Presentations

A WAY TO ABSORB AND LEARN

Training tips? Dance as an antidote for loneliness? Spirituality and dance? Linda has presentations on a unique range of topics with varying levels of interaction. These presentations have been offered at colleges, churches, and professional organizations​

Each presentation is flexible in length (12-45min), may be tailored for target audiences, and can serve as the basis of workshops that use a variety of interactive exercises to experientially explore presented concepts.

AVAILABLE PRESENTATIONS

THIRTEEN LIFE LESSONS FROM THE ARENA

THE NECESSARY ART: ENHANCING EMPHATHY THROUGH MOVEMENT

MOVING THE SPIRIT: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ROLE OF DANCE IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP

CAREERS IN DANCE: "ITS NOT JUST DANCE"

CAREERS IN DANCE: "ITS NOT JUST DANCE"

DANCE HISTORY PRESENTATIONS

HOW HAS IT COME TO THIS: THE CHANGING ROLE OF CHAIR IN ACADEME

THE NECESSARY ART OF THE LIBERAL ARTS

Thirteen Life Lessons from the Arena

This is the story of how two dogs and a horse trained me when I thought I was training them--and how this transformed not only how I teach, but how I relate to others as a parent, partner, a human being. I’ve trained dancers for 40 years, but about 10 years ago, by pure serendipity, StarBuck, Argo, and Lucca entered my life and challenged everything I thought I knew about training. I have been awed and amused with the commonalities between dog, horse, and dancer training, but I’ve also been baffled and frustrated with the “confetti” that I bring to the arena – what I do that gets in the way. Animals live and learn in the present, so they become a mirror for who they are working with--you must be “in the now” with them. By embracing their lessons, I’ve gained a new self-awareness, re-calibrated how I progress through training sessions, and confidently engage through relation & positivity. In an attempt to articulate this, I distilled their lessons down to a Baker’s Dozen Life Lessons from the Arena.  

The Necessary Art: Enhancing Empathy through Movement

Despite my life-long commitment to dance, I have never deluded myself with the idea that dance would save the world – although I have always believed it makes the world a better place to save. However, information gleaned from recent studies has given me pause. These studies focus on a) the impact of technology on our physicality and social interactions, b) the impact of our physicality on how we think and feel, and c) the power of social bonds in determining longevity. Dance has the potential to positively & effectively address concerns raised in these studies in one collected jete. So although it may not save the world, dance may serve an essential role in helping people to live happier, healthier & longer lives.

Moving the Spirit: An Introduction to the Role of Dance in Christian Worship

In the Christian tradition this “Word became flesh” (John 1:14), but many Christian faiths didn’t want flesh. They didn’t want an embodied relationship with God, seeking only words to proclaim certainties and answers. But can any single language adequately describe the Holy?

 

Classic schools of prayer spoke of both kataphatic knowing—through images and words—and apophatic knowing—through silence, symbols, and beyond words. Apophatic knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an “unspeakable” way. The apophatic way of knowing was largely lost to the West by the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, and Western Christianity has suffered because of it. We lost what Paul calls “knowing spiritual things in a spiritual way” (1 Corinthians 2:13). We lost the unique access point of the mystics, the poets, artists, and saints (who usually did not even know they were using this alternative consciousness). Dance is a non-verbal form of communication, involving stylized, self-aware and repeatable body language. Dance does not serve a specific function (like washing dishes), nonetheless, it endures in all cultures. When people dance together, social bonds are deepened – and various studies have demonstrated that a complex array of hormonal and physiological events happen, too: increasing confidence, bonding, pain-thresholds are raised, empathy enhanced, stress diminished, and the likelihood of dementia  decreased by 76% thanks to the cultivation of neuroplasticity. So why has dance been excluded & condemned for so long in the Christian Church, especially given that nowhere in the Bible is dance itself actually condemned as a sin. Although it could be associated with pagan worship, it was equally associated with praise to God (David before the altar) and celebration (“with timbrel and song praise his name”). This presentation explores the troubled history of embodied expression in the Christian Church, when and why perceptions regarding dance as a viable, acceptable form of worship began to be accepted, and what is happening today to fully engage the Christian worshipper.

Contradance/English Country Dance

“Then I offer my waiting self to the One who’s never stopped believing in me, and the dance begins.” – Joyce Rupp

“May I Have This Dance (Introduction)”

 

When most people think of “dance“ they usually think of a) people (typically young women) presenting athletic, skilled awesomeness to music on a stage or b) raucous parties packed with bodies jumping joyfully to a DJ driven beat so loud it is felt. But there’s another option out there, one with its foundation in the mists of time and refined in the ballrooms of the 19th century: English Country Dances and Contra dancing. Picture a dance scene from Jane Austen, or the Fezziwig dance in “A Christmas Carol” – that’s what I’m talking about. Believe it or not, these dances still happen in quiet communities across the United States.

 

Many years ago, jaded by the inflated, insecure egos of concert dance (see “a” above) and too weary for “b” I’d essentially given up on dance, until I experienced “Contra dancing.” It was an unexpected evening of joy, invigorated by a sense of community. For a few hours, I danced without fear of judgement or expectation. I went home with a face weary from smiling and feet weary from moving, having re-discovered why I loved to dance. Friends, music, rhythm and pattern – the dances may feel weirdly “old-timey,” but that truth lends to them a nostalgic calm and ease that is surprisingly charming and fun.

 

This presentation explores the historical significance and long-term popularity and durability of the joyful English Country Dance/ Contra dance, and their unique and important value for modern humans.

The Russian Ballet

Have you ever wondered why ballet – so identified with Russia, uses a French vocabulary?

How are Russian ballet dancers trained to move in such super-human ways? What makes “Russian Ballet” so distinctive? Beauty is a double-edged sword: learn the full story behind the development and practice of ballet in Russia – how a dying Italian/French dance entertainment went from being an imported art form to a popular and idolized export.

Dance: Antidote for a Lonely World

 
 
 
 

DANCE: ANTIDOTE FOR A LONELY WORLD

 

M. Linda

Graham