Mind – Body – Movement … Dance

By Ketevan Zazanashvili First of all, I would like to clarify that mind is not the same as brain. While brain has a physical ‘body’, mind is absolutely abstract and non-material.

By Ketevan Zazanashvili

“A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing.” William Dobell

Real feelings, real emotions, truth, soul, sincerity…

I believe these are the main components for producing a piece of art. These notions apply to all spheres of our lives.

However nowadays I can feel huge lack of sincerity, integrity and purity in our world, our culture, art.

People are tired of falsity and deception. They are thirsty for true image of honesty.

Naturally, some questions arise: Does honesty exist anymore? Or has it ever existed? I would insist on positive answer and add that all the true feelings are there in every human being. But some of us are hiding and locking them deep down inside and some are trying to open them for the world they are facing.

The same is with dancing. There are only few ‘real’ dancers left who are still striving to create pure, honest art. Generally, world of dance has become a show where participants are wearing masks of deceptiveness. However, I believe that every person has a potential to break free and take off the mask. We just need to turn to our mind to help us.

The mind is not the brain

First of all, I would like to clarify that mind is not the same as brain. While brain has a physical ‘body’, mind is absolutely abstract and non-material. For me mind is the first and the most powerful driving force of our lives and world we are living in. It is involved in everything around us; it connects every human being and everything that happens next to us.

Some scientists and philosophers believe that we should think of mind as a dance:

The dance is not in the brains of the dancers although the brains of the dancers are involved with the dance. The dance is also not in the body of any one dancer although the bodies of all the dancers are involved in the dance. The dance exists in the relationship with all of the dancers and the stage and the costumes and the scenery. The dance is the whole interacting event.

In the same way we should not look for the mind in the brain. The mind is the whole interactive event of human beings living in relationship with the world. It is not a thing, it is an achievement. Just like a dance is an achievement. The mind is a performance that includes events that happen in the brain, but is not limited to them (Alve Noe, 2009).

This substance has no beginnings, and no ends. It is a kind of a pure energy that each human possesses. And if one can understand its power and properly use it, then all doors would be open for him/her.

Expanding the boundaries

But what is the most important and the hardest for an individual — is to go beyond the frames which he was put in by our society and world. I picture minds of the most people as enclosed in a box. And such factors as fear, ignorance, reluctance are the guards of this prison.

Just as our mind is connected to the outside world, it is connected to our body. If activity of brain signals make our body move, our mind gives us ability to put a meaning into the movement.

A world of movement

Movement is the greatest law of our life. Movement is everywhere: cars and vehicles move, birds fly, insects and other creatures are in constant motion, clouds are flowing across the sky, wind is blowing and urges trees for dance of leafs.

People are also involved in this constant flow of movement. And our body in itself is the world of the movement. All the mechanism of body is in motion, and produces our moves and reflexes. Moreover, the human being nowadays has ability to talk. And words became the tools to think, act and interact. And gradually, the words and conversation – the only means of movement, correlated with the particular way of understanding – replaced any other ways of perception oneself and others.

The question which arises: how the mind is connected to our body?

Even if we wish to answer this question, we will fail, because yet nobody could find the exact answer for this question. However, different theories on this subject exist. Hence, right now I can only talk about my understanding and thoughts about this connection.

The representation of objects in consciousness occurs through intentionality (F. Brentano, E. Husserl). Intentionality is the fundamental action of mind, which transforms the stimulus into the real meaning experience. Due to diverse and complex nature of our intentionality, the experience that we feel at the moment will never repeat again. Interpretations given to the phenomenon not only are always unique and individual, but they are also certain, fixed, or once and for all stable in their meaning.

There is a particular degree of dependence of ‘the mind’ from the certain body constitutions. Therefore body relates directly to the content of what is felt. Hence the physical movements we make are full of non-verbal meaning. Our impression of other person is build through his/her gestures and poses; when we are nervous or excited we can feel shiver in our hands, feet, face; our emotions are seen through the condition of our body – for instance when a person is afraid one can observe his tense and limited movements and so on. It comes out that our body is not lying; it can not lie, unless we would force it to pretend.

Moreover, individual body orientation is directly related to the process of perception. This orientation in its turn creates kinesthetic feelings. “Kinesthetic perception” forms an essential part of our characteristic features, which arise from our physical experience.

If we will apply everything abovementioned to dance as it is nowadays, we can say that almost none of the performances we see are true. Take any dance discipline. From my personal experience as a ballroom dancer I would chose dance sport. This is the sphere where honesty and true feelings are fading away. Barely somebody cane see the real act and peace of art on the dance floor. If we clarified that none of our sense and feeling experience can be repeated twice, then this means that none of the real honest movement, felt through music and extracted from the heart can be copied the same manner as it was done before. This, however, does not mean that dance should become spontaneous and out of coordination and body/balance control. Here I see the problem of interpretation and particularly interpretation of music. Hence if a dancer feels music and dances from the heart, with passion and love, then he/she would not be able to perform the dance all the time the same way to the different pieces music.

This problem is not only social but individual and even psychological.

The psychological element

Right now it is widespread to suppress all natural emotions- for instance, bodily expressions of pleasure, anger, grief, love, fear – and at the same time we see the admiration of ‘perfect’ body appearance and its function. Everything is fixated on the body and polarized on sexuality – advertisements about diets, recommendations about loosing weight, body-building; medications for fighting insomnia, cold, headaches; advices how to sleep, how to eat, how to look better – the list is endless. We are confused and irritated when we face any overt expression of the physical-bodily energy. The joy in the voice and face is welcomed, sadness in the voice and face is understandable, anger is forgivable. On the other hand, energetic embracement of shoulders; the image of body in grief, swaying back and forth; the sudden outbreak of foot stomping or book in anger thrown on the table – these movements shock and frustrate us. But nobody even thinks of this body-mind connection. Nobody realizes that our body can be the mirror of our subconscious. By inhibiting and not taking into account the factor of spontaneity, we cut ourselves of any subconscious experience. The less the body is known and examined, the more it becomes just a shell. The less real it is, more it should be naked or embellished.

All these factors in synthesis leaves deep scar on our psychological and mental experience. This creates a fear of expressing the real feelings and emotions, which penetrates in every sphere of our lives. In addition this fear makes an individual to lose his real personality and become dependant on the environment.

Due to abovementioned we can conclude that the problem of ‘honesty crisis’ in dance and art is actually social and psychological problem which is also strongly connected to the philosophical perceptions during our lifetime.
Can we free ourselves from this dependency and go beyond the borders of common views?

Of course, we can. But we will talk about it another time, in another article.

Ketevan Zazanashvili


Whitehouse. M., The Tao of the Body, (1958) (version in Russian)


Evolutionary philosophy, Mind is not a brain, e-article.

Modern Philosophical e-dictionary, Merleau-Ponty Moris (1908-1961).

Gritsanov. A., History of Philosophy, ”Phenomenologie de la perception”(Paris, 1945), Main work of Merleau-Ponty., Minsk, Interpresservice, 2002

Zotov A. F., Modern Western Philosophy, Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, 2nd edition, Moscow, 2005.

1 comment
  1. the irony is that I almost always see psychologist and educationalist analysing a subject a lot and differently from many angles and yet it is distanced from feelings. they don’t feel it. they don’t feel the analysis and situations/hypothesis.

    honesty crisis?

    I heard this from a child psychologist who visited our design class and said that a psychologist wrote 6 volumes on raising children and he would be almost engaged 24 by 7 in his analysis and forget the world and yet ..where were the emotions? he himself later said: that his whole concept of what he wrote in all those volumes changed when he had 6 children!

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