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“A heart full of love is like a phoenix that no cage can contain” – Hafiz
Holistic Dance Language Curriculum
the hidden language of the soul
Although my work is deeply informed by years of immersion into cultural traditional dance forms, all of the offerings listed below contain a language beyond culture and time ~ Pleasurable embodiment, diverse physicality, subtle body language, ritual movement and inner alchemy are the main elements of the holistic dance language curriculum. Informed by ancient tradition, seeped in contemporary somatic/body science, infused with movement medicine and immersed in sacred dance inspired across time and worlds, the practices revive our hidden (forgotten) abilities, creating pathways of remembrance in the body. Through the practices, we have the power of complete metamorphosis and enhanced communication at our fingertips. The earth-based foundational work guides us to trust the ground beneath us more, deepen our roots and “fly” from a supported place. Connecting to our pelvis, to the earth and to our voice gives us deeper roots. Connecting to the heart, we open the sky. Through the work we access deep softness, grace and potent strength. We release blocked energy, and build inner power. We learn a unique vocabulary of movement, mudra and subtle energetic principles. Though a combination of slowed inner listening, breath/sound work, focused practice, and liberating trance-inducing movement, we bring our prayers to the physical world, planting the seeds of our dreams, our deepest missions, within every cell of our bodies.
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sample classes & workshops
Alchemystic Dance Journey
A dance journey fusing contemporary body science, movement energetics, breath, ritual, and mystical eastern dance practices drawn across time and worlds. This healing experience opens the heart, releases the pelvis, strengthens the core, roots the feet and moves the soul. We dance the trance of release, letting go of what we don’t want to hold in the body; we build inner softness & strength; we listen to our inner voice; we take a journey together to build inner power & release the body toward deeper freedom. We learn a powerful vocabulary of movement, based on the unique “holistic dance language” developed by Zola Dubnikova. Between ethereal melodies and deep trance-y beats, the mystic ancient and the present moment merge across time & worlds in a powerful experience for body & spirit.
CALL OF THE HEART- Sufi Mystical Dance
In this dance journey we feast upon heart opening movements inspired by Sufi myticism, Classical Persian movement, whirling meditations inspired by dervishes across worlds, and contemporary sacred dance. Practices to connect deeper into our core and root into the earth give us the freedom to ground, to release, to “fly” and to make our movement offerings of love. All of these practices are intended to guide us in abandoning our egos in the spirit of Sufi tradition; allowing us “to be danced or to let the dance come through. By dancing from the heart, we remember divine love; By listening with ears of devotion, we nourish the soul.
Return to the Temple
Temple-Tribal Ritual ~ Evolution of the Dance
Inspired by sky-dancing dakinis across time & worlds, we fuse ancient techniques drawn from the devadasi lineage of India, with contemporary sacred dance, movement science & ritual process. We learn specific physical practices and alignment tools drawn from temple dance lineages of both India and Bali; we dive into Taoist Tantric practices to enhance our feminine life force; we use the breath as inspired by Sufi practices, to open inner channels of ecstasy and devotion. Movements are combined in a powerful series, designed as a devotional ritual, movement prayer and powerful way to strengthen and center. The practices guide us in developing serpentine grace, inner power, core strength and deep expressive grace. We practice isolations, “inner” movement technique, subtle expression through body language & eyes, “priestess” postures and ritual sequences. Through the practices we cultivate deeper awareness, receive tools to channel our energy in enhanced ways, increase vitality, learn a new language of movement medicine, practice mudras, dive deeply into the magic of our feminine anatomy & develop enhanced inner sensation. Through our dance, we bring back powerful tradition and intentions of the ancient temple dancers, in a way that applies for women of today. We explore the evolution of contemporary sacred ritual & feminine practice .
Journey of Remembrance – Sufi-inspired practices for women
Awakening the Divine Feminine through Sema & Zikr
We study together about mystical Sufi traditions, according to several different Sufi orders – including Mevlana, Naqshbandi, Bektashi & Alevi lineages. We learn about the origins of traditional rituals: Zikhr (Remembrance) & Sema (Listening), honoring the rich tradition of these ancient lineages while sharing stories, ilahis (songs for the divine), poetry and fundamental practices. We immerse in the daily practices of holistic dance language to integrate how these traditions apply to our lives and our dance. We locate inner activation/grounding points, develop awareness of sacred inner geometry, cultivate feminine anatomical awareness in relation to the practices, and explore evolutionary whirling techniques to opens a new door within the frame of these ancient ceremonies. Using breath, intention, seed sounds, invocation, sacred dance, whirling and prayer, we open our hearts to ecstasy, union and divine love. This workshop is often accompanied with live musicians and/or guest master teachers.
