Dancing Journey with NTP; Retreat January 24-3, 2010
8 days 7 Nights
Before I continue this story about our past Neighborhood Temple Priestess Belly Dance Retreat, let me remind readers that not all our retreats are like this one. Each is unique. You may wonder how that could be true. I see the art as a jewel. I assure you I love belly dance in all it’s facets. Check out the list of dancers I have worked with. They are all apart of my dance experience I am proud to say
For instance next retreat is April 2-9 2010 Tribal Hula Fusion
It’s on the very physical dance plane. See the details . Hurry up!
Story begins again:
Now we are at mid way of our retreat.
On day four I introduced some breathing and relaxation techniques. These were a series of gestalt awareness exercises. In a relaxed trancy state we moved to mirror dances and then instructed to stay centered and quiet. No talking and put on your shoes. Slowly I lead them on a dance adventure into nature. They were instructed to be free to move with, in contrast, in reaction to, what ever they came across. Listen, see, feel, smell, with internal awareness and external awareness. Lose your self consciousness and be like a child of the universe. Get inside the moment. Remember. I was so pleased at this groups full participation. They went very far into the moment. We all feel into a timeless reality. Some of us danced with tears in our eyes to these pink petaled flowers with green leaves that shared the top of a thick gray spiky menacing stock. The birds repeated phrases like a drum rhytm rif. Voices murmured occasionally from far away. The sun made shadows on the lawn and the dancers interacted with them. Some found spider webs and spiders. others were inspired and effected but the energetic direction of the patterns found in nature. Unexplainable things, yet when we stopped to share our discoveries with one another the words flooded in with glee. These thing all came vivid to the surface of our being because of the preface of this work with the gestalt exercises. Know this; You did not need to take your self out side to meet with nature. Everything we have done out here today is totally applicable to any stage and all performance. Stay plugged in to the moment. The truth that followed was immediately seconded by the call of a gecko. Nothing but the truth!
Next I introduced the magical concept of labyrinths(cool photos of one of the NTP’s labyrinths). It is astounding how this seemly complicated pattern can be so culturally universal. It is mathematic and psychic. It totally is related to the circular figure eight and spiral patterns we draw with our hips. The thing about labyrinths is they are not meant to confuse you like a maze, but lead you to the center. A focal point. This was in preparation for the evenings ritual labyrinth christine would lead us through. Read more about Labyrinths .
Off to lunch and then back to class wearing our Sea Faring and Nature Honoring Goddess Costumes we made for our little contest. We thought it would be fun to dance in them during Hula class taught by Richard. Verna won the grand Prize. She was the Moon and the Starry Sky Goddess! The prize was a cowry shell basket with cowry shell jewelry and Koa wood beads. Richard taught us a powerful dance to Pele and urged us to be more savage! I loved that we were all decked out in Goddess costumes learning this dance for Pele.
Ok, so these students are not average belly dancers by any means now. They have pounded their feet to the rhythms of the earth and swayed their hips to the pulse of the surf. Reached up to the sky and gathered the gifts into their hearts and sent it into the cosmos. They have connected with the internal and the external. They have experienced freedom and play and the natural spontaneity of life. We have danced to music drum, word play, rosters crowing, taste, scent, shadow, light, wind, sound of surf. Now comes a transformative event. The dance of the labyrinth. We began before dinner laying out the grid, wrapping electric candles in tissue paper and setting them out onto the lawn. There were about 600 and it would measure about 48-50 feet across. As soon as it got dark the pattern was revealed in the dark grass and the moon rose full as ordered in the sky above. Some staff at Kalani walked the labyrinth during the dinner hour and sat and quietly watched us as we appeared after diner in our NTP whites dance attire. Clouds stood back and did a veil dance around the giant opalescent rainbow moon straight over our heads. It illuminated our crown chakras. We grounded and centered and one by one we began our journey into the labyrinth. John played his sax and Erik played drum. Some of us danced with veils some brought instruments like drum and chimes. The dancing journey was intense and enchanting. I went first and when I arrived in the center I spun until I collapsed in the center. I was a pile of white., with my veil made of what I call ghost silk (because it is so light). I lay there on the soft bed of grass cocooned in my silk and surrounded by concentric winding rings of candle light and the gently stepping of dancers and the delicate touch of omnipresent moon beams in the air. When I arose to dance out of the labyrinth I met each dancer one by one upon the path. We embraced each other so tenderly. We cried, and exchanged the knowing of our knowing. This place, this time, this life
“Your beauty is my beauty
and my beauty is your beauty
only in relationship to each other
do we know beauty.”
As I left the labyrinth I picked up a drum and joined Erik and watched the dancers meet and part at different junctures along their way. It’s always so interested to note that the center of the labyrinth is only 10-14 feet away from where I observe but as I see the person in the center I know their journey was much longer so they seemed a world away. Yet I know we are in the same world.
