Among the teachers who have helped me most are those of Bernhard’s students I have had the pleasure to dance with.
First, of course, is his daughter Maria-Gabriele Wosien, whom I met at breakfast with her father in Cluny Hill dining room. As we walked to the ballroom Bernhard was describing his ideas to Anna Barton, trudging along like the 70 something year old man he was. When we entered the ballroom however he changed. I was shocked. Suddenly his centre of gravity lifted from his belly into his chest and he became a young man dancing on tip toes around the ballroom as he described the dancers coming in in a line to form a circle. I have had the good fortune of dancing with Gabriele on a number of occasions, one when I renewed my acquaintance with the Findhorn Foundation as she was teaching the Hymn of Jesus. I was still living in Wales at the time and so could not join the team for the recording that was made several months later.
While Gabriele was studying in London in the mid-1960s she joined and studied with a group of Mevlevi Dervishes. She regularly returns to Findhorn to teach this ancient tradition of whirling, along with her own works in Sacred dance and with a focus on Dance as devotion, drawing her inspiration from all over the world.
You can find some of her published works here. https://metanoia-verlag.ch/autor/maria-gabriele-wosien/
At the same time I met Gabriele and Bernhard I also met Friedel Kloke-Eibl, one of Bernhard’s students. I have not had the opportunity to dance with Friedel over many years, and so cannot speak of her work now. At the time she was immersed in Sacred Dance combining international folk dance which she learned from her daughter Nanni, as well as elsewhere. Friedel choreographed a huge number of dances to Taize songs and was particularly interested in the association between dance and Architecture which Bernhard was sharing with her.
For Friedel’s work see here.: https://sacreddance.de/en/
When Anna and I toured Holland a year or so later Friedel invited us to stay with her which is when I met Nanni. What can one say about Nanni. I fell in love with her then and nothing has changed. Feet have got bigger and flatter but little else. My feet that is. Nanni is still as lively as ever and dancing her way around the world. See http://www.nannikloke.com/ for more information about Nanni.
Each of these dancers is different both in their working and in their emphasis. Each of them has a special gift to share and have been instrumental in deepening my contact with the dance and through the dance with the body. Each embodies the healing aspect of the dance in a unique fashion.
John Lennon sang ‘You just can’t hide when you’re crippled inside’. So it is. Through dance we can approach those wounds the world has put upon us safely and heal them. Unlike psychological techniques which use confrontation, dance is more subtle and setting aside the traumas of events goes directly to where the injury or slight is held within the body and releases it from there.
I have to mention Fido Wagler (http://www.tanz-all-tag.de/ ) who, though I have only danced with him a couple of times remains an inspiration to me. It is my hope to meet and dance with Fido again before too long. He carries Bernhard’s tradition along with many of the dances that are now virtually lost from the repertoire at Findhorn. Fido was a regular attendant at Bernhard’s workshops in Marburg. He came to Findhorn in 2006 and carried the second half of the week after Gabriele had to leave. He returned in 2007 as the principal guest teacher and danced the Great Hassapikos for us in the Hall. Fido is a great teacher.
Of Anna’s stream there are two dancers I know who deserve mention. The first is Renata Ramos (https://dancacircular.com.br/focalizadores/158/renata-ramos ) who has done so much to extend Sacred Dance throughout Brazil. In her presentation this year she told us that it is now recognised as a valid form fo therapy and is even being studied at post-graduate level by students in her country. This is an achievement far beyond anything that I am aware of elsewhere. Renata has the same embracing awareness of the group and simplicity of delivery that marked Anna’s teaching. It is always a pleasure to dance with her. She brings so much warmth and love to the dance. Not to mention the exciting Brazilian rhythms that truly awaken the spirit.
The other I must mention is Carolina Botti (http://www.danzasacraincerchio.it/wordpress/albo-insegnanti/carolina-botti/ ) who is dancing in Italy. I have not danced a great deal with Carolina, but recognise in her the same conscious awareness of the group as a whole and the love of dance as a healing medium, as well as a source of devotion.
While I have danced with many other teachers, I do not mean to slight them by not mentioning names here. There are sufficient Sacred Dance sites out there celebrating the work they are doing.
I cannot however forget to mention Peter Vallance (http://www.peterthestoryteller.co.uk/ ) who has done such extraordinary work in the years he has been director of Sacred Dance in the Findhorn Foundation. Peter has travelled far and wide with the dance from the west coast of the United States, through Brazil and Argentina and I know not where else. He has single-handedly, with his partner Sue, created the Festival of Sacred Dance, Music and Song, (https://www.findhorn.org/programmes/dance-festival/ ) one of the most important annual events within the Findhorn Foundation, regularly attracting 120 guests and international participants, and more. The week long event includes afternoons singing in the choir, deepening awareness with some of the dances, and playing in the Scratch Orchestra with Bill Henderson a world renowned musician. Friday night the choir and Band provide the music for the dancers in the grand finale. Always a fun event and something to look forwards to through the cold Scottish winters, though not so cold these days, more wet really. The days are shorter than summer but that can seem to be the only difference.
I cannot list all of those who have influenced me through the years and thank you all for the inspiration you bring, not only to me to so many around the world. Bernhard wanted his dance to heal the world. We will keep on doing it until we do and when the world is healed we can dance in celebration.