Circle Dancing -

Celebrating the Sacred in Dance
June Watts
Green Magic, 2006
ISBN: 0954723082
pp: 184
Price: £9.99

In writing about the Dance, June Watts somehow manages to write about everything. This book combines lively and candid autobiography (showing how Dance and the writer’s own evolution – from successful West End actress, through motherhood into full-time dancer - have been seamlessly connected), with a history of the development of Sacred Circle Dance since its introduction at Findhorn by Bernard Wosien in 1975. June speaks movingly of her connection with Terpsichore, the Muse of the Dance and she says, “I gave more and more of myself…and gradually felt stiff places within me softening and my connection with my inner joy growing.”

The book also functions as a dance manual; exploring technique and form whilst emphasizing the inner spirit. Clear distinctions are drawn between Sacred Circle Dance, folk dancing and more popular forms, such as salsa. She explains that the circle is the oldest dance form on the Earth and that it is “predominantly the awareness of energy that puts sacred circle dance on a different level…Sacred Circle Dance in a gentle healing way brings body, mind and spirit together. It relieves stress, releases creative energy and helps the dancer feel both centred and connected. It is meditation in movement.”

The dances go far beyond a social activity (although they also include that) they have a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual function: “The dances…educate…lead out what is already deeply known within.” The dancers meet to “re-awaken the unity their ancestors experienced, and to re-establish magic in their lives. She uses the example of the dance, Omal Garassari which “is simple, yet it contains everything – focus, balance of energies, grounded lightness, being present, gentle power, and a style that shakes everything up, clears out old stuck energy and realigns the body. It teaches the importance of having a strong structure and of being flexible around it; it teaches how to be centred in your truth whichever way you turn, and whatever you see. It teaches commitment, discipline and focus…“

June explains that because there is “meaning and energy encoded in the dance” the form of the steps function as a gateway to the formless, and that this can only come out, once the steps have become automatic.” She talks about how the dancers integrate the vertical and horizontal axes, and unite them with the centre of the circle to create inner and outer harmony. At the same time, the essence of Sacred Circle Dance is not about “getting the steps right” and nobody is watching, but rather “the sense of oneness and peace that comes from moving rhythmically in a supportive circle.” “On a deeper level, and put simplistically and baldly, what we are doing…is re-creating balance between masculine energy and feminine energy, between the circle and the line.”

The book includes a detailed analysis of the Greek Greetings Dance, and June has also created her own dances (over 60 in 20 years - “they come to me”). She describes this as being a “dream like consciousness, as if I’d had a brain by-pass” - the spirits of Salmon, Dolphin and Unicorn dancing through her.

June goes into fascinating detail about the way that the body is an externalization of consciousness, demonstrated through the symbolism of rhythm, direction; and through the dialogue between the Apollonian/Dionysian counterpoints of sun-filled consciousness dancing with the chthonic wisdom of the underworld. “The challenge that Sacred Circle Dance offers is to find freedom within form. It is after all the eternal challenge of any society – how do I find my own dance, live the life I want to lead, within the confines and rules and obligations of the community.”

There is something vast in this book which links the reader to the heart of culture, the heart of art - the heart of ‘The Dance’ that is life. It is a valuable and original contribution to the body of literature on creative movement. It is very accessible and will appeal to anyone who longs to dance, but has never quite found the right form; as well as being inspirational for dancers, body workers, therapists and expressive movement teachers of all genres.

Caroline Sherwood

Author of:
· Naming: Choosing a Meaningful Name
· Making Friends with Ourselves: Introducing Children to Meditation