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The Elm Dance

A Joanna Macy nuclear guardian practice to honor survivors of nuclear devastation, led by Eco-Chaplain Carly Sinn and Professor Emeritx Sherry Ellms.

The Elm Dance – by Joanna Macy

Around the planet, as people gather to work together for the healing of our world, a simple, beautiful practice is spreading. To celebrate their commitment to life and solidarity with activists the world over, they join hands in a circle dance.

Set to the haunting strains of a Latvian song by Ieva Akuratere, and choreographed by Anastasia Geng, the Elm Dance took form in Germany in the 1980s. In 1992, having learned it from my friend Hannelore, I took the Elm Dance with me to workshops I was leading with a Russian- speaking team in areas poisoned by the Chernobyl disaster. There, and especially in Novozybkov, the most contaminated of inhabited cities, the dance became an expression of their will to live. It was here the dance evolved a distinctive form with the raising and swaying of arms, evoking their connection with the trees they so loved.

When I was with the people of Novozybkov, I made them a promise: to tell their story wherever I went. In keeping that promise, I shared the Elm Dance. Then, in a way that no one could have imagined, the dance in this form began to spread, beyond all reckoning, with a momentum of its own, and became associated with The Work That Reconnects. We have come to realize that the dance gives activists and lovers of life the world over a tangible way to feel their bone-deep commitment and their solidarity with each other across the miles.


Upcoming Events:
  • Apr 24, 2024 @ 1:30 pm


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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

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