Circle Dance: Dance Steps to Everyday Bravery

Some of the songs on the “Everyday Bravery” CD have dances made up for them.

I try to create dances that leave room for people to place themselves inside the dance.

My Bones Sing

Location of song:Everyday Bravery,” Song 9


1. Prepare by establishing who is each person’s partner and who is each person’s neighbor. On the refrain, dancers will face first toward their partners, next face toward their neighbors, then back toward their partner.

2. Invite people to sit in the middle of the circle. At the end of the dance they will receive a “shower” of blessings.

There are three distinct types of movements on the chorus, verses and refrain.

1. The dance begins with the chorus: “Going round and round.”
Move clockwise to the left with a series of slipsteps.
Go forward cross right, left, right. Then turn backward, moving left, right, left. Continue turning forward and backward with slipsteps for the length of this section.

2. Verses:
Face forward into the center of the circle and touch palms with the people on either side.
You will be swiveling your arms down and then up again.
Start with your arms, palms touching, raised above your heads. Each verse contrasts something large—like mountain in the first verse—with something small—wild geese in verse one. When something smaller is introduced, swivel your hands, still connected, to a palms downward position. Backs will bend lower, heads duck, elbows up. Then as the larger form is named again—mountain, pine tree, or river—return to standing, palms connected in the original position.

3. Refrain: “My bones sing.”
On the words, “my bones,” hands are together by your heart, fists closed. Then open full out, arms stretched to wide expanse, facing your partner on the word, “sing.” It’s fun to sing to each other face to face, “my bones sing.” The phrase is repeated three times. Face your partner, then face your neighbor, then face your partner again as you do the repeating sequence. It’s like flapping butterfly wings or flinging yourself wide.
Shimmy with happiness on the phrase, “with the dancing.”

4. Chorus: “Going round and round.”
After each sequence of verse and refrain, the chorus returns.
Turn left and repeat the slipsteps described above.

5. Ending
At the very end when the words have stopped and only the guitar is playing, face the people seated in the center. With palms pressed together swivel snake-like into the center. On the final chord, sweep your hands upward and then cascade down to send a wave of blessings upon the seated people. Hold mindfully the sensation that you are
sending them the good wishes generated in the dance. People in the center have reported
that they feel refreshed and sometimes experience a tingling sensation.

I choreographed this for Ellen Kennedy, for the Rowe Circle Dance Conference, and for the Mexico Dance Camp facilitated by Gwyn Peterdi. This song is also on the compilation CD made by Gwyn called Danzas Circulares, 2006.

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Singing Bird

Location of song:Everyday Bravery,” Song 15

Description: Individual creative movement exploration.

Establish what the closing movement will look like where the group creates one connected nest. Cross hands in front (as in customary when singing “We Shall Ovecome”) and join hands in one tight circle.

Discuss the sequence as described below.

1. At the start of the song, imagine that you are in an egg. Envision the sensation of being inside a shell and suddenly discovering that there is more. You are able to use your beak to peck your way out into the world.

2. When you feel ready, discover how to fly and explore flying for the length of the song.

3. As the song ends, come into the nest formation. Those who are ready first and have already connected with crossed hands wait until everyone else is ready to return to the nest. This may take longer than the song lasts. Have one person prepared to either re-start the music and dance to two lengths of the song or turn off the music so that the start of the next song doesn’t disturb the organic process afoot.

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Semilla–the Seed

Location of song:Everyday Bravery,” Song 18

Dance One

This is a dance of joyful slip-steps followed by circling with a partner. It was choreographed for Hope Jinishian who suggested that I write this song.

Yo bendigo esta semilla / Oh, I bless this seed.
1. Slipsteps right-left-right and left-right-left.

Llena de vida / so full of life.
2. Then circle holding hands with one or two others.
Repeat this sequence.

Yo la planto, yo la planto en mi corazon / and I plant it, oh, I plant it in my heart.
3. Join right hands, facing each other. Press left hands to form a seed shape.

Y ella florece / and it flowers.
4. Arch back like the petals opening, keep hold of right hands.

Para siempre/ forevermore.
5. Come back with hands pressed together, or circle holding right hands and stretching out.

Dance Two

Imagine that together you are tracing the shape of a seed and packing this  seed with vitality.

Face center and begin the dance sufficiently apart from each other. Each dancer moves alone without holding hands but is moving in close relationship to all the others.

1. Take four steps toward the center, palms out. Be aware of the other dancers also moving into the center. Visualize the enormous seed you are touching together as you gently rock foward and back. Now take four steps back.

2. Follow this sequence three times: four steps forward, four steps back. Step each time with slightly different hand movements. The first time keep palms out low at waist level. The second time, palms are at a middle heart level. The third time, palms are high. 

3. As you step back the third time, bring your hands to your heart as the words say, “en mi corazon” meaning “in my heart.” Next, circle clockwise in place. You decide how to move your arms. You could, for instance, open both arms wide and high, or perhaps keep one hand on your heart.

