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Embodying the dynamics of the five elements: A practice dialogue between Body-Mind Centering® and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy

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This article presents a contemplative dance/movement research practice, based in the somatic approach of Body-Mind Centering® (BMCSM), exploring the dynamics of the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) according to Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. This research practice is a component of the author's current doctoral study in performance, which includes a dialogue between Tibetan Buddhist perspectives on the dynamics of the body's formation, and the BMC approach to embodied embryology. The article briefly outlines the significance of embryology as a field of study within BMC and Tibetan Buddhism, and introduces the Buddhist pedagogical model of the three prajnas as a framework for experiential research. It describes a research methodology in which dance/movement practice, and the direct kinaesthetic experience of dance/movement practitioners, is the site of investigation, suggesting movement research as a method of both bringing theory into physical practice and generating theory from that practice. The final section details the studio research practice itself, including an introduction to the dynamics of the five elements, examples of how these were investigated in movement research, and excerpts from participants' reflective writing.

Keywords: Body-Mind Centering®; Tibetan Buddhism; embodiment; five elements; practice-based research; somatics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Victoria University

Publication date: August 30, 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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