Summer Long Dance

PUBLISHED: 15:37 06 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:39 20 February 2013

Summer Long Dance

Summer Long Dance

Caroline Sherwood talks to Ya'Acov and Susannah Darling Khan, founders of the School of Movement Medicine, about the Summer Long Dance due to take place near Compton Dundon this month

Caroline Sherwood talks to YaAcov and Susannah Darling Khan, founders of the School of Movement Medicine, about the Summer Long Dance due to take place in near Compton Dundon this month.

This month, in a marquee in a field near the village of Compton Dundon, more than 100 people will gather to dance. This is no ordinary dance, and these are no ordinary dancers. Each has spent weeks preparing in body, mind and spirit to participate in a prayerful ritual; a healing ceremony of dancing for 22 hours; taking only short breaks for sleep, drinking only sufficient water to keep hydrated and eating minimally (nutritious high-energy bars, nuts and fruit). In addition, each dancer will have raised a minimum of 200 to support and protect tribal peoples.

YaAcov and Susannah Darling Khan are the founders of the School of Movement Medicine a movement meditation system designed to awaken and connect you to your full potential. The Long Dance ceremony is a way to spend some time remembering that our own personal wellbeing is connected to the wellbeing of the planet, and to dedicate our dance to all our relations past, present and future. All the dancers wear white and during the ceremony they dance through 21 stations on the movement medicine mandala twice. These include the four directions and elements (earth, fire, water and air) and at the centre the dancers arrive at The Great Mystery. The first time they dance for themselves, the second is as a prayer for the world.

The dance starts late Saturday afternoon and goes on until late Monday afternoon, when the participants share a celebratory feast. The ceremony provides a profoundly healing, catalytic and magical space where each individual is encouraged to find their own unique way of expressing their dreams and love for life through the dance, say the organisers. The Summer Long Dance would be described in the language of some of YaAcov and Susannahs teachers, as a giveaway. The price is kept to a minimum to cover overheads and all profits go to charity. Last year the dancers raised an impressive 30,250.

Susannahs background in anthropology, Gestalt therapy, voice and music, informs and contributes to her work as a dancer. YaAcovs focus has been in shamanism and visual communications. He started dancing in 1988. Although sporty and possessed of an adventurous spirit, dancing was not part of his life, except at drunken college parties. I danced like a gnome, he says, all hunched up and curled in on myself. I felt terribly cumbersome and self-conscious.

He describes in their book how 5Rhythms founder, Gabrielle Roth, helped the dancers at the first workshop that Susannah and YaAcov attended, to listen to their bodys communication and reveal the dance inside just waiting to be expressed. This led to an 18-year apprenticeship with Gabrielle for YaAcov and Susannah. They have also trained with shamans, healers and teachers from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle, and their training continues under the mentorship of Helen Poyner.

Movement Medicine offers a path of discovery and development for people asking themselves how they can contribute all that they are in their work, their relationships and the world they inhabit. When you are comfortable in the body you have a quality of presence. There is somebody home. The heart has somewhere to be and the mind has somewhere to recline, say the Darling Khans in their book.

The work is based on the recognition that the body is the storehouse of our personal history. Everything that we have experienced is recorded there. Through sustained, conscious movement practice we can transform the weight of our personal history. Once digested' by the body, heart and mind, it can become the fabric of our own wisdom and the source of much that we have to offer.

Those who participate in the 18-month Apprenticeship Programme are guided through 9 Gateways (Body, Heart, Mind, Past, Present, Future, Fulfilment, Interconnection, Realisation) to a full-spectrum life. Through the 9 Gateways, you can dance through layers of impossibility, fixed patterns and ideas of who you are to emerge, fresh, strengthened and renewed in the direct experience of the infinite possibility that is within you, able to participate fully in creation, knowing who you are and what you are here to give. The 9 Gateways encompass three Journeys: Empowerment, Responsibility and Living the Dream.

In order to dance the Long Dance, you need to have danced with YaAcov and Susannah before, or be recommended by someone who knows them. If the idea appeals, you could get in training for next years Long Dance by attending workshops run by the School of Movement Medicine.

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