Zola Short Bio
Zola Dubnikova bridges sacred dance, movement medicine, contemporary body science, masterful form, somatic awareness and ritual through her unique approach known as 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 intensive trainings in her two primary schools : Temple of Dance (Israel) and School of Mystery & Sacred Feminine Arts (India). With invitations to teach across the world, Zola tours extensively to give seminars, offer retreats, perform and guide collective experiences.
: . About Zola . :
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, Zola began to learn contemporary dance forms, choreograph her first dances and assistant teach children’s classes. When she was about 9 years old, she vividly remembers a friend of her family demonstrating Sufi whirling – inspiring her first experience of ecstasy through dance. 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. Around the same time, Zola began to study yoga with a humble woman who became an important mentor. Several years later she moved to a yoga ashram to dedicate herself to the ancient practice, discipline and philosophy of this path, an experience which 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 fusion belly dance, Congolese, West African, Capoeira, Romani (‘gypsy’), Flamenco & contemporary dance 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.
In Brazil, Zola studied intensively a powerful contemporary style of traditional Afro-brazilian dance and dances of the Orixas (spirits of nature) 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, and trained her in his lineage. Since their meeting, she has undergone life-changing experiences through his transmission and her dedication to this form. Beginning in 2007 Zola began to live part-time in India, performing throughout the country and teaching from her travelling School of Sacred Dance over several years. In 2015, she opened her School of Mystery and Sacred Feminine Arts in Goa, where she continues to offer yearly intensive trainings, drawing women from across the globe.
Arriving in 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 stayed in 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.
Strong experiences participating in Sema and Zikr ceremonies after being invited to Turkey, crystallized Zola’s life-long captivation with Sufi mysticism and whirling. Invitations to Greece and Egypt provided her a long-awaited opportunity to research ancient priestess traditions and mystery schools once so prevalent in these parts of the world. Her recent journey to Bali, where she trained daily in Balinese temple dance, gave her yet another revelatory experience, replete with many new insights about energetics within the body. Undeniably, dedicating herself to embodying such diverse body languages has shaped Zola’s perceptions and ‘movement’ through life in metamorphic ways.
Yet perhaps the most transformative evolution on her path occurred during a moment when she needed to extract the most healing aspects of her diverse education in order to heal herself from a series of life-changing circumstances which took place at the end of 2011. She considers what happened during this period of time one of her most important “initiations”. In this cathartic moment, she stopped relating to dance in the same way she had before. Different aspects of her spiritual disciplines, somatic studies and dance practices came together, providing fertile ground for the most profound elements of her practices to come to alive in a new way. At this time she birthed a new language of movement known as the Holistic Dance Language, which is now sought-after by numerous women across many worlds.
In addition to Zola’s training in traditional dance forms across cultures, her study of various healing techniques combined with her work with women healing from sexual trauma gave 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 were survivors of sexual exploitation, violence and prostitution. Inspired by the stories of these women as well as her personal experiences, Zola became devoted to the topic of feminine sexuality & empowerment. Studying ancient taoist and tantric lineages alongside contemporary western approaches to cultivate women’s sexual vitality and health (beginning in 2001) has provided her precious life-changing tools which continue to inform both her personal practice and her offerings. She also trained extensively and received certifications in: dance medicine (8 month advanced course – which included Feldenkrais, Alexander and other unique somatic approaches), pilates (8 month intensive training), yoga and massage, supplemented with additional immersions in the fields of qi gong, music therapy and dance therapy. After several journeys to Mexico and Central America, Zola began to participate in 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 some of the most powerful healing tools we have at our fingertips. Perhaps most influential to her in the field of healing arts, were two special teachers with whom she studied intensively with: Marion Rosen (Rosen Method) and Emelie Conrad (Continuum). Learning directly with the ingenious women who founded these radical and transformative somatic systems is a gift which continues to unfold even after both of them have passed on.
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 lives part-time in Israel, where she runs her home studio: Temple of Dance Israel in the village of Zichron Ya’akov, and part time in India where she runs her School of Mystery and Sacred Feminine Arts. She tours all over the world, with extensive invitations to offer her unique holistic dance language curriculum and various performance projects to diverse audiences. She is currently searching for a site to buy land with the intention to start a sustainable community and ashram. She feels that such a place would support her vision of making the holistic dance language & other transformational teachings deeply accessible to benefit humanity.