- Selah /ˈsiːlə(h)/ Hebrew: סֶלָה; “So Be It” ; Pause ; “It is So” (at the end of a song/prayer)
- Joy /dʒɔɪ/ My Essence. I love what I do.
We are Human. I value our freedom and unique expression.
We are Divine. I value our imagination and integrity.
We are Nature. I value our entirety and equality.
We are One. I value our relating and sharing.
In a small town outside of Cape Town, South Africa, my life was richly imbued with a diversity of cultures, landscapes, colours, scents and people. I am not sure which was first: my love of music that inspired the dance or my love of dancing that gave me love for music.
To pierce the heart of it would find that both loves stem from the expression that is a kind of worship to Life…
I remember begging my mother for ballet lessons from a very young age and she would have none of it – she was a ballerina and knew how harsh the ballet world can be. I was eight when she eventually gave in and she was right – I almost stopped after only a month. BUT dancing was my path and pointe shoes, along with blistered toes and aching muscles, became the focus of my developing years.
I always loved being on stage – from choreography competitions to productions and Eistedfords, I still enjoy that particular scent (layers of old sweat and hairspray?) of the Theatre.
At sixteen, I wanted more and left home to experience Arts School and join a Ballet Company. As my exposure to more dance styles increased: I fell in love with the passion and rhythm of Flamenco dance; the new movement pathways and expression of contemporary; I fell in love with the personality of jazz, the grounded weight of African dance; the specificity and storytelling of Indonesian dance; and I even got to do some basic acrobatics.
In the holidays back home with my Mama, we would dance. We bonded together over contact improvisation jams, classes at Jazzart with Ina and we even got to share the stage a handful of times.
Matric was a pleasant surprise – I began receiving solo roles; received a distinction in my RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Advanced 2 Examination; was asked to choreograph the annual school production; won special awards and was even the top dancer in my year.
Underneath the success, I was just a teenager with the usual angst, heaps of insecurities and waves of difficult emotions. I didn’t trust life. My favourite therapy was to sneak into the ballet department after hours and, in a low-lit studio, I would throw myself around to very loud heavy metal music. What release!
After matriculating, I joined Mzansi Productions (now Mzansi Ballet) as an apprentice. My experience was a rather traumatic learning curve that left me with a serious injury. It was pretty devastating and I believed I would never dance again. The gift of that injury was that…
I began my quest toward finding a more holistic embodiment.
A Different Approach
I was met by yoga and began to discover different spirits of movement – by that I mean the attitude one has toward exercise and one’s body. Yoga was an easy stepping stone – disciplined like ballet with the added element of spirituality and the sacred. I completed my teachers training with Living Yoga in 2010 and have been teaching and facilitating since.
My body was very conditioned by the years of ballet. I spend a lot of time undoing the unnecessary layers of tension in my limited movement patterns. I let go of dance as a career and began to loosen up, dancing for enjoyment in social environments. I became receptive to the voice of the land through plant medicines and included their perspective in my song. I started to approach my body with less martial discipline and more curiosity –
I began to ask how it would be to have a harmonious relationship with my body, as opposed to the body being merely an object for me to master.
I had just turned twenty-one when I saw fire dancing for the first time and with every fibre of my being I knew that I had to play with fire. After almost two and a half years, it was Flow Arts that brought me back to the stage.
Since then, I have been enjoying the entertainment industry, performing in a myriad of festivals, events, galas, weddings and conventions. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel for work, most of the time with my friends from The Psychedelic Theatre. We’ve done shows together all over South Africa, as well as internationally in Namibia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Portugal (Boom Festival) and Azores (European Juggling Convention). I also did many shows with Firetribe, Afrodizzyacts and Majestic Productions. Still loyal to the theatre, dancing with Prematuur (Saskia Wicomb) reminded me to keep exploring and challenging myself in different shades of expression.
Conscious Dance (Movement Medicine), as well as inspiration from Butoh as well as Gaga Dance, played a massive role in my journey of expression through the body. It was liberating to approach dance from the inquiry of what is present in my body – just to accept it as it is. I also discovered the magic of dance as a reflection of what I am creating in my everyday reality.
…And I began to experience dance as a prayer. To dance with a receptivity of life, consciously creating from the inside out, an integration of ego and spirit through embodiment. I fell in love with dance as a way for me to know myself, express myself, and come home to myself.
I also got to teach at Sisonke Social Circus for four years. What a beautiful tapestry of children from completely polar backgrounds that was! I learnt that when you are building a human pyramid, nobody cares if your dad owns a wine farm or if your dad is in jail. I also learnt that when faced with opposing realities, the way to healing is to invite a neutral activity (like circus) in which working together is paramount.
My dance journey then meandered to Improvisation Theatre when Manuella Tessi and Thalia Laric founded the MusicDance021 residency. In real-time composition, I keep refining the subtleties of giving and receiving performance, weaving stories and relating with a diverse array of fellow performers whilst maintaining relevance for the audience.
In 2019 my brain got slightly rewired when I joined a summer intensive in Amsterdam. I got to play with dancers, musicians, poets, actors and artists from all over the globe. We were in the studio for 12 hours a day with public performances over the weekend. What a phenomenal and life-changing experience. That summer also saw me sharing shows in Greece, Switzerland Austria, Germany, South Africa and Canada.
I have been learning from Nobonke Tossie van Tonder, an embodiment specialist, since 2019. Her way of facilitating has brought me much inspiration and I am honoured to call her a mentor.
We let the dance invite an learning experience that accumulates as Embodied Knowing.
Covid-19 came as a strange blessing – I had been feeling for a while that I had reached my ceiling in the entertainment industry, and lock down silenced the world so I could hear my heart. I went to live in the deep forest for three months: cooking on the fire; washing in the icy river; singing for the fireflies at dusk and living barefoot gave me the immersion into Nature – my Nature – that my heart longed for. And Nature Theatre was born.
Now, I am blessed to be in a space where I can integrate all of my life experiences and passions and create from a space of integrity.
Selah appears in Hebrew music, too. It’s believed to be a signal to the music director to silence the choir for a long moment, to hold space between notes. The silence, of course, is when the music sinks in.
— Glennon Doyle, Untamed.