Nataraj – The Lord of Dance

Events

Jivan’s introduction to the end-of-year Dance Festival in Delhi.

There is a new place for sannyasins to hang out in India over winter and it’s in Delhi of all places! Last year I enjoyed organising the first Osho Tantra Festival at the Zorba the Buddha centre there, which turned out to be a huge success (Sarita claimed it was the first festival where she felt a Buddhafield energy similar to when Osho was in the body). This year more international festivals are being created for the Eco Village and the new star will be the Nataraj Dance Festival which takes place at the height of the season over New Year – from 29th December until 3rd January. www.dancefestivalindia.com

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The festival is a blend of western workshops with more spiritual dance-based practices – 5 Rhythms, Biodanza, Contact Improvisation and Creative Dance Therapy – as well as classes in various dance styles that lead students to take part in choreography pieces, performed during the culmination of the festival. The participants are also a mix of nationalities, from travelling backpackers to dance professionals; many are dance students participating in a scholarship programme that is available. Every night there will also be performances from the professional teachers to show what is possible but the focus will be on enjoyment and connection rather than the perfect pirouette.

Accenting the programme there are relaxation spaces – a Healing Temple offering various bodywork therapies has been created at the centre and a Nataraj Lounge where people can relax in Moroccan-style comfort with live music and chill-out music by DJs.

I’m excited to lead a special cacao ritual to lead participants into a deep connection with themselves, acknowledging that which has transpired in 2014 and tune into our desires for 2015. This will feature among a live concert, DJs, raw foods bar and other treats during the New Year’s Celebration.

I’ve been impressed with the standard of teachers drawn to the festival and anticipate this to continue to grow. This year myself and two other teachers are sannyasins. Here is their story:

 

James Stevenson
Jivan

Music and dance have always been a passion for me; they have been entwined with my journey of awakening and with Osho for years. My generation was the Ravers, who used stimulating drugs, lighting and music to lift their energy and mood in order to dance all night. Friends gathered at underground techno parties, pulsating together in dance as the repetitive beats of the music drew us into common rhythms and common sense of tribe. Those clubs were our churches and temples – our way to worship something larger and more exciting than our separate sense of self. In my late teenage years this is where I had my first taste of an ecstasy beyond little old me and of course this was very much provoked by all the previously mentioned simulating factors at that stage!

A few years on I met Punya at a Reiki training; she introduced me and a small group of people to Kundalini meditation in a small poky room at the back of a larger centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. Half way through, after the shaking and mid-dancing part, something strange happened to me – I disappeared completely! No longer was it me moving my body, it seemed like a force had taken over, which, propelled by the music, was lifting me to higher and higher states of surrender and openness. My whole life changed in an instance – I understood that it was actually this I had been trying to reach through all my experiences in the raving scene and no outside stimulants were needed, just an openness to surrender to the dance. The seed was planted for me to become a disciple of Osho.

Almost 20 years later dance and movement-based meditations are as integral a part of my Tantra workshops as ever. In addition I’m immersed in teaching the dance-based Biodanza System and organising the Nataraj Festival. Dance has become an intricate part of my life.

Jivan Kavyo (aka James Stevenson) – www.awakenlove.co.uk

 

Sarita
Sarita

At 3 years of age, I knew I was born to dance. I thought day and night of the lovely little pink tutu I had seen in a shop, which I had begged my mother to buy for me. I followed this with months of begging her to take me to ballet lessons. Both requests were refused for the same reason; my parents were poor and could not afford such luxuries.

At age 9, I was pondering deeply over what I wanted to be when I grew up. I already knew it was of paramount importance to discover the essence of life and to live in tune with this essence. My question was how to ‘get there’? What profession would carry me into that sublime realm of being? I sat under a tree and decided I would not move from that spot until I had the answer. In order to get the answer, I had to journey into the Essence of life.

I focused my intent and then let go. Whoosh! I was swept down a long tunnel into a whirling abyss of pure blackness. I fell for an eternity and finally landed in what I knew to be the very centre of the universe; it was made of a pulsing sound, a reverberation, which hummed all of life into being. This engulfed my sense of self and I dissolved into it, becoming it. It was the source of all and held within it all knowing. My answer was here. It was sound and sound is made of vibration, and vibration is movement.

