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ART OF MOVEMENT AND NON-VERBAL EXPRESSION IN THE INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

This paper is on the relationship between the Art of Movement and non-verbal expression in the inter-religious dialogue. Beyond verbal conversation, it considers dialogue a way of getting in relation with others through any conceivable means. Thus, we believe that through non-verbal exchanges in movement based workshops, one can develop abilities such as to look at, listen to, touch, and relate to another person; and all these are done physically, spatially, emotionally and spiritually, since one can forget all about reasoning and logical argumentation for a short time. To base this approach, we link the integrative power of movement and non-verbal communication to the thoughts of the theologian Lieve Troch, as well as to Maurice Bjarts and Rudolf Labans ideas. The former was a French choreographer that created and directed one of the most important dance companies of the day, and the later was a Hungarian dancer, choreographer, and artist as well as a theorist of the human movement that died in the middle of last century. Keywords: Ecumenism. Religions. Frontiers. Relationships. Performing arts.

Man is alone before the incomprehensible: anguish, fear, attraction, mystery. The words are useless. Why to call it names like God, Absolute, Nature, or Fortune? The necessary thing is to get in touch. What man seeks beyond comprehension is communication. Dance springs from this need of uttering the unutterable, of clearing the obscure, of being in relation with the other. Maurice Bjart (GARAUDY, 1973, p. 8)1 Physical movement is the normal first effect of mental or emotional experience. John Martin (2007, p. 8) What Christ is saying always, what he never swerves from saying, what he says a thousand times and in a thousand different ways, but always with a central unity of belief, is this: I am my fathers son, and you are my brothers. And the unity that binds us all together, that makes this Earth a family, and all men brothers and so the sons of God, is love. Thomas Wolfe (THOMPSON, 1977)

O homem est s diante do incompreensvel: angstia, medo, atrao, mistrio. As palavras de nada servem. Para que dar a isso nomes como Deus, Absoluto, Natureza, Acaso? O que preciso entrar em contato. O que o homem busca, para alm da compreenso, a comunicao. A dana nasce dessa necessidade de dizer o indizvel, de conhecer o desconhecido, de estar em relao com o outro.

Introduction I believe the term inter-religious dialogue came about because the human kind widely experienced its opposite, intolerance and violence, both justified by religions, either Christian or not. Up to nowadays, fundamentalist religions hinder or even block the dialogue between nations, between people from the same neighbourhood or even between members of the same family. Nevertheless, globalization brought us a plural religious situation that is not an option anymore, but rather a daily reality. In Lieve Trochs words we must leap into dialogue to truly live in this reality... (PIERIS, 2008, p. 12), and we certainly agree that a dialogue implies, at least, in the ability to listen to each other. Thanks to my basic training in the Art of Movement and also due to a lifetime fascination for the non-verbal expression, when I think over the above I remember Maurice Bejrts excerpt quoted as an epigraph. It came from the choreographers experience during a holiday trip to a Mediterranean Island, when he had the chance to live the fishermens lives for some weeks. He points out: when after the working day the men got together and started talking, they ended up quarrelling; however, when instead of talking they danced, they celebrated life without the need of words. At these moments, opposite to what happened in the former situation when incomprehension and heated debate took over, the key notes were harmony and union (GARAUDY, 1973). This experience suggests the importance of movement to the harmony and union among people; in addition, it also hints that motion may be even more effective to those than the verbal word. I believe it happens because the interaction through movement enables a dialogue based on feelings and emotions rather than on rational arguments; therefore, such an exchange is easy and fluid without the clashing of cognitive ideas. In effect, this kind of exchange allows that persons from different religions drop their guard by looking at and touching the others, as well as by developing a physical, spatial, emotional, and spiritual relationship with them. After that, a verbal and quieter dialogue may take place, since a form of interaction doesnt replace the other one: actually, the human beings share both of them. Therefore, theres nothing more natural than to follow the approach of ancient civilizations. Since they gave the fair importance to non-verbal expression even in

their religion forms, they never detach the verbal and rational from the non-verbal and inexpressible through words. (AMARAL, 2003; GUERRA, 2007).

