Published Research on the Monastic Dance Traditions of Tibet:
Sacred Dances of the Gelug-pa Sect
The Fifth International Dance Conference, Hong Kong, 1990
Society of Dance History Scholars, United States of America.
Sacred Ritual Dance: The Gu Tor Tradition at Namgyal Monastry
Cho Yang Magazine, Year of Tibet Issue, 1991;
Published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives,
Presented at the Tibet House in New Delhi, India, 1990.
Posters from related dance events in Ithaca, New York
Interlochen Arts Academy
High School for Gifted Youth
Syracuse Ballet Theatre
Syracuse, New York
|with Lobsang Samten”Sacred Music, Sacred Dance”
Dance was my spiritual practice. I started lessons at age five and never stopped dancing. I remember an early recital when I was chosen to dance with a magic wand that switched on using a battery to light up a shining star at the top. I was so proud. Somehow the wand slipped out of my hand and broke on stage during the performance. But I didn’t cry and kept dancing. Everyone was so happy for me. But it only seemed right. The wand didn’t matter. The dance did.
I became a young soloist and featured dancer at Syracuse Ballet Theatre, and later became a resident junior in high school at the Washington (D.C.) School of Ballet.I transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy in my senior year of high school where I majored in dance and minored in theratre. I also developed my interest in poetry writing while there. I studied theatre arts and dance in college, later settling into a Planned Studies major ar Ithaca College where I was able to create my own specialized track of study. I graduated with an emphasis in Theraspeutic Dance, having done some coursework at Cornell University where I studied relevant sociology, anthropology and cross-cultural studies.
It was during a presentation in 1989 of what is commonly known in the West as “monastic dance” or “lama dances” from Tibet that my longtime spiritual explorations and lifetime experience as a dancer came together. Here was artistic movement as an intergral and sacred part of Buddhist practice. And dance used for healing. The dances appear simple yet require a unique concentration. In addition, the symbolism is powerful and often mysterious. I requested and was granted a backstage interview with the monks. From there, I went to source materials on Tibetan dance but found few books or even references. Most of the existing research was incorrect and based on presumption. Tibetans themselves were not yet writing for the general public; certainly not in English. With the encouragement of dance historian friend Saga Ambegaokar, I submitted my results as a research paper to the Society of Dance History Scholars. My thesis was presented at the Fifth International Dance Conference — Hong Kong, in 1990. This took place midway through my six-month stay in Dharamsala, India, where I continued my researches on the sacred dance tradition, with special permission by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Following graduation from Ithaca College, I taught various dance forms at Keuka College. I’d been teaching dance on-and-off for many years, including a period of working with Olympic figure skating trainess in Lake Placid. I later earned a teaching certificate in Medical Briyun QiGung, and a Certificate in Basic Tibetan Medicine. For a short period of time, I was an apprentice to a traditional Tibetan physician, an experience which gave me a deeper understanding of working with the subtle nuances and needs of client’s bodies.
I utilize my dance background in a unique manner as part of my private practice at Mindful Life Counseling. I see the body as a multi-faceted tool in the process of achieving one’s goals in self-discovery. Whether one is coping with chronic illness or grief or growth following trauma, or trying to find a new direction in life, the body gives clues about blockages of energy and openings for change. Whether using relaxation exercises or gentle to moderate, exercise or a more traditional dnace therapy using the emotions, clients who are appropriate for these body-based approaches often find them extremely helpful.