Why Do Humans Dance?

Why DO humans dance? You might think this question would be an easy one to answer. It isn’t!

Not Allowed to Dance?

It is always interesting to look back to those twists and turns in the path that have gotten you where you are. This week, I’ve done just that, prompted by some quality time with Yvonne Daniel’s thoughtful, thorough book, Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomble (2003).

Saying Good-bye to Daisy

There is a reason I did not write a follow-up to my July post, "A Summer with Legs." I just couldn’t. What happened next was too sad. How do you say good bye to a family cow?

Never Stop Creating

What is creativity? It is easy to link it with artistic ability, and assume that some people are creative while others are not. In this view, those who are creative make, design, and produce things. What if creativity is not so cerebral? Not so intentional? What if creativity happens every minute of every day, in the movements of our bodily selves?

Dancing Throughout Life

What happens when I grow old? How happens when I can no longer dance? Such questions can haunt dancers of all ages. They are rooted in assumptions about the short, ephemeral life of a professional dancer that many in western culture take for granted as true. But are they true? Must age be the enemy of dance?

Do It: Finding a Path Between Art and Religious Studies

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel on religious studies and the arts at Harvard University with filmmaker Mustapha Kahn and actress Amy Brenneman. At the end, Diana Eck asked us what advice we would give to students in religious studies who feel pulled to the arts. I said, “Do it.” What did I mean?

Falling for Dance

I am thinking a lot about time. It happens every fall. I can’t help it. Everything is dying, coming to an end. It's depressing. But fall also brings seeds. And reminds me why I dance.

Earth Bound: How Making Art Can Save the World

When setting the date for a concert, a name came to mind: Earth Bound. I loved it. Earth is home, source, and destiny. Earth is where we are. Earth is who we are. Earth is where we are going. We are bound by earth, to earth, for earth. And so we live. I had no idea, however, how I would mount a show that would express these ideas. I tried not to panic.

A Summer With Legs

This summer on the farm we have had a good chunk of challenges having to do with legs--cow, hen, and human.

Our Sacred Earth

Everywhere I turn these days, I stumble across contemporary authors and religious writers seeking to mount a spiritual response to the current raft of environmental crises. For such writers, practical responses, as important as they are, will not go far enough in addressing the roots of our predicament. What does it mean to remember the earth as sacred?

An Artist in the Classroom

If we are serious about nurturing creative, problem-solvers for the twenty-first century, then we need artists in the classroom--and ways to value their presence there.

Sibling Intensity and the Prospects for Peace

When our oldest two children were young, I had high hopes for world peace. Whenever a conflict between them erupted, I was always able to work it out by applying a few easy principles. Move with. Say sorry. Move on. Experience with our youngest two sons, however, torpedoed my optimism.

Desire for Spirit: Can depression have value?

Desire for spirit. Do we have one? Is it really a desire? And if so, why lump it together with desires for such material, physical things like food or sex? Are they at all comparable?

Who Says Good Sex Is—or Should Be—Easy?

I find so many misleading, mind-over-body assumptions in the New York Times Sunday Magazine article, “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” that I cannot not respond and hardly know where to begin!

Obesity: What is the problem?

As I was reading yesterday’s New York Times article, “Obesity Is Found to Gain Its Hold in Earliest Years,” I marveled at how little has changed in the conversations over food and weight since I wrote What a Body Knows five years ago. The conversations over this “problem” and its “solution” are still dominated by a mind-over-body logic that reinforces the “problem.”

A New New Year's Eve

I love New Year’s Eve. I always have. I love the excitement of it—the anticipation of new beginnings about to begin. I love gathering that energy into visions and goals, plans and projects. Yet this year I want to try something new. What if, in this new year, I decide to shift my attention from the projects I can imagine to ones I cannot?

Why I Don't Like Leaving Home

Last week I had to leave the farm—for four days and three nights. It was my choice to go. Yet as the date approached, my whole bodily self screamed in protest. I felt sick, anxious, and worried. Why was it so hard to leave?

The Meaning of Milk

When our family begins milking a cow again, after two months without doing so, I find myself in tears. I am doing a routine chore—skimming the cream from the top of the milk—and feel like crying. Why am I so moved? And what is there to learn from this milk moment about the pleasures of food?

Dancing with the New Materialism

Ever on the lookout for dance-friendly allies in theology and religious studies, I was eager to read Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey Robbin’s new book: Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism. Here is a team who is interested, as am I, in pulling theology into productive engagement with contemporary culture. Would their vision make room for dance?

A Seasonal Sadness: Letting Go

I am sad. I am not only sad. Not forever sad. Not stuck-in-a-rut or despairingly sad. But nonetheless, sad. The farm is changing, or so it seems. Autumn is pressing upon us—a season of dropping off and falling away. A time of shedding and losing and letting go.

Did Humans Evolve to Dance (4)? Movement and mirror neurons

What would neuroscientists say about the idea that dancing evolved as a practice for helping people exercise the very capacity that enabled them to survive their early births—namely, the ability to learn to make new movements?

Vegetarian and Carnivore: A Case for Coexistence

Do humans really need to eat meat? Couldn’t we all just be vegetarians, committed to a diet of grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and whatever gifts our animal friends make available to us while continuing to live?

Did Humans Evolve to Dance? Big Brains and Early Births

At 2 percent of our bodyweight, human brains consume 20-25 percent of our energy intake. Why build such a big and expensive brain?

Did Humans Evolve to Dance? Additional Clues

Are we humans human because our hominid ancestors danced? Could it be that dancing helped determine how early hominds would allocate the calories concentrated through cooking methods during the million years of the Pleistocene era before homo sapiens emerged? Could it be that humans evolved big brains in order to dance?

Did Humans Evolve to Dance? Asking the Question

Dance is a human universal, present in every known culture. Could it be that homo sapiens is a species whose members evolved to dance?

Got Milk? Our Life with Cows

For the past five years, we—mostly Jordan, Jessica, Kyra, and infrequently, me—have been milking from one to three cows every day. It wasn’t my idea.

Rural Perspectives on Gun Control

I live in Washington County, New York, a rural holdout four hours north of New York City. It is a place between suburb and wilderness, strip mall and mountain side, where people’s livelihood is often heavily dependent on the whims and webs of the natural world. It is a place where people love their guns.

"Christmas Fawn"

On the first day of December, my daughter Kyra (age 11) decided to make an advent calendar for herself. She designed the calendar and wrote a poem to go with it. Then she wrote the poem, phrase by phrase, on the back of each numbered flap. Her poem is this month's guest blog.

For Young Artists--Of All Ages

These comments were inspired by the conversation I had on Tuesday with the members of Gay Lynch’s Dance/Religion 3001 at Dominican University, many of whom are dancers.

Farm Follies and Rural Realities

It is happening—the change—when summer yields to fall. Things fall down, fall away, and fall apart. Like the rate at which the grass grows. The charge on the electric fence. Our plans for trapping rats and feeding cats. And yes, the leaves on the trees.

Pages