Laura's Blog

All We Are Saying Is Give Greece a Chance

Ten years ago, I went to live in Greece. I knew I would love living in a culture where everyone dances, and so it turned out. I also loved the generosity, hospitality, connection, mutual support, and positivity embodied by the dance, a set of values which goes back thousands of years to Old European culture as articulated by Marija GimbutasCarol P. Christ, and Riane Eisler. When the economic crisis struck in 2008, I saw firsthand how Greek people used these values to help each other survive.

On Sunday, Jan 25th, 2015, the Greek people decisively voted into power the anti-austerity party Syriza (SEE-rih-zah), after six years of intense suffering under brutal austerity measures imposed by the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank.

These three powers together are known as the ‘troika’. The austerity measures required by them in return for the so-called ‘bailout’ loans have been devastating, causing soaring rates of poverty, hunger, unemployment, sickness, and suicide. Times are harder in Greece than in the US during the Great Depression, though you won’t hear the details in the mainstream media. And the cost of this humanitarian crisis is not being counted by anyone...

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Dancing Daughters of the Living Goddess

A lifetime of research has convinced me that the women’s ritual dances and costumes of Greece are living remnants of ancient Old European Goddess traditions. In previous posts on FAR I have written about these dances and embroideries, as well as the Midwives’ day rituals which honour the wise women, and the healing effects the women’s circle dances can have. All of these threads came together again in my most recent trip to Thrace.

Today trisected into Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish parts, Thrace is a wild landscape of mountains, forests, rivers and fertile fields. Less than one hundred years ago Greeks, Slavs, Turks, Pomaks, Gagaouzides and other ethnic groups lived and mingled freely throughout the whole area, and although the traumatic wars of the 20th century precipitated a huge upheaval of refugee movement and new settlement, Thrace is still home to a great variety of different peoples here who have kept their customs alive.

In Greece, Thrace is the most northeasterly region, and Evros is the very topmost bit of it, rising up like a thumb between Turkey and Bulgaria. I started visiting the villages of Evros some years ago and have been back many times. When friends invited me to celebrate my birthday there recently I jumped at the chance. All the villages we went to are Greek Orthodox, with visible elements in costume and culture – such as the Goddess embroideries – which survive from pre-Christian times.



Lebensgarten Tanz- und Sing-Festival

From 10-13 June, we had the first dance and singing festival in Lebensgarten, Germany, with Kyriakos Moisidis, Laura and Brigitte Schmitz. Brigitte's lovely singing brought everyone into the group and provided a perfect starting place for the traditional dances. We were blessed with live music from four outstanding Greek musicians: Kostantis Kourmadias, Panagiotis Zikidis, Yiorgos Ntavliakos and Katerina Douka.

It felt very special, at this time of great conflict and frustration between Germany and Greece on the world economic and political stage, to come together in the joyful healing oasis of music, dance and song which unite us all.

Next year's Tanz- und Sing-Festival will take place from 2-5 June, 2011 in Bad Herrenalb, Germany, with Laura, Kyriakos and musicians, and Christian Bollman offering the singing. More info at:

In 2012 the Festival will be in Lebensgarten again and will continue alternating between northern and southern Germany as a collaboration between Declan Kennedy of Lebensgarten and Beate Frey of Heilung-und-Tanz in Bad Herrenalb.

Thassos Seminar with Babis Almpantis 2010

30 May 2010- Thassos, Greece
Seminar of Traditional Dances with Babis Almpantis

In the last week of May I took a little vacation to be a participant for once, in the annual seminar of Greek traditional dances led by Babis Almpantis and Dimitris Pashalides on the lovely island of Thassos. I had been very impressed by 'O Kyklos tis Zois', the beautiful and moving performance by Babis' and Dimitris' dance groups in Ettlingen Concert Hall in February. Their choice of authentic village dances and songs was exactly to my taste, so I knew I wanted to come to Thassos to dance with them some more.

Thassos is an exquisitely beautiful little island, known since antiquity as the Emerald of the Aegean. Abundant water and varied forests give it a lushness and beauty very different from the dry, austere beauty typical of most Greek islands. At Aliki where we danced under the shade of olive trees, there are quiet beaches and calm bays as well as archaeological sites including temple ruins, ancient marble quarries and an early Christian basilica, all overlooked by Mount Athos across the water.

We had the blessing of live music every day and night, with Panayiotis Zikidis and other members of Methorios. Other musicians dropped by regularly, both locals and friends from Thrace and Macedonia, so it was really a feast of music and dance. Babis' teaching is a delightful combination of crystal-clear authenticity and playful humour, wonderfully supported by Dimitris and Natassa, outstanding dancers as well as beacons of good cheer.  It was a beautiful week of nonstop dancing and laughing, flawlessly organised by an experienced team.

Next year's seminar will take place in the week following Pfingsten. For more information contact Sabine Conradt, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I will be glad to see you there!

Photos by Dimitris Pashalides

An Oasis of Peace

On May 15th, 2010, Kostantis and I gave a concert of Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish and Balkan music in the Moray Art Centre here in Findhorn, a lovely and welcoming space dedicated to beauty. We offered the evening as an oasis of peace, to send prayers for healing towards Greece and its nConcert Moray Art Centre May 15th. 2010eighbours, as well as in our own hearts and lives.

The songs come from cultures who throughout history have survived similar times of great upheaval; the music invokes the dignity, grace and devotion which are the keys to safe passage through times of transformation.

The dances do the same. May your dancing this year, wherever you are, also bring you back in close connection with the source of hope and healing as in inspiration for your own life and creativity.

With love and blessings,