Points of Light Music (PLM) invited each curator to answer some questions about the Dances and this retreat and we'll be doing a deeper introduction weekly.
Here's Saleem, the first of four.
Tell us about your relationship to the Dances. How and when did it begin? Is there a highlight experience you could share?
After years of spiritual seeking without finding a spiritual community that I felt at home in, I was surprised by finding just that with my first curious and reserved visit to the Dances in Arcata California, where I met a vibrant Sufi community that included, accepted, and honored all of me.
At one of my first circles with the Sufis in Arcata, we started with a simple, repetitive rowing dance, singing “Bismillah Er-Rahman Er-Rahim” (We begin in the name of Allah, who is Mercy and Compassion). It seemed like some sort of pagan summoning ritual (as I didn’t understand the words yet!), and even though I wasn’t sure what exactly I was getting myself into, the love that moved through me shifted something deeply. Little me got out of the way, and I was gifted with a sip of the bliss of attuned devotion.
This retreat is organized in an unusual fashion with Morgan selecting emerging dance leaders to co-create the retreat around a theme and inviting other dance leaders and musicians to contribute to the vision. What excites you to participate in this retreat as one of the curators?
I’m an only child (as well as a traumatic brain injury survivor) and do things my own way, often feeling like an odd duck out. I’m an empath with a big heart, and the dance is a place of true belonging where I feel safe to let my heart shine.
I’m excited about the sacred container that we’re weaving for this weekend with our preparations, and can’t wait to witness the empowering breakthroughs and downloads that transpire as our “orchestra” gets tuned together.
Our last retreat along a similar theme facilitated so many rewarding connections during mealtimes, and I’m excited to watch those expansive family-growing flavors ignite a deeper sense of true belonging over the course of the weekend.
Each curator has selected an element and will be holding intention and vision for it during the retreat. Which element have you selected and what are you looking forward to sharing?
I selected the element of Fire. Fire reminds us that we came here to shine (and to dance!). Willful ambition and pride are expressions of Fire in the world, but joy is the motivating fuel that really gets it cooking. I’m looking forward to sharing some enlivening and uplifting practices and dances that will stir up a good dose of playful courage to help us share our unique gifts with this world.