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Transformation: An ecokinetic approach to the study of ritual dance

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People move their bodily selves. Something happens. Those present, whether dancing or watching, are different than they were before. They perceive that difference in terms given by their religious tradition as healing or reconciliation; as communion with spirits or a revelation from ‘God’. Yet despite the frequency with which such transformations occur in human culture, they are notoriously difficult for scholars in either dance studies or religious studies to explain. This article introduces an ‘ecokinetic’ approach to studying transformation that reveals how and why bodily movement is effective in catalysing the kinds of experiences that participants claim occur. This approach to the study of religion and dance guides scholars to pay attention to patterns of bodily movement made by participants; imaginatively recreate the kinetic experience of making those movements; and discern the trajectories of thinking, feeling, and acting that these movement patterns open in those who perform them.

Keywords: bodily becoming; dance; ecokinetic approach; religion; ritual; transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: independent academic

Publication date: January 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Research into spirituality receives comparatively little attention in western dance practices but Dance, Movement & Spiritualities provides a platform for those practitioners and researchers who are actively and creatively working with spirituality at the centre of their practice/research. Contributions are invited from across disciplines.
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