You've probably never heard of mystical dance, but for good reason.
The new art combines yoga philosophy with dance to create a freeform style that is meant to express femininity. There are only 77 teachers in the world who have attended a special program in Thailand to learn to teach the dance, and one of them, Nola Ananda, lives right here in Whistler.
Ananda will be teaching the dance to locals as part of a workshop at the inaugural Nita Lake Luna Festival taking place on Oct. 18 – 20 at Nita Lake Lodge.
"My teacher was a belly-dancer on Broadway for 15 years," Ananda says. "She left following the call of her soul and went to Thailand and did a four-year program at a yoga school. With her belly dancer background, she created it... It's really beautiful and profound."
On top of mystical dance, Ananda will also lead a workshop on hula hooping as well as a raw cacao ceremony. "Raw cacao is a superfood," she says. "A lot of people put it in their smoothies for a health benefit, but it's been used in ceremonies for years. When you take it in a ceremonial way, it's a very healing medicine. It's chocolate but (it's different when) you take it with intention. Raw cacao, it brings out everyone's light. We're going to have a room full of people with their happiness, their bliss."
Ananda curated the events for the festival alongside Penny Eder, owner of the White Dog Studio Gallery, which recently moved into Nita Lake Lodge, as well as Mike Duggan, general manager at the lodge.
Luna Festivals are held all over the world as a way to celebrate the full moon. But this will be the first time a version will be held in Whistler, combining art, dance and music. "The full moon is the time when the energy of the earth is at its full power," Ananda says. "Often people will say feminine energy — we all have masculine and feminine energy in our body — is at its full power. It's a strong time to connect with meditation and anything devotional."
Eder will also lead art workshops to sculpt a (working) flute out of clay, as well as painting and sketching. "I think it will be well-rounded... encompassing everything Whistler is about," she says. "I think people will come out feeling good about themselves and grounded and well-rounded."
If the event goes well, the group is thinking about holding the celebrations on a more regular basis. "It's not based around men or women, it's for all of us to celebrate the moon," Eder says. "What we would like to do is have this work into full moons every month or so, so we could have this type of festival again."
For tickets call 1-888-755-6482.
Support the circus
When she isn't busy hula hooping and mystical dancing in Whistler, Nola Ananda performs as part of Spark Circus, primarily for refugee kids in Thailand.
The non-profit leads workshops and puts on shows for Burmese kids in camps along the Thai-Burmese border as a way to offer them a chance to play. "When the sun goes down we put on a fire show," Ananda says. "It's pretty spectacular. It's hard work and there are a lot of emotions, but I get to run around and be a clown. It's fun at the same time."
White Dog Gallery and Nita Lake Lodge will hold an afternoon fundraiser to support the group at Nita Lake Lodge on Oct. 12 from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.