Photo © 2009. Nannette Bertschy & Ann Moradian.

looking at the world and challenging our assumptions, definitions and creation of it through the lense of the body, movement, the arts and science.

Friday, February 21, 2020


A Round Table Discussion
with Hiie Saumaa (Institute Fellow), and Lynn Matluck Brooks, Kiko Mora, and Ann Moradian at the Institute for Ideas & Imagination at Columbia Global Center Paris, April 16, 2019.

- What does the moving body reveal? 
- What can we know about the world and our selves through the body? 
- And what is the nature and value of this knowledge? 

These are some of the questions raised during the roundtable discussion, Dancing-Moving-Knowing, co-organized by Columbia Global Centers, Paris and Columbi Institute for Ideas & Imagination. 

In putting this program together, Institute Fellow Hiie Saumaa was committed to bringing the moving body to this conversation, and made space for us to integrate simple experiential practices throughout. After “tuning in” by bringing attention to the breath and subtle sensations, participants said they were more aware of tension, and more sensitive – “even more sensitive to your words.” 

Our moderator, Kiko Mora, dance historian and Professor of Semiotics of Advertising and Culture at the university of Alicante (Spain), opened the evening by pointing out astutely, "What is of interest here tonight is less 'What knowledge can do for the body' and much more 'What can the body do for knowledge?'"  

Saumaa is a dance scholar, writer,and somatic movement educator, who thinks of herself as a “somatic researcher” both when she is teaching movement, and when she is in the archives digging through historic artifacts. In both situations, she says, she brings a somatic, or “felt sense” of the body with her as a way of gathering information about how she feels, what she senses, images that arise, and what is being learned. She uses her somatic awareness even in choosing which materials to focus on in her research. 

Dance historian and educator, Lynn Matluck Brooks, also applies her embodied knowledge as a Laban Movement Analyst, choreographer, performer, and critic, to her research. In order to make sense of the traces that remain “from the great flux of history,” she looks for “body shape, center of gravity, stability and mobility, movement qualities, the ranking of movement according to power structures, and social-group identification and class,” which, she said, are “often indicated by the degree of control over the body.” She also highlighted the influence scientific developments can have on cultural ideas and expressions, including dance. 

Like Saumaa, she brings her own body to the experience. She described her first exposure to real, rather than digital documents in Seville, Spain, as “thrilling.” It was as if, she explained, she were holding hands across time through the physical page she was holding that had been touched and signed by the choreographer. “To me, that created a link across 300 years,” she concluded.

Saumaa raised many questions throughout the evening, for both the audience and the panelists. One of these was: How can this individual experience of our body’s intelligence and knowledge relate to the larger picture of our communities, our global world, and beyond? This is a powerful and important question. 

From my perspective as a movement artist, with research interests in systems thinking, ecology, mythology, cultural transformation,and mindful movement, I highlighted the often overlooked fact that we are always in relation. When we move with mindful awareness, over time we develop not just emotional empathy, but a physical empathy – which can sometimes come across to our dancers or students as if we were reading their minds, when in fact we are simply reading their bodies through our own. 

Mindful movement is a way to practice bringing conscious awareness to the information available within our bodies and within the world around us. Leading the group through a balancing exercise gave an experiential sense of dynamic balance. This is a key concept within systems thinking. Science today understands that living systems use information from within and from without in cycles of feedback, processing,and response in order to navigate, grow, and evolve. The body holds this knowledge, which can become potently apparent as we practice moving with awareness, and the depth of our awareness increases with experience over time. 

I pointed to the example of group movement improvisation, where we can practice encountering the unforeseen. Over time, our response can evolve from one of stress and cognitive shut-down to a more open, conscious,and creative response. For many movement practitioners, this becomes a playful collaborative adventure. In today’s uncertain and unpredictable world, these are important and useful skills to have.

The field of 'Body Studies,' Mora said, is an inherently "trans-disciplinary investigation that includes sociology, economics, philosophy, bio-politics, semiotics, history, anthropology, and the arts." it also includes biology, physiology, ecology, psychology, physics, and somatics. It is a vast, and truly multidisciplinary subject that merits further attention. The thoughtful responses and contributions from the audience underline its timeliness. 

