We are launched – Our first Kitsilano Circle Dance at Kits House

Sometimes it’s a success just to “get ‘er done.”  And so Circle Dance Kitsilano is launched.

And that’s what we did on Saturday. Bina and I (and Surita of course) arrived at 9:30am to begin circle dancing at 10am. Here’s a tip: Don’t ever schedule your group for the first event for an event that goes from 10 am to 3 pm.

There were half hour events scheduled all day long, and most of the people in the hall were dressed for their square dance event that was next on the lineup.

So there were 7 of us at peak time. We’d particularly planned a family friendly event, but Surita and Juliet were enjoying looking around the hall for most of the time, and I got to watch the mothers, dancing but also watching the kids.

We’ll call that one a dress rehearsal more than a launch.

More people talking (pretty loudly) than dancing and one of the few people who responded, I saw later and said, “Oh, darn! I *really* wanted to come but caught up with face painting.”

The coffee for volunteers was hot and strong. I got a free reflective sash from Walk and Be Seen and hugs from Joanne and others.

And… we are launched. Looking forward to the evening sessions where people will RSVP and there won’t be a dozen other activities happening simultaneously.

What I learned:

I’d got the tip to start with energetic ones first and that was a good idea.

Because the laptop wasn’t in easy reach and the volunteer who was ready to help, didn’t really know what we had planned, we just let the sequence go on from one song to the next and that actually worked just fine. I taught the dances during the first sequence, and had chosen dances that were about 5-7 minutes each.

A centrepiece is important (I knew that, but because I was caught up with organizing playlists etc it was only the night before when I realized I needed to do that. With kids I think an intriguing centrepiece that draws them to the centre is a good idea. Both kids came in to examine and danced for a bit before they went exploring.

Ask the organizers to quiet people down and round other people up and to help move chairs etc. Send them the plan in advance and also print it out to hand to them so you’re in sync with each other. (we weren’t!)  Make sure the greeters know what you’re doing so they can welcome people and send them up. With more people on our team, we could actually have had someone downstairs from 9:45 on playing music on a laptop and maybe even demonstrating. Later I realized that many of the neighbourhood people who show up for everything were busy with their own booths: demonstrating origami, straw painting, Mexican cut-outs, face-painting, etc. etc.

The sequence worked well. We did “Make New Friends” (repeated many times) to learn the grapevine. I’d found a version that has two claps before each verse, so that was helpful. Then I did “Thank you for this day” as the steps are pretty easy and energetic.

Bina did “I am a walking tree” which was pretty free form.

I did “One” and “As One” as they were the settling down ones that worked quite well. With kids I think if you had a focused group you could actually do some poetry with them to develop additional lyrics for One. My own proposed additional verse is:

  • One for the day and one for the night;
  • One for the dark and one for the light.

And then we played “Dem Bones” by Fats Waller in honour of Hallowe’en which was scheduled to end exactly at 10:30. Unfortunately the MC took the mike at 10:28 so we didn’t have the photo finish I was hoping for. We just did this free form, but it worked really well and had a couple of new people join us (Probably had arrived on site at 10am and only just managed to find their way there.)

Sure, if our monthly evening sessions go well and we develop a group of neighbourhood families to circle dance together, I’d agree to do it again.. with a whole group of regulars there.

And we’re launched! and that’s a good thing.

I’ll post some photos once they’re available.

Kick-Off Circle Dance Kitsilano at Kits House Autumn Fair

You’re invited to join us for the shortcutsvickibaumkick-off of

Circle Dance Kitsilano

Saturday, October 22

10 am – 10:30 am

Bina and Mary will be in the hall to welcome you to the Kits House Autumn Fair. Join us in a circle for some easy dances.

In circle dancing, the dances are taught before every dance. We all dance in a circle together – all ages – and regardless of how many left feet you have!

Our mantra is:

There are no wrong steps 200-left-feet– only variations!

This is a “kick off” for a series of five circle dance gatherings supported by the Neighbourhood Small Grant Program from Vancouver Foundation that Kits House manages.

More information: circledancekitsilano@gmail.com or facebook.com/CircleDanceKitsilano


Circling Around, Honouring Kali and Discovering Chris James

On Tuesday, we had our regular first Tuesday sacred circle dance at the Unitarian Church.

We danced a new choreography for We Are Circling (Buffy Sainte-Marie). I now know of three possibilities for dancing to this song including the one I did last summer. Can’t wait for someone to do “Carry It On” or “Power in the Blood.” http://buffysainte-marie.com/

Dussehra 2016We danced a no-hands dance for Kali that we hadn’t done for so long, several regulars had never done it. I had mentioned that my friend had told me about Dussehra, the festival honouring Kali. It turns out that (like all good festivals) this one is 10 days long ending on October 10th this year.  Read more here: http://www.navratriday.com/dussehra.html

I shared the dance “Heartfelt Thanks and Gratitude” and was asked who the singer was. It took me a moment to remember and then I did – Chris James!

Here’s a link to the album Fiery Eyes that this song is found on:


Hope to see you some 1st Tuesday or 2nd Monday 7-9 pm or on the third Thursday 11 am-1 pm.


Eat, Dance & Celebrate: New Neighbourhood Small Grant

Eat, Dance & Celebrate: New Neighbourhood Small Grant
My friend Bina and I received the maximum $500 for a series of gatherings to explore cultures through food and dance. Each session will focus on a particular culture. We’ll do some circle dances from that culture and have snacks. Each one will have a special guest from that culture who will share with us about the traditions and festivals.
These will be on a Friday or Saturday 6:30-8 pm. All ages welcome.
Over the past decade or more I’ve gotten more and more involved with Sacred Circle Dance. If you’d like to receive updates about circle dances, send me a note to circledancevancouver@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the reminder list.
Thanks to the Vancouver Foundation and Kits House for their support of Neighbourhood Small Grants.

