An endless thank you to the efforts of the many dancers who, instructors and non-instructors alike, colored the summer of 2023 with joy and harmony with Khaita Joyful Dances, which is also the result of the dedication and constant training by so many.
I would like to begin with a quick look at the events that are held regularly over the year, those that keep Khaita, this precious Teaching of our Master, alive and active.
Dzamling Gar is the Gar that keeps up Rinpoche’s request to practice Khaita regularly every day! Gratitude is due to Yulia for coordinating the activities for so long, taking care of the relationship with the gakyil, and thanks of course to the many local instructors who have worked together to maintain this commitment (Janina, Lena & Lena, Natasha, Margot, Lilya, Eva and others).
Next we see where the weekly or bi-weekly practice sessions are held. At Merigar, led by Salima, Yangchen and Elisa; in Prague with Petra; in Budapest with Nadiia; in Vienna with Elisha and Eva; in Venice with Adriana and Paola; in Australia with Tsering and Topgyal; in Peru with Issa; in a primary school of the Czech Republic with Martina, that ended with a joyful performance; in France at Dejamling, Saint Afrique and Montpellier with Sharina. Online, there are regular classes as well as in-person workshops for a group of Japanese enthusiasts led by Urara. Another online event is ‘Khaita Forever’, an appointment that has never been interrupted since the pandemic thanks to Natalia and Lilyia’s constant organization: every Saturday afternoon in turn, an instructor or an expert guides dancers from different countries online with a specially prepared set list of dances.
Whenever possible, Joyful Dances also arise spontaneously after collective practices such as ganapuja or on special occasions and also around the fire after a barbecue!
A beautiful project started in Poland, Values Schools, where Khaita is used as a method of relaxing tensions, bringing joy into daily activity and to connect people. The project involves teachers at first and on some days, also students. In this way hundreds of children between the ages of 7 and 13, led by Monika, were able to experience Khaita in short workshops, enjoying dancing together.
Now the summer events. As the Dzogchen Community is truly international, Khaita’s colourful summer began in the Southern Hemisphere with a public presentation at Tashigar Sur, Argentina and with daily practice sessions during a series of retreats between January and February, led by Alejandra, Soledad and Issa.
Let’s fly to the European summer: through Khaita two beautiful collaborations between the International Dzogchen Community and two other Sanghas began: Bodhicharya Kent in the U.K. where a group of dancers, coordinated by Petra, offered a short performance to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, and the Ligmincha center of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in Poland, which invited the instructor Wojtek to give a Khaita course before the usual annual retreat.
You can find more detailed accounts of these events below, in the articles written by the instructors involved.
In two other articles you can read the account and experiences of our participation in the Buddhafest in Hungary and in France, on the occasion of H.H. Dalai Lama’s birthday.
With a dance step we arrive in Italy. The Khaita evening in Venice in Campo S. Trovaso was magical: a natural theatre under the sky that a group of Venetians are trying to revive according to ancient customs, with cultural events dedicated to citizens. Adriana, Monika, Petra and Marco guided an enthusiastic group of newcomers as they took their first steps under the stars. A video of the evening:
Three villages on the slopes of Monte Amiata, where Merigar is situated, opened their doors to the Joyful Dances as part of initiatives to promote a culture of territory and environment: Monticello, a small village where 42 different ethnic groups live together, extended an invitation to participate in the local ethnic festival; Salaiola, during the annual Moon Festival, where workshops and demonstrations of various arts and disciplines take place; Abbadia San Salvatore dedicated an entire day to children with Khaita, Kumar Kumari and other activities aimed at discovering nature during the Eco Festival.
And then participation at a friends’ party in Sweden, more workshops and then…..
I have certainly forgotten something or someone because there have been so many initiatives, but I invite everyone to share photos and notes of the various activities on our social channels. Every photo and every note makes us feel part of the same family, united in the Teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu!
Share and write your stories and experiences with us!!!!
