Year circle

Year circle to sense, embody and celebrate the seasons

Living life connected to the seasons
In this year circle we gather to explore and celebrate how every season is not just happening around us, but also through us. We humans are part of nature, but in our modern Western culture we tend to forget and think ourselves separate from nature.
In these dance retreats we offer a body of practice that supports us in our health as human (urban) beings as being part of nature and as a (global) community.
We’ll work both ín the studio and outside in the (urban) area where we can experience the season as we observe it in trees. We’ll collectively move from stillness in movement research to the powerful grounded dances from Bénin that demand stamina.

sense, embody and celebrate every season

Collectively we move from stillness to the grounded dances of Bénin

In this year circle we gather every season for a day dance retreat on a sunday. We plan it close to the moment the season is at its energetic height. We research in and through our moving and dancing bodies. We land in ourselves, in the season and in the circle of people that we gather with. We collectively move from more inner oriented movement research connected to a specific body system to the rhythmic ritual dances of Bénin (West-Africa) that support the energy of the season and that ask for our stamina.
We go from more individually oriented research to building a powerful collective field in the circle of humans that we are. The circle where you can experience the African philosophy of Ubuntu: ‘I am because we are’. 

In every day retreat we offer a natural flow of movement and dance supported by the continuous live-music of our wonderful musicians!
We both dance in our beautiful dance studio as outside in open air.

De year circle is ongoing, you can join any moment in the year.

In between the retreats you’ll receive (video)practices to support you making space for the connection with the seasons through embodiment, movement and awareness in your daily live.
We stay connected with each other through a whatsapp group where we share our experiences with the seasons in words and photo’s

24 September 2023

Slow down, turn inward and harvest
Yaoitcha – Element water

10 December 2023

Round up and let go and rest
Sagbata – Element earth

Dambala Wedo

Full of potential, first vulnerable forms
Dambala Wedo – element air


Fully present in the world, flourishing
Heviosso – Element fire

What do we work with?

Four specific ritual dances and rhythms from Bénin (West-Africa)

De oorspronkelijke cultuur en spiritualiteit van Bénin gaat uit van onze verbinding met de natuur, onze verbinding met de vier elementen lucht, vuur, water en aarde. In traditionele dansen en ritmes worden specifieke natuurelementen beleefd en de bijbehorende spirits of goden geëerd.
The ritual dances from Bénin that we’ll practice are rooted in an indigenous philosophy where the connection with nature is a given through the connection with specific natural elements and spirits behind those. Where body and mind are considered undivided, where we as humans are part of a whole.
A culture where community and ritual are essential for staying healthy. Every retreat we’ll learn a specific traditional dance connected to the element of the season and use it to celebrate together. They all are very grounded and rhythmical and will be guided by the live-music with the specific instruments that belong to the specific dances. The basis is often supported by the bell, and doundouns, shakers, and specific solo-drums and singing will be part of the music.
Mathias connected for this year circle a specific ritual dance that supports the energy and element of the season.

  • Spring: Dambala Wedo (air)
  • Summer: Heviosso (fire)
  • Autumn: Yaoïtcha (water)
  • Winter: Sagbata (earth)

In these retreats we are not aiming for teaching the whole choreography of the complex dances, since we aim for moving more in the body and letting go of the focus on our frontal brain. So we’ll practice some specific moves of the dance for a longer time to have our body surrender to the specific rhythm and its impact on us. You can imagine the Bénin (polyrhytmical) music as a rhythmical bath that you’ll learn to swim in and be impacted by through some specific moves. Your body will be infused with a (for western people) new kind of rhythms that support a sense of being grounded.

Circle dancing

Dancing in a circle of people is the basis for collectively creating a field of rhythm, togetherness and support. It offers the space for free improvisation and celebrating the spirit of the season. In the African circle dance we can experience physically ‘I am because we are’ (the African philosophy Ubuntu)
For people that live or grew up in the on the individual oriented west, this experience of dancing in the circle can be very supportive because there we can sense that we are connected and not allone. It may feel awkward to move into the middle of the circle at the beginning, because all eyes are seeing you. But what is important to be aware of: African dances are not focusing on the eyes or the way the dance ‘looks’, but are focussing on the ears: the way the dance sounds! We listen to our moving bodies, we play in the rhythms and we share our energy together. Whatever dance is shared in the middle of the collective is a consequence of a powerful supportive field in the circle.
The solo dance is not yours, but it’s ours!

Movement research

In somatic movement (or body mind centering) we bring our awareness to a specific body system (for example lungs, heart, fluids or bones). Sometimes we do this individually and sometimes with the help of specific soft touch in couples. From this awareness we come into movement and discover new movement material with a specific quality. We literally bring our consciousness to our body in this way. Your frontal brain can relax and stop directing every move you make. You become present in every move of your dance and research the expression of the season through your moving body. This awareness also supports our awareness in the new moves when we are dancing the Bénin dance and our creativity in improvisation. It halps us to tap deep in the moving body to improvise (instead of tapping into ‘known’ choreographic material).

our team

This year circle is a project of Mieke Koldewee (Netherlands) and Mathias Ganhounouto (Bénin), supported by Kodjo Agbodjalou (Togo), Moussé Dramé (Senegal/Mali) and often also Jeroen Wandemaker (Netherlands).

Coming from very different backgrounds we as a team find a common ground in our curiosity and perspective on the potential of the human connection with nature through (African) dance, music and the moving community. We feel it is needed to open up the power and depth of African dance, music and spirituality as a support for conscious and healthy living in our western modern culture. The musicians are well known with the specific rhythms of the dances and bring the specific traditional instruments.
We as a team of musicians and dancers join in the movement research practices and in the circle. The musicians express their movement research into real time improvised music.

What can you expect?
  • Every dance retreat moving and dancing with the non stop guidance of live-music
  • A day to release your frontal brain into your body
  • Time to land together and to slow down
  • Being and moving in (urban) nature outside
  • Tapping into a specific body part, sense or somatic system through awareness and light touch and discover the season and new movement material from there
  • Discovering and expressing your sense of the season through improvised movement and dance
  • Open air movement research related to how we experience the season in our bodies and how we perceive the season in the trees
  • Creating a strong embodied rhythmic field in the circle of people, experiencing the the connection and strong support of the rhythm of the circle
  • Dive into a specific traditional dance from Bénin and celebration that supports the specific energy, element and spirit of the season
  • Surrendering to the healing quality of a bath of rhythm and have your body ground deeper
  • Light ritual actions connected to the fysical elements (air, fire, water and earth) that we work with
  • Sharing ourselves with each other through dance and in spoken or written words / poetry
  • Home-practices to continue integrating the embodied connection with the seasons at home

for people….
  • … that wish to get ‘out of their head’ and land into their body
  • … that feel the need for a small retreat out of daily life regularly to reconnect to yourself
  • … that wish to ground more deeply
  • … that are curious for somatic movement research and African dance
  • …that love to move, love to dance and enjoy rhythm with life-music
  • …that wish to support the connection between nature, awareness and your moving body
  • …that both like the openness of movement research and inquiry practices as well as are interested in learning a traditional dance from Bénin
  • … that are love to move in an outside environment
  • … of all levels of moving bodies: an open mind and willing body is the most important
  • … that are willing to share their presence, energy, wisdom and reflections in a circle of people and wish to celebrate the season in community
  • … with African dance-experience this dance-retreat is a chance to deepen your (inner) experience and healing quality of movement in the dances, to learn the specific Bénin dances and rhythms and develop your potential to improvise and express from within
  • … with improvisation-, contemporary and spiritual dance experience (like ecstatic and 5 rhythm dances) the specific African dances and circle work offer an opportunity to deeply ground your movement and dance quality and experience the power of the human circle as a field for connectedness

Practical information


10 December 2023 – Winter

In 2024 we reflect on the yearcircles of 2022 and 2023. We don’t plan a yearcircle.
If you are interested in attending a yearcircle please notify us in an email.


Danszaal Overvloed
Arkansasdreef 20,
3565 AR Utrecht
The Netherlands
Free parcing in the neighbourhood


The retreats are on sundays between 12.00-17.00 uur (doors open at 11.30 uur)


Depending on the participants we speak dutch, french and english and will translate for each other


The year circle is ongoing. You can join any moment of the year.
We love to welcome people living in varying financial situations. So we offer three rates. People living on a wide budget that can afford a ‘support ticket’ make it possible for us to also offer a ‘budget’ ticket and have people join that live on a tight budget.
We trust you choose the ticket that suits your financial situation.
regular: € 360,-
support: € 450,-
budget: € 300,-

Rates for a single day dance retreat:
Since we have a team of 4 professionals in a beautiful dance studio being there for you every season, we like to know as early as possible wether you’ll join us. We offer a fixed amount of early-bird tickets to the ones that buy their tickets earliest.
Early bird: € 90,-
Regular ticket: € 110,-                         
Late deciders: € 130,-             

The tickets include the guidance of 4 professionals (2 dancers, 2 drummers), dancing in our beautiful professional dance studio with communal space to lounge, all day tea, water and fruits and VAT.

Do you want to join, but are you not able to afford a ticket (now)?
Please contact Mieke ( or 06-27062919) and we’ll find a way for you to join.