her study of Emily Conrad’s “Continuum” provides valuable insight into the importance of whole-body integration. This study has inspired her to incorporate a body-balanced brain integrative approach to her teaching style.
CORINNE CHEPIL (VANCOUVER)
Corinne enjoys sharing the gifts of Circle Dance such as community, joy and peace. She started facilitating in Vancouver in 2003 and has helped mentor a few of the Lower Mainland teachers. Corinne has a B.A. in Dance/Psychology, a Dance Teacher Diploma and a Sacred Dance Teacher Certificate from the Findhorn Foundation as well as over 30 years experience facilitating dance and movement to people age 3 -100. She has danced with many of the prominent Circle Dance teachers, her main mentor being June Watts and has enjoyed dance travel journeys in Western Canada, Eastern USA, England, Peru and Barbardos. Her teaching highlights include Women’s Spirituality Celebrations, New Years celebrations at St. Paul’s Labyrinth and the 2006 World Peace Forum at UBC. Presently she facilitates Circle Dance at the Unitarian Church, in East Vancouver and at care facilities with seniors and would love to share with other communities.
JAN CARNAHAN (DUNCAN)
Jan started the Duncan Sacred Circle Dance circle in 1996 after missing her home circle in Edmonton, where she danced for years with Mair Smith. The circle has danced weekly ever since! The Duncan circle has hosted June Watts for many summer workshops and collaborated with other circles to bring Laura Shannon and other international teachers to Vancouver Island. The dancers in the Duncan circle enjoy travelling near and far to dance for a day, a weekend or a week in local to international gatherings. They all love and consciously nurture the community and connection of the Dance!
CLARIS COWAN (NANAIMO)
Claris has been Circle Dancing since 1998. She has an extensive history of ballet, jazz, tap, flamenco, and musical theatre going back to childhood. “My first experience of Sacred Circle Dance was a workshop by June Watts. I fell instantly in love and have never fallen out. Teaching Sacred Circle Dance has added a whole new dimension to my life and deepened my feelings of connection to other dancers, teachers and the planet. Even with all my previous dance experience, I never really ‘danced’ before this. For me, Sacred Circle Dance connects me with everything.”
Victoria was one of the earliest venues for Sacred Circle Dance in Canada. Louise Taylor invited a Canadian recently returned from Findhorn to present the first Sacred Dance event in Victoria in 1984. During this gathering, Leslie Moore met both Louise and The Dance. By 1986, Peter Vallance, Colin Harrison and other teachers had given weekend workshops here, and Leslie and Louise with others were leading bimonthly circles as well as ritual celebrations for solstices and equinoxes. Marta Fraser took part in these early groups. By the turn of the 21st century the dance had gone dormant here, but when Betsy Nuse moved to Victoria from the Cowichan Valley, she started a new circle which was supported by both old timers and new dancers. Retired from Fort McMurray Alberta where she facilitated a circle, Chris McCarthy is an enthusiastic contributor to our dance programs.
MARTA FRASER (VICTORIA/MEXICO)
Having grown up in Mexico, dance was very much part of Marta’s culture and education. Her encounter with Circle Dance over 20 years ago brought a different dimension to her experience of dancing – an intention to be in community and to explore the spiritual aspects of the dance with the awareness of the joyful connection with self and others and the special connection with the sacred. Marta has been fortunate to be able to follow her passion and travel far and wide in pursuit of dancing experiences with well-known Circle Dance teachers in Europe, USA, Mexico and Canada. She has been teaching in Mexico and Canada over the last 7–9 years.
CHRIS McCARTHY (VICTORIA)
Chris has danced in the Victoria circle since 2010, a few years later ‘taking the plunge’ by leading dances and also organizing a few dance evenings. She’s thankful for Circle Dance coming in to her life in 1996 when Mair Smith from Edmonton share two workshops in two years in Fort McMurray. Chris then danced in a monthly group where each dancer lead their favourite dances and supplemented the dance repertoire by attending workshop weekends in the Edmonton area. In 2005 she moved to Edmonton, dancing weekly in their circle. She’s enjoyed workshops with Laura Shannon, June Watts, Judy King, Lesley Laslett, Susanne Bartholomäi, Barbara Driscoll, the Bears, Barbara Herring, Saskia and Friedel Kloke-Eibl plus many of the wonderful BC weavers that keep the dance going strong! Her motto: Circle Dance – great for the mind, body and spirit!