The Body and Creative Expression

The Body and Creative Expression

In this final week, we return to the dance form as we consider the body in free expression. We will look at W.B. Yeats’ obsession with dancers before discussing the groundbreaking contemporary dance performances by Teaċ Daṁsa. Declan will be joined in the live session by director and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan.


Presented by Declan Kiberd

To Dance is to Burn by Michael Keegan-Dolan

Presented by Michael Keegan Dolan

To Dance is to Burn

To dance is to burn as you pound out a rhythm with your feet – an act of sacrifice to a supreme intelligence that bestows on us creative gifts, which are our only means to attain liberation.

We pray for wisdom to clarify our seeing, hearing and feeling so that we may slip behind the veils of delusion, overcome the illusion of separation (the root of all suffering), and draw on the creative source.

Still photo of MÁM by Teaċ Daṁsa; Photo credit: Matt Grace
Still photo of MÁM by Teaċ Daṁsa
Photo credit: Matt Grace

Hearing clearly what is outside and within, we reduce the scope and interference of the judgmental mind.  Through clear seeing we become aware of what is in front of, around and inside us.  The internal world can then begin to manifest the secret myths that will guide us on our journey.  Through feeling the air on the skin and the energetic currents beneath it as the limbs move in space, the dancer becomes aware of all sensations, from the gross to the very finest.

The dancer whose senses are engaged like this grows ever closer to the creator, the longer the engagement, the greater the transformation.  The capacity to maintain the connection comes from training with discipline, patience and restraint.

Dancing is the art of transformation – the integrated, rhythmic, coordinated movement of the limbs in space, the feet the engine, the hands the expressors.  The sides of the body create shape and as the shape changes so does the space the dance inhabits.   The alchemy evokes spontaneous and universal symbols and rhythms.

Through acquiring the understanding and skills necessary to consciously participate in this transformation, we experience and transmit truth.

We dance to be reunited with the creative core from which we came.

–   Copyright © 2012 by Michael Keegan-Dolan

Setting the Body Free

Presented by Declan Kiberd

In this video Declan points to the desire, shared by Yeats and Joyce, to set the body free.

Yeats, Dance, and the Unconscious

Presented by Declan Kiberd

In this segment Declan looks at Yeats’ representation of the creative unconscious through the figure of the dancer.

Join the Live Virtual Event

Presented by Declan Kiberd

Ask questions and listen to a live discussion with Professor Declan Kiberd on Wednesday, August 26, at 1 pm EDT.  Register to receive information about how to join the live event.

Special Guest during our live event will be:

Michael Keegan-Dolan founded Teaċ Daṁsa in 2016 as a means to forge stronger connections with the native traditions, language and music of Ireland. The name Teaċ Daṁsa, ‘House of the Dance,’ in Classical Irish, supports this process and is exemplified in the company’s first two productions, Swan Lake / Loch na hEala (2016) and MÁM (2019). Michael is currently an associate at Sadler’s Wells London.


Presented by Declan Kiberd

You’ve now completed all four parts of the Kylemore Book Club series, Understanding the Body with W.B. Yeats and James Joyce.

We look forward to seeing you back for the next Kylemore Book Club.  In the meantime, be sure to check out the other series, podcasts, articles, and videos on ThinkND.

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