Stay tuned for dates.

Location: near 4th & Macdonald – details will be sent when you register.

Facilitator: Mairy Beam

Mairy moved here from Toronto in 2016 and we’re GLAD she did! As well as sharing circle dances, she helps tend the labyrinth!


Mairy with her new grandchild.

GLAD combines two things that I’m passionate about – dance and the labyrinth.  I’ve been doing circle dancing since the early nineties but for the last 10 years, I haven’t had the opportunity to regularly dance.  I’m so happy that there so much dancing going on at UCV.  My interest in labyrinths is almost as long.  It is such a gift to have the quiet time of contemplation.  To add art to the mix provides the opportunity to kickstart my creativity.  I don’t have a background in art, and am still quite tentative in my approach.  I expect that GLAD will help with this!

Dance Steps – If you’re new to circle dance, here’s a useful description of some of the steps commonly used.

Here’s a useful description of common dance steps.


And here’s a great introduction to slip-step and grapevine.


And here’s a teachers’ handbook from the Dancing Bears!


And an excerpt from this manual with dance step names:

Common dance step patterns There are a few patterns of steps that turn up in a number of our dances. They’ve got names, and sometimes you’ll even find the dances notated with those. Here are the most common ones:

Cherkassia (cherk-ka-see-a, or sometimes cherk-kas-see-a). It’s also spelled tcherkassia. It’s a series of three steps: Step to the side, cross behind and rock forward— sometimes described as side-behind-replace. Or, cross, replace, and step to the side. You can do it by crossing in front, or by crossing behind. Confusion can result because you have to say “side right, left crosses in front, replace right” and that’s a lot of words for a brief movement. Also saying “right cherkassia” might mean “step right first and then cross with the left” or “cross the right over to the left.”  It’s usually done to one side and then to the other, but you can just do half of it to one side (as in the cross-over after turning in Winds on the Tor).

Grapevine The basic pattern is four steps: a side step, a cross, a side step and a cross. It can be side-cross in front, side-cross behind, or it can begin with any of the those four steps and just continue, winding along like a grapevine.

Pas-de-bas Sometimes you’ll hear a teacher call this “pony step” or usually “pony-step” because it’s a one-two-three step, done to the right or left. Step right-bring left together-and shift your weight back to the right foot.

Slip-Step a right slip-step is step right-feet together-step right; a left slip-step starts on the left foot.

Waltz More a rhythm than a step, it’s nonetheless always three steps with the first one slightly emphasized (one two three, one two three). In teaching, you might say “Waltz Right-two-three, Left-two-three,” so people know which foot they should be on.

Yemenite Step back, bring your feet together, then step forward on the same foot on which you stepped back. There are “side Yemenites” where you step to the side, bring your feet together, and then cross in front with the foot you started on.

And another list of folk dance steps.



Mihaela Yeung will facilitate circle dances Monday, February 8 at Unitarian Church

Mihaela Yeung will facilitate circle dances Monday, February 8 at Unitarian Church. Mihaela regularly shares dances in North Vancouver and frequently attends the UCV dances often sharing the facilitation with Corinne. Many of us especially enjoy the yearly treat of the “white night” usually at winter Solstice.

Here’s some information about Mihaela from her website.


Around the year 2000, I was living on an organic farm in a remote area of British Columbia. It was a time of exploration and immersion into the wonders of life in nature, of learning gentle ways of working with the land, of celebrating Spirit through the cycles of the year. Then circle dance came into my life and became the vehicle which took me into deeper levels of perception and connection with each other and with Source.

Over the years I have learned from several internationally known teachers, who shared a diversity of dances and teaching styles. I obtained my teacher’s training at the Findhorn Foundation (www.findhorn.org) in 2004.

While studying Women’s Ritual Dances with Laura Shannon, I traveled to parts of the world from where these dances come and, most importantly, I learned from the grandmothers in the villages where the ancient ways are still remembered and practiced through ritual and dance.

In 2012, I traveled with Carol Christ (www.goddessariadne.org) on a two week Goddess pilgrimage to Crete where I once again had the opportunity to experience a culture where the ancient ways are still remembered and practiced through ritual and dance.

I am now at a stage in my life when I have the time and desire to share what I have learned. Whether in an evening session, a weekend workshop or a week long retreat, I bring the same degree of attention to detail and appreciation for this tradition. I am humbled and honored to be part of the lineage of women who still remember the ancient ways and share them through ritual and dance.

Read more about Mihaela here: http://www.circledancewithmihaela.ca/about.html

Mary Bennett loves combining art, labyrinth walking and dance

I am a Unitarian and a circle dance enthusiast. I don’t usually teach dances but did lead a workshop at a national conference and with help, created a repertoire entirely from the Unitarian hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition.

I was the Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarian Council from 2000 to 2008 and most of those years I made sure there was circle dancing at our annual conference.

For a year or so I helped create a monthly circle dance worship service that included poetry and stories along with dancing.

In December 2015, over 100 Unitarians danced in the aisles at the end of the annual Fire Communion on Sunday morning.

With Darlene, I facilitate a monthly Art+Labyrinth+Dance session on the third Friday 2-4 pm at the Unitarian Church and usually participate in the 1st Tuesday and 2nd Monday evening sessions. When it doesn’t conflict with the Jung Society lecture, I make my way to Ladner to participate in Darlene’s circle there.

Like most of us in Metro Vancouver I first was introduced to circle dancing by Corinne Chepil. I’m delighted that Corinne will be part of the Art Opening cosponsored by the Women’s Spirituality Celebration group and the Unitarian Church on March 5th 3:30-5:30pm.