This week’s Dance First Member Insight is brought to you by Banafsheh Sayyadfounder of  Dance of Oneness. Dance First members are sharing their insights and inspirations during this troubled time, as well as how they are coping. Plus links to live streams and online offerings for you.

Dear Dancers

Here we are in this time of great reckoning. All of us, in one way or another, are experiencing deep pain caused by human ideology and conduct. We have seen systemic environmental degradation that has led to the pandemic; systemic racism in the US and elsewhere; and systemic sexism in my country, Iran and elsewhere.

Emerging from this great reckoning is the potential for the great awakening that many of us are sensing and feeling – an awakening rooted in deep reverence for life, calling on us to be stewards of a new world order based in true humanity, compassion, respect and an honoring of all life, all forms, all shapes, all colors, all genders.

I’m entirely dedicated to actualizing this new world order. I write with a heart broken over the killing of George Floyd and the honor killing and beheading of the 13-year old Romina Ashrafi by her father in Iran. These are only two of the ongoing atrocities occurring across the globe. My query and my quest is to hold both the pain and the enormous potential of this pain to open myself and others to living more fully, more passionately, and more lovingly. This is an opportunity that dance gives us: to hold both the sorrow and the joy as dance partners.

As the pandemic brought the cancellation of my performances and all the Dance of Oneness retreats and workshops around the world through August, I rolled up my sleeves and immediately began teaching online. I had wanted to do online courses for years but never got around to it. The idea was very daunting, and I thought things had to be perfect. But, faced with disappointed students and the upsurge of grief, fear, anxiety, and worry in the people around me and around the world, I felt I had to do my part to alleviate the suffering. All that I had learned and dedicated my life to had prepared me for this moment. It was my duty to show up and help people embody themselves, open their hearts, connect with the wellspring of creativity and joy inside them, feel grateful for being alive no matter what, and share all this through dance in community with others.

I started with a daily dance marathon on Zoom in April, which became a true lifeline for all of us who gathered and dedicated ourselves to dancing for life every day. In May, I transformed my week-long retreat in Turkey to a month-long retreat online where we danced three times a week. I had 4 times more enrollment for our online retreat than the week-long. Many people who could not join us in Turkey because of finances, time, distance, etc. could now join us from different parts of the world.

Our Dance of Oneness community has snowballed in these two months. All of us are needing the nourishment that only dancing in community can give us. Now I’m offering an 8-week Intensive that will meet 3 times a week on Zoom . None of us could have imagined the level of intimacy, immediacy and radical realness that gathering online on a platform like Zoom could offer us. This communion of people from all over the world, who would not otherwise be able to join events due to limitations of time, space or money, has been a gift in this time of great reckoning and awakening. It has been wonderful to provide the opportunity to develop the art-form of creating immersive, intimate experiences through Zoom.

Sending love to all you fellow dancers and dance facilitators around the world. Let’s dance our way to a new world based in love and mutual honoring of all life.

~ Banafsheh

Dance of Oneness®: Radiant Chakras
June 3 – July 31
3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
10-11am PT | 1-2pm ET | 7-8pm CET

Madonna Rising: Rosa Mystica Virtual Intensive
Aug 13 – Aug 19, Online

Dance of Oneness®: Path of the Dancer Workshop
Sept 17 – Sept 23, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Sufi Dance of Oneness® Workshop
Oct 23 – Oct 26, Menla Retreat Center, NY