Exercise, Movement, and The Brain

Studies of bodily movement and human health generally fall into two categories that reinforce one another: exercise studies and sitting studies. What emerges in the crossfire is a sense that bodily movement is the determining ingredient of health.

Recent Science Supporting "Why We Dance"

Today I begin a new series of posts dedicated to sharing recently published scientific experiments that support the philosophy of bodily becoming I develop in my book "Why We Dance."

Is Dance Religious?

Is dance religious? The question has always troubled me. It presumes a definition of religion (as separate from dance) that has already proven instrumental in the attempted destruction of dance traditions around the globe. I prefer a different question: Is religion dance? Take the case of Ron Brown's dance "Journey of Great Mystery."

Want to be a Parent?

Parents are not rational. Children are not choices. Neither parents nor children are individuals. Rather, parents and children emerge together, in relation to one another, expressions of life itself, as a potential matrix of mutually enabling loves.

Why Grow and Make Your Own Food? Especially as an Artist?

Why grow and make your own food? Why put it in all those hours slaving under the hot sun, covered with dirt, when you could stroll through an air-conditioned grocery store? Why spend all that time processing milk when there are others who can do it for you? And what does it have to do with being an artist?

The Art of Farming

The corn did not look good. The transplants were bending over sideways. What good would it do to dance?

Ten Years of Rural Life

Ten years ago this week, Geoff and I were packing our belongings. We had bought a farm, sold our house, and were preparing to move to a place where we had no friends, no family, no connections, no jobs—a place where we had been only once before, two weeks earlier. What would our new rural life be like?

Spring Roadside Cleaning with Two Boys and Two Bags

So which is it: Do we take care of what we love? Or do we love what we take care of? Which comes first—loving the Earth or taking care of it?

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?