I conspire to infect the world with conscious dance communities; empowering dance leaders with the skills they need to deliver exactly the dance medicine they believe will most impact our world.
HOW CONSCIOUS DANCE BECAME MY CALLING
I am Bernice Raabis, founder of Dance the Medicine, co founder of Ecstatic Dance International, creator of Dance Church Nelson and an International Dj.
I began my training in dance as a teen, eventually landing at the University of Calgary in a Fine Arts program. At 21 I left dance behind to pursue motherhood, emerging 9 years later hungry to reclaim myself through dance. My journey led me to the magical land of Esalen people in Big Sur California. I consider this to be the the moment I dedicate my life to Conscious Dance.
My official Training began with Anna and Daria Halprin’s in Movement Based Expressive Arts Therapy at the Tamalpa Institute. This work cracked me open. I needed to fall apart before I could piece myself back together anew using dance as medicine. When the time came to take the leap into holding dance space for others I choose to be trained in Dance Leadership by Soul Motions Vinn Arjun Marti. By 2010 I opened the doors of Dance Church in my hometown of Nelson, BC, Canada. My training and experience as a dance facilitator began to constellate into my own body of work. Dance the Medicine was born.
For 8 years I ran two weekly events; it was part of my own personal growth as a facilitator to deliver these dance practices to the community. Week in and week out I showed up no matter how many people arrived, no matter what was happening in my life or the world, I walk through the doors knowing that if I built this work that people would arrive. . And arrive they did! Hundreds of dancers hungry to dance in community in a new way. While in the early days I would celebrated when 15 people showed up to dance within just two years I Dance Church was regularly selling out.
The reflection from my community was that I had a magical ability to hold space for transformative experiences. This was done through minimal conscientious verbal guidance, subtle embodied directives and artfully delivered soundscapes. The key to my success was allowing plenty of space for the dancers to work with whatever medicine they walked into the room with that day. Be it a deep love for humanity, an argument with a loved one, a determination to change a pattern which no longer serves, a sore back, the excitement of landing a new job, or just a bad mood; whatever it is they bring there was room to explore it through the dance.
In the beginning of my career as a dance facilitator I worked with iTunes and playlists. Eventually my inner music nerd took over and by 2014 I had taught myself to DJ using Traktor Pro software an a 2 channel DJ controller. While dance will always be my first love, mixing music became a close second. I began to receive offers to present at retreats, festivals and gatherings world wide, where I was hired for both my musical skill and dance facilitation ability. I joined forces with Ecstatic Dance Oakland in 2016 on a project to train the trainers. Teaching others much of what I learned so that they may in-turn build their own dance community soon became my deepest professional calling.
In 2018 Ecstatic Dance International was formed. We began training dancers and musicians in hopes of infecting the world with dance. The goal? To return freeform dance back to the mainstream. I reluctantly let go of my beloved local Dance Church to teach full time Internationally. My travels allowed me the freedom to also tour as an International Ecstatic Dance DJ.
In May of 2018 the first ever Ecstatic DJ training ran in Portugal. It was attended by 63 people from 17 different countries and was a success beyond what I had ever imagined. The confidence that writing a 187 page manual, creating from scratch a 7-day residential training while leading a team of 11 support staff was a literal dream come true. A pinnacle life moment!
And so what is next for me? As the world of conscious dance grows in leaps and bounds I am excited to announce that I have teamed up with industry leaders and dear friends in this 2.0 version of Dance the Medicine. DTM has evolved beyond my own body of work. As we step into this next incarnation as the Dance The Medicine Conscious Dance Training Team. I look forward to meeting more and more dancers, facilitators, musicians, producers, promoters as this army grows.
Now that I have shared with you my stories I hope you feel confident that I have walked in the trenches of the Conscious Dance world for many years and in many arenas. In my teachings I pull from real life experiences steeped in the work of many teachers and years of showing up every week NO MATTER WHAT. I currently am on fire to build bridges between the isolated pockets of the conscious dance world. To bring us together in our similarities and to celebrate our differences, to train, dance and grow together. I’m calling you to join the DANCE REVOLUTION!
GET TO KNOW BERNICE LIVE!
MIXES FROM THE PAST FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT
“The experience was unbelievable…my soul and my heart realized that it is possible to have a loving community on this planet. (I feel) empowered to bring care and love in my community through music.”Etienne ClaverieParis, France
“It was truly transformational for me, this is so much more than training to be a DJ. It is about stepping into your power and doing positive things in the world; not being afraid, unleashing creativity, working out your unique style and gifts that can be shared with the world. Also I loved dancing everyday!”IonaLondon, United Kingdom
“Signing up for this training was the best decision of my life! It has not only given me a head start into the world of Ecstatic DJing, but also equipped me with the drive to create communities and learn to hold space.”AmitIndia
“In taking this training, I have discovered a creative practice that is JOYFUL- something that has eluded me for years. I feel good at it. I feel equipped with tools for play, and a drive to channel the momentum, inspiration and skills I gathered at this training into a regular practice of mixing music and crafting transformative sound journeys.”Ashley BerryNevada City, California, USA