Dance—The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice

Discover in dance a place of solace, restoration and energizing spiritual force, tapping into the spirit of dancing throughout history and the world. With detailed exercises to help you trust your body and interpret its physical and spiritual intentions.

Cynthia Winton-Henry

5½ x 8½, 224 pp | 978-1-59473-268-3

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Unlock the transformative power of movement as a life-changing spiritual practice.

“If you’re thinking ‘But I’m not a dancer’ or ‘I feel awkward,’ I hope to reassure you. You don’t need a special talent to move. You don’t need to be ‘graceful’ or especially coordinated. You don’t need a body that’s ‘in shape.’ Dancing helps us embrace all this humanity. Dance connects us to the holy of life.”

—from the Introduction

Seize the joy and healing power of dance! Drawing from her years of experience as a dance and movement teacher, and as cofounder of the international dance organization InterPlay, Cynthia Winton-Henry helps you overcome your embarrassment or anxiety and discover in dance a place of solace and restoration, as well as an energizing spiritual force. She taps into the spirit of dancing throughout history and in many world cultures to provide detailed exercises that will help you learn to trust your body and interpret its physical and spiritual intentions. For both newcomers and seasoned movers alike, she encourages you to embrace dance as a spiritual tool to:

  • Celebrate your unique spirituality and get in touch with your emotions
  • Unify your body and mind, and push your personal boundaries
  • Work through trauma or crisis and restore spiritual well-being
  • Deepen your relationships and strengthen your community
  • Find spiritual direction
  • and much more!

“The joy of movement leaps off the pages.... Sound theology, personal stories, and clear guidelines for dancing alone or in community … invaluable for all who wish to expand their understanding and experience of spiritual practice.”

Rev. Jane E. Vennard, author, Praying with Body and Soul and Embracing the World: Praying for Justice and Peace

“Shows us that the pathway to spirit starts deep in our bodies. Cynthia's gift and her calling is to share play“A dose of joy, like dancing itself! As I read it, my toes started tapping and my shoulders kept the beat until I couldn’t sit still for another moment. Thank goodness it’s here!”

Carolyn North, dance healer; author, Ecstatic Relations

“Opens for us a released and exciting blending of body and spirit.”

Flora Slosson Wuellner, minister, United Church of Christ; former adjunct faculty member, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley

“For dancers and non-dancers alike.... Shows how sacred the art of movement is to deepening life’s experiences, healing the past, and entering into the wholeness of the present.”

Karen Josephson, PhD, president, Sacred Dance Guild

“A wonderful resource for leaders and participants of all beliefs, giving permission and specific activities to use movement as a spiritual practice.”

JoAnne Tucker, PhD, founding director, Avodah Dance Ensemble

“Shows us that the pathway to spirit starts deep in our bodies. Cynthia’s gift and her calling is to share playful tools of movement to light our way.”

JMark Metz, executive director, Conscious Dancer magazine

“Beautiful and timely…. With affirmation and artistry, Cynthia 'lays out the welcome mat,’ weaving together simple but profound exercises and reflections validated by her own search for healing and joy. My whole being was engaged in her search for peace.”

Carla DeSola, director, Omega West Dance Company

“Captures the Spirit of the dance…. Gives clarity to the mind and connects the body’s purpose as it moves.”

Rev. Albirda Rose-Eberhardt, PhD, professor of dance, San Francisco State University School of Music and Dance

Introduction ix
A Dancing Parable xv
Chapter One: May I Have This Dance? 1
Chapter Two: Approaching Holy Ground 16
Chapter Three: Unlocking the Dance of Joy 37
Chapter Four: Dancing into Wholeness 51
Chapter Five: Dancing for Healing 77
Chapter Six: Dancing for Spiritual Direction 103
Chapter Seven: Dancing with Beloved Community 131
Chapter Eight: Dancing as Peacemaking 158
Resources 181
Suggestions for Further Reading 185
Index of Movement Practices 191
Gratitude 193