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This page has not yet been updated since the death of Upala in December 2022.
Therefore, all information speaks about the time before her passing.
We are Jacob (Yavin) and Upala, husband and wife and founders and creators of Songdance. In essence, Songdance is a sincere intention and a way of life. It is a pledge to yourself, a pledge to continually explore and discover ways to express yourself authentically and to use singing and dancing to learn about yourself. It is a way to grow and to transform, to find healing and to live a life of freedom and joy.
The Songdance slogan is Your Song, Your Dance, Your Freedom. Time and time again, we receive feedback from participants of our courses expressing how much they have gained from singing their unique song and dancing their unique dance. It truly is phenomenal.
Songdance is our ever-evolving journey and this journey we share with you as we create and offer powerful practises to support and engage people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Jacob Yavin and Upala both studied and did completely different things before starting Songdance together. Upala got two Master's degrees as an engineer in Biochemistry after which she worked for 8 years in the pharma and food industry. Jacob got a Master's degree in Public Management after which he ran a successful communication agency with his sister.
We both studied and had very different interests before meeting each other and founding Songdance together.
Hi. I'm Jacob 'Yavin' Vermeulen. I was raised in a family of professional classical musicians. I knew from a very young age that a career in classical music was not my path. Instead, I chose more of a business focus and gained a Master’s degree in Public Management, then ran a successful communications agency with my sister. However, music is in my blood and soul. Although I cannot read music, I learned to play the djembe at the age of 12 and taught myself to sing, play piano and also how to produce and compose music. I find it comes through intuitively, and I find a lot of joy in sharing it with others. In my early 20s, I started to give singing lessons and organized group singing sessions and even singing holidays. It was here that the first steps were taken towards what would later become Songdance.
While I go by the name of Upala, Karen is my birth name. I was raised in a family of engineers and initially followed in my parents’ footsteps. After completing two Master’s degrees in biochemical engineering, I worked in the food and pharma industries for eight years. It was after a trip to India that my life started to change. I found myself drawn to a path of personal and spiritual development. This led me to leave a well paid job, so I could pursue studies in energetic healing and therapy. Not long after, I discovered I had a hidden talent for graphic design and went on to develop websites and marketing material for organisations in the field of wellbeing. It is a joy to bring these skills to Songdance. While I am often found doing work behind the scenes, I also love being an integral part of each session we create and co-hosting our live events.
In persuit of
The one who is blessed and
serves the blessed
So this is us, two misfits, straying from our families' ways, finding each other and now on our special journey together. Before starting Songdance we travelled to Australia and spent time with a spiritual teacher, Isira. It was a time of deep spiritual transformation in her presence, as we participated in many gatherings and also travelled with her to powerful Aboriginal sites. It was on one of these trips that we received our names, Yavin and Upala, and we see them as our 'spiritual names'.
Being around a spiritual teacher can be intense and is not always easy. In India, people have a culture and tradition of spending time in an Ashram with a teacher. In the West, people usually say 'You are the teacher, find the truth in yourself'. People are often afraid of spiritual teachers because there have been many cases of abuse and misuse of power in the past. However, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have spent time with a true teacher. For us, it was life changing.
As often happens around true spiritual teachers, you cannot stay in their presence forever. At some point, you need to return to life in the every-day world and embody the Master’s teachings. This is when we decided to start Songdance.
The start of Songdance and a dark cloud
In June 2018, we founded Songdance. However, within three months, life took an unexpected turn. Upala was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma, a tumour in the brain.
Everything was put on hold as we both focussed all our energy on finding a way towards healing.
We invite you to watch the video below where we share our story…
Authentic Singing Journey
The Authentic Singing Journey is the sweet fruit that grew out of the manure of life's pain and challenges. It is a deeply authentic program because each session was created and used first and foremost for our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual process of transformation and healing.
After 40 intense and incredible weeks, the Authentic Singing Journey was completed in Dutch. Over 700 people from The Netherlands and our home country of Belgium signed up to participate during the first year while the the Journey was still in its creation phase.
Feedback from participants inspired us to expand its reach and to make it available to people further afield by translating the entire course into English. As if in a vortex, we went through the whole process again, revisiting each session and some of the same personal challenges, albeit at a deeper level. We took the opportunity to refine the course and incorporate some improvements. During the translation phase around 1000 people from countries all over the world joined the Authentic Singing Journey in English.
Throughout the entire creative process, we lived life as digital nomads. We love to travel and spent the summer months camping and the colder seasons renting houses while the course unfolded. Our travels took us all over Europe and immersed us in a wonderful array of cultures and traditions. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we continued to live life with as much freedom and joy as before.
Every month we host an Online Meetup to connect with course participants, to share stories, answer questions and to create a space where people can share and be heard.
Inner Child Healing Journey
In April 2021, we have released a shorter yet equally powerful program called the Inner Child Healing Journey. It comprises five sessions and complements the Authentic Singing Journey very well. This course is the product of a deepening in our personal healing and a continuation of our journey of transformation.
We consider inner child healing work to be a very powerful and efficient way of resolving childhood conditionings. Combined with music and sound-making, it becomes an effortless and even playful way of healing.
Magical Movement Journey
Without the 'dance' it wouldn't be the same as we are Songdance after all. So, in November 2021 we released our authentic movement course!
We took the talents of 2 of our team members and mixed it with Songdance finest ingredients. What came out? A fabulous Magical Movement Journey!
Marie and Joris have put their heart and soul in this magnificent course.
After so many months of managing the business, attending to our social media channels, refining our platform and finding ways to promote our Journeys, we took a step back… We would ask ourselves the question: What is Songdance really about? We went back to the beginning, to the magic of what once was the core essence of Songdance. The answer: following the flow of pure creativity.
So, we did! That is why, in January 2022, we launched THE VORTEX, a membership platform. A global community that gets together to sing and move! After three months we changed the name into SONGDANCE CiRCLE as the energy and the intention became clearer to us.
Since, we are able to be in service for our engaged community by making new and exciting creations on a weekly basis over Zoom in a space of togetherness. But this was only the beginning, there is so much more now...