Only in the dance do I know how to tell the parable
of the highest things… Nietzsche
A significant strand of my being is dance. I loved to dance as a child. I then entered ten years of professional dance training at the Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertfordshire, and at the Royal Ballet School in London. I subsequently taught dance at the Auckland Ballet Academy in New Zealand, and also in classes I established when living for two years in Swaziland, southern Africa, in the late 1980s. More recently I performed and choreographed in various dance performances at the Bloomsbury Theatre whilst an undergraduate and doctoral student at University College London, and as a member of London-based Gravitas Dance Company.
Currently, and inspired both by the healing trance dance ceremonies of KhoeSan peoples in southern Africa (with whom I conducted ethnographic fieldwork), and through participation some years ago in various trance dance ‘rave’ events in the UK, I am engaged in the study and exploration of free dance movement as a meditation and healing practice. In the last few years I have pursued this through the form of a meditation practice called Movement Medicine, as conceived and taught by my friends Susannah and Ya’acov Darling Khan. I am an apprentice teacher and facilitator of this practice, and contribute as an assistant and DJ at various workshops and ceremonies (you can find a few of my music sets here).
Movement Medicine is a dance-based meditation practice embracing movement, vibration and rhythm as the ground for all life and flourishing. As embodied by cultures globally, dance is known to engender awareness and resonance between the inner worlds of the individual with the rhythms of other human and nonhuman worlds. As such, exploration of the free movement of the body is celebrated as making possible profound healing of individual psyches, of relationships with other people, and of connections with the more-than-human worlds with which we share planet earth.
Personal participation and the witnessing of other peoples’ processes in this practice play a large role in grounding the academic and intellectual work that I contribute in the area of environmental anthropology, which I understand as an enquiry into cultural relationships with more-than-human nature. Two papers of mine in particular explore interconnections between dance, embodiment, culture and environment and are available here:
2006 On dance and difference: bodies, movement and experience in Khoesān trance-dancing – perceptions of ‘a raver’, pp. 234-241 in Haviland, W.A., Gordon R., and Vivanco, L. (eds.) Talking About People: Readings in Contemporary Cultural Anthropology, 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York. Download
2010 ‘Ecosystem service commodities’ – a new imperial ecology? Implications for animist immanent ecologies, with Deleuze and Guattari, New Formations: A Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics 69: 111-128, Special issue entitled Imperial Ecologies. Download
I will soon be exploring some of the reflections expressed here through participating in an ‘ethnomusicology’ event at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (more info here).
Movement Medicine is guided by the mandala reproduced below which acts as a mnemonic device for focusing intention. More to come on this..