A Weekend of Transformation Through Dance & Desire
By Elena Lipson
(This article was originally published in Zaghareet Magazine, 7/21015)
When Paulette Rees-Denis invited me to teach alongside her at her upcoming annual Dance & Desire retreat, I practically shouted YES! before she even finished asking me whether I was interested.
What caught my attention was Paulette’s intention to create a retreat experience that combined the power of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance ®, Yoga, African Dance, Divine Self-Care and writing as a transformational practice.
As Paulette continued to explain her vision to me, I knew instantly that this was something I was going to absolutely love helping to co-create and facilitate as well as being a part of as a participant.
A while back, during my very first conversation with Paulette, before this retreat was even on the horizon, I knew instantly that I wanted to spend more time with this vibrant and fascinating woman.
With her easy laugh, sense of humor and passion for dance, I could sense that Paulette was walking her path with a deep passion for life, a profound inner wisdom and a love of dance that has taken her literally around the globe many times over.
I’ve always been a dancer at heart. The years I spent dancing modern jazz as a little girl always stayed with me and gifted me with a love of music. As I grew up, I always found ways to incorporate dance and music into my life.
Whether it was taking salsa dancing lessons, dancing at nightclubs during my NYC days, or just blasting the music and rocking it out at home with friends, with my son or on my own.
Dancing has always been a powerful form of self-expression and connection for me. Through movement I was able to release stuck emotions, tap into my intuition and get realigned with my heart and soul.
My own journey to becoming a woman’s empowerment and transformational coach was layered upon yoga, dancing and writing. I simply could not pass up the opportunity to experience a weekend retreat were we would combine dance with the powerful work of self-exploration and writing through our desires.
The Dance & Desire retreat was to be hosted at the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center in Oregon. This would be the 21st year Paulette would be teaching her tribal dance retreat at this same sacred location.
The Breitenbush retreat center, with it’s many natural hot springs, ancient trees and meditation spots, was the perfect place to create an environment of peaceful self-reflection balanced out beautifully by the deep dive into movement and tribal rhythms that each of us has within ourselves.
Teaching alongside Paulette, and another co-teacher, Lynea Gillen, throughout the weekend was one of the most joyful and natural experiences I’ve had. Our work wove in together beautifully. As the women gathered in circle, and shared the many years that some of them have been coming back to dance with Paulette, I could sense that there was a transition and transformation happening.
Our time spent in the beautiful sacred spaces of Breitenbush was a transformation that incorporated the vast power of dance, of gathering with other women in circle, as well as the deeper roots of the emotional journey that movement can take you on.
One of my favorite elements of the weekend, though it’s difficult to choose just one, was the original music created by Paulette and her husband’s band called the Caravan Project. My personal favorite was a meditative piece, and the title of the CD, called, The Walk to Nowhere.
As we sat in circle and the women introduced themselves and shared there love of tribal dance and of Paulette, there was a sense of closure and coming full circle that was beginning to arise.
Even this very weekend that Paulette was teaching was going to incorporate more deep internal work than past retreats. Over a lifetime of dance, Paulette has taken the deepest lessons of movement and created an experience that was a deep dive right through the heart of dance and movement, straight into the heart of desire and transformational writing.
A dancer at the retreat wrote for Paulette after the weekend:
“The healing circle of love, support, challenge and awakening that I found at Breitenbush again with you and all the assembled women was just what I needed, on every level.
Both times now that I have been to the retreat with you have been life changing. This year, I found time to really listen to myself. I found peace. I found joy. I found the self-love I needed. I reconnected with myself as a woman and as a dancer. I reconnected with dancers I already knew, and formed new bonds with women I just met. And I found again how fully and simply happy I can be when the crazy world falls away, the drums beat and we just dance together – a circle of women in a tribe.
I am blessed to have wonderful guides such as you in my life. Thank you for sharing of yourself – your knowledge, wisdom, love and strength. Thank you for taking us on the journey with you, as you discover, grow and change. I would not be same person without your influences!” (J. M. student)
Paulette Rees-Denis has been teaching tribal dance around the world for more than 25 years. As a dance teacher and transformational leader Paulette says “my desire and passion is to help guide you on your journey to be the best dancer, the best creator, the best whole person – body, mind and spirit.”
This deep desire to dance and to pass on her knowledge and her dance styling, has led Paulette on a lifetime journey. By teaching women to tap into their own core of movement and leadership Paulette has become an icon in the tribal dance community.
Not only does Paulette teach tribal dance, but she has also created several comprehensive certification programs, Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance ® Collective Soul and Teacher Training Certification Intensives, which allows women to learn, embody and then teach others around the world. There is a real sense of community and passing on knowledge in everything Paulette creates. Tribal dance, as created by Paulette, truly is a global movement.
“This process of learning and being in this dance brings up joy, bliss, challenge, frustration, ego, sister love, communication, healing, and more and more and more. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you let it, it will reveal the truth of who you are.
What draws to me to this dance is the organic, holistic, and all encompassing fullness that it brings to my life, and the amazing connections with lovely dancers locally and around the globe. That is our Collective Soul! Again, thank you Paulette for your knowledge, wisdom, and heart, and of course your Fabulousness!!” ~ Joyce (student)
This quote from a past student truly captures the essence of what Paulette Rees-Denis is able to accomplish and the lives that she’s helped to transform.
Today, with the tools of technology, Paulette is able to offer her teachings to women all over the world both in person as well as through online courses. Through this new venue, Paulette gathers other instructors to create a comprehensive experience of dance, yoga, journaling, meditation and nutritional guidance.
As we wrapped up the amazing weekend of Dance & Desire, I reflected upon the moments of laughter, tears, dancing and pure exhilaration. My time with Paulette was one of those rare moments where we get to tap into the most pure essence of life and knowing that we have all we need within ourselves.
These are the moments where the ego slips away, and you are connected deeply to divine guidance and to the sacredness in your own body. During this Dance & Desire weekend, we stepped into a space of pure love, guidance, and transformation. Personally, I will be carrying these lessons with me for a lifetime, as I know the women in our circle will do as well.
About Elena Lipson
As the Divine Self-Care Mentor, Elena Lipson is a sought after speaker, transformational coach, retreat leader and creator of the 21 Days of Self-Care Rituals signature online course.
Through her coaching, retreats, and programs, Elena works with women all over the world to become the #1 asset in their life, business and the bedroom so they can reconnect to their purpose and passion.
Elena has lived in Russia, NYC, California and today happily enjoys the green trees and fresh air of the Pacific Northwest with her amazing husband, zen-kiddo and sweet-soul pup Chi-Chi. You can learn more about her and her work at www.elenalipson.com
?And coming up…Dance, Desire, and Divine Self-Care… a women’s retreat in Kent, Washington!
November, 7 & 8! We are so excited for this intimate circle of women to gather and celebrate!
And join Paulette’s Dance and Desire Circle,
the global group — this is the place for you to be…to be seen and heard and play,
includes daily prompts for inspiration, sharing, and journal writing–
Movement ideas and prompts for the love of dance and music and words!
We are building community with like-minded women from around the world!
Join our Dance and Desire weekly blog, over there on the right! I would love to have you join us, and get into your own body and groove and feel great!