Mindful Movement

The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action
by Martha Eddy


“Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action” is Martha Eddy's masterfully researched book that traces the complex spider web of somatic influences on American - and European - contemporary dance, particularly in higher education. This is a dense (as in nutrient-rich) read - the bibliography alone is worth the price of the book, with many valuable citations to keep any researcher busy for quite some time. I can easily imagine this volume being required reading in university dance departments worldwide.' – Jamie McHugh, Dance, Movements & Somatics.

'Written for discerning professionals and students in the social sciences, performing and visual arts and humanities, readers will find plenty to anchor their understanding of the field of Somatics by delving into the book from any point. The scholarship reflects decades of Eddy’s passion to bring together an octopus of a field, whose diversity appears to defy categorization. Yet, she has been able to achieve this in a captivating narrative. At the same time, her choice of title for the book, Mindful Movement, implies that dualism still requires a continuing commitment to disciplined movement practice, one that evolves beyond multi-, inter- and even trans-disciplinarity, towards the truth of the soma.' – Glenna Batson, Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices.

"Involved in Somatic practices since the 1970s, Martha Eddy has produced a significant review of the history, participants and practices of a field which, in my perfect world, would be part of every person’s education. It is about our ability to perceive ourselves, to feel bodily movement and structure. Somatics is the softest revolution in human consciousness that can be imagined. Many of the practices are informed by ancient Chinese and Indian disciplines; in 1970 Thomas Hanna coined the word we now use to name these integrative approaches. Somatic education has been enthusiastically embraced and developed in large part by performers who love science or philosophy. In my own years of study and exploration I found it a missing link in dance practice and especially know that my solo dance practice is based on it. It is the most basic awareness of dance a dancer can have. Mindful Movement describes how somatic education has been made more visible by university performing arts and psychology departments and how it is beginning to be used in some schools for children and youth. The body is profoundly neglected in primary education, as though the child will be taught by their parents (they aren't) or somehow discover the body's many levels just by having one (they don't). One thing a child has is sensations; indeed, some of my childhood sensations remain with me still. Education in this field, which can guide one through the body and even improve the structure of the body via the perception of how it feels, would be an excellent starting place. The feelings are there; it may dawn on educators and our culture that learning to perceive oneself is why these feelings exist. Eddy has related Somatics’ many facets to give movement practitioners today a sense of their elders and the profound achievements that this approach has provided. She opens doors to the importance of ‘the hidden senses’ of proprioception and kinesthesia in education, culture, and health. She also makes a case for how attention to the body through somatic practice can help ignite and sustain activism in these realms." – Steve Paxton, developer of Contact Improvisation, founding member of Judson Dance Theatre and Grand Union.


In Mindful Movement, exercise physiologist, somatic therapist, dance educator and advocate Martha Eddy uses original interviews, case studies and practice-led research to define the origins of a new holistic field – somatic movement education and therapy­ – and its impact on fitness, ecology, politics, health, education and performance. The book reveals the role dance has played in informing and inspiring the historical and cultural narrative of somatic arts – approaches to consciousness based in the awareness of the soma, the living body. Providing an overview of the antecedents and recent advances in somatic study and with contributions by diverse experts, Eddy highlights the role of Asian movement, the European physical culture movement as well as the language of neuroscience and their relationship to the performing arts, and female perspectives in developing somatic movement, somatic dance, social somatics, somatic fitness, somatic dance and spirituality, and ecosomatics. Mindful Movement unpacks and helps to popularize awareness of both the body and the mind.

Table of Contents
  • Part 1:

    Influences and Development of Somatic Education

  • Chapter 1

    Introduction and Overview — The What and Why of Somatic Education

  • Chapter 2

    The First Generation — Founders of Somatic Education Technique

  • Chapter 3

    Second Generation — Set One: The Influence of Dance on Somatic Education

  • Chapter 4 - Kelly Jean Mullan

    European Antecedents to Somatic Movement

  • Chapter 5 - Sangeet Duchane

    Global Roots of Somatic Movement: Asian and African Influences

  • Part 2:

    The Emergence of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy

  • Chapter 6

    Second Generation — Set Two: Dynamic Approaches to Well-Being in Dance and Fitness

  • Chapter 7

    Third Generation — The Amalgams: Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Today

  • Chapter 8 - By Sara Reed and Sarah Whatley

    The Universities and Somatic Inquiry: The Growth of Somatic Movement Dance Education in Britain

  • Chapter 9 - Rebecca Nettl-Fiol

    How Dance Has Helped Situate Academic Fields of Somatic Inquiry: Case Study University of Illinois-Urbana

  • Chapter 10 - Kate Tarlow Morgan, Eve Selver-Kassell, Lauren Lipman and Mary Ann Brehm

    Somatic Movement and Dance Education in pre-K-12 Education

  • Part 3:

    Current Trends in Somatic Thinking and Being

  • Chapter 11

    Healthy Movement, Healthy Mind: Neuroscience Connections to Somatic Healing and Action

  • Chapter 12

    Conscious Action and Social Change: “Social Somatics”

  • Chapter 13

    Somatic Dance and Environmental Activism: Is this Spirituality?

  • Chapter 14

    Concluding Thoughts: Does Somatic Awareness Interplay with Genetics, Ecstasy and Space?


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