Khaita Joyful Dances Exam: April 2024

Photos by Yulia Petrova. Collage created by Alena Velimirovic

For a long time, I had the note ‘Khaita Exam’ in my calendar for the week of 14th to 20th April. I knew that somewhere within that time frame there would be three days dedicated to the exam. And I knew I had to learn a lot of choreographies, a lot of Tibetan names of the dances, some theory about Khaita (for example “How did the name Khaita Joyful Dances evolve?”), meanings of the songs and, of course, how to explain a dance to students so that they can follow and enjoy. Does it seem like a lot? It certainly was for me.

During that preparation time and the days in Dzamling Gar, I experienced something that we usually don’t experience every day. I felt great support from people around me. I had no free time to let my mind think too much and I was really concentrated on learning. I danced every single day! As a bonus, we developed practicing online with the girls from our Khaita study group which we enjoyed very much. We had fun and we could hear other people’s opinions, which is useful especially when teaching. Towards the days of the exam, we met almost every day to dance together virtually. 

At the same time, we took part in the project of Exploring Khaita which is an online project where people can learn Khaita dances from their homes and or listen to workshops on different topics related to Khaita. It was a great preparation for explaining the dances to beginners! So for some months we were really busy and finally the week of the exams arrived.

We started the first day of the exam like we usually begin our Khaita Educational Program courses as well as any other Khaita activity that we do together: with Guruyoga and a few warm-up dances to connect in the group and activate the body and mind. The preparations days had been intense. We knew our own and the other’s strengths and weak points very well. When the exam finally started, we were not only ready to show what we had prepared for in the last three years, but also ready to support each other as much as possible. Issa volunteered to go first and, with her friendly and open attitude, led the participants (the exam was open for everyone to attend) joyfully and professionally through Bodpa Tso. What followed was session of explaining dances that we had all prepared beforehand: The task was to teach one’s chosen dance to the group in no longer than 20 minutes, making sure the most important characteristics of its choreography, movement quality and meaning become clear. The short amount of time seemed to be the biggest challenge of this task. However, we were all prepared perfectly and managed to stick to the time frame. We finished the first day excited and exhausted. I felt like I went through 10 exams myself because I was not only focused on my own part but also feeling with all my colleagues and trying to support them with all my energy. There was little time to relax and celebrate that evening, as we continued at 10am on the next day. 

On the second day, the thrilling part of picking up questions randomly from a pool of dances, theory questions and basic step combinations started. The moment of choosing ‘the perfect’ slip of paper was nerve-wracking, not only for the one picking but also for the other candidates! We all hoped for the person to choose something they feel comfortable with. We were all quite surprised by the outcome of the theory questions: from the ten possibilities, it seemed like we all got exactly the question that we needed; be it because it allowed the candidate to show her deep understanding in a particular area or because it was the one topic that was challenging to her and maybe needed to be developed more. 

The picking of dances by chance was also exciting insightful. All of us had prepared 50 dances from a list, among them some complex ones and some more easy. Surprisingly, we almost all picked simple Kordro dances (circle dances). The dance I received, for example, was Gawala – a very popular Kordro dance with rather easy movements. Of all the dances that I had in mind, this was very far from what I thought I would pick up. I was prepared to explain complex mudras and formation changes and go into the meaning of the lyrics. With Gawala, the movements, the formation and the lyrics are easy to follow and express pure joy. I reflected a lot on the significance of me picking exactly this dance and found many answers related to the essence of Khaita: joy and group connection. Probably we were all in similar thought processes, wondering why we had picked that particular dance and looking for a deeper meaning.

On the third and last day, we continued with our program. A further task was to explain a combination of basic steps to an assumed beginner audience. This represents one of the major goals of the Khaita Educational Program: being able to explain dance steps / choreographies in simple and clear ways, using only the necessary words and the body as a tool of communication. And then, as soon as it had begun, the exam was over! The adrenaline left our bodies and even though we were all very happy, we suddenly felt incredibly tired. 

However, we didn’t have a long time to rest. After a party in the evening, we met again on Saturday morning to make use of so many Khaita experts being together to practice Jidkai Trinsang, a beautiful yet complex dance in a star formation. In the afternoon, we then had our first instructors’ meeting. Without having realized our new responsibilities as instructors yet, we came together with the ‘senior instructors’ on site to speak about new Khaita projects and ideas for the future. Many new exciting things lay ahead for Khaita! 

In the evening, the official diploma ceremony took place. As a wonderful coincidence, we shared it with the new Yantra Yoga instructors. In this way, the ceremony was really a joyful and important moment for our Dzogchen Community. The ten new Khaita instructors are:  

Alessandra Policreti
Anna Jiresch
Clotilde Hubert
Eva Leick
Issa Cox
Janina Parejo
Katerina Drajsajtlova
Martina Krejcova
Nadiia Gnatenko
Sharina Techer

On Sunday, we finally had time to relax. We went to a picnic in the forest around the Teide. Even though the weather was not as nice as expected for Tenerife, our hearts were full of warmth and we enjoyed being together in a relaxed way, without the stress of being in the spotlight. Some of us had the possibility to stay for a few more days after that, which mostly meant going to the beach, reflecting about the past days, thinking about new projects and, of course, dancing during the daily Khaita sessions! 

The Khaita exam was an important moment in each of our personal Khaita journey. It inspired and challenged. The most beautiful part of it was probably to experience it as a collective. Going through these intense emotions together brought us even closer and created a sisterly bond that will stay with us forever. I really see and feel us as a team, always supporting and rooting for each other. In this way, we did not only pass the exam individually but collectively as a group, incorporating Khaita’s principle of collaboration. 

I want to thank all my fellow new instructors for the trust and support of the last years and many to come. And, of course, a big thank you to Adriana Dal Brogo, Petra Zezulková, Monika Marcik and Christiane Rhein for giving us the space and time to really become a group and experience true team spirit. They guided us skillfully, patiently and thoroughly through the Khaita Educational Program and the final exam. We know we can also count on their support for everything to come. 

By Martina Krejčová and Eva Leick 

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