“For me it was like starting a new path…
Now it is through the 5Rhythms Dance that I express my heart.”
Deva is passionate about following her heart. It’s always been her path. This could also be said about her commitment to the Byron 5Rhythms Dance community. As a qualified teacher, every week, she holds the space with music and heart presence, as people explore themselves and their relationship to others through the expression of dance. 5Rhythms is a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness, and for some like Deva, a spiritual practice. We caught up with her recently to hear about her journey to Australia and introducing her passion to Byron Bay.
We can tell by your beautiful accent you are not originally from here. Where were you born?
In Angola, Africa, to Portuguese parents. Angola was colonised by the Portuguese and my parents lived there for 17 years. We left when I was three because of the colony war. My father was quite wealthy and had a lot of land, which the natives wanted. We fled to Brazil with nothing, lived there (Sao Paulo) for two years, and then went to Portugal when I was six.
Deva returned to her family in Portugal recently to walk some familiar streets
and take in the magnificent views of Lisbon
You came to Australia with your husband, Amito. What brought you both here?
Amito and I were living in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. He was a dive instructor and I was a jewellery sales person making lots of money selling gold and Rolex’s (laughs). We lived there for 11 months until a category five hurricane wiped the place out in 2004. So we moved to the UK where the second module of my dance training was being conducted. But I wasn’t happy there – the people are very closed unlike the Caribbean paradise we had just come from. We knew we wanted to live in an English speaking country but we didn’t want to live in South Africa where Amito is from and we ruled out the States… our intuition led us to Australia, which felt really right. Amito is a civil engineer and since Australia needed them it was easy for him to be sponsored in a job.
How did you come to be in Byron Bay?
I first heard about Byron from a guy I met whilst travelling through India. I went there to do a Vipassana meditation retreat. We travelled for three months and he was always talking about Byron, how amazing it was and especially the dance parties in the forest. When Amito and I came to Australia in 2006, we were looking to establish ourselves in a like-minded community. We first went up to Crystal Waters on the Sunshine Coast but we didn’t find it there so we ended up coming down to Byron. I instantly fell in love with it… the beaches, the beauty, and the weather.
Even though we both loved it here, Amito needed to be in Brisbane for work, so he based himself there whilst I stayed one night in a backpacker’s, and then went to Samaya Retreat in Rosebank. A month later I moved into Byron and started teaching in the scout hall. I was teaching on a Friday night and getting 70 people… the hall soon became too small! Meantime, the Civic Hall in Mullumbimby was being done up, so when it was complete I took the classes there. It is bigger and has a sprung floor…it’s really nice… perfect for dancing.
What is 5Rhythms dance?
5Rhythms is a personal growth practice. It is a tool to experiment and reflect on who you are, through dance. My passion is to teach this practice. This is something the founder, Gabrielle Roth, teaches us… it’s a mind-body-spirit practice accessible to everyone.
What are the five rhythms?
The five rhythms are called – flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. They come together to create a ‘Wave’. They relate to different moods, life-cycles, emotions etc… which are expressed through different ways of moving, using five distinctive styles of music. As you dance you tend to find one rhythm that you are most comfortable with. This practice really frees you from conditioning and invites you to embody your truth.
Where did you train in dance?
I moved to London in ‘94 and discovered the classes there. I danced regularly for nine years before training as a dance teacher. The training involved three different modules… each one in a different place. I trained in New York, England and California for one and a half years under the tuition of the 5Rythms founder, Gabrielle Roth.
Some people who come to Byron, particularly on a spiritual path, decide to change their names. How did you come to take the name ‘Deva’?
I had friends in London who were Sanyassin so I was exposed to their way of being. It is based on the spiritual teachings of a guru named Osho. So I went and learnt about Osho and the meditation practice he teaches. In India, I stayed in an Ashram, a beautiful environment where I meditated every day. The people really lived fully and celebrated life. They primarily follow their hearts and I too have always followed my heart so it felt completely natural for me to be in that environment.
Is that when you changed your name?
Yes. I was given ‘Deva Nandan’ which means Divine Garden.
Who gave you your name?
