DANCERS/FACILITATORS – Please help grow this page by sending your submissions to dancingmachine(at)telus(dot)net
“These dances connect us to a time characterized by a greater sense of community and enable us to experience celebration, community, joy, grounding, affirmation and healing – all so badly needed by Earth and her inhabitants” – H. Farkas
“Is it joy that makes us dance, or dancing that brings us in touch with Joy?” – unknown
“There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them.” – Vicki Baum
“Wherever a dancer stands is sacred ground.” – Martha Graham
“… dance is meditation in movement, a walking into silence, where every movement becomes prayer.” – Bernard Wosien
“Folk Dance is an activity, Circle Dance is an experience” – Francis, 2005 New England Circle Dance camp participant
“To dance together as a group, moving to the same rhythm in time is a beautiful meditation and bonding of souls” – Zuzanna Vee
“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” – Hopi Saying
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” – Martha Graham
“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul to express what is too deep to find words.” – Ruth St. Denis
“When we join hands and dance, our mental, physical and spiritual selves unite … the rocks, the crystals, the earth and all the cosmos feels this, we become one.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“I would no longer dance to anything but the rhythm of my soul.” – Isadora Duncan
“Dance is a way of rising up into space, of discovering new dimensions while still remaining in touch with your body. When you dance, the spiritual world and the material world manage to co-exist quite happily. During any dance to which we surrender with joy, the brain loses its controlling power and the heart takes up the reins of the body. Only at that moment, does the Vertex (Divine) appear. As long as we believe in it, of course.” – Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
“To Live is to Dance, To Dance is to Live.” – Snoopy
Friedel Kolke-Eibl, from her invitation to a workshop on Mandalas in Dance in Victoria BC in 2014
“The Mandala is a symbol that has spiritual and ritual significance and represents wholeness. Mandalas provide a perceptible representation of the intellectual centre.
Therefore we do not need to merely wait for the centre to come to us – we can do something – with our hands and our feet: by dancing. This creative interaction with the universal symbol of the circle contains in itself a great healing and strengthening energy.
Anyone who dances in a circle continually gets nearer to the centre, either consciously or unconsciously. The gesture of embracing can be seen in the circle: I accept you and I receive you – that is the power of love.”
Angeles Arrien, from her foreword to Gabrielle Roth’s Maps to Ecstasy: The Healing Power of Movement, Nataraj/New World, 1998, p. xv.
“In many shamanic societies if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”
Rose Stapenhurst (grandmother’ of Circle Dance in BC)
“…… a strong dance memory I have was of a weekend of circle dancing in Waterloo, Ontario back in the 90s, (but actually time doesn’t matter here as it could have happened yesterday). By the end of the the weekend everyone was walking around with hearts wide open, brimming with love for one another. I would honestly say that I fell in love with everyone and that there were no boundaries between us”.
“One resource I have kept over the years is my dance book. For nearly ten years at the beginning of every circle dance event I led I placed designated book and pen in the center of the circle and invited dancers to enter the names of loved ones, places, situations or pets etc. into the book that they wanted to send a loving focus to. We all felt the love that the circle generated through circle dancing together and it was powerful to focus our hearts. The book remained in the centre throughout the event, and at the end we always sent out the love/energy we had generated to all the names in the book, plus any other we mentioned vocally. It was always a special part of our dances.”
My First Circle Dance Experience: ‘A Few Days After 9/11′
by Corinne Chepil
The air was ‘thick’ with grief and bewilderment after the tragic event of September 11, 2001 when women throughout BC, Western Canada and the US gathered to share healing workshops for the annual “Wise Women Festival” at Naramata, BC. I travelled with a few women friends and I along with one friend named Roxy decided we had to try ‘Circle Dancing’ just because it was a dance workshop. Facilitated by Rose Stapenhurst from Nelson, BC we were gently guided on a journey of dances reflecting the stages of a woman’s life. When we arrived at the ‘mother’ dance I froze (being 38 and at that ‘fine line’ between fecundity and mortality) stated to Rose that I just couldn’t dance that dance. She kindly suggested I sit in the middle of the circle which I accepted and then the ‘magic’ began……About 9 women (that’s the number I’m remembering and am going with) danced around me in such a loving, supportive way while the floodgates opened; my tears made the dancers appear in a glazing swirl while I mourned my decision not to have children.
It was a very profound moment in my life having all that support and love holding me and reminiscent of past dance therapy experiences (I had studied dance and psychology at SFU and had once dreamed of being a dance therapist). This was dance and….therapy – well, at least ‘therapeutic’ and I was transformed! The light bulb went on so to speak and it was there and then that I decided to pursue ‘Circle Dancing’, knowing that the ‘something’ that was calling me for the last seven or so years had finally arrived……
What Circle Dance Means to Me…..or How Circle Dance has Affected My Life
by Micah Yoder
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 centering 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.
