Leaders Aoataroa

Premanand

I was deeply touched when I discovered the Dances in Hawkes Bay in 1990. This was a time of great transformation and total change of lifestyle for me. As a result of a serious accident my interests shifted from extreme physical pursuits to an inner journey and the beginning of an awakening.

My Dance journey has taken me on numerous trips to Europe to escape winter here and to dance in the camps in England, Germany and Russia, attending 14 camps in 3 years. During this time I was inspired by many wonderful teachers, and the seed was sown to become a leader myself.

And thus, my greatest challenge in life began: always believing myself to be "musically challenged", it was a huge stretch to even think of singing in public!

In 2000 I finally took the plunge and began seriously leading. My journey with the Dances has evolved from the days when I was a playful, free spirit (known as Bill back then) attracted by the love and lightness of Dance Camps to a place where the Dances and Sufism have become my spiritual path and a great source of fulfilment, and leading Dances my main focus. I feel much gratitude to my mentors and friends who have been huge catalysts for me - Anahata, Narayan, James Burgess, Catherine & Nasir, Shafia, Jocelyn and Sally.

My path has led me away from my initial career as an industrial chemist/manager, and during the last 12 years I have focused more on personal growth, creativity, overseas travel, facilitating workshops and the Dances. I was a guardian of Te Moata Retreat Centre in the Coromandel for 2 years before returning to Hawkes Bay and started The Dance Camp Aotearoa in New Zealand.   

I have a Diploma in Bodymind Therapy, and have undertaken foundation training in Psychosynthesis counselling, and am active in the Co-counselling community.

 

Sally

I live my life sharing my passion for the Dances of Universal Peace at home in Aotearoa New Zealand and travelling overseas. I especially resonate with the Aramaic dances of Saadi as well as the Maori Dances being created here in Aotearoa New Zealand by Shafia and Wendy. I was born in Turanganui-a-Kiwa or Gisborne and grew up in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton). I love being in nature with close friends and hanging out with my 3 adult children.

I lead dances in Auckland, and love visiting Dance circles and Dance events around Aotearoa NZ; supporting, leading and being a dancer. I feel very blessed, as part of my journey, to have led and been on staff at Camps in Europe in 2008 and 2009. I trained to lead the dances with Shafia Stevens, and became a certified leader in 2008 though have been leading nationally and internationally since 2006.

For me the Dances of Universal Peace are a way of helping each of us to reconnect with the sacredness of all life including our own divinity. They are also a way for us to work towards peace within ourselves which flows out to our communities, and ultimately the world.

Wendy

I have been dancing since 1994 - the Earthdance gatherings led by Catherine and Nasir captured me totally and provided an inspiration to continue dancing and also to begin playing guitars and drums as a support musician in Wellington. Eventually, I began leading dances too and have been involved with dance circles on the Kapiti Coast and Palmerston North for many years, also having evenings of zikr (Sufi devotional chanting) at my home in Foxton.

For many years I have been co-creating with Prem and Sally the ‘Spirit and Nature’ gatherings by the river at Otaki Gorge, and, being also an artist it has also been an opportunity for me to bring together the dances and my art - using my paintings to decorate the space we dance in has become a habit which has extended to Dance Camp and also satisfies my desire to get art into real life.

I am also a student of Te Reo Maori and through my love of the Maori creation stories have come to work with Shafia in offering ‘Tihei Mauri Ora’ weekends – wanting to build bridges of understanding between maori and pakeha and bringing some of the richness of the spirituality of this land to our dance community.

 

Shafia Mariam

I am of Maori/Pakeha descent and was born in Dunedin. I was brought up in the UK and returned to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2000 responding to the call of my ancestors.

I trained in the Dances of Universal Peace in the UK. I have led at camps and gatherings around the world.

I am a mentor teacher, now training and guiding others. I have facilitated two 3-year trainings in the North Island and we are about to embark on a third.

I follow the Sufi path but remain very rooted in the teachings of Jesus especially through his native Aramaic Language. Teaching and sharing the Lord’s Prayer and Beatitudes has been a profound and joyful part of my journey.

I gained a BA at the age of 55 in Te Reo (Maori language) and New Zealand history. I continue on a journey of discovery of my Maori heritage. I share dances that have come through me, connecting to Maori wisdom and knowledge through the lens of Dances of Universal Peace.

Andrew Hall

Back in 1994 it was love at first sight when I first experienced the Dances. I began leading the following year under the mentorship of Linley Main who was one of the early dance leaders instrumental in establishing the dances in New Zealand - as were Catherine Grace and Shanti Huebner, both of whom also contributed greatly to my understanding and development as a dance leader. I thank them all, and my many other teachers, from the depth of my heart. I became a certified dance leader in 2000.

I have been playing the guitar since I was a kid and music has been an important part of my dance journey. I provided guitar support for Allaudin for his Mana Dance Retreat in 2000 and similarly for Leilah Be for her 2008 zikr weekend and her 2013 Dance Retreat, both also at Mana. I am very happy to help other Dance Leaders and Musicians to develop their guitar skills and I have a considerable amount of intermediate instructional guitar material up on my YouTube Channel as well as on Google Drive.

I have had many new dances come to me, from 1996 right up to the present. I am gradually working through recording and documenting these on YouTube. My concentration in the Dances is strongly, almost exclusively, oriented towards Sufism and Zikr - the practice of Remembrance of our Unity with the One. I am initiated in the Sufi Order and I am deeply blessed to have Jamila as my guide.

I live at Wildwood Community in Kapiti. We have an open dance circle every 3 weeks (rotating with Sufi practice and Buddhist meditation in the other weeks). I dance almost every day as my central personal spiritual practice, often being joined by Anne Buchanan who is also a dancer and follows the Sufi path, as well as by Jean, my partner. I love dancing alone or with just a couple of other people.

My YouTube channel