PhD thesis: Dance, Empowerment and Spirituality. An ethnography of Movement Medicine

It is true... One can do a PhD in Dance... In my case it thankfully involved lots of movement! I had the immense fortune to study with the late Professor André Grau and Dr. Anna Pakes at the University of Roehampton in London

My thesis provides the first anthropological ‘thick description’ of Movement Medicine, a contemporary movement meditation practice that blends together and is informed by different ingredients such as ecstatic dance, shamanism, voice work and psychotherapeutic elements. Both the practice and the thesis emphasise movement, relationship with self, others and the world, ritual and ceremony.

I argue that, through this practice, people are able to experience their own embodiment and connection to others, and that this has an empowering, healing and transformational impact on their sense of self. The dance enables an integration of opposites and the creation of a new frame of meaning or reference. Insights received on the dance floor are integrated into participants’ daily lives in profound and interesting ways.

The thesis contributes to understanding what can constitute meaningful, transformative experiences and therefore has a wider relevance. It presents not just another example of the rise of alternative spiritualities and the continued search for meaning in western culture, but develops this understanding in a way that can be applied to and implemented in settings such as schools, community centres and social care work, helping people deal with the demands of contemporary culture in a variety of different settings, situations and circumstances.

Please click here for a link to the electronic version of the thesis.

(careful readers will note that this file jumps from p. 9 to p. 27, skipping the 'Gratitudes' and 'Introduction', which you can access through the links provided within this sentence).