Hunger for Ecstasy – Sufi-inspired practices for women
Through kumbakha (breath suspension), physical practices, vocal invocation, movement meditation, sacred dance, whirling, taoist-tantric meditation, development of feminine anatomical awareness, transfiguration, sema (listening), and Zikhr (ceremony of remembrance), we take a collective journey to open the channels of ecstasy in the body. Locating the entranceways for strong physical and psychological sensation of ecstasy to penetrate us, we explore various manifestations of ecstasy in the body: Ecstasy of the heart, ecstasy of the pelvis, ecstasy of the voice, ecstasy of the 5 senses, ecstasy of emptiness, ecstasy of surrender, ecstasy of : joy, pain, hunger, sensuality, suffering, longing, and vulnerability. Through these portals, we cultivate profound and subtle sensory awareness, entering the inner place where there is no time, and no destination. We explore our spiritual hunger, and the original source of our longing to love and be loved. We open the door for a endless passionate love affair with the divine. Once we enter that space, we find an inner place from which we would hope to never return. We transcend culture and time, on a journey of spiritual ecstasy, dance, heart-opening, sisterhood and love.
Roots ~ Call of the Ancestors. Dance Between the Worlds
Behind us, stands a long line of ancestors, whose existence paved the way for our life. Honoring “the ones who came before” can open the door for a very powerful journey. Through breath work, bones dance, release technique, earth practices, physical-energetic balancing, study of body sacred geometry alignments, dance prayer and evolutionary circle, we open the door to alchemy which can guide us in healing ancestral wounds or the unconscious patterns we inherit through our blood line. Through specific breathing techniques, sound meditations, subtle awareness practices & cultivation of the “listening hands,” we dance to open the gates between the worlds. When we honor the ancestors, we create the potential to call in an immense support system which can be with us at all times. We learn to stand in our power and create healthy energetic boundaries, releasing energy that hurts us and welcoming energy that supports us. We pray together in circle, sharing our ancestral stories and performing ritual to honor our ancestors. We gain awareness to recognize our ancestral inheritance , and receive tools to guide us in releasing old patterns that don’t belong to us. We dance the dance of our bones; we dance the dance of release. We release the mind, we enter the trance and we open the doors so we may feel the support of those who stand on the other side. We learn to connect to the parents and grandparents of our chosen & divine lineage – of our blood line & beyond. These are all tools which help us to stand more powerfully in the present moment, fully embodying our truth and divine purpose.
Roots ~ Earth Practices
The “Earth practices” are fundamental to the holistic dance language curriculum. These are very slow practices, which border on stillness and focus on the breath, dropping our weight into the ground and listening inside. The emphasis on these practices is in the “undoing,” rather than the “doing.” If we are to hear the inner voice and wish to feel guided, we first must slow down to listen more deeply within. Deceptively simple, the earth practices are also life practices, which we forget again & again. Practices are designed to connect us with our inner teacher. Grounded practices which cultivate humbless, gratitude and surrender are the tools which open the doors of intuitive power & spiritual ecstasy. Cultivating our connection to the earth and to our pelvis, becomes an important key in guiding us to dance and move through life in our full power. THrough the practices, we gain tools to release tension and unhealthy physical patterns. We create space for enhanced life force and vital energy, opening doors for more grounded pleasureable embodiment. Earth practices were built upon the theory that we must go down, to rise up. We must feel the earth in order to “fly”, both physically and spiritually. We must dive into the truth in the body, listening to what is there and seeing our shadows in order to reveal our deepest light. Once we drop into our roots, and feel the deep feminine cord that connects our wombs to the earth and to one another, we gain access to higher, healthier states of being. We learn to feel the support that is with us and around us at all times. We learn the base of a formula which opens the door for alchemical transformation, and the power of these practices has even greater potential within the context of our evolutionary circle . Inevitably, the power of our dance and subtle expression reaches an enhanced realm of beauty – within and without – when we master the earth practices.
Dance Medicine Journey- Healing practices of Holistic Dance Language
Formulas for Vibrant Health & Vitality
Holistic Dance Language is overflowing with of a vocabulary of movement explorations, dance practices, hands-on techniques and breath work which serve as tools to to support us through emotional and physical challenges. Within the curriculum we have a medicine cabinet of healing tools, some of which can be used to treat specific conditions and others of which simply open up an inner inquiry on the non-linear path toward self-healing. We have an immense ability to alter the chemistry in our body through specialized breath work, focused intention, enhanced attention & physical practices practices presented through this curriculum. Through investigating the energetic movement and sacred geometry in our bodies, we discover formuals for deep alchemical healing, awakening an immense power we carry in our own hands, opening doors of self-healing, sexual autonomy, balance, health and vitality. Through these practices we are guided to drop inside and listen more deeply. The answer is often there when we slow down enough to hear it; the remedy often lies in the listening. We humans have become deeply conditioned to constantly seek answers and healing outside of ourselves, before we look within. Yet, we have an incredible amount of untapped potential to heal ourselves and to support one another, which we do not use. With the support of the circle, we go even farther on our own healing journey while developing evolutionary human traits of deeper compassion, stronger listening, and allowing the truth of the body to be heard.
