Performer, dancer, teacher and martial arts practitioner
Elena Lin is a renowned choreographer, performer, martial arts practitioner, art therapist, visual artist and instructor. She has developed a highly regarded international reputation for her unique educational programme “House of five elements”, which is designed for contemporary dancers and performing artists. The programme is a unique blend of Chinese martial arts and contemporary dance with a mix of other art disciplines.
Elena is powered by an endless drive to always bring out the best in herself and others. This extraordinary artist nourishes herself with what inspires and attracts her every day: Chinese culture in the broadest sense. Elena Lin has her roots in Serbia and Hungary. She currently lives in Antwerp, Belgium.
Tell us what you do.
Through dance, I communicate to the world, nature, animals, stars, cosmos and higher power. This is the most natural way to express myself. I am leading people to find their alignment through movement.
When movement and breath become the medicine, it generates one union in themselves, union with the cosmos. The art of living is to find this unique moment in everyday life. I am teaching professional dancers and all those who are interested in free dance expression, mindfulness and wellbeing.
What is your education?
I graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, former Yugoslavia, as a painter and sculptor. I also pursued dance education in a number of European countries, where I studied classical ballet, contemporary dance, physical theatre, acrobatics, African dance and Indian martial arts. I am specialised in Chinese martial arts under the guidance of Sri Lankan Kung Fu master Ravi Chandrasiri.
Elena Lin in her studio (Photo: Hélène Mulder)
Why do you dance?
It is a natural urge. There is no must or big mission. Dancing is something that comes naturally to me. The most natural way to express myself is through movement. Also, I do this for the leadership, being the leader and pioneer. I wish to lead people and support them through the process to strengthen their self-confidence, and find their peace inside. The mission that I have on this planet is to support the people on their way, through this practice of movement, to find their own alignment. In that way, this practice becomes the best medicine.
What do you feel when you dance?
This question is beautiful. It depends on the day. The general sensation which is coming every day is alignment and sensation of peace. The mind is resting in the body. This is always there present. That powerful moment is coming from four breathing techniques that I embody every day and which are related to the four elements in nature: fire, earth, water and air. In a way it becomes therapeutic. I don’t divide dance from therapy, it is all natural to me. Therapy is nothing negative, it does not mean we have a big depression or are very sick. Therapy is a beautiful thing, it makes life more enjoyable. Therapy can be going for a swim (element of water).
I am going where I have to serve. This is very simple, maybe a bit abstract to say. I am going there where I am needed. There, where I can serve people on this planet, where I can lead them through the process to happiness.
Elena Lin (Photo: Hélène Mulder)
Freebodyexpression.com is one of your websites. What is the meaning of free body expression?
Free body expression means literally that through the freedom of expressing ourselves with movement, we can reach alignment, peace of mind and a mind that is resting in the body.
What is your most important lesson for your students?
Find that unshakeable self-confidence. Regular practice of meditation, chant and movement. Find peace in mind and spirit. This is the essence of my teachings through movement and breath.
What are the four elements in dance?
Students who come to me for personal leadership, coaching and classes, are people who are normally interested in nature. They are nature-lovers. They like to observe how nature changes and how we as humans follow the changes in nature. Embodying these four elements is also for them a natural way to express themselves.
Four elements are related to breathing techniques. For example, the element of Water is yin, passive energy, internal process, meditation in movement which is assimilating the breathing of the sea for instance. Breathing of the lake. That kind of breathing is very calming and soothing. We can find this kind of breathing in internal martial arts practice. Breath is the mother of movement. When the mind is resting in the body, the body can slowly enter all those elements of nature: in the tree, in the lake.
The Mauri always say: we are the stars, the stars are us. We are the trees, the trees are us. Embodying imaginary sensations, being the tree, moving like the tree, becoming the tree. Same thing with the wind: breathing like the wind, being the wind, becoming a wind, small wind, big wind. It is the same thing with elements of fire and earth. The people who listen to nature, love meditation and mindfulness are normally attracted to my work.
Elena Lin (Photo: Hélène Mulder)
Why are trees so important to you?
My name is Elena Lin – lín xiǎo 林晓-. In Chinese this means: morning light in the woods. The tree represents for me one of the most beautiful unions with mother Earth and father Cosmos. There is this powerful grounded energy in the roots of the tree. I can’t put it in words, but when I sit under the tree and touch the roots, I can feel how the energy travels from the roots to the branches and leaves. So I always say the feet of humans are the roots of the tree. And the hands and arms are the branches, the top of the tree is the head and is constantly looking at the cosmos. My connection with the tree is profound. When I touch the tree, I feel a calm union.
You have a fascination for China.
I would say that Chinese culture, Chinese philosophy, martial arts in general, traditional dance, calligraphy, and language are the sources of my dance education. Chinese martial arts and philosophy are like a sea for me, it is endless.
To daily participate in Chinese culture is nourishing my being. I love practicing calligraphy, the Chinese language, martial arts, singing in Chinese, and following the cultural events in China.
It seems I have a big mission in my life, and devotion that I will always go to the end. When I say “I am going to the end”, I mean I go as deep as possible. I am on this journey for around 25 years, in my devotion to Chinese culture.
Elena Lin (Photo: Hélène Mulder)
How do you take care of your body?
The practice of meditation, chanting, singing, good nutrition, regular massage treatments, saunas, swimming, taking long walks in nature, and staying with dear friends. With some of them, I can exchange spiritual practices, so we can grow together and support each other. I am trained that I always support myself, I don’t depend on others. Self-support is the most important training. If someone is willing to support me, that is a bonus. So is my philosophy.
When are you out of your comfort zone?
I believe that what you train the most, where you put your energy, grows! Where you put your focus, it grows. In my case, that is dance, teaching, martial arts, calligraphy, and singing. Out of my comfort zone, I feel when I’m surrounded by too many unconscious human beings in one space. Several times, I have experienced such a good lesson about how I can maintain my alignment, even if I am surrounded by unconscious humans. I can feel all the energy around me. Still, I am just observing and the most beautiful moment is when I feel non-judgemental, which made those people feel calm.
What is your big wish for the near future?
At the moment I am in the process of setting up my business. One of my big wishes is to become an entrepreneur who can serve good humanity, animals, the planet. An entrepreneur, who offers quality services to my students, so they can learn from my example, and inspire others. My second wish is to be able to completely integrate into Chinese culture and to be able to offer my assistance in this country.
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