Book Review: Iris Stewarts's
"Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance"
Sacred Woman, Sacred
Dance: Awakening Spirituality Through Movement and Ritual by
Iris J. Stewart. Published in 2000 by Inner Tradiations International.
For years, I've used dance and movement to commune with the Divine. I've
used dance to celebrate the seasons and rhythms of the year, the rhythms
of my life and I've used it as a healing tool to connect to body, mind
and spirit. Therefore, I was thrilled to read Iris Stewart's book, Sacred
Women, Sacred Dance, Awakening Spirituality Through Movement and Ritual
because it confirmed, validated, and gave the historical background of
women's dance as an expression of spirituality.
A wealth of research
lies behind the text as Stewart explores myths, history, and symbolisms
from ancient forms of dance in cultures around the world. She brings this
treasure of women's ways of expressing the Divine into our own lives today
by documenting how sacred dance has returned. Here is a list of a few
- European Circle
Dances out of Findhorn,
- Panurhythmy, revival
of Classical Indian dance,
- Sufism, and
- liturgical dance
in the churches,
The book is
written in a very personal style, as Stewart shares with us her own
personal journey in the dance. For several years, Stewart performed
with her troupe whom she named "WomanDance". She tells how,
during one of her performances while turning as part of her veil dance
to Ravel's "Bolero", she had an out-of-body experience that
set her on the road to exploring the mysterious connection between
dance and spirituality.
The book, "Sacred
Woman, Sacred Dance" is a work of art as it is beautifully designed
and illustrated. It contains many photographs of women dancing alone and
in groups, some modern and some taken from ancient paintings, sculptures
and texts. The book is formatted into two parts.
In the Beginning
Was the Dance, with chapters entitled: The Goddess Danced, The Priestess
Danced, Dancing Through Theology, The Dancer's Costume: Symbolic and Glorious,
- the Sacred Dance of Eternity, Sacred Circle, the Serpent Dance, Lamentation,
Universal Rhythms, Ecstatic and the Transcendental, Keys to Accessing
Spirituality Through Sacred Dance, and more.
The result is a sense
of continuity and of the link with our dancing grandmothers, whose stories
can now, at last, be told. At the same time, it is, for me (and many others),
a synthesis of my own journey in dance. Dance is essential to my life,
and makes all those connections which I intuitively knew were there.
The author carefully
documents her work with extensive footnotes and a bibliography. The book
also has a resource section where dancers can find music, publications,
schools, groups and organizations, that offer the study of sacred/liturgical
dance, and more.
The author's website
Put Your Dance on a Pedestal
by Najia El Mouzayen
make the mistake of using the entire width of the front part of their
feet when they dance, because they have never been taught dancer's footwork.
Academy Awards of Middle Eastern Dance Video 2000 by
And the winners are....