Dancing with the Spirits, Act 1: ‘Being grounded and being able to fly are not mutually exclusive’

Eline Kieft

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    This article is the first of a diptych, to discuss a particular approach to dancing with the spirit world, from a contemporary shamanic perspective as taught by the Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies. It emerges from my participation in the Spirit Dance Workshop from June 24-29, 2012 in Sweden with Jonathan Horwitz and Zara Waldebäck, which in turn led to interviewing them over Skype on August 9, 2016. After methodological reflections on source-justification, personal immersion and embodied enquiry, this article introduces the concept of spirits in (this) shamanic context and discusses the possibility and etiquette of relating with other-than-human-beings through dance. It contemplates the notion of power and empowerment, drawing from three concrete examples of dancing with the spirit of a tree, the spirit of the night, and the spirit of a power animal. Instead of a conclusion, I offer an Entre’Act as a an in-between, linking this first Act/Article/Acticle of the diptych, with the second to come, which will focus on community, ceremony and perfomance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)27-48
    Number of pages22
    JournalDance, Movement & Spiritualities
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


    • Shamanism
    • Animism
    • Empowerment
    • Auto-Ethnography
    • Embodied Enquiry
    • Improvised movement
    • Jonathan Horwitz & Zara Waldeback
    • Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies


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