Please check out the full poems by searching the internet
Closing the Circle by Wendell Berry
Within the circle of our lives
we dance the circle of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years …
Cast All Your Votes For Dancing by Hafiz
translation by Daniel Ladinsky from I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations…
* We Have Come To Be Danced by Jewel Mathieson
We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance …
*This poem was first published in Gabrielle Roth’s book Connections.
A White Night Experience in a poem…..
The following poem was written (and permission given to publish here) by one of our Vancouver circle dancers and poet, Andrea Nicki who was inspired by a special evening of dance at the Unitarian Church on Monday, January 9, 2017 to honour the new year. Andrea writes: “I really appreciated the new year’s circle dance at the UU church. I wanted to capture the experience in a poem.”
new year’s circle dance by Andrea Nicki
we wore white flowing cotton
shirts, pants, skirts
a circle of white petunias
we danced without speaking
made soft, quiet movements
to usher in the new light
our bodies coming close
arms embracing those on our left and right
then backing away…advancing…
a kaleidoscope of white
each person lit a small candle in the center
and let it float in the unknown
then struck a pose
the energy shape we wanted
to bring into the new year
i raised my arms high to protect a small child
sitting on my shoulders
others made different symbols
when the music ended
we embraced each person slowly
soft envelopes of love
our hearts open lockets
revealing unspoken messages
a tender farewell
Sacred Circle Dance
by Kathy Lenz (with permission)
Stepping into the circle,
unsure of what was to happen,
joining hands, feeling welcome
as each warm face glanced a smile.
The rhythmic beauty of the music began,
being led by a wonderful spirit of the dance.
Body moving and swaying, hands snapping, clapping,
holding, energy pulsing, sharing…
Smooth swish of feet, tapping, lifting, twirling…
Not only my feet, but my soul was lifted,
soothing my very being…
with joy, with love, with peace.
Dancing in the soft light of strangers
by a flickering candle centered between us.
What beauty shown on each face, as if dancing with Angels.
Creating a dance of acceptance and oneness.
I felt as though we had danced many times before,
in another realm, in another lifetime.
I did not want to let go of this beautiful moment in time
wanting to stay in the circle throughout eternity.
And in those silent moments, with hands and hearts
I could only imagine and dream of a place…
where I will dance forever
with the Angels.
Honouring the Sacred Wheel of the Year in Dance: Dec 2016 – Nov 2017
by Jen Boyes-Manseau
We have come full circle in this year of honouring the sacred wheel of the year in dance here in and around Nanaimo. My intention was to hold space for reconnection and re-enchantment with the land, animals, plants, people and All That Is through dancing celebrations for each sacred festival in outdoor locations around Nanaimo. The invitation was to learn the dances so we could deepen into them, and dance with as much presence as we could muster to experience connection and alignment and to serve something finer, higher.
Each month I offered practice sessions to those who wanted to learn and deepen into the dances. These sessions allowed for rich exchanges and explorations. I saw that this is how I lead and facilitate. I do not have something to teach, I have dances to share yes, but more I have a hunger to seek and explore and welcome people to walk, dance and explore with me. I am incalculably grateful for those who wanted to seek and move together, question and perhaps experience moments of unity and grace.
I am even more grateful to have lived and danced this year on Vancouver Island surrounded and supported by such unfathomably powerful nature. I acknowledge that we are living on land that has been loved and lived on by the Snuneymuxw people for many generations. Sacred Circle Dance is one way I have found to explore my connection (or lack of connection) to my own indigenous roots and ancestry, and I am aware of how tricky this is – we are imports and our own culture and traditions come from elsewhere and yet…and yet is it possible to reinvent and rediscover a way to be, and be here now? Where is home? Beyond geography and cultural ancestry, how can I continue to open to those invisible roots that reach into and connect with finer vibrations and other realms?
Below is a poem I wrote to express my deep gratitude for the all the Dancers who long to connect within, together and to something much larger than themselves. In this time of the year that Victoria dancer, Betsy Nuse, recently called “the preciously darkening time of the year” I offer this poem that alludes to what I strive and dance for.
Beacon Seeds Within
by Jen Boyes-Manseau
O lovely grove of trees
Who danced past Samhain
October winds undressed your branches
Leaves rot between your toes
Days are shorter
Nights darker, quicker and longer
And tender vulnerability stirs
As November spreads its cloak of brown and grey,
As sun crisp Jack Frost greets the mornings,
As barren boney branches make way for the
expansive heavenly dome –
Ursa Major, Polaris and the huge Grandmama Moon
Brighter now for all the
Beacon seeds to light the Dark Mystery.