The Art of Movement and some of its applications This system of movement analysis was created by the Hungarian movement researcher and artist Rudolph Laban (1879 - 1958), and was introduced in Brazil during WWII by his fellow countrywoman Maria Duchennes, with whom I had the privilege to study for five years. It allows the description, recording, and analysis of the physical, spatial, and dynamic features of movement, so that through their observation new possibilities of action can be suggested. This method has been used to coach athletes and business managers, as well as to interpret politicians and religious leaders non-verbal communicative styles, and even to examine the behavioural patters of animals such as dolphins, bears, and wolves. In its version called The Art of Movement, this system can be applied to a number of different situations. Below, we shall list some that are more meaningful to the aims of this article.

The Art of Movement in therapy The Art of Movement offers ways to organize ones body, feelings, emotions, and thoughts

by enabling the person to relate internal attitudes with external shapes of movement, by increasing their expressive vocabulary and by giving them the ability to transform their actions into emotional symbols through ordered patterns and rhythms (MIRANDA, 1980, p. 2 12).

In other words
movement considered [...] at least in our civilization as a servant of man employed to achieve an extraneous practical purpose
2

levando o indivduo a relacionar suas atitudes internas com suas formas externas de movimento, aumentando seu vocabulrio expressivo e dando-lhe capacidade para transformar suas aes em smbolos de emoo, atravs de padres e ritmos ordenados

was brought to light as an independent power creating states of mind frequently stronger than mans will (LABAN, 1975, p., 6).

For Laban, action or movement lies behind EVERY human activity; then, its logical for him to suppose that mind and body relate to each other through it. Therefore, movement allows the expansion and change of mental patterns that will become or that have already become frozen and rigid.

Words and action Taking into account some Eastern and Western roots of theatre such as Noh theatre and Commedia dellarte, and also considering the contemporary theatre, we can see that the actor craft is based on action rather than on spoken words. Since the Art of Movement deals with movement at large and always links it to the performers inner stance, it doesnt see actors, dancers or ordinary people as very different from each other. The Art of Movement also deals with how the movement is performed, since such differences give it expressive qualities. As an example, just imagine the same movement being performed quickly or slowly. Well, then contemporary dramaturgy tries to capture the human purposes that are always expressed through actions whether theyre visible or not, and is based on ones possibilities to catch ones vital impulses. As a result, the main expressive vehicle of contemporary dramaturgy is the acting body. In order to reach it, the actor is required to get in close contact with his inner self by empting, quieting, and silencing his mind. Once he gets through, it shows itself by means of outer physical and expressive actions. Besides that, we can say that these actions take place because the muscles sing, and since the soul is expressed physically, the actor reaches the state of introspective quietness, the source of the physical actions and finally his soul, by listening to this song. Just like him, we, the ordinary people, depart from the concrete and profane body to reach the spiritual, the transcendental and the sacred. (JAN, 1986; MARTIN, 2007)

Peace and conflict resolution To illustrate the above, I refer to the blog Embody Peace. Its an

international embodied peace resource centre, as well as a forum in which practitioners, students and newcomers can share questions, ideas, and experiences. This blog was launched in February of 2007, beginning with the inspiration, knowledge and resources of Martha Eddy (2007).

As part of her doctoral research at Columbia Universitys Teachers College, Martha Eddy worked

for over a decade to gather information about those people and organizations who have years of expertise based in somatic, arts, and activist approaches to conflict resolution, violence prevention, and community building at the grassroots or international level. The blog was started with a listing of these organizations, and has since welcomed any posts or links that include this understanding of how we perceive our bodies and interact with one another through our bodies (Ibid.).

Dr Eddy states that our physical condition affects our feelings, our behaviour, and our creative work in the world (ibid.). Besides that, she gathers in her blog accounts of physical approaches to peace, conflict resolution, and violence prevention accessed through the arts, sports, somatic education, non-verbal communication, and biological sciences (ibid.).

Mute theatre and cinema.

