Please Wait a Moment

Behind the Curtain Blog

NDEO's "Behind the Curtain" Blog features articles written by NDEO members about dance and dance education topics as well as periodic updates on NDEO programs and services. This is a FREE resource available to ALL.


An Environmental Movement Exploration

NDEO’s Guest Blog Series features posts written by our members about their experiences in the fields of dance and dance education. We continue this series with a post by Lisa Barker. Guest posts reflect the experiences, opinions, and viewpoints of the author and are printed here with their permission. NDEO does not endorse any business, product, or service mentioned in guest blog posts. If you are interested in learning more about the guest blogger program or submitting an article for consideration, please click here.

I have been hurled forward to thinking differently about dancing in my environment thanks to the work of Efva Lilja. Lilja is a choreographer, artist, researcher and author. She writes beautifully about her experiences.  At one point in time, she was awarded the opportunity  from the Swedish Royal Academy of Science to be part of an expedition to the North Pole. She went to explore movement on the frozen terrain, to document the somatic experience, and to keep a travel journal of the whole process that would eventually lead to a public performance piece. 

I was moved by her observation, “The Arctic is like nowhere else.” Have I ever been brave enough to go somewhere else, like nowhere else I have ever been? How awe inspiring it is to realize the immense variations of environments on this home planet. Lilja also observes, “The cold forces us to constrain our bodies, to stop wasting heat. The darkness sets a different rhythm and the natural world makes its considerable resistance felt.” 

How can her research inform my dance pursuits? I am not planning a trip to the frozen landscape, and my environment seems rather tame in comparison. Yet, what if I were to switch the roles around? What if someone, or some creature, who had only been accustomed to the Arctic, came on an expedition to my landscape? This line of questioning puts me in another suit, something to try on, and to feel how my environment is like nowhere else.

Suggestion for Creative Exploration: 

  • Learn more about Efva Lilja and view videos of her work here
  • Give yourself some time and a safe place to explore the following movement experiences:
    • Close your eyes and imagine yourself just arriving in your environ for the first time
    • Feel your somatic response to the light, energy, air, earth and possibly water
  • Continue with your eyes open 
    • Notice your surroundings with all your senses alert
    • What attracts you to move forward, how will you move?
    • Are there details that grab your attention? How do they speak to you of movement?
    • Journal about your experiences

This article first appeared on Lisa’s blog, InMotionDance.

Lisa is ahite woman with shoulder length brown hair, she is standing in front of a red brick wall, smiling, in a light long sleeve shirt.

Lisa Barker holds a BA in Dance from UC-Irvine, a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy from UCLA,and is a member of the National Dance Education Organization. In her earlier career, Lisa was a principal dancer with Laura Knott Dance and toured professionally with the Mandala International Folk Dance of Boston, MA. Later, while living in San Francisco, CA, she danced professionally with Tracey Rhodes Dance, and taught modern dance at private studios. During her course of graduate school, Lisa held the position of Teacher Assistant to the Department Head, Dr. Dosamantes. She then joined the creative force of Simone Forti and founded, Group 5, a dance/spoken word performance group. During this period, Michael Richter and Lisa teamed up with other colleagues creating, Locomania. This performance group was the recipient of a Los Angeles County Arts Grant. Currently, Lisa lives in Grass Valley, California, teaches Authentic Movement in public classes, creates movement/art/environment video pieces, and is part of an online dance research collective- Reading Dancing Online, which will present at the 2018 NDEO Conference.


You need to login in order to comment

Subscribe to our Blog


Submit a Blog Post

To learn more about submitting a Guest Blog post, click here.

Search our Blog

Blog by Date