Dance through a Festival
Next to yoga, meditation, music and art, the BaliSpirit festival offers also a variety of dance workshops and performances. I have already been to a lot of festivals around the world, but none of them provided such a diversity of dance workshops at the event. As a dance-lover, I had the intention to dive deep into the magical world of music, vibes, rhythm and sweet melodies.
Welcome to Bali Spirit performance stage
When I entered the festival ground on the first morning, I could smell sweet incense of sandalwood, flowers, and herbals. I had a look around and stepped into my own world. Beautiful Balinese decoration setup, surrounded by green fields and trees. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could already hear some drums playing in the distance, a sweet melody and voice singing “So ham” – I AM THAT. And I knew, that I could be the dancer, dancing on this big dance floor of the festival – the festival itself.
Dancing beyond time
The festival schedule was fully packed with workshops. I picked out my favorite classes, but knew already before I started that I won’t be able to make it to all of them.
One of the secrets of dancing is to go beyond time, instead of running after time, as I was once told by one of my teachers. So I tried to stay relaxed and to go with the flow…or rather the music. By keeping those words in mind, I took the invitation to let this festival become a long intensive and sacred dance. Full of anticipation, joy and serenity, I wandered to the first class.
Dance like an artist
My first dance experiences started with a gentle beautiful class with Maya Mandala, a Russian master of sacral knowledge of human being and the founder of Mandala dance.
I was invited to allow myself to become a mandala, a beautiful and powerful sacred symbol, balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. By using my body and with the help of music, I was able to create a symbol, a building, a mandala with my hands, arms and with my whole body. I tried to express the powerful meaning with all my emotions, I used my hands and body. I was the designer, the painter, the mandala itself. I felt grounded with the earth. And when I closed my eyes, I realized my breathing was completely in sync with my physical and energetic moves.
Play like a child
When I opened my eyes, I was already joining the next dance. It was called, the Spirit Dance SoulSong with Ellen Watson & Daphne Tse. From a creative artist I turned into a 5-year old child – invited to be playful, joyful and present like a child. So the whole group dropped all we could and we were dancing wild and unrestrained.
Dancing, singing, laughing, crying and loving, like a big community, searching for interaction with each other. Our bodies wanted to be touched like little children searching for love, security and trust. We ended up singing in a circle within the Bali tribe… I realized: love is a circle.
Act like the African tribe
From the Bali tribe to the African tribe, the rhythm was dynamic and dominant. Accompanied by drummers and percussionists, we learned a dynamic African-inspired dance performance guided by Malaika Ma Veena Darville.
Whereas we often dance on our own, Africans like to dance in a group. Often they come together in a circle or men and women dance facing each other. But it’s still a community gathering. The beat is simple, the rhythm tribal and strong, the movements animalistic.
Energetically I felt one with the Mother Earth, while I was hunting like a tiger, jumping like a monkey, strong and powerful like a bear and soft and elastic like a snake. Dancing along with a bunch of beautiful people. Nature was calling us – and we replied. Aahuu!
Fight like a Brazilian dancing warrior
From the African rhythm, I jumped over to the Brazilian rhythm accompanied by typical capoeira Berimbau instruments. Similar to the African tribal dance, we built a circle, where everybody was invited to sing together. In the middle of the circle we were creating a high energetic power. One after the other, in pairs, we were doing a kind of gentle dance combined with a playful “fight” in those powerful circles.
With rhythmic dance steps and acrobatic moves, it’s about overwhelming your partner with an impressive performance instead of hurting him. A peaceful and powerful community gathering with so much joy and discipline.
Perform like a Bollywood movie star
From the beats of Brazil I moved on to Indian rhythms. It was time for a Masala Bhangra – a combination of funky dance movies and traditional Bhangra. Instructed by the creator of this workshop and entertainer Sarina Jain.
With no idea what it was all about, I joined the dance and was immediately invited to a Bollywood dance show. Sarina was funny and motivating, but this was nothing for coach potatoes. “Sweat it all out!” could also be the title of this dance workshop. With powerful hip swings, elegant arm and hand mudras and dynamic moves, we created a ready for filming “Bollywood movie dance”. Sarina knew how to motivate us, so we created something together, which became an art project just with the source of our bodies supported by the vibes and Indian melody. Bale, bale!
My body was already tired. Even after a rest, I felt every piece of my body, but my heart and my soul were still open to receive and to explore…
Fall deep in trance with your heart and soul
So curiously I entered the dance floor of Genevieve Laquerre and Kelsey Lawfod’s NAI’A Sacred Movement Journey.
Exhausted I started this guided dance. Their controlled but sweet and heart-opening voices allowed me to quickly forget about my body. They invited me to connect with my breath, to open my heart and just let it go. I closed my eyes and suddenly I was falling…deeper and deeper. Here it was again – the higher state of consciousness. Without thinking at all, I just saw myself, my body next to other bodies dancing, touching, exchanging and experiencing. Sometimes soft and sweet, sometimes wild and powerful.
My soul was alive. My soul was dancing with me; my soul was connecting to all the others souls around me. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt full of energy.
With gentle and slow movements, my active soul and my tired body where almost flying over the festival area to the impressive embodied dance workshop with Daniel Rojas, from Colombia. With the full awareness of my body movements, combined with techniques and emotions, I was able to move my body in ways I’ve never done before. Wow, our body is really a miracle. Thank you, Daniel, for sharing this amazing secret.
Dance like a dragon to protect the sacred space
The dragon is known as a dangerous figure and fearful character, but it’s also a protector. A protector of the sacred space, with all his power and pride.
Cecile Roubard encouraged us to become a dragon to protect our sacred spaces within us. With gentle but powerful Vinyasa movements, we were activating our dragon. A dance with myth, spirit and willpower guided me in the end to my self, my secret space inside me. So beautiful and innocent is the balanced counterpart of the mystical dragon – the sacred space.
Totally exhausted I was sinking down into the grass, my hands at my heart. Feeling my breath, felling my heartbeat – the beautiful natural sound and rhythm I was creating. The sun was kissing my face, trying to waking me up and calling for the last dance, the Sunday dance with yoga teacher and DJ Kishan Shah.
The last dance (or Dance with the Bali sun)
With a deep electronic house set, Kishan brought out the last bit we were still holding back. One crowd, one community – and all were going wild and free. Colorful painted bodies, opened hearts, people were dancing in ecstasy, dancing with abandonment, close to each other, singing together, smiling and connecting with each other.
And I realized, that this moment was magical – this place, this community, this gathering, these vibes…It was the Bali spirit.
Written by : Suparni Neuwirth