Somatic Practices and Dance: Global Influences

…I often begin the first class by asking, “Where is your mind?” Usually, the students will immediately point to (or place their hands on) their heads. However, several years ago   one person offered a different response: He placed his hand on his heart. He also  happened to be the only one in the class who was not an American. He was an African student  from Nigeria. (Seymour  Kleinman,  2001, 1).

Seymour  Kleinman (2001, 1).


My main focus is to reveal the existence of global influences on the development and teaching of somatic principles and disciplines and to discuss why these influences are not in the forefront of somatic inquiry.  I hypothesize that the search for “the universal, “the humanistic,” or “the biological” as a through-line of body-mind investigation, has encouraged a mono-cultural approach to somatic pedagogy and to the promotion of the field. Secondly, it is of interest to me that it appears that it has been through the work of those founders of somatic disciplines who are women, that it has become possible to more easily retrace some of these global influences on 21st century somatic studies. It also posits that through the lives and experience of women leaders more of an emotional voice enters  the holistic paradigm. This paper aims to  raise questions. It does not presume  to be exhaustive in its pursuit of data regarding all the intercultural complications of somatic practices, inclusive of  questions emerging from gender politics.

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