Young Dancers at Unicorn

Young Dancers at Unicorn Dancing Spirit Camp 2013

by Jilani Cordelia Prescott

It was once again my great pleasure and privilege to be part of the team working with the young people who are interested in Dance-leading, at the Unicorn Dancing Spirit Camp in August this year. I continue to be so impressed with the maturity of these young Dance leaders, and they continue to develop in skill and attunement in a very noticeable way.

There was a committed group, which met each afternoon. Amongst their numbers were Zenzi, Izzy, Anna, Gemma, Joseph and Fraser, all of whom led at least one Dance during the week. A wonderful new development brought forward by Glen at this camp was that each Camp Gathering ended with a Dance led by one or more of the young. These were very joyous and moving occasions, and allowed the young people to explore leading a single dance in another context, as opposed to putting on a whole session. It was also noticeable how many more young dancers there were on these occasions, as children and teens stayed to dance with their peers and friends.

During the week, our sessions together gave a lot of space for the young people to ask questions and discuss many different aspects of Dance-leading. At one session, all of the
programmed Dance leaders at the camp met with the youngsters to answer their questions about how they got into Dance-leading, and how they understand the process of Dance-leading to work. Glen and I shared another session where we talked about working with energy, and experienced some different practices to explore this.

Towards the end of the week we focused more on the practicalities of Dance-leading, preparing for the shared session which the young Dance leaders were offering on the final Saturday. So we worked on voice production, and the art of making yourself heard in a large tent full of people! Preparation also involved working with the sacred phrases of the Dances they had chosen, and deepening our understanding and feeling for the phrase and its message. And we worked on musicianship for the dances, another subject which the young people had requested. As usual there was an abundance of musical talent amongst them, on guitars, drums, violin, ukulele, recorder and even oboe. Kit and Nonge joined the band, on drum, ukulele and guitar, to provide additional support for the Dance leaders.

The young Dance leaders were invited to ask for help and support from any of the programmed Dance leaders that they felt drawn to, and so this informal mentoring also became part of the preparation for their session. And when Saturday arrived, what a session it was. Each young leader showed considerable personal development, in skill, confidence and depth. It was a wonderfully varied session, with leaders each showing their personal style and strengths in their own way. And it was lovely to see how many other young people came to dance, to support their friends. I think it was obvious to everyone there what progress is being made. Understandably, in the past, sometimes it has felt that we all wanted to support the young people with enthusiastic delight, no matter what quality of dance-leading they produced. But we are now able to experience their session as a quality Dance session in its own right, with no sense of special circumstances, other than the wonderful youthful intensity of energy and experience which these young people bring to their Dance-leading.

Looking ahead from here, Izzy and Anna are planning to organise a winter weekend retreat for young dancers, in Somerset. And Unicorn camps are supporting us to offer a Youth Camp for the Dances of Universal Peace, in August 2014. It will be immediately before the Dancing Spirit Camp, to make travelling easy for those who plan to attend both camps, and is aimed at 16-30 year olds, to allow them a deepening experience with the Dances. Exciting developments, so please do spread the word about them, and if you are in a position to offer financial support to enable young people to attend these events, please contact me:, 01422 886410 or 07966 451534

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About Cordelia Jilani Prescott

Jilani has been playing viola for the Dances of Universal Peace since 1997, and leading Dances since 2005, becoming certified as a Dance Leader in May 2008. Sufism is her spiritual path, along with motherhood (she has three sons) and music. She has worked as a musician and teacher since 1989 and spent several years training as a healer. She brings these skills to her Dance leading, with a teaching style that is light and down-to-earth, but powerful. She has led Dances throughout the UK since 2005, and has travelled internationally to share Dances in Europe, Morocco and the USA. In addition she runs regular groups and retreats at her home, the Heart Centre, a small retreat centre near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Jilani loves to work with trainee Dance Leaders, and especially with young people, helping them to fulfill their potential as leaders and musicians with the dances. She also works with her own Sufi students, and currently leads a monthly Zikr and weekly Ruhaniat-style Sufi classes on Zoom, as well as occasional longer retreats.