At that time in the Ashram there were three options. One was to keep my birth name but do the ceremony to become a Sanyassin, the second was to take a mysterious name… which is what I chose, and the third was a list I could choose from. The mysterious version was where they had a team of people that meditated on your photograph and the information you provided, and they would intuitively feel the name for you.
Did taking this name change your life in any way?
For me it was like starting a new path. I had been bought up in a very conservative family so following the heart, like the Sanyassins, really resonated with me. Now it is through the 5Rhythms Dance that I express my heart.
What sort of path were you on before you found 5Rhythms?
It’s funny but I originally trained as an industrial and jewellery designer, which I did for 15 years… but even when I was designing jewellery I was following the philosophy of 5Rhythms… I was already bringing movement into my designs and mixing them up. I can feel that I have a longing to come back to jewellery design but now I am studying Kinesiology, which is a whole new area that I love. Once again, it is healing and working with people.
What do you love about Byron?
I love the beaches, the dolphins, and the whales. I lived in Main Arm for two years and I love the forest there…I love walking to Devils Hole which is a bit of a secret… it’s near Mt Jerusalem. I love walking in nature. Minyon Falls is another beautiful walk. I also like the craft at the markets. I love the people here and how relaxed they are. Everyone seems happy. You walk down the street and people smile.
And even though I don’t do much of it, I love horse riding on the beach… Oh and I love going to the farm to get milk…
Where is this milk farm? We keep hearing about it.
It’s on Myocum Road between Mullum and Byron. You go there with your container and pay a dollar for a litre. The farmer is about 90 and he allows people to help themselves to the milk and leave the money.
It’s easy to talk about all the things we love about Byron and we know you are now moving to base yourself in Brisbane to be with Amito; what have been some of the challenges of living here?
OMG… the challenges of renting! Being at the whim of landlords you get moved around. I was in a place that I didn’t know was an illegal dwelling and the landlord informed me recently of a council inspection so I had to move out of there. It was really annoying but in this case it worked for me because I was ready to move back to Brisbane to be with Amito. I also found it hard to have stable friendships because of the transient nature of the place. You make friends and lose them because they have to move on. This can be a bit sad sometimes.
And what we say is…
If you haven’t explored 5Rhythms Dance and have been thinking about it… do it! Speaking with a friend the other night, he was saying how dancing two nights a week in Melbourne was like dancing for his sanity. Deva is the original deal of 5Rhythms in Byron and brings to this community a world of experience, professionalism and a compassionate heart. Every Tuesday night you will find her at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall setting up the audio equipment for the thoughtfully chosen music, and creating artistic installations with subtle lighting for atmosphere. She smudges the room with sage for clarity and sacredness so that when the music begins at 7pm and people step into the space, the best of intentions have been set. The rest is up to you… to take the ensuing guidance and opportunity of movement to free yourself. You won’t regret it.
Giveaway – 5 passes to 5Rhythms Dance, Mullumbimby
Deva is kindly offering five single passes to five of our readers to attend one of her classes on Tuesday evenings, 7pm – 9pm, Mullumbimby Civic Hall. If you would like to receive one of these passes please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Five winners will be chosen at random.
THE BYRON QUESTIONS:
Do you have a favourite café?
Not really. I don’t really hang out in cafes much.
What about restaurant?
Milk and Honey in Mullum
Do you have a favourite shop?
The Piece Gallery in Mullum. I always love going in there. So many beautiful things.
What is your local’s tip for a visitor to Byron?
For sure the lighthouse walk, the markets… and a vist to Bangalow. Oh, my dance class (laughs). It is a really unique thing to do. I love Kiva Spa…I go there often, and also have a massage with Leslie who works at Mullum Herbs… she is great. Oh, and Lucy the ceramicist at the Wheel of Life in Brunswick… I love her work. I bought tea cups recently as gifts for my homecoming in Portugal. I love cats so I love hanging out at the Cat Adoption Centre, too.
What would we find you doing on a typical Saturday?
(Shrugs shoulders)…I don’t have a typical Saturday. Sometimes I’m doing workshops or going for a really long walk. I mean a really long walk… usually along Brunswick Beach. I walk till there is no one around and I feel the space. After coming from Europe where it is so populated I love the space here in Australia.