Ann Moradian

Please contact Perspectives In Motion for the full transcript.

Somatics (definition): Thomas Hanna, who coined the termed, defined somatics as “the body experienced from within.”

Video link:  

Institute for Ideas and Imagination

Columbia Global Center I Paris

Friday, January 10, 2020

Dancing Through Time and Space

August 11-15, 2020
Ute Lodge, Colorado

Nourishing body, mind and soul with dark night sky stargazing, geology hikes in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, daily yoga, breathing practices and guided movement... 

Atmospheric scientist and geologist Scott Denning and yogi and movement artist Ann Moradian join forces once again to offer this exceptional 5-day retreat that combines stargazing (we have timed this to catch the annual Perseids meteor shower), geology hikes, yoga, breathing and guided movement practices. This is an immersive exploration of the natural world that spans scales from the birth of the universe in deep time, through geological time, to the incoming and outgoing breath of the current moment that sustains each of us

Nested in this almost private haven under the dark night skies of the new moon in the Rocky Mountains (about one-hour from Meeker, Colorado), we'll nourish and replenish body, mind and soul. This year, we have the luxury of shared meals, skillfully prepared for us by our hosts with local organic produce. 

Program costs include organic locally grown vegetarian food and housing (transportation not included): 
$1400/person (Private room, double occupancy)
$1000/person (shared room)
$  900/person (tent camping/single occupancy,
                                  reduction for double occupancy) 

For more information and many more details, please click here

Monday, November 25, 2019

Movement Improvisation Workshop

© Moradian and Vanagas.
w/ Ann Moradian and Corinne Ott
Saturday, November 30th
from 3-6:30pm

Tenri Cultural Center
8-12 rue Bertin Poirée (downstairs)
Paris 75001

Participation: 35 euros
(sliding scale available if needed)

No dance experience necessary, just a willingness to move, explore, connect, and enjoy! 

The workshop will be blending elements from yoga, movement improvisation, and dance as a way to explore our relationship with our own body/ being/ self, with our environment, and with each other. 

Ann and Corinne believe that we can and do naturally develop our capacity to respond creatively and constructively to the unknown and 'the other' by becoming more comfortable with the natural feedback of our embodied experience, and extending this comfort zone through movement improvisation. We find, over time, that this type of responsivity carries over into our lives so that we begin to 'dance' creatively with our world. It is a way, in effect, of practicing participating in our lives as if it were the work of Art we are engaged in creating. It is fun, and also meaningful. (At least that is what we are aiming for!)

If this speaks to you at all, please join us!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Few Thoughts on the Basic Mindset Needed for Interdisciplinary Collaboration

"The Final Gate" © Ann Moradian, 2018.

This path 
is not for everyone.

When we work across disciplines, we are opening up to information outside our own domain(s) of knowledge, experience and expertise. Regardless of the degree to which we retain hierarchical structures of organization, the very concept of working together with those from other domains implies exposure to a certain amount of new information, and with that comes a certain amount of disruption to old patterns, structures, and ideas. We are human, and this can be uncomfortable.

"Your brain craves certainty and avoids uncertainty like it's pain."
(Rock, 2009)

Uncertainty can trigger limbic system to respond as if it were under threat. Interdisciplinary exchange ‘messes with’ this. The objectives in opening up to interdisciplinary or collaborative work might be to expand knowledge and understanding, find new synergies, map out new territories, or develop new forms. These shared adventures are, inevitably, journeys of discovery. If you only search for what you already know, or think you know, you will miss a lot. (I must admit, however, that this is the only viable approach I have found when looking for a lost contact lens.) 

In my experience, it is when we open up to the unknown, and the uncertainty it brings along with it, that things start to get interesting – and hopefully, eventually, also fun! There seems to be a curious balancing act, however, between receptiveness and active engagement that is called for to ensure productivity. I suspect there must be an art to this aspect of collaboration, because there is definitely no reliable manual for it! 

Interdisciplinary work is inherently collaborative – not in the negative sense of the word as in ‘cooperation with an enemy,’ but in the more constructive use of the word that implies working together toward a shared goal or vision. This demands a willingness to share power, and to be open to the unforeseen and unforeseeable. It also demands a willingness to step forward – to risk exposure of our ideas, our wishes, our needs... If you imagine you will be able to do this kind of work without ever feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable, or without ever having to examine your assumptions, you are sorely mistaken. 

