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Dance: the sacred art. The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice

Skylight Paths Publishing, 2009
RRP $26.95

Reviewed by Julie Barns who has a passion for dance and education (and has a Master Ed, BA Dance, and is an Associate Commonwealth Society Teachers of Dancing).

So often in life we struggle to express what is going on inside of us, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. Ms Winton-Henry’s book, Dance – the sacred art, is an artfully and thoughtfully written manual that guides us to make contact with our emotions and put meaning and structure to them through dance.

Dance is an art form that can be deeply personal and exploratory, and then grow and evolve into something to share publicly with others.

This book takes the reader through the many stages and purposes of dance – all the time making links back to our spirituality and physicality in positive and nurturing ways.

It describes with clarity several dance/movement exercises that guide a person to make connections with God, connections with our fellow humankind, and connections between mind and body.

Clearly numbered ‘step by step’ processes and interesting anecdotes colour and shape our perceptions and ideas of how dance can be healing for us. Basic ideas such as describing spaces for movement sessions and what to wear for dancing are covered clearly and prepare the reader for more complex ideas and dance strategies.

Ms Winton-Henry delves into the healing power of dance on a personal level – using dance to cope with stress and trauma; on a local level – making connections with community and forging healthy relationships; and through to a global focus – creating and spreading peace.

Each of these ideas are strongly grounded in a spiritual and godly focus. Dance as prayer is both implicitly and explicitly professed as a powerful, healing, empowering, moving, binding, freeing, loving experience.

The author makes reference to past and present dance artists of the secular world, and leads the reader to consider and reflect upon those ideas and practises, and then transfer them to develop dance as a spiritual practice.

An inspiring read for those already dance literate and immersed in the wonderful, creative, expressive world of movement. An accessible and motivating book for those wanting to share in this joy of dance as a spiritual practice.