Dance Leader Team
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.
Amrita Bhakti (Co-Convener)
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.
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.
While I have played guitar since I was 12, I only came to the dances in 2009 when I attended my first Dance Camp with my family. We all loved it so much we haven't left! I began Dance Leader mentorship in 2011 and certified as a Dance Leader in 2016 under the guidance and loving support of Prem and Amrita. Leading the dances opens my heart to peace and calm. The music and mantras bring together a longing for song and union with Life Force, that creative energy that inspires and animates all. I am honoured to be of service to the dance.