Zola Short Bio
Zola Dubnikova bridges sacred dance, movement medicine, contemporary body science, masterful form, somatic awareness and ritual through her unique approach which she calls the “Holistic Dance Language.” Her extensive background fused with absolute devotion to the pursuit of dance as an ecstatic, spiritual experience, has birthed a unique style of both teaching & performing – which truly embodies the marriage between form and spirit. Trained extensively in contemporary dance forms and healing arts as well as Odissi Temple Dance Tradition, Sufi tradition, Mevlana whirling practices, Dances of the Silk Road , the gypsy trails and beyond, her style brings forth the wisdom of ancient dance ritual through a holistic lense intended to guide more people in accessing their divine capabilities. Zola offers courses at her school: Temple of Dance Israel, directs the El Ha’Ela Ritual Dance Ensemble and travels often throughout the world to give seminars, offer workshops and guide experiences.
: . About Zola . :
An international dance artist, traveller, performer and teacher, Zola’s love for dance led her to study with masters around the world. She has collaborated with inspiring artists, dancers, musicians and mystical characters in many lands, as well as performing as a soloist for many years.
Zola draws much of her inspiration from her travels across different landscapes & cultures, the elements of nature, legends of ancient sacred traditions, her dreams and her personal daily practices. She believes in the power of dance to heal and uplift the human spirit beyond walls of any kind.
After receiving encouragement from her first dance teacher, she began to learn contemporary dance forms, choreograph her first dances and assistant teach children’s classes at her teacher’s invitation. At age 11, when a friend of her family demonstrated Sufi whirling to her, she vividly remembers her first experience whirling, until she fell down in dizzy, euphoric bliss as the world spun around her. Later when she discovered West African dance, she became fascinated by cultures whose use of ecstatic, healing, trance-inducing dances are a vital part of community and culture. A few years later, Zola dedicated herself to the ancient practice , discipline and philosophy of yoga, which she had been studying with a powerful female teacher since she was 14. At the ripe age of 18, she moved to an Ashram, leaving all possessions and ties behind. This experience shaped her deeply. Later, after receiving a scholarship to study at Mills College (1998), she received her bachelor’s degree in Dance and Psychology.
Zola’s training in Middle-eastern, Persian/Central Asian, Afro-Brazilian, tribal belly dance, Congolese, West African, Capoeira, ‘gypsy’ (Romani), contemporary dance and flamenco, during her 10 years in the cultural mecca of the SF bay area, gave her a broad education. She also studied modern, Afro-haitian, ballet & choreography while a student at Mills College. Later Zola’s invitation into esteemed California-based Dance Company, Ballet Afsaneh guided her understanding, practice and performance of Classical Persian and Central Asian dances of the “SIlk Road & Beyond.”
In Brazil (2005), Zola studied intensively a unique & powerful contemporary style of traditional Afro-brazilian dance under master teacher Rosangela Silvestre in Salvador da Bahia (2005). During this time, she was invited to traditional Candomble ceremonies, (rituals in which entrancing dances & rhythms are used in worship). Witnessing these trance rituals effected her deeply.
Later on the other side of the world in 2006 while traveling in India, Zola met a family of the Khalbelia caste, (popularly known as the ‘gypsies’ of Rajasthan). This family eventually treated her as a sister, teaching her mesmerizing dances of their tribe and soon invited her to perform with them throughout Rajasthan. At this time, Zola was led to Odissi dance master, Guru Padma Charan Dehury, who initiated her as a temple dancer in the revivalist devadasi tradition. Since their meeting, she has undergone rigorous training under his watchful eye every year during intensive immersions. Since her powerful meeting with “Mama India”, where she found yet another home, she began to live there part-time, returning seasonally to perform and teach. During such periods, she flies across the country often to perform in various cultural programs and teaches out of her Travelling School of Sacred Dance (normally located in the Himalayas).
After moving to the mythical hills of Sacramonte (Andalucia, Spain 2009), Zola learned flamenco dance from several legendary maestras in traditional cuevas (caves) where many gitanos (or gypsies) still live. Here in this cultural melting pot where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in peace for the longest period in history, the fiery gitano dance penetrated her to the bones. In 2010 Zola returned to Sacramonte to give birth to her daughter. This birth journey, perhaps the most powerful journey of all, also deeply effected her understanding of women’s bodies and the power of dance.
After several extended visits to Israel after 2009, Zola’s dance and being also became deeply influenced by the warm, spicy tastes and sounds of the middle east. In India, where she had first met talented Israeli musicians who were part of a movement to revive ancient sacred sounds of an envisioned united Arabic and Jewish world, she received many invitations to Israel. When she finally arrived, she was welcomed warmly and began to perform with musicians versed in both makam (sacred Arabic scales) and piyutim (holy songs from Judaism), who were using unique powerful instruments of the ancient world, merged with a modern aesthetic. These experiences, which was also a calling to return to her cultural roots, shaped her dance in profound ways.
In addition to Zola’s training in mystical dance arts of the world, her study of various healing techniques and her work with women healing from sexual trauma has given her insight into the relationship between dance, sacred tradition & healing. In 1999, Zola conducted a three-month dance project at a clinic for women called SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) to bring healing movement to women who are survivors of sexual exploitation, violence and prostitution. She also trained extensively and received certifications in dance medicine (8 month advanced course – which included Feldenkrais, Alexander and other unique somatic training) pilates, (8 month intensive training) and massage (California-certified). Additionally, she received extensive training in other somatic (body- mind) approaches such as the Rosen Method, Continuum, specialized massage courses, specialized yoga courses and more. After several journeys to Mexico/Central America, she also began to participate in powerful ceremonies based on indigenous ancient tradition, which also deeply influenced her being & work. Through these ceremonies, she rediscovered the power of the breath, voice & sound, as one of the most powerful healing tools we all have at our fingertips.
Zola’s work as a movement therapy specialist alongside physical therapy doctors in a clinical setting (SOL PT), where she saw many patients healing from chronic pain, also deeply informed her understanding of human anatomy, movement, psychology and the body. Aside from this, she also ran a private professional practice for 8 years working individually with people while continuing to teach dance courses all the while.
Into The Now
Currently Zola is living in Israel where she runs her home studio: Temple of Dance, Israel in the village of Zichron Ya’akov. She tours all over the country, and the world, teaching her unique holistic dance language curriculum and offering her various performance projects to diverse audiences. She is searching for the site and funding for her envisioned Temple of Sacred Dance, Music & World Cultures. Please see the Vision page for more details, the Performance Offerings page for the full list of her projects and the Events page for more detail about upcoming tour schedule… Please note all current events are always announced on her facebook pages