Regardless of the above practical examples on the power of non-verbal communication, I dare add three more illustrations to the already given ones. I remember that a play based on a novel by the Brazilian writer Graciliano Ramos was staged some years ago, and one of the actors of the production was awarded a prize as the best supporting actor. This prize was awarded to the actor that played the rule of a dog and did not utter a single word in his performance. Instead, he limited his acting to scratch his own body, walk on all fours, hide under the kitchen

table, and show things like happiness, fear, and readiness through body actions alone. Another example is the picture stared by Tom Cruise, The Last Samurai. The film depicts a North-American soldier that went to Japan to help the Japanese in the battle against Samurai rebels. When captured he was sent to the Samurai village over the winter. Although he was a prisoner, due to the inaccessibility of the village during this time of the year, he was free to walk around and exchange with its inhabitants. In the dialogues and connections that took place, captors and captive were unable to communicate through words since they spoke different languages. However, that difference did not keep them from getting to know each other, and meaningful looks, gestures, social behaviour, outfits, and the architecture of the village itself expressed what they could not do through words. All in all, it was from what they saw in each other and from what they inferred from the observation of nonverbal elements that the former enemies started to relate to each other until they finally became good friends. For me, the richness of the film lies in the recognition of the fact that gestures and action express more than what one expects them to.

The Deaf example. For over 15 years Ive been thinking about the affinity between the Deaf 3 and the art of movement. Concerning that, Ive wondered: what do they have in common with hearing people? Its important to make it clear that when I think about the deaf and movement, I dont mean sign language. Although its built from movements, its signs are rigidly set and codified so as to base a structured language (FENEIS Journal. Rio de Janeiro, year 1, # 3, Jul. /Sept., 1999; SACKS, 1988). Nevertheless, deaf persons are often marginalized by their own family (parents, grand-parents, brothers and sisters, as well as other relatives) that neither master

The word deaf seemed depreciative to me. However, the members of the Deaf community express their ethic status (a people with an specific language, and with their own sensibility and culture) through a convention where Deafness with capital d is a language and cultural entity opposite to deafness with little d that stands for the hearing disability, a health condition in which the word disability suggests the lack of something in the comparison of the deaf with hearing persons. Finally Deaf people refuse to be called deaf-mutes because if they could hear, theyd be able to speak perfectly well.

sign language nor understand it. So, to do like a seagull4 and fly from this island of incommunicability, the Deaf make extensive use of movement since birth. Their experience is similar to ours when, we, hearing people, visit a foreign country where we cannot verbally communicate because we dont master its language. However, non-verbal language, unlike sign language, is not limited to the deaf; in fact, it belongs to the human kind as a whole and is present in our daily communicative skills. Animals also use it, but that lies beyond the scope of this article. Anyway, because the deaf, especially those that were born deaf, can express themselves through movement wonderfully well, I believe that to watch them doing that is very rich. Therefore, I am really interested in the large experience the deaf has in dealing with non-verbal communication because of the possibility of extrapolating it to other groups that communicate through movement. Then, as non-verbal symbols are largely employed by different religions, I see that to approach inter-religious dialogue with this kind of communication is totally justified.

Non-verbal communication as a transgression of frontiers

In her article Exercises on wonderment: frontiers and transgression of frontiers (Exerccios em maravilhar-se: fronteiras e transgresses de fronteiras) the Feminist theologian Lieve Troch (2007) writes about borderlands, empty territories, and no ones land. She also tells about the pleasure she felt every time she went to the beach in her childhood. At these occasions, she enjoyed staying for hours in the place where sea and sand met (idem, p.50). Some lines below she says that this is a frontier that never stops moving in such a way that it that is recreated every day. This happens because the borderline between water and land shifts all the time so, they both get a bit of each other in an unending movement that designs and interlinks new frontiers (ibid.). For Troch, to walk along the waterline is the same as to find out the empty space between two different places, or a third country, and to walk between two worlds (ibid). This place has a different face than either land or water (ibid.). She concludes by saying that

Refer to O voo da Gaivota (The Seagulls Flight).

when one walks for hours along the waterline next to the water thats in constant move as well as the ever changing edge of the land, one often has the experience that he or she can always and again retreat 5 and then face changes more easily [than before] (ibid.).