NOTE:The entire retreat was profound this way.
Up early before the sun for the next amazing event. We all jumped into cars and walked out upon another path that twisted through the lava beds to a brand new virgin beach. Three of us put on our Sea Faring costumes and the rest came to watch us dance into the sea at new Kapana beach at dawn; Laura Rose Christine and Me. We walked a path out across the lava field to the beach. Just like the labyrinth with the ocean of life at the center. Her tide was way in leaving little room for beach dancing. Laura Rose set up the camera and she went first. Dressed in feathers, fur and seeds and with silver bits and a moon on her forehead. White drapes of fabric hugged her thighs and red laced sandals scrolled up to her knees.
Christine wore a fantastic Grecian Costume fitted for Aphrodite. On a base of white drapes gold brackets of metal clasped the fabric and deep red roses. Very beautiful. She did a dance with a mirror where she showed the ocean her own reflection in the morning sun break. So beautiful.
I wore my very first sea faring costume from 1991. Green and fuchsia. I charges down the beach as the surf was out so I could start my dance around a bend of rock and dance toward the water the observers and the eye of the camera.
Afterward everyone got in the warm water. Some were a bit surprised to find it so warm. It’s a bit of illusion. The water does not change temperature at night but the sand does. The contrast makes the water feel like a bath tub in the early hours and chilled in the middle of the day.
Wow. next was some good old fashion Power Belly workout after breakfast and a talk about Goddess Archetypes. How do these Psychological profiles of Greek and Roman mythical figures influence our western minds. What can we learn about our selves by exploring them creatively as dance inspiration? Artemis, Athena, Hestia, Hera Demeter, Persephone, and Aphrodite. Everyone was encouraged to read the book by Jean Shinoda Bolen, and before or during the retreat.
The Goddesses in Every Woman
The Goddesses in Older Women
The Goddesses in Every Man
Urgent Message From Mother
It was Lori’s birthday today, so we gave her a royal Goddess veil blessing treatment today!
After dinner we would do my community Zaar ritual. It’s simple and the group has been very physical for the past 48 hours so it would not be a long zaar I figured. I though it was time to show them some skinner releasing exercises. This is how you can begin to dance coming from a a totally deep relaxed body. It will come in handy for tomorrows guided movement meditation to meet the Goddesses as well. The zaar went well. And I think we all fell into a deep sleep that night.
On day 6 week retreated to nature in our own way. A bit of private space and time. Nice. Erik and I went to a secluded beach we found behind a Hawaiian burial ground we found up the road a piece. It was very beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating. Some went to the volcano park but it was partially closed because of vog.
After dinner we came back for the Journey with in our minds to meet the goddesses each in their richly described symbolic environment. Each Goddess gives you a gift. The gift could be absolutely anything and at the end you lay them all out around you and we dance our gratitude. Christine made a lovely sound scape for us. Figuring out why certain gifts were given to you is a process of creative inner exploration.
Next a belly dance obstacle course. It rained during the night and the atmosphere was sucking up the water in every article of clothing wow. Our luggage was weighing more for sure. Everyone was instructed to wear a bathing suit to class. The rain was welcome and our obstacle course made good use of it. I set a course in the studio that everyone would do 3 runs of. Then they were instructed to dance out the door and meet with nature. Stay engaged with the natural world and it’s offerings as well as follow the path past the office and into the shower then into the pool where you were to engage your belly dance arms and mermaid bodies. Then out toward the reclining Buddha to follow a new spiral designed labyrinth Chris had made with bamboo and banana leaves! We jumped into the pool and labyrinth in the rain yippee! What a conquest. They have learned to journey through the dance!
Our last class was with Christine. Fire! Not as a thing to dangerously fling around our bodies, but as inspiration on how to harness the energy that is inside of us. The heat that burns. The fuse of life. Flicker as ecstatic chaotic undulation consuming oxygen. These exercises were followed by using the smoke of incense as it passes in the air. This was a fantastic class and I am always inspired to see and experience something new, challenging and thought provoking. I got to pair up and do some very creative contact dancing with Laura Rose. So good!
In the evening we held our final performance on the dinning lanai for the staff to enjoy. Alexandra made a fantastic MC. Now that we know she has such talents. . . Wayne, Malina, Christine, Laura Rose and me with everyone drumming for me. Sweet!
This retreat felt so incredibly successful. We came many more miles that air planes and rental cars could carry us. Because of our presence there is no place we cannot go with our dance. belly dance is not just a universal body language it’s a how our cosmic space ship is powered. I love this universe!
After dinner and wine we met at the banana leaf labyrinth for a final candle night ceremony. with real candles and real flames and parting remarks and blessings.
Merry part and Merry meet again.
your Neighborhood Temple Priestess at your service
PS. I know I gotta get some photos up to go with it but it’s funny I really live in the moment and I’m off to the next shiny thing.