Return to the Inner Temple: Feminine Practices to open the inner gates
Our deepest blockages as women, are often held subconsciously in our pelvis. By developing awareness of our internal shame and conditioning, we open the door to unlock stagnant inner patterns. When we become more educated about the intricate sacred geometry and architecture of our most intimate anatomical centers, engaging in practices to awaken the dormant potential in our holy vaginas, we gain access to a higher quality of life. Exploring the relationship of our sexual centers, to all the energy portals and vital organs of the body, we learn practices to increase vitality, life force & creative power within. We gain tools to access, heal and empower the inner gates using ancient taoist methods, taoist tantric yoga, vocal meditation, jade egg teachings and holistic dance language practices. Through the practices, we remember our sexual innocence, uncovering pathways of pleasure, true self-love, sexual sovereignty and self-respect. The Yoni is a sanskrit word for our pelvic portal which means “divine passage for body and soul, the source of all creation.” The Yoni is the sacred doorway to experiences of ecstasy, devotion and empowerment. Inevitably when we awaken the yoni, our dance is infused with a new power, and our creative energy flows effortlessly from a hidden secret fountain of limitless potential.
Fire of the Dance ~ El Duende
El duende is what gives us chills, makes us smile or cry, and opens us to profound bodily reaction; it comes from inside, manifesting as a strong physical/emotional experience. When art possesses duende, the artist allows her/him self to experience the depth of true emotion, opening the door for profound healing within and without, both for him/herself & witness (or audience).
We often repress and avoid the important emotion of anger instead of allowing it to move through us in healing, powerful transformative ways. Learning to channel Anger for healing, creativity, empowerment and transformation, rather than letting it take us into repeating patterns of destruction/abuse of power, we gain access to a profound, life- changing tool. Anger is yet another gateway to deep change, alchemical transformation and ecstasy. In this work we explore the place where anger cultivates strength, where anger meets compassion, where anger transforms apathy and where anger reveals passion. We learn to allow the wisdom of anger to guide us in honoring our boundaries and living our truth, through the body.
Spanish Romani people (gypsies) are masters of chanelling anger into powerful dance, song & music. For flamenco artists, the experience of duende is normal part of every day practice and life. Fusing techniques drawn from the power of flamenco dance, with elements of taoist- tantric practice and related holistic dance language tools, we learn a formula which guides us in accessing deeper states. When we allow our anger to move through the body, we open to deep softness and potent strength; we open to the deepest passion imaginable; the fires of inspiration light us up from the inside; the duende is present.
When the Drummers were Women – Frame Drum Basics
We dive into a rhythmic journey, exploring the roots of our feminine connection to the drum, the rhythm of the universe, the heartbeat, the pulse of earth and the tribe. We practice basic rhythmic techniques on the frame drum. We use the breath as a vehicle to free the voice as we connect to the rhythm. *This workshop is usually guided with special guest master teachers and drum artists.
Indo-Persian Mystical Dance
Cleanse the heart, strengthen the body, and practice devotional movement through a mystical dance vocabulary inspired by Ancient Persia, the Silk Road and contemporary sacred dance. Cultivate softness and strength, through graceful movement poetry. Learn a wide range of spinning techniques.
Dance Journey – on the cygany (Gypsy) trail
A journey across the cygani trail to awaken and enliven the body and the spirit. Techniques and combinations drawing from Spanish, Rajasthani, Eastern European, Turkish, Romani, Mediterranean and innovative fusions. Drawing from a tradition of rich counterculture, this dance born of struggle and rebellion inspires a movement language in which we taste the spice of life, drink the nectar of the earth, enjoy our bodies, taste the passion, and release our spirit… Spinning techniques, powerful foot stomping combinations, inner pelvic movement, hip work, extensive release technique and strong arm/hand work drawing across tradition…
Holistic Dance Journey for Women
A dance journey for women, drawing from mystical traditions across Persia, the Middle East, India, North Africa and beyond. We combine inner practices, powerful movement sequences, and innovative sacred movement. We take a journey to open our hearts, connect to our pelvis, to the earth and to breath/voice. We release blocked energy and build inner power. These powerful movement practices open the body and the heart to deep softness, grace and potent strength. In a space where only women are present, a unique safety exists enabling us to go even deeper into some of these practices.
