H A ! R E T R E A T S
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p a r t a k e .o r .h o s t
I N T R O
a HA!Retreat extends and deepens the transformative journey of a HA! workshop, where i use spontaneous music making to facilitate a flow of expression through any artistic medium. it is an unfolding journey, uniquely defined by the participants involved, and brings with it dimensions of self-discovery, creative inspiration, emotional healing, reflection, skills development and a renewed sense of listening and being open to others.
annual week-long Retreats are held at our base in Eagle's Ridge Country Lodge just outside the town of Stutterheim, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. participants can enjoy the tranquil countryside surroundings with a marvelous indigenous forest a ten minutes walk away. 3-star artful accommodation with an African touch is available, with self-catering facilities. or for a little more, or host, Hester Steyn's wonderful meals can be enjoyed.
but HA!Retreats can be and are also being held in other parts of South Africa and the world. duration can be from a single day through to full week. typical elements are extended group workshops, relaxation activities, sessions of expression on an individual basis and raw-improvisation performances. where possible, the experience is concluded with a collaborative public performance.
participants must be 18 years or older. no formal training, qualifications or even experience in any art form are required. price packages are kept at much affordable levels and the number of participants are being limited.
what distinguishes a HA!Retreat from similar experiences is that it treats the creative act as
the act of opening up to what is present, what presents itself both internally and externally and give expression to that. it does not follow an idea, it senses. it does not imagine the ideal, but feels out what is real. finding in the present is a continuous act and finds its ultimate fulfillment in sharing. it does take on form, but a form that remains open to evolve. It is a healing, a revealing, a confrontational act. It is creativity that breathes life and remains close to life itself.
T H E .F E B .2 0 2 0 .R E T R E A T .A T .E A G L E ' s .R I D G E
Review by Anton Krueger February, 2020
I feel truly fortunate to have been able to be on the first HA!Man retreat at Eagles Ridge in Stutterheim. It was a remarkable week in many ways. There was enough disciplinein the daily routine to make one feel secure in the rhythm of the weeks experience three excellent vegetarian meals, plus coffee breaks and treats but also enough space and freedom to explore our own interests. The setting was perfect for a creative retreat, close to a deep forest with waterfalls, and housed in a series of buildings designed as works of art in themselves, with numerous artistic touches and small installations to discover and enjoy.
The music playing sessions took place in a painted rondavel, in what felt like a sacred space.Francois facilitated with generosity and encouragement. I really appreciated his ability to allow space, while gently guiding the flow to nurture the confidence needed to explore ones own spontaneous expression.
Each night he also offered a solo improv show in a different genre cello, movement, piano, video, speaking. Everything Francois gave was with an authentic integrity, a passion from the heart. Discussions before and after sessions were in-depth and honest, it felt as though there was a real exchange and shared exploration that took place, sparking joy and curiosity in art, awareness and artistic experience.
I felt sustained and nurtured not only as a musician (Im by no means proficient, and certainly not a professional), but also as an expressive being, as though I had been able to develop creatively in ways dormant for a long time. I came away from the week feeling healthier than when I had arrived; more relaxed, more grounded, able to integrate aspects of memory and experience in a positive way, almost as though Id undergone years of successful therapy, or something. It was one of the best weeks ever.
Indeed it was an experience. I am not a musician or singer but I love to dance - yes I do dancing. But in this context I was allowed everything my heart wanted. Just do it. Dare .. Experience .. Search .. Give and receive love. I said "search", but soon enough the search transformed into finding, finding a space in which I express myself in which I feel whole and - part of a large whole becomes - without agreements, verbal instruction or any "must". All from the Being. This workshop, this event, may heal the world! At least I felt healing. I felt fully open. This unique experience I want to grant myself every year!
With his virtuoso music and singing, he clears the way for everyone. The energy flows into me and in the moment I found the right tone, the right rhythm! I move on the waves of the others. My music sounds!Music student, Somerset WestOverall, what I thought was going to be an average music workshop, turned into an incredible experience. The Ha!Man taught me skills that you cannot learn anywhere else..Vincent Giuliano, musician, Geneve
All this goes well beyond the music, although the music is a privilege in itself. Behold voluntary abandonment, of all our certainties, of all that reassures us, of all that is comfortable, to finally surrender, to give ourselves completely, to dance and be danced! What a gift! Do we even begin to understand the value of all this?Sarah Vukkur, teacher, Washington D.C.
Francois really gets to the heart of music and creativity and explained and showed "what's it all about" so well. I was most impressed with how beautiful all the music was - how well the participants could improvise along with Francois. It was quite amazing and a very moving experience.