A few months ago our team came together and decided Earthdance was ready for something new – some shift in how we were delivering & hosting our event, such that we could feel we were playing a bigger role in giving back to the spaces we were using. Quickly, O.U.R. Ecovillage came into focus as an amazing prospective host for our gathering. After some quick meetings with the O.U.R. Ecovillage team, we were a GO for putting together OUR Earthdance 2011!
Hundreds of beautiful people arrived to O.U.R. EcoVillage this weekend to participate in the most amazing Earthdance Festival we’ve yet co-created! A smaller event for Earthdance (max 300 people), but the largest event O.U.R. Ecovillage has ever hosted! The production team arrived Thursday with loads & loads of fabric & decoration, tools & supplies and of course lights & sound equipment! Midway into the day our generously loaned “Spirit Stage” from Cowichan arrived, and then it started to feel really real.
As the production team acclimated to this new space it became obvious this was something a little different than we were used to. Perhaps it was moving the cow so we could get our cars through, or walking through the massive organic garden on the way to the shared meals created by our hosts, or maybe what tipped us off was the goats chewing on our tripods as we hosted our opening circle… but something was indeed different.
By the time that guests began arriving Friday morning there was still much to do – but there was a tremendous energy of peace & joy amongst our crew & hosts – albeit perhaps shy a few hours sleep for many of us. Our guests, vendors and talent, began arriving. Sunset Labs team member Space Age dropped some fun lunchtime beats to welcome arriving community, and then the opening circle came quickly, featuring a vision dance by Taiya and a blessing from a local elder who shared with us two songs in their original language – the name of which I already don’t recall, the beautiful sound of which I know I’ll retain awhile longer. Brandy Gallagher of O.U.R. Ecovillage officially welcomed our tribe onto the property and then it was time for dance! Grandpa Phunk (Earthdance teammate Neil Johnson) picked up the pace next.
As the day went on we saw contributions from NOVA Fire Spun Arts of the Comox Valley, longtime acoustic artist Jess Blue who now adds DJing to his long list of musical magic, and Sunset Labs teammate Beatfarmer who we’ve all been hearing a lot from lately as his production continues to hit new heights! I have to talk this guy up, because HE never will ;) The amazing kids zone, put together by Lilith Chameleon & crew, stepped into gear with offerings including puppetry, colouring, storytelling, hoop workshops, interactive lightshows and the ever-awesome Sacred Storyteller with gamemaker Joelique Spiritfeather. Kristin Grant and the Urbanheart team’s huge collaborative canvas nearby made it all the more difficult for parents to tear the kids away.
Gifted local healer Aaron Banfield led a community acupuncture clinic throughout each day, and a number of other healers were onsite offering reiki, jin shin do and various forms of massage. You didn’t have to go far to get some healing – there were massage tables & chairs everywhere! Morning yoga classes by Shambunata & Maria Fillipone got people moving in the morning, and our Saturday morning O.U.R. Ecovillage workparty saw dozens of Earthdance guests joining in and slinging mud onto the walls of the new cob & rammed earth eatery being built on the property, which will be driven by a zero-mile-diet philosophy! It was amazing to be able to leave something constructive behind, even if by most measurements, it was just well-placed dirt. :)
Our deeply talented dance friends Luciterra performed 2 shows on Saturday, joined by contact juggler Chris Murdoch – and WOW has his addition added some amazing elements to their presentation. We’ll soon have some pics to share, but if you weren’t there, we’ll be hard-pressed to convey the sheer AWEsomeness of their movement & magic. The weekend remained very high on amazing contributions, including movement workshops with Jade de Trey & Lindsay Spencer, performance & a wish tree from NOVA Fire Spun Arts, a high-flying demonstration by Cativeiro Capoeira and an empassioned dance performance by Methuselah Dance Troupe. After dark we saw indescribable visual contributions by Sijay of OnBeyond Metamedia & Eli of Spiral Sense – both of whom will be showing off in Victoria again sometime soon.
On Saturday afternoon we came together for the Global Prayer for Peace, simply one of the most empowering & inspiring events I think one might have the privilege to participate in. Speaking to the international Earthdance theme this year of “Celebrating Our Forests”, we were then joined by TJ Watt of Ancient Forest Alliance & Brian Roberts of Cowichan Energy Alternatives who shared a little about their efforts to protect Vancouver Island’s Forests. The ensuing Spiral Dance, now a 4 year veteran on Vancouver Island, is really of another world. There’s something about being in a chain with many hundreds of people sharing the same space, music & intention – while having a seriously ridiculously good time – that’s a rare gift to those in attendance. Aside from the risk of getting a little dizzy, it’s something you should definitely look to try sometime if ever presented the opportunity.
Acoustic music this weekend featured Shane Philip (Comox Valley), Tarran the Tailor (Vancouver), Masala & Wontanara (Victoria), Silva Sound (Saltspring Island) & the Klaxon (on loan to Canada for a short time from Columbia)! DJ sets & electronica was driven by Adham Shaikh, Naasko & Sijay (Nelson), Timothy Wisdom, Rennie Foster & Shamanoid (Vancouver), and fellow Islanders Microbongo Sound System, Brass Sass & Swing, R&D (Rowan & Desunos), Beatfarmer, Florian, Space Age, Grandpa Phunk, Jesse B, Blue Lunar Monkey, Joshua James & Chris CHill – who also hosted a packed first Vancouver Island screening of the new documentary Electronic Awakening – which will be screened at Sunset Room again in October.
With this huge array of contributing talent, the innate vibe & power of our host property, the strictly sober event format and the brilliant potpourri of guests that joined us this event will not soon be forgotten, and it’s impacts – whether interpersonal, energetic or tactile – will I’m certain long remain & ripple out beyond our hearts & communities. We’re deeeeeply grateful to the attendees for saying yes to a ticketed event format, in a new venue, with a new schedule & flow. We also express deepest bows to our hosting Cowichan tribes. We thank all the artists, each of whom contributed their music or performance for pennies, gas & salads. Lastly – thank you to our amazing & committed team of volunteers, without whom there would be no memory of this event, no stories to tell, and no tremendous excited circle of hands in the air this last weekend – sending love into the world and powerfully inviting whatever comes next.