Belly Dance Fusion
Drawing from Tribal Belly Dance, Indian, Spanish, Persian, Egyptian, Turkish, Moroccan, various romani “gypsy” styles and contemporary “fusion”, we fine-tune abdominal and pelvic muscles, practice hip/upper body isolations, connect to sensual, serpentine movement and activate feminine power. As in the days of old, when women would dance in ritual together before child-bearing or in celebration of being a woman, this style of belly dance is meant to cultivate internal strength and feminine flow.
Odissi Temple Dance
Ancient devotional classical dance from Orissa, India, once performed only in the temples by highly trained temple dancers (devadasis). In this style, we learn to harness internal energy through devotion, discipline, detailed technique, and specific positioning/posture. Learn mudras (hand positions) and stepping sequences in the traditional choka and tribungi postures. Receive dance sequences said to have been passed directly from the celestial dancers thousands of years ago. Deepen physical strength while fine-tuning expression, subtle eye movement and internal power.
Ritual & Sacred Dance
A woman’s workshop series designed to offer tools for increasing awareness, empowerment, expression/body communication and energy through ancient dance practices across worlds, including temple ritual & technique from India, sacred movement and individual expression. We explore a wide range of energies which every woman should be able to call upon as needed in different circumstances. In every dance form we explore the importance of the”power center” (a.k.a hara, belly, core, womb, tan tien) in harnessing, containing or moving the energy within this life-giving source of female power.
Animal Spirit Medicine
A healthy woman is much like a wolf – strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, intuitive and loyal… The wild nature carries the medicine for all things – she carries everything a woman needs to be and know… She is the essence of the female soul.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In today’s world, it’s easy to lose touch with our wild feminine power & instinctual nature. Inspired by master teachers of the animal kingdom, this workshop is designed to arouse the feminine parts of ourselves that may have fallen asleep. We take a journey together to revive our mystical nature and intuitive power as women. We harness this inner power through unique breath, vocal & movement practices, learning to draw upon different energies in the body as needed. Finding inspiration through the wild animal-woman archetype, our dance comes through effortlessly & our life force becomes stronger. We are guided in listening more deeply to our inner rhythm and intuitive impulse. This inner rhythm is different for each woman, each day, and each moment when she rests in her authentic power. By listening to the feminine, flowing, ever-changing, wild nature, our deepest dreams are remembered.
Journey of the Voice
When we free the channels in the body, the voice has no choice but to open. When we free our breath, sound is a natural process. On this journey, we use practices of the holistic dance language to open the body & to free our breath, so our voice may be liberated. When we allow song to emerge from our natural breath, harmonic tones emerge effortlessly. We also fine-tune our sound through subtle “seed” sounds to bring healing power to ourselves and those we “touch” through our sound.
Rajasthani Mystical Dance
After living in the deserts of Rajsthan, India with a tribe of Khalbelia (snake-charming) caste who eventually treated her as a sister, this tribal dance penetrated deep. Thought by some, as the origin of all ‘gypsy’ dance, the spicy Khalbelia movements are connected to the earth, full of powerful subtle eye movements, yogic flexibility, mesmerizing spinning techniques, powerful foot movements and hand gestures full of meaning (mudras). Entrancing Rajasthani music & khalbelia movement takes us on a mystical and empowering journey across time. (photo is an image of Zola (L) performing with her Rajasthani “family” in 2008)
Deep rhythms pulse through the heart and pelvis, open the body and connect us to the earth. We make primal movements, pelvic work, release techniques and deep breathing, accelerated & opening the heart so that the wild spirit may fly. From Samba de joda to entrancing movements inspired by the dances of the Orixas (spirits of nature), this class is bound to lift the spirits high with full Axe (Spirit).
El Ha’Ela Dance Ensemble Ritual
Workshops designed for those who are ready to be part of a ritual performance experience inspired by choreographies from El Ha‘ Ela Ritual Dance Ensemble. We focus on learning movement sequences which can be performed as an offering. A combination of structured improvisation and ritual choreographies.
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Special workshops can be presented in many formats from one day intensive to weekend workshops, 5 days or week-long workshops, initiation level (introductory workshops) to advanced immersions. The unique Holistic Dance Training Format developed by Zola can be designed for all levels, from courses for beginning dancers to professional level… The course can include a sampling of elements listed above or with a focus one particular aspect. Workshops can also be designed as a unique offering for special events. Workshops can also include live musicians. If you are interested to host a workshop in your country, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For full current class schedule as well as upcoming international retreats, please visit the events page