Newbury’s Ellen Kennedy would like to offer folks a different way to welcome in the new year.
That’s why she is hosting the 15th annual New Year’s Eve Sacred Circle Dance on Tuesday night at the Belleville Church in Newburyport.
“It’s all participation,” Kennedy said. “I’ve seen a blind woman dance with us, and if you don’t want to dance, you’re really a part of it whether you are dancing or not. I had two men last year who came because their sister dragged them, they stood and watched the whole thing, and all of a sudden, they were up there and moving.”
Promising dance, song and meditation from 9 p.m. to midnight, the event will also feature musical intuitive and harpist Deirdre Drennen.
“It’s a more conscious way of ringing in the new year,” Kennedy said. “You’re going to be fascinated. You’re going to either sit down or walk out.”
Originating from the work of Bernhard Wosien, a German ballet instructor and master teacher at Munich University, Sacred Circle Dance is the implementation and study of movement and dance that can encompass anything from healing to relaxation to spirituality and is dedicated to keeping the joy of dancing in community alive.
“Dance is encoded in our DNA,” Kennedy said. “And we carry the memories of dance. In this country, we are a melting pot, we are all immigrants, and if you go back far enough in our lineage, our ancestors danced.”
Often, the dances go all the way back to ancient times.
“I think that there really is an anthropological quality to the dances,” Kennedy said. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been in touch with this anthropologist in Egypt, and what they have found is, you can find very little written about dance because it would be like writing about eating or talking or grazing. It was all one within the community.”
Trained at Findhorn Foundation in Scotland to present Sacred Circle Dance in the Findhorn tradition, Kennedy founded the Sacred Circle Dance Community in Newburyport in 1995 and began the annual New Year’s Eve community celebration a year later. Kennedy has also been teaching Sacred Circle Dance for the past 20 years and is the founder and director of the Mount Holyoke College Sacred Circle Dance Troupe.
Tuesday night’s celebration is open to all and will include a potluck of sweet and savory snacks. The festivities will kick off with the 12 prayers of peace and meditation.
“Right at 9 o’clock, everybody gathers in the other room and at the dessert table,” Kennedy said. “Everyone is there socializing and everything, and then I’ll put a piece of music on, and we will do what I call a gathering dance. It’s just basically walking.”
Believing that, “If you can talk, you can sing, if you can walk, you can dance,” Kennedy and her guests will then begin simple, repetitive movements that will lead into dance.
“We do some wonderful dances,” Kennedy said. “We do a Turkish men’s dance to shake out the new year. We do a dance from Greece to throw things into the fire and get rid of that. Then we break for dessert. Then from 10-12, we move more into the conscious ritual, and Deirdre will sing and play the harp.”
Kennedy said she normally sees between 50 and 60 people at her New Year’s event and always makes sure they feel welcome.
“I really try to relax people,” Kennedy said. “There are no mistakes, there are just variations.”
If you go What: 15th annual New Year's Eve Sacred Circle Dance When: Tuesday, 9 p.m. to midnight Where: Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High St., Newburyport. Enter through side entrance. How much: $15 donation at the door. Reservations requested. More information: 978-388-8604 or firstname.lastname@example.org