Coming back into cognitive awareness, I decided that my profession had to be either music & sound, or dance. And pondering deeply I decided that because sound is made of movement, then dance is actually closest to the essence. If I learned dance, I reasoned, then this would help me to remain in ‘essence awareness’ all the time.

When I was 12, I was attending a Free School and we were fortunate to convince a ballet teacher to donate some of her time in coming and give us lessons. My passion was finally being realised.

At age 14 I took ballet and modern dance classes at the local university and naturally fell madly in love with my homosexual dance instructor. I was also in love with my drama teacher, but that is another story!

I hitchhiked from California to New York when I was 15 years old to follow my dream of becoming a dancer. I got a job as a child minder, took ballet lessons with the Geoffrey ballet, got a modern dance scholarship, and also trained with an Avant-garde dance teacher, Meredith Monk. Later that year, I began studying Katakhali Indian Dance. My teacher had a statue of Nataraj, the Lord of the Dance on her piano. I asked her what it was and she explained to me that this is Lord Shiva who is creating the world through the dance. I felt shivers of recognition go through me from head to toe. In that very moment, I knew I had to go to India and discover the source of the great wisdom contained in this statue.

I arrived in India barley 17 years old after having hitchhiked all though Europe and the Middle-East, a long and arduous journey. On arrival in India, I fell on my knees weeping in ecstasy, knowing I had arrived home at last. I assumed that I would find an Indian Dance teacher and continue my studies. However, my destiny took me in another direction. I found myself in Bodh Gaya doing a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. And from there, travelling to Mumbai to do a month long Vipassana Retreat. On the evening before starting the retreat, I met Osho in Mumbai. He was giving a discourse on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra.

Seeing him, a thrill of recognition engulfed me. In him, I saw a living Nataraj, the Lord of the Dance. The way he walked, the way he gestured, the way he spoke, here was someone who was living in the Essence of Life each moment. He held the key I was looking for. I recognised him as my dance teacher for the true ‘dance of life’.

After my month long Vipassana retreat, I was initiated by Osho into sannyas and subsequently remained in his community for 26 years. Osho speaks about the “dancer disappearing into the dance, till only the dance remains.” This is what happened to me.

Ananda Sarita – www.tantra-essence.com

 

Niraj
Niraj

My journey into dance has mainly been through Biodanza for the past 18 years – a system that really resonates with the values and insights of Osho. It has developed a deeply enhanced sense of body wisdom and connection. I am able to feel my body in deep and subtle ways I was simply unaware of before. Along with that a much greater emotional sensitivity and awareness has developed. I am able to identify, feel and express my emotions now, as opposed to being all “bunged up” before I started my journey. This ease, flow and grace with all the above has led to a profound relaxation in my being. There are few situations or circumstances that I find myself perturbed in. I feel extremely comfortable, safe and confident in my own skin. I am grounded and alive. This sense of presence, of here-and-now-ness makes life so much easier and more of a pleasure. I am not fighting myself or avoiding myself. I am content to be.

Before Biodanza, transcendent spaces were a mystery to me. I first had to inhabit my body to transcend it. Having done that as a natural consequence of dancing, moving, feeling and interacting, expanded states of consciousness and amplified perception are direct experiences I have had many times, in which feelings of love, beatitude, wonder and deep well-being are prevalent. And this is a shared experience, rather than “just mine”. This is one of the great joys of Biodanza – to witness others in the same state you are in and feel the commonality to this most majestic of human experiences.

Niraj (aka Niraj Skilbeck) – www.dancebiodanza.co.uk

 

The Nataraj Dance Festival India, runs from 29th December 2014 to 3rd January 2015 at the Zorba the Buddha centre in Delhi featuring Biodanza, Contact Improvisation, Creative Movement, DANCEmandala, as well as choreography classes in Bollywood, Bhangra, Belly dancing, Contemporary and much more… www.dancefestivalindia.comwww.zorbathebuddha.org

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