And the pull within tug is stronger.
Eyes close to step into this dark dance
This gentle waltz where we
Heed the Dream-world
Listen to the silence
Rock the baby beacon seeds within
And come home again to rest in our heart’s hearth.
JEN BOYES-MANSEAU (NANAIMO)
Jen admits to one central and pervasive yearning – to bring theatre and dance off the stage and into people’s live, hearts and bodies as tools for connection, exploration, celebration and transformation. She studied movement-based theatre at the University of Ottawa, works as a theatre creator, director, dramaturge and performer and facilitates arts-based education as well as community and rites of passage ceremonies. Her hunger for dance and movement lead her to Lecoq’s mask and movement training, Lipsky’s Dream Enactment and sacred temple dances from India via Swami Radha. She met Sacred Circle Dance in Ottawa in 2001 and thanks to June Watts, Barbara Herring and the Ontario and Quebec Sacred Circle Dance communities, she began to facilitate in 2009. Her exploration of sacred theatre and dance continues…..
Note: In December of 2017 Jen moved to the Ottawa area. She is greatly missed here in BC yet we’re sure she’ll be dancing with us again at some point as she is from the West Coast. Blessings to you Jen from all of us in BC and Thank-You for your contributions to Circle Dance in BC and to this website!
In Memory of…..
Sheila MacLean in her multi-coloured ‘dancing’ dress at Rivendell Retreat Centre (Bowen Island)
August 25, 1949 – March 7, 2017
Circle dancers here on the West Coast along with dancers in Alberta were saddened to hear the very sad news of the recent loss of a dear woman from our Community. Many of us danced with Sheila MacLean originally from Edmonton who moved some years ago to Roberts Creek, BC. In BC Sheila facilitated Circle Dancing, danced at various danceshops and attended special events. She was one amazing woman who loved dancing and lived life to the fullest. Sheila will be greatly missed by many people, including many circle dancers. Some of her favourite dances were Marina, Magdalena and Leben (Life). We danced Leben twice in the past week in honour of Sheila in the Lower Mainland and lit candles for her. Please pay tribute to Sheila while you dance these dances. Sheila’s spirit will continue to dance in our circles!
A note from Sarah L’Estrange, Sheila’s neighbour, friend and Circle Dancing Co-teacher sends this message:
Before I left in early January our Cohousing community was creating a quilt for Sheila reflecting many aspects of her life. I co-designed a square honouring our Circle dance connection which was sewn by Irene Bradley who used to dance with us in cohousing. Sheila had earlier said she wanted to be wrapped in a quilt, not realizing her community would take her wish seriously. She was delighted when presented with the quilt. I shared many a dance with Sheila and we co-taught Circle Dance at a variety of places on the Sunshine Coast of BC. Some of her favourite dances were Marina, Magdalena and Leben. Let us keep her dancing in our hearts!
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(July 11, 1941 ~ May 30, 2017)
Carla (on the right) enjoying lunch with her friend Janet, after a summer day enjoying cooling the feet of unsuspecting bypassers with their handheld squirt animals!
We here in the BC Circle Dance community were saddened to hear of the loss of one of our dancers who died on May 30. Carla Poppen was quite a regular dancer at both the Unitarian Church (UCV) and the Lion’s Den (East Van) for a number of years before getting ill. She also attended our Rivendell retreat. Although Carla was unable to dance with us for the past few years we fondly remember her warm smile, hugs, kindness and her wise, open communication style and the way she ‘glided’ both in and out of our circles.
ELM DANCE FOR CARLA ~ One of Carla’s favourite dances was ‘Elm Dance’ which we have danced in her honour 3 times shortly after she passed.
Carla Ann Poppen, born in Peoria, Illinois in 1941, died in Vancouver on May 30st, after almost two weeks at Saint James Cottage Hospice, during which she was surrounded and lovingly cared for by her dearest friends and chosen family. Carla studied political science and sociology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and completed an MA in religious education at McCormick Theological Seminary. After working in Germany for 2 years, Carla emigrated to Canada where she completed a further degree in early childhood education, and went on to be teacher, financial planner, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She loved singing, music, circle dance and pagan rituals.
We say a reluctant goodbye and ‘blessed be’ to a dear friend, a wise crone, an intellectual, an intrepid traveler, an activist, a feminist, a harsh critic, a singer, a bibliophile, a life-long learner, and a woman who was always curious about the world and people around her. Carla will be tremendously missed.