Adriana Dal Borgo
Khaita at Bodhicharya Kent’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration
On the 5th of June, we had the honour of presenting Khaita Joyful Dances to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and the Sangha at Bodhicharya Kent’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration in the UK.
Khaita was a part of the event’s opening and a surprise for Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, prepared by his students who were aware of his keen interest in Tibetan songs and dances, particularly in Khaita.
In addition to the dance performance, we also watched a short documentary about the history of Khaita and presented a special edition of “Message from Tibet” – the first collection of 108 Tibetan songs by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu – to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
Petra Zezulkova, one of our dancers and coordinator of the event:
“I was deeply touched by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s opening speech. He emphasized the importance of songs and dances in preserving culture, particularly in keeping the language alive. It reminded me of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s words that without the language, there won’t be texts or teaching.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche continued by recounting his childhood memories and how he fondly remembered the joy of gathering with family and friends, always singing and dancing. He was pleased and happy that we came to perform, mentioning that he had always wanted to see a live performance ever since discovering Khaita online. He conveyed his deep respect and gratitude for Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s dedication to Tibetan songs and dances.
Personally, the entire speech deeply moved me. I believe that because the event was filmed for the archive, it presents a beautiful opportunity for future generations to witness Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s Khaita project as a bridge of communication and a step towards further collaboration between two sanghas.”
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Bodhicharya team, Cesare Saguato and Vanessa Matthews, for inviting us and being such gracious hosts, as well as to Julieann Natwal for the wonderful photos. We would also like to thank The London Institute of Tibetan Studies: Shang Shung UK and Lekdanling – Tibetan Cultural Centre for their organizational support, especially Julia Lawless and Jamyang Oliphant.
The event was filmed by The Meridian Trust – A Tibetan Buddhist Film Resource. Ringu Tulku Rinpoche speaks about Tibetan songs early in the recording (min 3:10 – 13:00):
Khaita at the Ligmincha Sangha in Poland
Khaita courses with instructor Wojciech Torczyński took place for the first time before and during the summer retreat at Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s Ligmincha retreat center near Warsaw, Poland.
“It is beautiful to experience joy and relax at the same time and this is what I felt before leading this first ‘external’ course and practice for Ligmincha. When I arrived in Chiamma Ling it only got better with each session and each day. The Ligmincha community is very dedicated toward practice, aware and cooperative. The Khaita sessions were attended by a large number of participants, most of whom have danced Tibetan steps for the first time. This practice of presence in movement was widely appreciated and recognized as a beneficial suplement to the programme of the course.
Regardless of age or fitness people approached these dances with great enthusiasm and joy. Most importantly participants observed and understood how this practice positively impacts their state of body, energy and mind. Many have literally expressed their experience of joy and harmony that arose with practicing Khaita. It is worth underlining that this is the very message and meaning of Khaita. I feel great satisfaction and gratitude for this opportunity.”
During the last day of the retreat Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche underlined the importance of collaboration between Sanghas including the International Dzogchen Community.
Khaita Workshop at the Buddhafest in Hungary
The Buddhafest took place from 11th till 13th August 2023 in Sikonda, Hungary. It was organized by the Dharma Gate Buddhist Church and College in Budapest which also provides space for the Hungarian Dzogchen Community for regular practices. Participants of the course could learn about the diverse traditions of Buddhism within the framework of sitting and movement practices. Not only Khaita but also Vajra Dance and Yantra Yoga offered the possibility to experience practices connected with movement.
The festival took place in the beautiful southern part of Hungary and all the programs took place outdoors in a summer camp under the trees. This spacious place offered the opportunity to create nine stages. Eight of them were connected with the eight precious Buddhist symbols and the ninth was wearing the symbol of mirror and became home for the Vajra Dance. The Khaita stage was placed under the Victorious Banner.
The Khaita workshop was a part of the festival and took place on Saturday (1.5 hour) and Sunday (2 hours) and was led by Khaita Educational Program students Nadiia Gnatenko and Martina Krejčová. The program of the workshop, preparation of materials and organization were done in a team with Khaita practitioners from Hungary and the Czech Republic, who also participated in the workshop to support us: Ákos Novotny, Květa Švédová, Eva Strouhalová and Laci Kléri. Photos and videos were taken by Pavel Petráněk.