Having a shared goal or vision is vital. It is this shared aim that gives us the courage to advance in these unchartered domains, no matter what we encounter. As the martial strategist Miyamoto Musashi said: 

“There is more than one way to the top of the mountain.”

On such a journey, our differences become a strength, rather than a handicap or threat. There should be at least a moment when each person can step forward to shine, and many times when we allow the others to share their knowledge, strengths or skills. A willingness to learn from each other is important. A willingness to share power is essential. This includes knowing when it is necessary to hold one’s ground, and when it is viable or necessary to adjust. 

In my experience, it has been important to collaborate with those who have different but complementary skill sets and experience from my own. In addition, I have found it critical that each member in the team truly wants to be there. This suggests that not only do they have something to contribute through their participation, but they also have something to learn or gain through the venture. 

As we explore the frontiers of our knowing, we will be changed by the experience. If we chose to embark on the adventure of interdisciplinary collaboration, testing out new pathways and possibilities, we will leave an impression of our passing on the terrain. Whether we encounter our own discomforts (which can be richly revealing when we explore it carefully), or new and wondrous marvels, we will not leave this experience unmarked ourselves. And if we are very lucky, when we stumble or are lost in the maze of possibilities – and this may happen many times – we learn to help each other through. 

“Traveler, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking.” 
(Australian Aboriginal saying)

Ann Moradian
26 September 2019


Rock, David (2009). “A Hunger for Certainty,” in Psychology Today. Published 25 October 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2019 from

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Dancing Through Time and Space

Yellowstone night sky,
A Retreat to Remember
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (near Yellowstone National Park)
June 29 - July 3, 2019, $550

I am delighted to be joining forces with atmospheric scientist, geologist and avid night-sky gazer, Scott Denning, and his science education nonprofit organization,, to develop this once in a lifetime retreat for you. In addition to daily movement, breathing practices and self (and nature) awareness practices, we anticipate exploring the geology and ecology of this extraordinary region during the day, and nature's open galaxy under the very dark night skies of the new moon. 

We will explore the natural history of the Earth from its origins in the clouds of cosmic dust through the formation of our atmosphere and oceans, the origin and evolution of life and biochemistry, to the many episodes of mountain building and erosion that have produced the spectacular topography and landscapes of the Rocky Mountain region. We will see the effects of ice ages and flora and fauna that have transformed the region’s ecology. We will see how glaciers and rivers and life have sculpted the land, and we will explore how modern climate change will impose rapid changes in the decades to come. 

Throughout these explorations, we will include structured movement to become centered in and aware of our bodies as parts of the natural world, through which matter and energy flow. We will come too truly understand how we are a part of nature, rather than apart from it. Participants will experience a broader view of the concept of nature that includes a deeper appreciation of the science of origin and destiny well as a deeply personal sense of dwelling both in one's embodied being, in nature, and in the larger cosmos. 

$550 includes the retreat program and very simple shared, dorm-style rooms (with 4 beds and a private bathroom). It is possible to upgrade to a private room (at approximately an additional $110/night, depending on availability). Food and transportation are not included. 

To reserve your place, please contact Ann or Scott directly.

Friday, June 15, 2018

ChildhoodNature in Motion: The Ground for Learning

This chapter, co-authored by Ann Moradian and somatics expert Martha Eddy, "aims to establish embodied movement as both the physical and metaphysical grounds for learning, including aesthetic learning in an ecological context. We advocate the moving body as critical to celebrating and deepening childhood nature... We suggest that developing a lifelong somatic relationship with our bodies in motion, a relation in which we bring our attention to our lived (psychosensory-motor) experience, is a powerful way to reclaim that wholeness which allows us to care and connect for self and others, to feel a sense of place and belonging, and to self-regulate our behavior for optimal interaction with our world..."

To link to the abstract and online publication, click here.

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
Eddy, M.H., Moradian, A.L. (2018), Childhoodnature in Motion:  The Ground for Learning. In Cutter-Mackenzie A., Malone K.,  Barratt Hacking E. (eds) Research Handbook for Childhoodnature. Springer International Handbooks of Education, Springer, Cham