Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Samra and the Lotus Dance Retreat

Samra and the Lotus Dance Retreat: A Materialized Dream of Global Sisterhood in Dance.
Posted by Samra: http://www.samrasexpressions.com/ stephip1234@yahoo.com

Like the Lotus Flower that reopens each morning as a symbol of rebirth, the Lotus Dance Retreat will return next year. Mark your calendars for March 22-30 to be in Bali, Indonesia. Again we will “Dance Like a Goddess in the Island of the Gods.”

It all started as an intriguing dream of mine to belly dance in Bali. Since I visited Bali in the Fall of 2005, I couldn’t wait to return. As time passed I became focused on the possibility of combining my desire to return to Bali, my love of dancing, and my wish to share the experience with fellow dancers from around the world.

Thus the vision for Lotus Dance Retreat was born. Then came the reality: How can one organize an event on the other side of the globe without knowing anyone? The answer came through the internet. After contacting everyone with a published email address who lived in Bali, I got emails from transient dance teachers in Bali, later from Meg of Balispirit who provided the email address for Allison Mulroy, who recommended her dance teacher at the time, Rebecca Kaal. My time frame for availability was March. From the time I contacted Alli, to the time that I got an agreement from Rebecca to help me with this venture about 5 months had elapsed. It was now November.

Rebecca and Alli worked intensively trying to work as many arrangements as possible, and by the time we even had a hotel lined up was December. That gave us only three months. For most people, one year at least is needed to organize an event like this. But knowing that one must learn from experience, we all decided to embark in this venture, keeping it open to possibilities. We hoped that other spontaneous spirited dancers would join us. And they did.

The Lotus Dance Retreat 2007 was not offered as a package, because I wanted the participants to choose the activities according to their interests and their budgets. Even for the classes, one could sign up for all the classes, or show up for single classes. The classes welcomed international and local participants. Our support staff consisted of our local resident organizers, Rebecca and Alli, and the instructing staff included besides me (Samra) Joyce Stech from the USA and Siri Ydstie from Norway, in addition to a native Balinese dance instructor and a resident Yoga instructor. Our participants consisted of an amazing group of women from various corners of the world.

The week went by incredibly fast. We had a very intensive class schedule, and some participants did not miss a single class!! 26 hours in one week. Additionally, we performed at 2 shows, attended evening events, and we went for our farewell dinner party at a fabulous seafood restaurant at Jimbaran Beach. Not only was the food delicious, but we were entertained by a local band singing their renditions of “golden oldies” from the USA and UK as well as Guantanamera and Besame Mucho… This was right on the beach, with our feet on Balinese sand, after seeing the end of a gorgeous sunset. What else could anyone want at a moment like this? It was perfect.

During the week participants engaged sightseeing tours, a Balinese cooking class including a trip to the market, snorkeling, motorbike riding, soaking up the sun and cool water in swimming pools or the ocean, horseback riding, and enjoying the soothing power of massages and spa treatments. Since some of our classes were held at a glassed in location where the hotel employees could see us, we become instant “hits”. The word spread fast and every hotel staff member would smile and most would shake their shoulders or hips when they saw someone in our group. It was very endearing, actually!

Our dynamic travel agent/consultant/resource person, Yani of Bali Traveling became quickly a member of our family and became available for us 24 hrs a day to answer any question and tackle any problem that could arise. I wholeheartedly recommend her for anyone wanting to visit Bali and want someone to become a sister/daughter during their visit.

Besides all the exciting things that happened in the Legian beach area, one of the highlights was an amazing trip to Rebecca Kaal’s mountain retreat, where she hosted a Balinese feast for us, complete with a band of local musicians playing their version of danceable tribalish drum rhythms… The evening was splendid and memorable. Rebecca’s family and neighbors were gracious hosts.

So much happened! It would not be true to say that everything went without glitches. A first time event is always a time of learning and exploring. But in the end, the positive prevailed and the proof is we are ready to return next year. Wiser, better organized, and ready to offer the participants one of the best weeks in their life. Full of dance, pampering, friendship, and the magic of Bali itself. Mark your calendars for March 22-30, 2008 and visit these sited frequently for more information to be posted soon about next year’s LOTUS DANCE RETREAT 2008. Treat yourself to the magical experience of Bali and Dance Like a Goddess in the Island of the Gods.


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