4. On the final phrase of each verse, bow to the center, hands on heart.

The same sequence repeats three times: a verse in Spanish, instrumental flute section, a verse in English.

On the second lively flute instrumental section, any dancer who chooses comes into the center and spins.

On the ending bilingual verse, repeat the sequence above.

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The Opening

Location of song:Everyday Bravery,” Song 16

There are three distinct group movements, one for each verse. This dance celebrates spiritual growth supported by community. It marks a change from feeling stuck to discovering an opening and learning how to live on a different level.

Establish partners who will make arches together.

The leader of the dance and their partner will be the activators initiating each change.
Establish the direction of the dance, clockwise. Be aware of the “bottom” of the tunnel,
the couple who at that moment is at the farthest end.
Note that in verses 2 and 3 the travelling is done as individuals, not in couples.

1. Instrumental beginning:
Wander alone, milling, closed inward.
As the mandolin starts to pick up a very regular beat, find your partner and start to
create arches, all in a line side by side in a tunnel shape.
Activators help organize the group by initiating a clockwise sweep of hands.

Verse One: The opening calls, come through the door.
Partners take turns going underneath the archway of the activators and reforming an arch on the other side. Keep continuously going under arches until the verse is over.
Partners dance together, hands reaching, to articulate the words “of tree and of star.”

Verse Two: I come to this mountain.
Prepare by facing into the tunnel with arms raised, palms flat and open at head level.
Each individual takes a turn going through the tunnel, touching each palm. The sensation is of making a journey with support from walls and from people. Make sure every person gets a turn.

Verse Three: I honor this place...and I fly free.
Start with one person from the couple at the bottom. They position themselves at the opening of the tunnel and grab hands of two people closest to them who will fling them forward to fly through the tunnel and out the other side. Everyone will get a turn.

5. Closing
Much of the long instrumental ending is used to give everyone a turn flying.
Transition to each person forming a butterfly shape with their hands, hooking thumbs.
The butterfly lands on your heart as just the kalimba plays the final notes.

Origin of the Song:
Evie Spodnik and Evi Beck and I climbed Tepozteco Pyramid in Morales, Mexico while we were taking part in Mexico Dance Camp. We created the song to help us with the ascent. It may be helpful to imagine three women climbing a mountain together who are sharing stories of their lives as they support each other in the climb. On our mountain journey, when we asked permission of the guardians to walk on the mountain, an orange butterfly appeared.

Alternative Dance:
Here is a dance that Evie, Evi, and I created together for this same song.

1. Start with knuckles pressed together in a T shape at heart level. This is the closed door
that will soon open. During the long musical introduction with the rainstick and kalimba, dynamically explore this position, changing it if needed, and reflect upon new openings in your own life. Sway and move your hands.

2. “The opening calls.”
Rock forward right and then back left while keeping knuckles pressed.

3. “Come through the door.”
Step through your hands, going forward right and left, walking into the center with palms out, facing upward.

4. “The opening calls.”
Close right and raise arms high.

5. “There is so much more.”
Circle counterclockwise to the left. Keep your right arm up and left arm down as you twirl, conscious of the designs of a snake in Mayan art.

6. Face right, slip step: right together right. Snake-like right arm gestures forward while
the left arm stretches behind.
Face left, slip step: left together leftt. Snake-like leftt arm gestures forward while
the right arm stretches behind.
Repeat each.

7. “of tree and of star”   Palms face your face with the right hand slightly higher than the right. Rock back on “of tree” and rock forward on “of star.”

9. “For we are the people of tree and of star.”
Hold hands with the other dancers, sway left then right.

10. Before the next verse begins, prepare by returning your hands to the knuckles closed
position and repeat the entire sequence for each verse.

11. At the very end, while kalimba and rainstick return, lock thumbs and create butterfly hands. Fly until the butterfly lands on your heart.

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Wise Women Taught

Location of song:Everyday Bravery,” Song 7

Use this song to dance the hora. It talks about the wisdom of Jewish women in history.

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Follow the Voice—music for dancing “Winds on the Tor”

Location of song:Magical Earth” and “Green Flame” recordings.

A spiritual journey that begins by living authentically alone leads to finding community by the end of the song. “And we will rise with the eagle, and we will rise to her nest, where the soft wings will unfold us of all of the ones who love us best.”

“Winds on the Tor” choreography by Colin Harrison

This is a beautiful sequence of eight waltz steps:
1,2 Turn right with two waltz steps, right two three, left two three.
3. Circle clockwise until you are facing center with another waltz step.
4. Cross with the left foot to the right, complete the waltz step facing center:
cross, return, step.
5, 6 Waltz into the center and back, right two three, left two three.
7, 8 Two more waltz steps done while facing center: cross left then right.
In other words, use the right foot cross to the left, return the left foot in place, lift right.
Using the left foot cross to the right, return the right foot in place, lift left.
Ready to begin again turning right.

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