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Rolando Toro Araneda (1924-2010) is the founder of Biodanza, which is now practiced throughout Europe, South America, North America, South Africa and Japan. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Biodanza.
Born in Concepcion, Chile, on 19 April 1924, Rolando followed many careers, including school teacher, psychologist, honorary medical doctor, medical researcher, poet, artist, African art collector and anthropologist – all of which contributed to the development of Biodanza – his life’s work.
Rolando held numerous academic posts over the years, including Chair of Psychology of Expression at the Institute of Aesthetics of the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile.
He lived in many different countries in the course of his life, including Argentina, Brazil and Italy. In 1998 he returned to his native country of Chile, where he ‘hung his hat’ until his passing in 2010 – still dancing and travelling the world, giving his last workshop just one week before his passing. Always full of life and expression – living life overflowing and in abundance!
The Founder of Biodanza’s Motivation
On the origins and emergence of Biodanza, Rolando writes:
“Biodanza has emerged discreetly in my life. It has gathered strength slowly, awakening people’s interest, causing surprising changes in some participants, and above all creating a feeling of “epiphany” (great revelation) and hope in life.
“Biodanza arose in my personal experience and soon I discovered that its structure could be based in the life sciences and most particularly in biology.
“I believe that there were many forces manifested within me to finally create this coming together of art, science and love.
“I was shaken by paradoxical, sometimes marvellous and sometimes terrifying experiences.
“The Second World War showed that humanity could reach inconceivable levels of perversity. Events such as the holocaust of millions of people under fascism and the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki revealed how far the degradation of the human race could go. The crisis of western culture was obvious – the global vision of human beings as “ill from civilisation.”
“On the other hand, I have lived experiences of ecstasy, in a mysterious and marvellous world. I have had children. I have made contact with the first ecological groups.
“Faced with the abyss created by human contradictions, I felt a desire to conquer paradise, a shared paradise. I could not conceive of a solitary evolution. I wanted to find the source of original love.
“Everyone, for centuries, had heard about “love for our fellow man” as the purest truth of Christianity. The manifestation of human behaviour, however, had become increasingly dissociated and violent.
“Music was the universal language, the only thing everyone could understand in the Tower of Babel of the world.
“Dance was the ideal form capable of integrating body and soul. The dance experience offered all participants happiness, tenderness and strength.
“I also wanted to communicate this experience to a large number of people. From both these experiences and sensations, my desire to form small groups of people to dance, sing and meet within the music arose.
“So Biodanza became a way to share what was marvellous, together with others.”