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A brief history of somatic practices and dance: historical development of the field of somatic education and its relationship to dance

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This article outlines the historical development of somatic movement practices especially as they relate to dance, dancers, and dance education organizations. It begins with historical events, cultural trends, and individual occurrences that led up to the emergence of the classic somatic methods at the turn of the twentieth century (Alexander to Trager). It then defines somatic movement education and therapy, and the growth of three generations of somatic movement programmes. Interview data reveals how a second generation included a large proportion of dancers and speaks to how the bodymind thinking of dance professionals continues to shape the training and development of somatic education, as well as dance somatics. Finally it raises the question of the marginalizing of both dance and somatic education, and points to combining forces with their shared characteristics to alter this location in western culture. Another finding seeks to assess the potency and placement of somatic dance in a global schema.
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Keywords: SME&T; bodymind; somatic education; somatic movement; somatic movement therapy; somatics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Moving On Center/Center for Kinesthetic Education, NYC.

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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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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