Formidable Magazine: Tell us a bit about yourself. Shannen Gembira: My name is Shannen and I also love to go by the name Gembira. Gembira which means happiness in Bahasa, Indonesia, where half of my blood is coming from. The Indonesian culture means a lot to me, especially because fine art and dancing are at the core of it. Like the Balinese dancers, oh, I love that style. Elegant, full of details, softness and the dancers are surrounded by a lot of gold and colors. To me dance is a translation of the soul, free dancing, in nature with my toes and bum out. That’s freedom. Feeling the energy from nature; tiny bees, sun rays and raindrops around me. Here I can express my inner feelings through movement. Here I am present more and carefree more than in any other environment. I am grateful for my inner calling and my health to be able to express myself through art and dance.
F.M: What was your first creative impulse? My first creative impulse was dance and singing. One of the first videos my parents made was me expressing myself through dancing and singing, with my eyes closed. I didn’t know I was being filmed. So pure, so real. I love seeing that video.
F.M: Is there some epiphany moment that made you realize that dance/performance would be your way? When I realized that dance/performance was my way when I first needed to give a presentation at school. I loved talking in front of an audience and showing them art. It was about Indonesia. When I got older like around 14. My talent for dancing was discovered and I pursued teaching and sharing my passion for dance with children and adults. I knew from then on that I could reach people through dance and through dance I wanted to reach people on a more conscious, deeper level. I wanted to combine dancing and painting with therapy. So when I was 19, I started my education to become an art therapist.
F.M: How would you define your work? Dance works brilliantly as a therapy. Because it is something we do in a pure state, like a baby. People sometimes forget dancing, because judgment and shame interfere. When a child is healthy, it sings, it dances. Through therapy, you reconnect with your inner child to express yourself, to feel joy, to feel the connection between mind and body. This way, feeling strong and with the safe guidance of a therapist, you can overcome those blockages. You can restore your power again to feel totally human and be able to live your life to the fullest. Of course, it’s not only dancing, you combine it with psychological therapy to reach this goal.
F.M: How does dance work as a therapy? Heather Hansen was one of my big inspirations during my own process within my education to become an art and dance therapist. She transferred her moves to paper with charcoal. This way the most beautiful symmetrical patterns and abstract forms are revealed. This process allows stepping back and reflect on your emotions seen on paper. What a process! Your truth. The unseen truth has been made seen on paper. Simply amazing.
F.M: How is a day in the life of Shannen Gembira? It can mostly be crazy busy. I give therapy for this beautiful company in my hometown, where the base is LOVE, love for us as workers and love for all families with children which we help from purity, profession and where expertise is the foundation cornerstone. We are a big team, with a lot of other art therapists, psychologists and a psychiatrist. I work there 4 days a week. In my free day, Thursday, I give therapy by my own to all kinds of people. In addition to art therapist I am also a holistic coach that works with a systemic approach. Giving therapy to the deepest depth of the scar is the way to truly heal. In my opinion this is the only way to truly heal, to go deep. Also, I still teach some dance classes, urban or contemporary to children and on my weekends I give workshops; therapeutic interactive readings about self-love and awareness. In the near future, I’m planning to give workshops to prevent sexual abuse. If all that wasn’t enough, I miss my boyfriend a lot. He lives all the way in Israel, but we call each other as much as we can. Of course, I meet my friends, cuddle with my beautiful kitties Adya & Jiwa day and night and I design jewelry and sell clothes on markets… Wow! I am kind of amazed at how crazy busy my life can be sometimes. But this is how I love it! I love fashion, I love people, I love nature and I love being in nature, dancing, and singing. So this is what I also do in between everything. So if anybody passes by my neighborhood, I would love to take you on one of my crazy days, for you just to be present and to inspire me.
F.M: What do you love and hate about Ibiza? What I love about Ibiza is nature, but especially my friends; my sisters and brothers. I met them in 2018 at Boom Festival and ever since they are still a big part of my life. They told me after a few days that they loved me, and we still visit and tell each other we love each other since then. Being with such beautiful and pure souls has made me grow and believe in myself so much more. As much as I know we are one, I want to say again, they are forever a big part of my heart. And I am more than grateful to have met them.
F.M: What’s in your play-list? Definitely Estas Tonne (songs: Internal flight), Entheogenic (songs: Oak Seers & Enthymesis… actually all his music), Sade, Danit (Naturaleza), Snatam Kaur (Mul Mantra) and Omar Adam (from Israel.
F.M: Our motto is “A life less ordinary”, what makes life worth living? What makes my life worth living is traveling to new places, to meet new people, new animals, to meet myself over and over again. To love, to spread love, to feel loved, to heal and to raise each other into being one. All is love. I’m here on this planet to feel, to cry and to scream, to smile and to dance from happiness. To share how much I love people, how much I am grateful for life, and how much the little things matter.