Becoming a Bodily Self

An Ecokinetic Approach to the Study of Religion
  • Kimerer L. LaMothe
Part of the Radical Theologies book series (RADT)


In dance techniques across styles and genres, including western forms of ballet, jazz, and modern, dancers rely on a similar sequence of movements in order to launch their bodily selves off the ground and then safely, gracefully, land again. The sequence consists of several running steps followed by a leap. With each running step, a dancer builds intensity and speed into her bodily self, gathering up the energy she will release into the leap. On the final run, as her front foot touches down and presses into the earth, she swings her back leg forward to lift her whole bodily self off the ground. With this single motion of both pushing down and lifting up, a dancer propels herself through space, before she lands once again—moving up while touching down—on her outstretched, leading leg.


Movement Pattern Bodily Movement Religious Belief Mirror Neuron Spiritual Dimension 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    William E. Connolly, “Materialities of Experience,” in New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, Politics, eds. Diana Coole and Samantha Frost (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 196. “New materialists” include a range of thinkers and writers across fields who reject appeals to transcendence in favor of a robust embrace of material, embodied life, here and now. For two recent anthologies, see: Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds., New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency and Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Rick Dolphijin and Iris van der Tuin, eds., New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies (Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press, 2012).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac (New York: Ballantine Books, 1949), xix.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For a perspective on care, see Karen J. Warren, Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wendell Berry, It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2012).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins, Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism in Radical Theologies Series (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), xvi.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 15.
    Connolly, “Materialities of Experience,” 196. See also Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, One Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    As Crockett and Robbins acknowledge, their concepts of matter are deeply indebted to Spinoza, Deleuze, and Guatarri. See Benedict de Spinoza, A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, ed. and trans. Edwin Curley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); Deleuze and Guattari, One Thousand Plateaus. For further discus-sion, see Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).Google Scholar
  8. 30.
    For a more extensive argument, see Kimerer L. LaMothe, Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 31.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin, 1954), 125.Google Scholar
  10. 32.
    See Kimerer L. LaMothe Nietzsche’s Dancers: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and the Revaluation of Christian Values (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 34.
    Isadora Duncan, Art o f the Dance (New York: Liveright, 1928), 142.Google Scholar
  12. 35.
    Martha Graham, “A Modern Dancer’s Primer for Action,” in Dance: A Basic Educational Technique, ed. Frederick Rogers (New York: Macmillan, 1941), 180.Google Scholar
  13. 36.
    Martha Graham, “Preface,” in Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances, ed. Barbara Morgan (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Morgan and Morgan, 1941).Google Scholar
  14. 37.
    Ruth St. Denis, An Unfinished Life (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), 52.Google Scholar
  15. 38.
    V. K. Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2011), xv—xvi. See chapter 4 for discussion.Google Scholar
  16. 39.
    This idea is developed by Louis Cozolino in The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007) and also by Daniel Siegel in The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (New York and London: Guilford Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  17. 40.
    Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, trans. George Eliot (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957), 64.Google Scholar
  18. 45.
    Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978), 73.Google Scholar
  19. 47.
    Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction,” in The Marx-Engel Reader, ed. Robert Tucker (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978), 54.Google Scholar
  20. 53.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage, 1968), #981, 513.Google Scholar
  21. 58.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), #382, 346.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kimerer L. LaMothe 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimerer L. LaMothe

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations