Dancing with Dharma (McFarland 2016) features 27 authors from 6 countries writing about the intersections of movement and dance with Buddhist practice. The anthology features sections on Movement, Dance, Performance, Ritual, and Theory, ending with Guided Practices, which leads readers in practicing several of the modalities themselves. Contributors range from professional choreographers to Buddhist masters to dance/movement therapists.

 

"This book offers a series of rare insights into the increasingly relevant intersection of dharma, dance, and community... useful for enthusiasts, scholars, and fans alike."

-- Amazon.com review

 

"This is a long-awaited, and somewhat overdue, first book of its kind...a landmark text."

 -- Goodreads review

 

"Dancing with Dharma is a lovely, eclectic collection of essays that marries moving and Buddhism in a wholly original and compelling way."

-- Amazon.com review

 

"Mr. Blum has assembled a wonderful group of writers and teachers who illuminate the connections between contemplative practice and creative movement."

-- Amazon.com review


An excerpt from the Introduction to Dancing with Dharma:

 

            This book documents innovative work being done at the fertile intersection of Buddhist practice with movement and dance. Both Buddhism and dance invite the practitioner into present moment embodiment. The Buddha states in the Anguttara Nikaya, “There is one thing that when cultivated and regularly practiced leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? Mindfulness centered on the body.” Within “this fathom-long body,” he taught, “is the cosmos.”

            Similarly, movement and dance training foster continuous mindfulness of the body. Artists in these fields spend decades fine-tuning their awareness and control of subtle sensations and movements. In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s pivotal teaching on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the First Foundation focuses on the body. Practitioners are guided to cultivate mindfulness of their breathing, postures, and movements. When “going forward and returning…looking ahead and looking away…when flexing and extending…when eating, drinking…when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent” the practitioner is to maintain continuous mindfulness. This list encourages embodied awareness in everything we do, in all our moments. Movement and dance artists practice, create, and perform in this realm. They are masters of the First Foundation.

            Amidst this inherent synergy between Buddhist and dance practice, the climates of Buddhism and dance in the West are aligning in new ways that offer unprecedented opportunities for cross-pollination. Most Western Buddhists are lay people. As such, there are now multiple generations of Western Buddhists who have deep Buddhist practices alongside other life pursuits. There are practitioners sitting intensive Buddhist retreats and meditating daily as they work as choreographers, dance teachers, theater directors, and bodyworkers. There are also Buddhist lamas, nuns, teachers, chaplains, and professors integrating movement forms into their Dharma teaching. While Buddhism has always focused on the body, embodied practice modalities are now increasing and spreading in novel ways. Walking meditation is no longer the only moving alternative to seated meditation.

            ...The rise of Western Buddhism, sacred dance, and Dance/Movement Therapy, along with the mindfulness meditation boom, offer a climate of unprecedented opportunity in the West for Buddhism to inform movement and dance practices, and for Buddhist practice to be shaped by movement and dance artists. As this volume demonstrates, this interweaving is already well underway. Buddhists are now dancing the Dharma in many shapes and forms.