Dance, Somatics and Spiritualities (Book)

Contemporary Sacred Narratives

Presenting a rich mosaic of embodied contemporary narratives in spirituality and movement studies, this book explicitly studies the relationship between spirituality and the field of Somatic Movement Dance Education. It is the first scholarly text to focus on contemporary spirituality within the domain of dance and somatic movement studies.

Category: Dance, Performing Arts


This anthology negotiates the influential, yet silent educational presence of spiritualities within the field of somatic movement dance education internationally. The expressive and integral nature of spiritual experience remains academically undefined and peripheral to our understanding of creative practice. Lack of theoretical rigour, as well as a lack of a substantive definitional and methodological competency, has resulted in spirituality being marginalised. To date, important questions about how diverse spiritualities shape professional practice in the somatic movement and dance arts remain unanswered. This cutting-edge collection fills that void, providing greater creative and discursive clarity.

Amanda Williamson is is an Honorary Visiting Professor at Coventry University.

Glenna Batson is Professor Emeritus at Winston-Salem State University.

Sarah Whatley is Professor of Dance at Coventry University.

Rebecca Weber is a somatic movement and dance educator who serves as an adjunct professor at various Philadelphia-area universities.


Amanda Williamson, Glenna Batson and Sarah Whatley

Part I: Moving Spiritualities  Amanda Williamson

Chapter 1: Embodiment of Spirit: From Embryology to Authentic Movement as Embodied Relational Spiritual Practice – Linda Hartley

Chapter 2: The Alchemy of Authentic Movement: Awakening Spirit in the Body – Tina Stromsted

Chapter 3: Dancing in the Spirit of Sophia – Jill Hayes

Chapter 4: Body Ensouled, Enacted and Entranced: Movement/Dance as Transformative Art – Daria Halprin

Chapter 5: Dancing on the Breath of Limbs: Embodied Inquiry as a Place of Opening – Celeste Snowber

Chapter 6: ‘Can They Dance?’: Towards a Philosophy of Bodily Becoming – Kimerer L. LaMothe

Part II: Reflections on the Intersections of Spiritualities and Pedagogy – Sarah Whatley

Chapter 7: Reflections on the Spiritual Dimensions of Somatic Movement Dance Education – Martha Eddy, Amanda Williamson and Rebecca Weber

Chapter 8: Postmodern Spirituality? A Personal Narrative – Jill Green

Chapter 9: Working Like a Farmer: Towards an Embodied Spirituality – Helen Poynor

Chapter 10: Intimate to Ultimate: The Meta-Kinesthetic Flow of Embodied Engagement – Glenna Batson

Chapter 11: Permission and the Making of Consciousness – Sondra Fraleigh

Chapter 12: Conversations about the Somatic Basis of Spiritual Experiences – Sylvie Fortin, Ninoska Gomez, Yvan Joly, Linda Rabin, Odile Rouquet and Lawrence Smith

Chapter 13: Inner Dance—Spirituality and Somatic Practice in Dance Technique, Choreography and Performance – Kathleen Debenham and Pat Debenham

Chapter 14: This Indivisible Moment: A Meditation on Language, Spirit, Magic and Somatic Practice – Ray Schwartz

Chapter 15: Global Somatics™ Process: A Contemporary Shamanic Approach – Suzanne River, interviewed by Kathleen Melin

Part III: Cultural Immersions and Performance Excursions – Glenna Batson

Chapter 16: Dancing N/om – Hillary Keeney and Bradford Keeney

Chapter 17: Dancing with the Divine: Dance Education and the Embodiment of Spirit, from Bali to America – Susan Bauer

Chapter 18: The Sacrum and the Sacred: Mutual Transformation of Performer and Site through Ecological Movement in a Sacred Site – Sandra Reeve

Chapter 19: Dancing and Flourishing: Mindful Meditation in Dance-Making and Performing – Sarah Whatley and Naomi Lefebvre Sell

Chapter 20: ‘What You Cannot Imagine’: Spirituality in Akram Khan’s Vertical Road – Jayne Stevens

'What makes this anthoplogy so unique and fascinating to read is not only the tremendous openness with which the editors approached the subject, thus inviting and allowing for such a diverse collection of individual sacred narratives to emerge; it abounds with mulit-faceted gems. It is also the variety of presentation styles, ranging from personal narratives interwoven with articulated scholarship, philosophical reflections, various research approaches, imaginary dialogues and interview conversations that turns this work into a rich and colourful fabric woven by the hands and hearts of its 33 contributors from across various cultures. '

Maria Luise Oberem, Ph.D. in Psychology, MA in Dance/ Movement Therapy (USA), (BC-‐‑ DMT), MA in American Studies and Political Science

'Finally exists a book that offers a range of perspectives that looks academically at the numinous in dance without belittling or aggrandizing the subject. With a preface by Don Hanlon Johnson, editors Amanda Williamson, Glenna Batson, Sarah Whatley, and Rebecca Weber have pulled together an impressive anthology of essays on a topic often overlooked. Questions considered by dancers, somatic therapists, dance scholars, and anthropologists include the following: What is spirituality? How does it manifest in a body atuned to the nuances of movement? How does a dancer reclaim the sacred from a culture that marginalizes it in favor of secularization? Linda Hartley writes about Authentic Movement. Daria Halprin writes on the body as entry to embodied knowing. Sondra Fraleigh looks at the actions of consciousness. Bradford Keeney discusses N/om and Bushman healing dances. Twenty substantive narratives on embodiment, mindfulness, Balinese dance and more make a juicy collection and a significant contribution to a field largely neglected.' 

Cheryl Pallant, teacher at University of Richmond, Virginia, and author of Contact Improvisation: an Introduction to a Vitalizing Dance Form
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