Here is some information about what we did in session one. I have included videos of all the dances we have done. The purpose of the videos is to practice the dances and the dance steps. (Only if you want to, of course). For this reason a very long segment of the dance is recorded if not the whole dance. I think it is important to do a step enough times that it becomes automatic and that there is a body memory associated with the words. So, when the leader says "slip step" for example, the body knows what to do and we don't really have to think about it.
We introduced two dance steps: the slip step and the grapevine. We discussed the beginnings of Circle Dance and the concept of Circle Dance. This information is under the heading "How It All Began."
We danced these dances:
Kos Greeting Dance: "Enas Mythos"
Tripudium: "Eyes that Speak" and "Hanacpachap"
Pravo Oro: "Hulav Tu Sej"
Grapevine: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Slip step: "Let's Be Cheerful"
Bach Sun Meditation: "May the Sheep Safely Graze" by Bach
Kos Greeting Dance danced to the music "Enas Mythos." This dance is one of the very first dances in the Circle Dance repertoire. From the booklet "A compilation of Sacred Dance Music from the Findhorn Foundation we find this information about Kos: "Music by M. Hadjidakis. Words by the poet V. Rotas for the performance of Aristophanes' comedy "The Birds," in a free translation of the ancient Greek text. this was possibly danced on the Greek Island of Cos by fishermen's families to welcome them safely home. The Knights Templar danced it during the Crusades. The crossed arms symbolise the spiral, which denotes strength, unity and eternity. They also represent the cross of St. Andrew. Kos is spelt with a "K" because Bernhard Wosien named this dance and spelt it the German way." He set the dance to this piece of music.
Each of the movements in the dance were given a meaning: Moving to the center of the circle--"I greet you." Moving back out of the circle--"I give you space and I take my space." Moving to the side--"I move on" or what I prefer "We move as one." The crossed arms referred to are quite interesting. The arms are crossed over the chest with right arm to the left and left arm to the right. When I was in Argentina, Christina Bonetti taught this dance as the "Dance of Silence" which she learned from the Guarani Indians of Southern Brazil. The music is Greek and this recording comes from the CD "Sacred Dance: Original Masters" compiled by Peter Vallance.
The “ Pravo ” or “ Pravo Oro ” with 6 steps is the simplest form of the three-measure dance pattern and is danced in almost every culture and dance tradition. This dance goes by many names. Among them it is called the “ Pravo ” in Macedonia and Bulgaria and “ Sta Tria ” in Greece which means “ three steps”and "Valle" in Albania.
The Pravo is probably one of the oldest dances in existence and, according to Steve Kotansky, is the dance of preference at weddings and festivals in the Balkans. This three measure dance pattern dances two measures to the left and one measure to the right. Laura Shannon contends that this movement of two measures in one direction followed by one measure in the opposite direction can be considered to represent the tree of life. The fact that there are three measures with two steps in each measure also contains much symbolic meaning. Two was the number of sacred union in early agrarian cultures. Three was a sacred number in the Neolithic societies that venerated the Great Mother Goddess and this symbolism was expressed in many ways. Some examples include the butterfly, the labrys and the head of a bull and three flowers.
The title track for this music was "Hulav Tu Sej" by the artist Romano Drom from the CD "The Rough Guide to Hungarian Gypsy Music" compiled by the World Music Network.
In this dance the "grapevine" step was introduced. To do a grapevine, we stepped to the right, crossed the left foot in front of the right foot, stepped to the right and crossed the left foot behind the right foot. The grapevine step can be danced to the right or the left and can begin with either stepping to the side or crossing over. We then stepped again to the right, touched the left foot in front and stepped to the left with the left foot and touched the right foot in front.
This sequence of a "grapevine" step and two "step touches" is also a traditional dance pattern seen throughout the Balkans and elsewhere in the world. At a dancing saptah (worship) at the Siddha Yoga Foundation Ashram in Emeryville, California, I remember dancing this same pattern to the left for an hour.
A note about Colin Harrison might be interesting here. Colin danced with Bernard Wosien at Findhorn in the early days of his teaching there. When there was an impulse to move the dances out into the world, Colin was very instrumental in making this happen. He played the guitar and gathered a number of musicians around to record the music for the dances. His first tape was produced in 1986, the second in 1987 and the third in 1988. This music is still available and wonderful.
The song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was written by Bobby McFerrin and released on the CD "Simple Pleasures" in 1988.
This is considered one of the classical dances in the Findhorn repertoire and was introduced quite early on. Peter Vallance says they "learned this simple shoreography from Declan Kennedy, but never found out if he had choreographed it or learned it from someone else. The same music can be used for Shifra Tanz. The music is played by the famous Klezmer musician Giora Fiedman. " Music from the CD "Sacred Dance: Original Masters" compiled by Peter Vallance.
Since our intention was to introduce the slip step with this dance we made one change which long-time circle dancers will recognize: it was to add four slip steps going from side to side. Thus the entire dance is four slip steps to the right starting with the right foot. Then make a sharp 180 degree swivel to go in the opposite direction. Four slip steps to the left starting with the right foot. Then, 2 slip steps into the center of the circle and 2 slip steps back out of the center of the circle. Repeat. Last, with the heart facing the center of the circle and moving side to side: slip step right, slip step left. Repeat
"The "Bach Meditation Dance" or "Sun Meditation" was created by Bernard Wosien. This is a slow and beautiful meditation in movement. The steps mark out the pattern of the sun and it's rays on the floor. Bernard described the dance as a drawing down of grace." This description of the "Sun Meditation" appears in Colin Harrison's booklet "Tape 1: Beginner's Dances." He also says that at the end of the dance the "arms may be raised above head as the music dies away, forming a "crown" around the circle.
The music is written by Bach and called "May the Sheep Safely Graze."