Dancing with Dharma

Essays on Movement and Dance in Western Buddhism


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About the Book

Both Buddhism and dance invite the practitioner into present-moment embodiment. The rise of Western Buddhism, sacred dance and dance/movement therapy, along with the mindfulness meditation boom, has created opportunities for Buddhism to inform dance aesthetics and for Buddhist practice to be shaped by dance. This collection of new essays documents the innovative work being done at the intersection of Buddhism and dance. The contributors—scholars, choreographers and Buddhist masters—discuss movement, performance, ritual and theory, among other topics. The final section provides a variety of guided practices.

About the Author(s)

Harrison Blum, MDiv, M.Ed., is Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Amherst College, and is an authorized Community Dharma Leader in the Insight Meditation tradition. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Harrison Blum

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: 24 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9809-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2350-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3

Section 1. Movement
Gesture of Awareness (Charles Genoud) 11
Body: The Foundation of Insight (Bhikkhuni Thanasanti) 17
Movement as Skillful Means to Stillness (Lori Wong) 22
Finding Our Flow: Continuum Movement and Buddha Dharma (Adrianne E. Vincent) 27
Permissive Movement as a Dharma Door (Brian Kimmel) 34
Fostering Equanimity and Mindfulness through Dance/Movement Therapy and Authentic Movement (Joan Wittig) 41
“Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light”: Dance/Movement Therapy in a Single Moment of Life (Cristina Livingstone) 48

Section 2. Dance
Doing Being: Tibetan Buddhism and Postmodern Dance Improvisation (Karen Nelson) 59
5Rhythms: A Moving Meditation Practice (Lucia Horan) 65
Ordinary Miracles: Tibetan Yogic Dance (Rose Taylor Goldfield) 73
Dance as Dharma Practice in the ­Twenty-First Century (Lalitarāja) 83
Contemplative Dance Practice: A Dancer’s Meditation Hall, a Meditator’s Dance Hall (Barbara Dilley) 91
Zenful Dance: Breath Movement Meditation (Leah Joy Malberg) 97

Section 3. Performance
Co-Creating with Space: Space Is Solid, You Are Empty (Lee Worley) 105
Dancing in the Footsteps of the Buddha (Wynn Fricke) 113
Sangha in the Spotlight: Performance and ­Community-Building in a Small Prairie City (Fran Gilboy) 119
Commit, Amplify, Inquire: Dark Work and Remix as Contemplative Rehearsal Practices (Sean Feit) 128
The Whole World Is a Symbol: Performing the Embodied Landscape as a Buddhist Practice (Anna Tzakou) 137

Section 4. Ritual
Dharma Jam: A Modern Buddhist Dance Liturgy (Harrison Blum) 147
Charya Nritya: Nepalese Ritual Dance of Deity Yoga (Helen Fox Appell) 155
The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara (Prema Dasara) 164
Moving in Grace: A ­Buddhist-Inspired Ritual Dance Practice (Hilary Lake) 170
Circles in Our World, Rituals for Our Time: Dances of Universal
Peace (Anahātā Iradah) 178

Section 5. Theory
Somatic Meditation: Rediscovering the Body as the Ground of the
Spiritual Path (Reginald A. Ray) 187
Body as the Dharma Gate (Willa B. Miller) 192
Shadowing the Ephemeral: Embodied Emptiness Through Form (Tomie Hahn) 200
Cast: Exploring Ground, Path, and Fruition in Early Embryology (Kim ­Sargent-Wishart) 208

Section 6. Guided Practices
Earth Breathing Practice Instructions (Reginald A. Ray) 219
Accessing the Subtle Energy Body (Bhikkhuni Thanasanti) 223
Authentic Movement: Moving and Witnessing (Joan Wittig) 226
Basic Contemplative Dance Practice Form (Barbara Dilley) 229
Permissive Movement (Brian Kimmel) 231
Tune In, Stand Around: Four Postmodern Dance Improvisation Scores (Karen Nelson) 234
Zenful Dance: Leading Breath Movement Meditation (Leah Joy Malberg) 238
Ground, Path and Fruition (Kim ­Sargent-Wishart) 242
Geopoetics: A ­Buddhist-Inspired ­Site-Specific Performance Practice (Anna Tzakou) 246
Dharma Jam: How to Lead a Buddhist Dance Ritual (Harrison Blum) 251
Moving in Grace: How to Guide the Practice (Hilary Lake) 255

References 261
About the Contributors 267
Index 271