My whole life, I've danced. Born into a folkloric family in the Balkans, I was initiated quite early into the rhythms, steps, and stories of my cultural heritage. Migrating to the States in the 70's meant experiencing my native culture through Chicago's rich Eastern European tapestry. It also brought rock & roll, rap, reggae, and lots of other rhythms into my soul.
In Middle Eastern Dance, I found an opulent field of modes and textures that I could use to express myself artistically. Related to the Balkans through the Ottoman bridge, the Middle Eastern and Balkan musical traditions are happy regional cousins who complement each other quite well. In between the two is Paolinka the World Gypsy - Me celebrating the dance of life in Gypsy mode and sharing my inspirations in the World Gypsy Archetype - a spinner of stories in dance. From the Eastern Mediterranean cauldron I bring my studies of Raqs Sharqi, Ghawazee, Folkloric Regional Dances, Turkish Romany, and Balkan all riding the vibrant wave of World Music.
The celebratory spirit of Dance has been one of the most enduring inspirations in my life. It's all about how magical we feel when we're in the flow of rhythm and harmony. It's a chance to celebrate all the things we say we want - harmony, resonance, expression, community and connection with the forces of the Universe. It's also a chance to be spontaneous and live in the moment - surrendering to life's possibilities. Each of my four dance modalities is a unique window to this universal sense of celebration, bringing complementary perspectives that fire the imagination.
When I began my search for deeper universal meaning indance, I discovered the work of Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), mother of contemporary dance. Her legacy opened a whole new level of understanding, dancing, and teaching for me. Inspired by her vision of the dance as a conversation between body, soul and Universe, I dove into the well of sacred memory that inspired her so much. At this source - nature, myth, archetypes, and the arts converge to inspire the greatest expressions of the human spirit.
Through her teachings, I found a vital bridge between the subjects I taught in High School, such as Philosophy, Theater and Mythology and the dances of my blood and spirit. Her vision of the Dance as high sacred art activated my long-felt instinct about its spiritual powers. Her methods provide ways to imbibe the spirit through movement, intention, gesture, and focus. The Duncan repertory is a treasure chest of instruments and inspirations for any artistic soul, because it recognizes each dancer as an 'AxisMundi', a unique spindle of creation for Grace and Beauty.
Rhythm, harmony, universal shapes and patterns gain new meanings as we learn to add our imagination and intention to the present moment. We open to the message of the soul and the universe,and the moment of dance becomes mytho-poetic, eternal. It?s about changing our state of Being to be able to activate, then transmit transpersonal experience. Our dance joins the dance of the Universe in the Eternal Now.
That's one of the most powerful things about dance - the opportunity it gives us to be fully present in the here and now. To engage in the ritual of dance is tocall all parts of yourself to a sacred celebration of life. To take a break from ordinary reality, turn on the music and let it move you! It's an alchemy realized on all levels of being - a purified body, a lighter heart, an inspired mind, and a radiant soul. This energy naturally radiates to others - to reach out to our fellow dancers is a conscious, creative act of community that allows hearts and souls to unite in harmony.
While Isadora left us her vision of the Universal Dancer dancing the evolution of our human race, Gabrielle Roth (1941-2012) gave us a map through the energies that animate this vision, whose goal she called 'ecstasy'. Through studying her Five Rhythms of the soul, I discovered amazing keys for activating the instinctual wisdom in our bodies. I woke up to a practice that invited my spontaneity, grace, expression, and surrender to play within a wave of healing movement totally authentic to myself.
I also discovered a catalyst for a lifetime of knowledge gained on the dancing path. All is rhythm, pattern, and cycle. All dances place the dancer as the axis between Earth and Universe, Self and Other. So my four dances - Balkan, Oriental, Duncan, and Five Rhythms - all represent the dance of Life and Cosmos in its various guises. Whether it's rooted like Balkan, fluid like Oriental, inspired like Duncan, or shamanic like Roth, they all channel the great forces which move our Universe. Revealing their hidden likenesses is the super-charged moment of alchemy, when a knowledge beyond words is felt at all levels, from the spirit down to the very DNA. When I dance in this mode, I am Paola the Universal Dancer, inviting the world to dance a new vision of humanity into existence.
So, it is with great joy that I welcome you to World Dance Alchemy. A place where the transformative qualities of world dance are constantly evolving, mingling, and creating new inspirations.