She further refers to an example from the dance, and says that in this game of the sort, the partners meet in the act of playing with the space between them and with the rhythm in a balance that must be re-established over and over again (idem, p. 51). This ever changing ground characterizes an intermediate territory where their relationship is tried. Besides, it is possible to fall in it (ibid.). She continues by saying that sometimes the dancers may have the impression that the space itself moves as the dance constantly transforms it. Therefore, they play with the middle ground as well as in it. (ibid.). Nevertheless, Troch also refers to the existence of rigid frontiers that need to become flexible to enable the parts involved in this conversation to establish equal terms. The dialogue supposes a meeting in an intermediate territory or in a third country that often doesnt physically exist so that its creation depends on the will and predisposition of each one involved in the exchange of ideas. Therefore, in this territory its mandatory to look at and listen to one another. In sum, as I understand that inter-religious dialogue is a dance of the sort to her, I believe that theres nothing better to promote such dialogue than dance itself, or rather, a movement centred practice focused on the expansion of frontiers. To further relate inter-religious dialogue to dance and The Art of Movement, lets consider the following: at certain occasions, The Art of Movement regards the set of steps of particular dance styles as unmovable frontiers; i.e., to experiment an only dance style or movement pattern may be noxious to the person. That statement arises from the belief that our vocabulary of movement becomes frozen along life due to socialization, education, life style, and occupation that we as men and women spontaneously or compulsorily adopt. Then, The Art of Movement aims to expand this vocabulary, and one of the ways through which it can fulfil this objective is by bringing the person to experiment the

quem anda horas a fio na linha do fluxo da mar, ao lado da gua que est em constante movimento, e a terra que muda sempre de novo, faz frequentemente tambm a experincia de que, aqui, o prprio ser pode, sempre de novo, se recolher e depois enfrentar com mais facilidade transformaes

largest movement repertoire as possible, be it through different dance styles, sport activities, or yet a great array of movement based experiences. If the emphasis on non-verbal communication allows us to think of actions that validate the words (not necessarily spoken) of excluded persons, or of persons from different cultural, ethical or language backgrounds, what to say of its use in the inter-religious dialogue? We consider that this approach would foster the contact of the involved persons with their emotions and feelings, give them a tool to concretely organize these emotions, feelings, and thoughts, help them with the development of individual and group identity, which would be very useful to an ecumenical dialogue, enhance self-esteem and empower excluded and weakened persons, And finally by making positive use of ones differences and abilities, bring the persons to become aware of the advantages of any difference, including religious ones.

Final Considerations My experience with the power of movement was very different from that of Maurice Bjarts. It became clear to me more than twenty years ago, when a friend showed me a video from a company of Deaf American dancers. As hearing people, we could see in the way they touched each other the respect they had for their partners body and movement. I believe that it was because they knew movement enabled contact, organization, communication, and expression of something beyond words; then, it was their way to get through to the other, were they Deaf or hearing. Their lifelong experiences proved to them that movement allowed the expression and the true sharing of something that rather than superficial, came from deep within their souls and that couldnt be well expressed through words. Furthermore, movement allowed it shared with anyone regardless of the language they spoke. Thus, I believe that whenever emotion and feelings partake in the communication, I think it doesnt need or shouldnt need to be conveyed through any spoken language or words. In these cases, it passes from person to person, heart to heart, and nothing that separates people really matters.

This kind of communication should also make use of minor face and body expressive movements. They too are mirrors of the soul (MIGLIORINI, 2000) as they directly express a reality, a feeling, or an emotion, and often go beyond any spoken word or rational mode of expression. Would we need to become unable to verbally communicate to understand the power of non-verbal communication and movement? Are we like the mainstream hearing people that paradoxically are deaf to many of our brothers and sisters words? Then, instead of talking, thinking, and discussing dogmas, possibly we should emulate the brilliant Mediterranean fishermen and dance. Maybe, by doing so we could experiment the true union that we cannot experience from the top of our great virtue and intellectual knowledge so as trough dance and movement truly relate to the other and feel we are part of a whole. Finally, perhaps we could say even if not verbally , to whoever was beside us: the God in me greets the God in you. Namast.

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