COLUMBIA — About 30 Columbia residents gathered in Courtyard Square Saturday to celebrate world peace with dance, music, poetry and a world-synchronized peace prayer at the fourth annual Earthdance Columbia festival.
More than 200 locations and 50 countries participated in this festival with the intention of worldwide peace, sustainability and social justice as a part of Earthdance International, said Tamera Shupert Gonzalez, producer and director of Earthdance Columbia.
"These different locations around the world link up through a synchronistic festival of music and dance in which everyone can relate to. Along with that, the intention is about peace and creating peace worldwide," Shupert Gonzalez said.
Some came to enjoy the live music and belly dance performances in the beautiful fall weather, while others were interested in this year's theme, "Celebrating the Forests". This idea links up to the "International Year of Forests" 2011 United Nationstheme, according to a past Missourian article.
"I am a firm believer in peace, and the more people that can come out and support things, the more we can continue to have them," said Columbia resident and Earthdance participant Ellen Froeschner.
The scheduled events that started at noon and led up to the peace prayer featured live poetry readings, belly and classical Odissi Indian dance performances and many different live bands.
One belly dance performance by Holly McNickle was dedicated to the "Celebrating of Forests" theme. She described her dance as a fusion style, and her costume included sparkly green face paint, an elaborate leafy top and head piece, and long flowing green pants with branch-like layers.
A 6 p.m. participants gathered in the middle of Courtyard Square. A bare-footed woman prepared people for the prayer by instructing them to think of themselves as a tree, while another beat a drum in the center of the group.
"Feel the sap running through your trunk, coming up through your roots, out through you limbs and through your leaves," she said.
The participants then formed a circle in which they held hands, raised them up to the sky and listened to the peace prayer read aloud.
"We are one global family. All colors, all races. One world united. We dance for peace and the healing of our planet Earth. Peace for all nations. Peace for our communities. And peace within ourselves. As we join all dance floors across the world, let us connect heart to heart. Through our diversity we recognize unity. Through our compassion we recognize peace. Our love is the power to transform our world. Let us send it out now ... "
The celebration continued after the peace prayer with more live music and belly dancing, fire spinning and a dance party.