Summer Virtually There Festival 2020

by Dawn Harris – Programs Co-Director

Participants in one of the Virtually There Festival workshops

I  have been associated with the Sacred Dance Guild for over 25 years now, and have attended and helped coordinate at least 6 in-person festivals. As a current board member, I was involved in some of the planning and technical aspects of our recent Virtually There festival. I have to say that while I was excited that we were able to do something virtually in the midst of the pandemic, I had my doubts about how this would work, and more importantly, about how we would actually move and connect. Festival for me was about way more than the dance (the side chats, the physical space, the hugs, the re- and new-connections, etc.).

I was more than pleasantly surprised with my experience of Virtually There. It both surpassed my expectations and opened possibilities I hadn’t considered. To start, I blocked the entire time off and set-up and adorned my living room to be a sacred dance space which allowed me to feel fully present and attuned. As both a participant and a tech host for many sessions, I could not believe how connected I felt to all participants. The break-out rooms definitely helped with these connections. It was invigorating to see familiar faces from festivals past, and to meet new people. I felt we were in the same room. It felt like community! 

On a personal note, as I age, I am experiencing significant arthritis in my knees which limits my movement more and more. As such, I had been feeling like I could no longer dance. In this virtual setting, however, I was able to easily participate as I could, opting out when I needed to, without feeling like I was distracting or disrupting the group. As well, several of the workshops opened my eyes to types of movement (hands, circle dancing) that are more conducive to my limited ability. That was so freeing and inspiring!!!

Of even greater importance for me is the realization of how beautifully this medium allows the Sacred Dance Guild to embrace its motto, “Dancing the Sacred, Moving the World”. Virtually, whether as the total or a hybrid experience, expands our ability to fully embrace our mission and values. It opens doors, countries, and time zones. It makes what we do accessible. It allows expansiveness and diversity with respect to facilitators and participants. WOW!!! The how to live our vision has been a challenge; no more. We are indeed finding new ways to connect with a kaleidoscope of people globally.

Just wait to see how the Sacred Dance Guild board will incorporate many of your ideas from the summer festival to move us further into our vision in the February mini-festival. Look forward to seeing you there!!!


A dancer since the age of 4, Dawn Harris has been involved in the Sacred Dance Guild (SDG) for over 25 years. Living in and around Ottawa, Canada for the past 30 years, she has participated in countless SDG workshops, six festivals (having been on the committee for two of those) and was coordinator of a liturgical dance choir for 10 years. Dawn’s passion is social justice, with an emphasis on women’s equality, and to that end, the elimination of violence against women. Dawn served as Executive Director of a second stage shelter for women fleeing violence in the early 2000’s, and then returned to school to graduate (at a mature age) with an Honours BA in Psychology and Women’s Studies. She has been working at Women and Gender Equality Canada for the past nine years. Dawn fully embraces the movement of the Guild – toward increased universality, justice, globalization, connectivity, and diversity. This is Dawn’s 3rd year as Programs Co-Director.

Dawn is inspired to give back, fully embracing the movement of the Guild – toward increased universality, justice, globalization, connectivity, and diversity. This is Dawn’s 3rd year as Programs Co-Director.

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Posted in Dance, Dance festival, Sacred Dance
One comment on “Summer Virtually There Festival 2020
  1. Debra Donaldson says:

    Dawn Thank-you and I agree I wasn’t sure how a Virtual Workshop would go . I enjoyed it so much , I had been out of the flock for a few years and I felt so loved to be and be a part of this.


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