We chose the dances with topics corresponding to the festival – addressing Buddhist values, involving Buddhist symbols and bringing benefit to all beings.
Both days we began dancing Khaita to catch people’s attention because we were outdoors and many people were also just passing by. Then we followed this by a short explanation of what Khaita dances are, where they come from, etc. After that we invited everyone to join a short warm up and then we started to dance.
On the first day we taught the dances So Yarelo and Tashi Dangpo to around 20 participants. We also sang Tashi Dangpo and before singing Nadiia explained the meaning. People got a beautiful leaflet where they found the text and also other information about Khaita and some important links where they can find other information about Khaita, about upcoming courses and about a place in Hungary where they can dance Khaita.
The second day we started as we did the first day by a Khaita dance, warm up and short explanation and we repeated the dances from the first day with 10 participants. Because it was really hot and our spot was partly on the sunny side, it was really challenging to dance. So after one hour, when we came to the break people felt very hot and after the break most of the people didn’t come back. But two of the dancers who were enthusiastic, young and strong stayed and we continued by teaching Monzhey. We also explained and danced Tala Shipa and Ala Lamo Se.
We believe people really enjoyed dancing and singing. We were really surprised by how quickly they managed to learn the basic steps and some of the dances. We even challenged them to exchange the khatags in the Tashi Dangpo dance and we all enjoyed the joyful and happy atmosphere.
We would like to thank to Adriana Dal Borgo who helps us on the way to becoming good instructors and who supports us in our activities, to the Dharma Gate Buddhist Church and College for the unique opportunity to participate in the Buddhafest, to everyone who participated in the workshop and to our fellow students who also support us by commenting on our activities and videos.
Martina Krejčová and Nadiia Gnatenko
H.H.Dalai Lama Birthday Event in France
Vajra Yogini Institute FPMT Center
9th of July 2023
As every year, the birthday of His Holiness is a great day of celebration amongst the Tibetans and Buddhist communities. For some years, at the Vajra Yogini Institute, the event was celebrated with a puja and lunch together with the few Tibetan families living in the area. But more recently we introduced Khaita in an improvised way, playing a song at the end of the meal. In the last couple of years, we were two people who would present a dance and then invite people to dance some easy Khordros [circle dances], as few of the public were participating in the Khaita sessions I was sharing. On those occasions, it was very nice to see the Tibetans joining and knowing some of the steps naturally!
This year’s event took a turn as the resident teacher, Geshé Tenzin Loden, decided that the celebration would take place on the Sunday following the 6th (which is the real date of HHDL’s birthday) so most of the Tibetans could join in. The Tibetan families organized and rented a whole bus so that they could come together.
Petra and Sharina joined the group and a Tibetan friend, Karma, contacted me to prepare something together. We practiced Tendrel Sangpo and Phuyana, which Karma chose for their meaning, but as we couldn’t train very much, we didn’t organize any specific choreography.
The Tibetans prepared a dance and a song with the children. The four of us presented the two dances, and a Tibetan lady joined us sponteaneously for Tendrel Sangpo. A young lady who had just arrived from TIPA (Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts) sang a beautiful song. Then many people joined in to dance khordros all together. As there was no real organization, Petra was our DJ, while Sharina made a great impression on the resident teacher who could see a Chinese lady dancing perfectly AND singing Tibetan songs!
We then repeated all together Yudrang Tsanga Shikshik, which the Tibetan group had presented earlier, some traditional dances and some easy dances from the Khaita collection. Meanwhile Kapse and refreshments were passing aroud. The hot weather didn’t stop anybody from enjoying those moments.
I can’t help but feel that along with different circumstances, the introduction of Khaita gave another dimension to this event and helped Tibetans to reclaim this aspect of their culture to make the event a real celebration.