Somatic Engagement Working Group

CATR 2022 Somatic Engagement Working group (year 2)
Co-leaders : Christine (cricri) Bellerose & Ulla Neuerburg

We are accepting additional artist-researchers (français / English) to join our existing group.
1) tell us about your interest in joining the Somatic Engagement Working Group,
2) provide a short bio and name your somatic movement practice(s) and lineage.
3) be prepared to define Somatics in your own terms and share your “go-to” scholarship.

Please send your application here.

We understand Somatics to go beyond the study of human embodiment, and into the lesser
travelled “five pathways undertaken by somatic practitioners: social, ecological, spiritual, health
and well-being and education” (Fortin 2017). Somatics is both an emerging and an ancient praxis
(Eddy 2016; Fraleigh 2015). The 19th century field’s pioneers developed body-mind sensory
motor therapies and pedagogies long before the term Somatics became the overall umbrella
naming these related theories, practices, and studies. Especially popular in Dance and Theatre
worlds from which emerged several associated dance and acting techniques, in recent years,
Somatics has integrated and contributed to Feminist, Environmental, and Disability Studies
(Kuppers 2011, 2022). Somatics, at present, is associated with a sensory, sentient body-based
research methodology resisting the neoliberal academic’s definition of what constitute excellent
research, and overlaps with land-based and sociocultural knowledge approaches, sensuous
ethnography, qualitative inquiry, performativity, as well as being grounded in a thinking-inmotion
advocacy of the preverbal living body’s experience (Bardet et al 2018; Fernandes 2020;
Fraleigh 2019; Johnson 2018; Sheets-Johnstone 2011). To these overlapping and layered
functional, experiential, and interconnected modalities, Somatics furthermore operates through
shared values of mutuality, continuity across differences, and care/healing.

The intent of this 3-year plan is to actualize scholarship in action while honouring the motion of
our present times. In year 1, we begin identifying and unifying vocabulary among the working
group participants, and in the following years, explore: Somatics and world(s) (year 2), and
Somatics and our community/ies (year 3); and thus, arriving at a more clearly defined map
of the existing and potential role(s) of Somatics within and outside of academia, attending to
our primal objectify of somatic engagement and activism. To create a basis for our
conversations, we are offering annual practice prompts that participants will respond to in slow
scholarship fashion, individually at their own time throughout the year. Inquiries will stretch
over a one-year self-reflection process through a one-time practice retreat. The outcome,
description or reflection thereof will be sent by your choice of e/snail mail to Somatic
Engagement’s home. The e/letters will be unsealed each year at our working group’s reconvening
We invite you to respond by applying an approach of slow or durational scholarship,
critical retrospective methodology, and self-care, thereby, clearing1 the path for the coming
year’s practice prompt. This means that the outcome of the 2021 cycle will be presented at the
2022 CATR conference, and so on.

Annual Practice Prompt:
One day self-regulated retreat individually or with a practice buddy, in studio and/or in nature,
thinking-in-movement, and during the season of your choice. We propose, “making time for
waiting.” We invite you to reflect on the relationship between yourself and your research, and to
be open to the many possible somatic insights experienced – familiar and unfamiliar. Following,
please e/snail mail your response to Somatic Engagement. Responses can take any shape that can
be delivered via email or snail mail – letter, essay, papier maché, paper airplane, video or sound
recording, etc.
This year’s response due: Monday May 9, 2022.
Yearly, we aim to collect a number of short responses from our new and existing working group
members in our shared Google Drive* in order to continue our practice of soundboarding for
each other, generating ideas and scholarship through a lively exchange, and weaving us together
as a community:

We are gathering:

  • Responses to our self-retreat (any format goes!)
  • A brief outline of your “lineage” (teachers, practices, influences)
  • Terminology: please pick out a few of the terms you use in your somatic
    practice/research/discourse and define their meaning from your perspective (3 to 5 terms)

*Please note that the folder name/link to the Somatic Engagement Google Drive will be shared
shortly, to confirmed participants.

The yearly inquiries are as follow:
2021: The somatic relationship between the researcher and the research-finding vocabulary for
Somatics values and processes. 2022: The somatic relationship between the researcher and (the)
world(s). 2023: The somatic relationship between the researcher and her/his/their

Schedule of Activities for 2022:

  • Resume our year ’round, monthly moving and exchanging informal sessions (online)
  • Retreat (deadline: by May 9, 2022)
  • Response, lineage and terminology (deadline: by May 9, 2022)
  • Soundboarding clinic will open on May 9, 2022
  • Preparing for our yearly conference: 2 Zoom-get-together (TBA, aiming for April/May and
  • Public roundtable (hybrid live/online, synchronous) at the CATR conference (date TBA)**.
    **Please note that our preferred dates have been submitted and we are waiting for confirmation.
    1st choice: Sunday-Tuesday, June 12-14. 2nd choice: Friday-Saturday, May 27-28.

1 Clearing is a somatic-based term common across somatic schools of thoughts, housed in the
family of therapeutic somatic concepts, and particular to the process of unwinding, clearing,
depatterning, and repatterning movement patterns and habits.

Works Cited
Bardet, Marie, Joanne Clavel et Isabelle Ginot, dirigé par. Écosomatiques : Penser l’écologie
depuis le geste. Deuxième Époque, 2018.
Eddy, Martha. Mindful Movement: The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action.
Intellect Books, 2016.
Fernandes, Ciane. “Somatic‐Performative Research: Artistic practices, pedagogical processes,
methodological principles.” Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices 12.1, 2020, pp. 61-76.
Fortin, Sylvie. “Looking for Blind Spots in Somatics’ Evolving Pathways.” Journal of Dance &
Somatic Practices 9.2, 2017, pp. 145-157.
Fraleigh, Sondra Horton, ed. Back to the Dance Itself: Phenomenologies of the Body in
Performance. U of Illinois Press, 2019.
— . Moving Consciously: Somatic Transformations through Dance, Yoga, and Touch.
U of Illinois Press, 2015.
Johnson, Don Hanlon, ed. Diverse Bodies, Diverse Practices: Toward an inclusive somatics.
North Atlantic Books, 2018.
Kuppers, Petra. Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters.
U of Minnesota Press, 2022.
— ed. Somatic Engagement. Chain Links, 2011.
Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. The Primacy of Movement. John Benjamins Publishing, 2011.

Posted by Dospel & GanjaParker