‘Women with Wings: Right-brain Consciousness and the Learning Process in Balkan Dance’ (2017)
In the book Re-enchanting the Academy, edited by Angela Voss and Simon Wilson. Seattle: Rubedo Press, 217, pp. 325-348.
Here is an excerpt from this book chapter:
Before the emergence of modern science, information was encoded and transmitted through largely nonverbal means, in the realm of right-brain consciousness which precedes, surrounds, and runs parallel to the left-brain thinking dominant in academic institutions and the scientific worldview. An example of the right-brain learning process, using symbol, myth and other forms of condensed wisdom, can be found in the artistic traditions of Eastern European village women, often semiliterate, who transmit information through a sophisticated system of interrelated customs, including songs, dances, and textiles. These interwoven artistic media activate both the right and left sides of the brain, and form a system of preserving and passing on information which has existed outside of, and parallel to, the academy, for many centuries.
I chose to immerse myself in the culture of Eastern European dance after earning degrees in Intercultural Studies and Dance Movement Therapy in the 1980s. This paper will briefly describe the methodology developed in the course of my lifelong research and teaching, and will examine one key motif, the woman with wings. The winged woman appears in myth, song, textiles, archaeological artefacts, and dance, frequently in association with life transitions such as puberty and marriage. Within the context of traditional Greek and Balkan dance customs, the woman with wings also symbolises joy and the journey towards fulfilment of creative potential, two important ingredients of a learning process based in right-brain consciousness. A closer look at this parallel, non-academic education system may inspire us to invite into our own learning process those things which have been missing from the academy: nature and the body, intuition, creativity, celebration and play, and a sense of meaning in the part we play in preserving knowledge and wisdom for future generations....
If you wish to read the whole chapter, you can order the book from: