Elm Dance Steps, Lyrics and Stories

After dancing the Elm Dance with our group recently, I searched around for more information.

I’ll start with the part most important for dancers. So far as I can see when we raise our arms like branches, we let go hands and move in the wind touching each others’ hands and arms a bit as we do. Continuing to just hold hands is clearly a popular village variation however.

The other thing I found of interest was that the original choreography has us “circling” when we sway, not just swaying back and forth. The reference I found said moving to the front when swaying to the right, and to the back when swaying left. But I could find no video showing this movement. If your group does this — share a video so we can all see. “The sways are circular and round, soft in the wind, well rooted in the earth.”

Shall we give that a try?

I started researching because none of us there knew the answer to what is the Bach Flower Remedy for “elm”. And that’s where I found this.

Elm Bach Flower Remedy


Elm …is the remedy for people suffering a temporary loss of confidence due to the overwhelming amount of responsibility they have taken on. Genuine Elm types are people who are successful and carrying out work they believe in, but at times the burden brings them down and they feel will not be able to cope.

The remedy helps to dispel these feelings so that we can resume our lives without thought of failure.

There’s a lot more about the Bach Flower Remedies and Music on this site: https://www.musicalremedies.com/

Then I was curious about the music and learned that the song mentions apple trees and oak trees, but not elm trees. But as is often the case, it’s a metaphor and (perhaps, to some people) it’s actually a song about resistance.

Perhaps around December, we could try to add a Holly dance to our repertoire:


The song is Kā Man Klājas and it was a popular song at the time it was choreographed. The choreographer Anastasia Geng (1922-2002) choreographed many songs to correspond with Bach flower remedies. Joanna Macy learned this dance from Hannelore, a friend in Hamburg.

Here’s the itunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ieva-akuratere/id260647004

The words are these: (I haven’t included the repeated lines)

Ko man dosi mamulite, par muzigu dzivo anu

What will you give to me mother dear, for eternal life

Izplaukst zelta abelite un ka rita migla skan

The little golden apple tree blooms, and rings out like morning mist

Ko tas dos tev mamulite, ka tavs delin nenomirst

What does it give to you mother dear, that your little son doesn’t die

Atbildes nav

There is no reply

Tikai veja notric ozoliu birze

Only the grove of oak trees trembles in the wind

Tikai koki savikas uz rudeni

Only the trees put on their autumn leaves

Atbildes nav

There is no reply

Ko man dosi mamulite, par muzigu dzivo anu

What will you give to me mother dear, for eternal life


Izplaukst zelta abelite un ka rita migla skan

The little golden apple tree blooms, and rings out like morning mist

Izkid visi mani joki, Visi joki gludeni

All my humour dissolves, All jokes fall flat

Tikai kajas droak savu zemi min

Only our feet all the more surely trample our earth

Tapec draugi ka man klajas

Therefore, friends, how I am feeling

Itneviens lai neuzzin

let no one know

I also found a Christian church who dance it every Sunday, St Paul’s Anglican Church Beaconsfield, near Fremantle Western Australia. http://www.stpaulsbeaconsfield.org.au/prayers/elm.html

As they say, “As we are swaying.. give peace a chance.”

The Elm Dance: Story and Actual Dance Exeter New Hampshire Unitarian Universalist Church

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter (FUUSE) Minister Kendra Ford introduces Coleen O’Connell, treasured colleague of Joanna Macy’s from Lesley University, Director and founder of the Ecological Teaching and Learning Program. Coleen shares the story behind the Elm Dance, a remembrance of what was lost in many Russian villages and surrounds as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. FUUSE is celebrating “The Great Turning and the Work that Reconnects”…people concerned with and considering taking action to deal with preserving life on the earth. “The Great Turning” is a name for the essential adventure of our time: shifting from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

And here’s a talk by Joanna Macy on the Dharmaseed website about this story of how she first shared this dance. (She starts about 8 minutes into the audio file.)



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