Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday Dance Celebration: Secret Sunrise Interview

The late Nelson Mandela is being celebrated across the world with dance on Saturday, July 21 – a few days after what would have been in 100th birthday. He was born in South Africa on July 18, 1989. Mandela’s legacy includes challenging the South African apartheid and enduring jail for 27 years before leading the country that imprisoned him and serving as President from 1994 – 1999. Dance for Madiba, as hosted by Secret Sunrise, will unite dancers across three continents as a unique way to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.

Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

(Note: Nelson Mandela is sometimes referred to as Madiba, which downplays white colonialism and references his ancestral tribe. And although the event trails a few days behind Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, the weekend date will likely allow more attendees to celebrate Mandiba’s legacy.)

In this dance interview,  Secret Sunrise facilitator Grant Ross explains the concept of these early morning dance gatherings and shares insight into the global Dance for Madiba event.

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Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

Interview with Secret Sunrise: Dance for Madiba

Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday Celebration  

Up&AtEm Travel: What is Secret Sunrise?

Secret Sunrise: Secret Sunrise is a global conscious movement of people wanting to manifest positivity in the world through dance, movement and wellness practices with the use of technology.

U&T: Where did you get the idea to start this kind of dance community?

SS: We run an organisation called No Danger Diaries, and the entire mandate of the organisation is to have fun while making a difference. Whilst on one of our joy sharing missions in Zambia at a tree planting project with Greenpop, we used the volunteers as guinea pigs one morning… [We] took them through a crazy routine to epic music during the sunrise just to get them amped for a day’s planting. Something happened that we needed to take home with us and share with the world… So, we did. 🙂

Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

U&T: What can first-time attendees expect at a Secret Sunrise session? 

SS: Secret Sunrises or Sunsets are facilitated one-hour movement meditation sessions that are held in epic locations around cities. The objective is to connect with yourself, others and the world around you and feel comfortable to celebrate to music that is guided by accredited instructors… Our mandate is to make [the dance event] accessible to everybody: all ages, backgrounds and skill levels. The objective is to be yourself, [feel] free to express yourself, [and] celebrate and connect as humans. [Expression and connection are] very much suppressed in this day and age.

U&T: Why do participants wear headphones during the event?

SS: Each attendee receives silent headphones in order to enter into a space of comfort and safety, dive deeper into the practice and also to avoid disturbing our neighbours in the early hours of the morning.

Read Why Up&AtEm Travel Features Dance.

Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

U&T: Have you had your own particularly transformative or moving experience during a Secret Sunrise session?

SS: Every single session. And that is why we call it a practice. It’s a process of letting go; [it’s also] a space for healing, for intention setting and reflecting on what it is that you [need]. We come together to manifest global change as a community and move … towards that as one.

U&T: How do you think dance (specifically) strengthens communities?

SS: [Dance] is a global language. It drops all barriers that society has built up, it removes anything that may separate us, and [it] helps us remember why we are here – and that we are essentially all the same. Every single person on this planet understands how and why we dance. We merely provide the platform for this phenomenon to be celebrated.

Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

U&T: What is your upcoming Dance for Madiba celebration for Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday? 

SS: [Dance for Madiba] is a global celebration with all the Secret Sunrise franchises around the world hosting a dance at the same time to celebrate as one for the great man.

U&T: Which cities have been chosen as celebration sites for world Mandela day? 

SS: All the cities that currently have Secret Sunrise franchises will be participating: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Nelspruit, Mauritius, Ibiza, London, Amsterdam [and] Bali.

Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

U&T: Will you be featuring photos/ videos or written accounts of the Dance for Madiba celebration on your website or social media accounts afterwards? 

SS: We will be streaming [the Dance for Madiba event] live and will have some global content to share following the session. 

U&T: Thank you, Grant, for taking the time to share information about Secret Sunrise and the extraordinary Dance for Madiba celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. Have a wonderful event, and we look forward to tuning in!

If you could participate in any of the Dance for Madiba celebrations, which city would you pick? Or who would you choose to celebrate with dance? Let us know in the comments below.

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Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview Celebrating Nelson Mandela's 100th Birthday with Dance: Secret Sunrise Interview

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