It was a great joy to be in The Park over the last week, 8th to 14th July. The community’s annual Festival of Sacred Dance, Music and Song was particularly vibrant this year as 125 sacred dance enthusiasts from all over the world came together to celebrate both 30 years of sacred dance at Findhorn, and Bernard Wosien, the man who first introduced this form of dance to the community.
The community also appreciated the dedicated work of Anna Barton, still resident at The Park, who grounded sacred dance as an integral part of life here and as a valuable element of Experience Week, the Foundation’s most important programme. Anna was also honoured for her fostering of sacred dance in Brazil, Australia, USA and throughout Europe.
Anna explained that the dance is sacred because not only do we use all of ourselves as we dance, tapping mind, body, heart and spirit, but we connect with each other and the earth, creating something truly transformational. “By doing these dances we can heal ourselves and the planet,” Anna told us.
The week was a rich and varied smorgasbord of dance, music and song offered by an array of talented teachers, including Gabriele Wosien, Bernard’s daughter, and Fido Wagler, a past student of Bernard from Germany. Gabriele, with festival participants, performed a new version of Bernard Wosien’s Hymn of Jesus, first performed here in the late 70s and based on the gospel of St John. The powerful and moving performance which included Andrew Murray from the original cast as narrator, was a fitting tribute to Bernard and the legacy he left here at Findhorn.
Babs Stulemeijer, who lived at Findhorn in the 70s and passed the sacred dance baton from Bernard to Anna, returned to take part in the festival. Babs told us that sacred dance became an important part of the Findhorn ethos because it “can break open stringent patterns and open us to the living future inside of us.”
Throughout the week festival participants, including a 30-strong contingent from Brazil, were treated to dance workshops by Gabriele, Fido, Mandy de Winter, Judy King, Laura Shannon, Peter Vallance, Andy Bettis and Susanna Bartholomei. Singers joined the choir led by Kate O’Connell, whose inspiration it was to begin these festivals 15 years ago, and in the evenings, joined Barbara Swetina, while musicians joined Bill Henderson to create his much-loved annual scratch orchestra.
This week of celebration and deep connection, of honouring the past and yet dancing very much in the present, climaxed in a Friday night spectacular where 220 people danced to live music in four huge circles. It was a fitting finale to an exuberant, creative and graceful week, and as we all spiralled together into the centre of the beauty which is the Universal Hall, with the earth below and the sky above, I felt with great love, joy and a deep sense of peace, the unity of all of life.
– Yvonne Cuneo
To see a group photo of all the Festival of Sacred Dance participants, click on www.findhorn.org/sacreddance2006.php