Towards an Embodied Knowing

Dance embraces many forms.   The Knowing Body network seeks to raise awareness of approaches to a movement that derive from somatic practices and their application in the field of health, well-being and self-care. These dance practices challenge our dualist culture based on a mind-body divide.  Movement conceives mind and body not as separate but rather as aspects of one organic process.

These approaches begin with active listening into the body and developing awareness of sensation and the flow of subtle intrinsic movements just beneath the surface of everyday awareness. Our relationship to our bodies underpins every aspect of who we are;  how we feel in ourselves, and capacity to self-regulate grows through awareness of our sensing, feeling the body. Yet to many sensations is a foreign language-  as if we draw a peculiar blank to awareness of the feeling worlds of our bodies – anaesthetized from that which is closest and most vital to us. This alienation and disembodied sense of self by default causes public attention to focus almost obsessively on appearance, fitness and sexuality. When we lack a  felt awareness of our bodies we lose connection with our innate physical intelligence and our capacity to self-care in ways that sustain health and well being.  Movement reawakens sensation,  becomes a way of listening to the body and becoming more familiar with the messages it sends.

Healing through movement is one of the earliest expressions of the arts. In awakening imagination and creativity in the body,  dance can restore a sense of self and connectedness. Movement relaxes and brings  back a sense of rhythm and coherence. It offers a language where words fail, bridging the gap between sensation and meaning. As we listen and move sensation transforms and opens out our familiar stories into the wider field of our lives.  The creative space awakened through movement can help us regain trust in sensation, to FEEL our bodies in the present moment,  rather than avoiding feeling as many of us do. This stimulates new connections and pathways from the body into the brain. Developing a more attuned body awareness helps reset the nervous system which affects senses, emotion and cognition.


Somatic dance practices support the movement from within;  spontaneous improvised uniquely personal dances that expand as they are listened to.

These approaches grow through improvisation that enables us to work spontaneously and instinctively. Movement sourced from the inside creates a ‘language ‘ that bridges our inarticulate inner world into outer expression and meaning.

Illness or poor health can create dramatic change in a person’s life. It is often a time of intense loss and confusion – we become vulnerable to fears, ambiguities and uncertainties, as well as experiencing painful symptoms. In such times there is an intense need for creative holistic practices that can help us re-connect and find meaning; dance more than any other art form in addressing the body directly, can restore a connected and personal sense of self.

In our times there is an increased need for non-pharmacological, creative and holistic practices that help us re-connect and find meaning through our dis-ease. Dance more than any other art form in addressing the body directly enables it and the subtle resources it holds to be a part of our healing.

“…as life experience deepens, personal art expression expands, and as art expression expands, life experiences deepen”. (Halprin, 2000, p20)

These approaches grow through improvisation that enables us to work spontaneously and instinctively.  Working with others to encourage awareness and creative expression;  a dancer’s refined awareness of movement listens and responds to the subtle inner movements in another.  This skill of being alongside someone is one of waiting patiently, without expecting anything to happen, allowing expression and meaning to unfurl.


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