Music & Ecstatic Dance
I am also a classically trained musician, having focused on violin and viola in my teens, reaching Grade 5 level before stopping playing music, listening and dancing to lots instead. I spent many years clubbing or going to gigs and festivals in and around London, as well as across the UK and in other countries I have lived, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Austria and more. My musical influence stretches far and wide across nations and genres to encompass a huge library of musical deliciousness.
These days my main musical focus is on sacred music and call-and-response mantra chant (kirtan), as well as ecstatic dance events. I sing and play the harmonium, as well as a playing a little basic percussion.
Mantras, Bhajans and Kirtan
Kirtan (Sanskrit: कीर्तन) is a form of meditation through music, where we chant Sanskrit mantras and accompany them with melodies, often through Bhajans, which are call-and-response chants with one person or perhaps two leading, and the rest of the group (chorus) listening and echoing with their response. Kirtan is a devotional practice, known as Bhakti yoga, usually chanting the words of deities (or many names of the divine) and mantras to open our hearts and to melt into stillness between bhajans.
Jai Uttal, a leader of Kirtans worldwide for at least 30 thirty years says that, "these ancient chants, contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries."
My Kirtan journey began at the Yoga Sanctuary in Southampton in 2010 and when I moved to Austria in 2016, I found myself missing Kirtan desperately, so I helped to found a group of yogis and musicians called Valley Kirtaniya Collective, where we share our love of music and mantra from the Indian Bhakti tradition, as well as sacred music and heart songs from other traditions. It's all about vibration and stillness. You can find us at on Facebook:
In 2019 and 2020, I was lucky enough to have shared Kirtan with Valley Kirtaniya Collective in Vorarlberg, and then as a solo musician on retreat with the Satsang Foundation in Switzerland, at Ecstatic Dance St. Gallen, also in Switzerland, and at Yogafestival Bodensee with Johannes Vogt & Friends in Germany.
Ecstatic Dance is a worldwide movement offering open, conscious, intentional and freestyle dance: conscious clubbing. This is a drug free zone (yes, that includes alcohol), with a DJ set or playlist usually guiding us through 2-3 hours of music to dance yourSelf into ecstasy.
We meet to create a "sacred space" for and through dancing.
- No shoes - barefoot or dance socks only.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- No alcohol or other drugs.
- No talking on the dance floor:
We only talk on the dance floor when absolutely necessary. This way we can let ourselves dive into and completely immerse ourselves in the dance and the music, coming out of our thinking heads and monkey mind into our heart and body.
- Respect yourself and others on the dance floor:
Ecstatic Dance has been created as a safe space for all, whether we’re dancing alone or with others. Ecstatic Dance is contact-friendly, but please bear in mind that we all have different comfort zones when it comes to being approached and touched. Please be mindful and ensure that the way you approach other dancers is resonant with them. If somebody offers you a shared or contact dance and you are not interested, simply give them a bow with hands at your heart to say, “no thank you”.
It’s a moving meditation, a therapy, a prayer, a connection to our higher Self. Dancing is a form of therapy and can help us connect to ourselves, as well as to others.
Ecstatic Dance sessions are often opened with a singing circle or cacao ceremony, to delicately draw us deep inside as well as uniting our energy as a group before we're invited to let loose and fly into freedom on the dance floor.