CIRCLE DANCING by June Watts
A review by Mandy de Winter.
I didn’t meet June Watts until after I moved to Shropshire from Brighton and had started to teach Circle Dance. June was already known in Shropshire as she had been to lead a workshop just before I arrived. The friends I had recently made through dancing were buzzing with the joy and depth of the experience and I was really sorry I had missed out. I had only been teaching for a few months, so very soon after, I found the opportunity to go and dance with June on a teacher training weekend that she was offering in Stroud. It was an inspiring and magical weekend – the first of many opportunities to dance with her and I certainly see June as being one of the special people who helped me embrace the Dancing Path. It feels very appropriate then that I recently asked June to write a review of my current work (see Grapevine – Winter issue 2007) and that she should ask me in return, to review her book “Circle Dancing – Celebrating the Sacred in Dance”.
June is one of the lucky people who met and danced with Bernhard Wosien, and is one of what I would therefore call the First Generation teachers who scattered and sowed the seeds of Sacred / Circle Dance outside of Findhorn. Some of the other First Generation people I would include here are Anna Barton, Fiona Parr, Colin Harrison, David Roberts, Errol Weiner and Janet Scott.
When I read June’s book, I resonated with much of her journey - it took me right back to when I first discovered Circle Dance and how I felt so completely enthralled by this wonderful ‘thing’ I had found. I think I would liken it to ‘being in love’ with all the emotions this state generates - I wanted to do it all the time and couldn’t get enough of it! Every time I danced there was a transcendent quality to the experience – it was new and exciting and opened a spiritual door that I didn’t know was there. Suddenly all diverse things I had done before made sense and for the first time and I felt truly alive. Similarly, June tells us in her book how movement has been ‘the keynote’ in her life with new places and change being a fundamental theme. All her life experiences, including being an actress, a beautician, a masseuse, exploring transcendental meditation etc…….. led her to the moment when she discovered “Sacred Dance” and “burst more fully into life then ever before…”
When you meet and dance with June, you can feel this ‘aliveness’. She has a wonderfully sunny personality and radiates a youthful energy which belies her years. She is also someone who you can say ‘walks her talk’ since she lives simply - close to nature and celebrates The Wheel of the Year in her everyday life. She brings this depth of understanding and intent to her work and choreographies which often makes the experience of dancing with her very moving and powerful.
There are twenty seven chapters in June’s book covering every aspect of her journey. Her perception and understanding of the relationship between Nature and Dance is explored in informative chapters about the history of dance in general and the energetic effect of Dance on the body and the energy of the planet as a whole. She also offers profound insights into the role of movement and dance as an important tool in our evolution.
These chapters stand out for me along with her description of how the Dance left Findhorn; an account of early ideas about ethics; ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ in transmitting dances; channelling choreography, the interpretation of symbols and shapes, how dance is a catalyst for change and a delightful description of her experiences of meeting and dancing with Bernhard.
Other chapters explore practical issues including the challenge of earning your living from Circle Dance, looking at money and self-worth and a discussion of negative issues that can arise in a group. June illustrates all of these challenges and issues with her personal experience.
Indeed, June tells us a great deal about herself in this book – a brave thing to do! She ‘underlines’ the fact that her book is a personal account of her dance journey and to that extent, I think the title is a little misleading: for me – Circle Dance – My Personal Journey celebrating the Sacred in Dance – would be a more accurate indication of the content. It is perhaps the nature of the thing that there can be no definitive ‘tome’ on Sacred / Circle Dance. The Dancing Path will always be a personal experience and individual journey. June’s journey however, is a delight to read and she gives us much food for thought. This book is a MUST read for anyone touched by The Dance.
Thank you June for your inspiration.