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Dancing n/om

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For the Ju/'hoansi Bushmen (San) of southern Africa, embodied ecstatic expression is inseparable from their healing dance. But more than any particular kind of improvisation or choreography, their dance is orchestrated by infusion with what they call n/om, the purported life force they claim arises from an awakened heart. This is similar to what the Spanish flamenco tradition calls duende, the ineffable passionate expression that makes a dance performance come to life. Celebrating the growing interest among dancers and somatic therapists in the relationship between dance, spirited experience and healing, we discuss how examining the Bushman relationship to n/om brings attention to an under-examined aspect of the discourse on dance and healing.
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Keywords: Kalahari Bushmen; duende; healing; improvisation; life force; n/om

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Louisiana

Publication date: 30 August 2012

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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