There are group of dancers in the USA who have been meeting regularly for over 40 years called “Dance New England” (DNE). You can find their mission statement here.
The land has been purchased by the ‘Friends of DNE’, and DNE get to use the facilities as and when required. DNE is a not for profit organisation, who’s aim is to provide services that uplift the communities for which they serve-providing a positive example for the world at large.
Carolina and I dived into these extraordinary people’s lives for 11 days.
Each year DNE host a drug and alcohol free annual summer camp and this year Carolina was invited to teach Biodanza for some of the days and she invited me along to assist.
It was a rare opportunity and privilege to have been able to experience the camp and assist Carolina. I personally have never experienced such a diverse community, in terms of age, race and abilities. I met many people who had special needs who were treated completely “normally” being fully accepted, loved and supported by all of the community in ways that I found very moving. Such a generous listening was provided for all attending the camp. I felt the reverence they felt for not just each other but the Land that they occupy too and for me it was heart opening and so inspiring.
We kept forgetting our torches!
The camp itself is set in a beautiful forest and most of the people we met were camping. Meals were wonderfully presented by tireless cooks and kitchen assistants, the menu was a simple vegetarian, catering for all types of food allergies and differing dietary needs. The cabins were extremely rustic and we were provided with instructions on what to do if we encounter a bear! But we survived and spent a great deal of time laughing at our basic living arrangements. At times, we were like two blind old ladies as there was no lighting in the cabin and we kept forgetting our torches! We often thought we were in the wrong cabin and woke people up with our laughing! We were even assisted home by another participants light, Divine Guidance.
Every person got involved in the running of the camp
From cooks to cleaners, every person got involved. Whether that was helping set up the camp or taking it down, driving people around in golf carts, or assisting with cooking, cleaning pots, toilets, bathrooms or session rooms. Everyone got 3 chores that need to be completed during their stay. Running the camp was a military operation in itself that needed a lot of organisation, but they had a wonderful team of volunteers to keep it all on track.
You could dance all day and night
There were so many things to do and try out. The array of DJ’s kept the dance floors lively all night until around 4 am. You could dance all day and all night, 5 Rhythms, African Dance, Tango, Biodanza, Soul in Motion, Eye Opener, Contact Improvisation. There were also workshops of many different types including things like, Healing, Tantra and Touch and Play. There was a body temple where you could just hang out in cuddle parties. You could rise early and attend the daily yoga session, or simply go to the Lake and swim.
The freshwater lake was a great place to skinny dip. Areas were set aside for this or you could simply enjoy the surroundings in a canoe. Blueberry Island (so called for the vast picking of them that was available) was just a short paddle away, here you could meet a few beavers if you were lucky (no pun intended).
Simple gestures in Biodanza that can move mountains
Carolina and I attended the first 4 sessions of Biodanza being led by a wonderful lady called Maira Martinez from Canada, who has been teaching at the camp for some years. When I danced I was really reminded of the simple gestures in Biodanza that move mountains in me and create a profound connection to my own loving of myself and my loving of others, all experienced in a joyful creative participation.
My meditation teacher has always said, that all we need to do is wake up and remember who we are, and this is a true statement for me. Biodanza always helps me to open the doors to these latent memories that sleeping within me.
Carolina created three lovely Vivencia’s
Carolina created three lovely Vivencia’s that generated such a sense of community for all who attended. I learned so much and I am so grateful that she shares her knowledge with me with an open heart. It is always a privilege to work with her, she has a real understanding of Biodanza, having worked with Rolando for 30 years. I experience what a gift this is to the world and how she constantly monitors the integration and needs of the participants. I find her level of integrity around Rolando Toro Arenada’ s vision for Biodanza extraordinary.
Feedback forms are available from every single event, and many people willingly complete them. This feedback provides valuable information on what events were popular amongst the community and what will be scheduled the following year.
Dealing with conflict and boundaries
I personally was impressed by the way the camp dealt with conflict and boundaries. Everyone was able to choose powerfully, there were mediators present to help deal with any issues that arise, and because Biodanza is a system without words we learn to find ways to address boundaries through the movement in the body. I was reminded of how blessed I am to have come across such an integrated loving system as Biodanza. It breaks out through our cells, and becomes who we are. And, if we live the system, we are blessed with connections in every part of the world.
We loved that DNE value Biodanza as a system of fantastic human potential, it is one of the modalities that has a presence almost every day in the activities. We were told many times by participants that the system just completely aligns with the community and who they are being.
I would love to see this kind of Camp happening in England
On a personal level, I would love to see this kind of Camp happening in England, so watch this space! Perhaps a group of you would like to experiment with me at creating this generous helping of community loving and connection here in the UK? Contact me if it resonates with you, or you would simply like to get a group together to attend this beautiful event next year.
A big thank you!
And finally, a big thank you to each and every person who made our stay possible. From the organisers who kindly gave us access to stay at their Airbnb in Boston and for those who graciously gave us a lift to and from the camp itself, to those who gave us bedding, torches and flip flops ( mine gave up the ghost). To every person we met and made connections with including some of the founders who generously explained their visions for the community. Thank you all so much for sharing your lives with us. For those poor individuals who had to suffer the madness of the two pommies from over the pond in the cabin, we salute you too!
Dance New England have created something quite unique & extraordinary over the past 40 years. The wonder of seeing the next generations still coming to camp and working on committees is inspirational. We wish you an abundance of dancing, loving and continued connections in the future and we hope to return again soon. And finally I am reminded of the words to a song by DIDO played at the end of a Vivencia by Maira “ No Love Without Freedom, No Freedom Without Love”.