Zen and Dance

"With infinite gratitude for Master Dainin Katagiri, in whom I recognise the spirit of the dancer and for my Master, Shohaku Okumura Roshi, whose teachings are of continuous inspiration to me. Thanks also to Guglielmo Doryu , the "big", with whom I am fortunate to share the love for dance, the practice of Zen and everyday life."

Annamaria Gyoetsu Epifanìa

Zen Buddhism has deeply influenced Art close to deep insight in many of its forms since it first appeared in China and subsequently in Japan: Ikebana, Tea Ceremony, Calligraphy, Martial Arts, Haiku Poetry, Painting, Architecture...Dance.

The Zen tradition, emphasizing that it’s impossible to separating the Buddha from all that exists, suggest that enlightenment cannot be reached rationally not can it be expressed through concepts of the mind.

Several artists from the western world are deeply influenced by this important spiritual tradition.For us Annamaria Gyoetsu e Guglielmo Doryu, both professional dancers and Zen practitioners for several years, our way to dance and to teach dance is deeeply rooted in Zen and it reflects its universal language and its heart openness.

Danza In our dance practice, the body work finds its inspiration in the gestures of each day, from the influence of emotions on the physical sphere and from Nature we ourselves express!

To become grass, to become wind, without any separation: this is the unavoidable work we have to do. Each moment we are the expression of the Absolute, impermanent and unique.

When our mind allows us to be without judgement, our actions are alive, true, just like a dance.

To dance beyond words and concepts, just as a Zen painter encloses the universe in his circle, in the infinite flow of our breathings and of our actions one after the other, we can sense being a drop and being the sea without any separation.

Just as we sit meditation, the attention of our body flows in each action of our day, providing us with a sense of intimacy with our self, “one with our body and breath”.

In every gesture there is openness, freedom, intuition; to study Zen and Dance is to live the body and movements as a key to sense the religious strength of being .

Dancing becomes listening, contemplating and practicing the teachings of the Buddha, just as returning to the silence of Meditation becomes living the experience of existence to the fullest.

“When our action is generated by the deep core of life, that is dance”

Dainin Katagiri, Zen Master

 To go in depth we need time and patience. We need to learn how to see what is hidden behind our body and our words. And to support our research we need a strong motivation. When our body dances it’s the dance itself, there is no distance between us and our dance, no separation. This is the beauty of dance: attention to each expression of form in total attention and presence. Dance is born and dies, appears and disappears, continuously changes. It’s the impermanence of the world. We, our dance and all the living beings are joined in the dance which becomes peace and harmony. Our true heart expresses itself in this way. Totally immersed we cannot see our dancing nor reflect on its meaning, we may only dance it. Our understanding is the result of our action founded on the identity of body, breath and mind that is practicing in total and perfect devotion. Action becomes a behavior in beauty and truth which stimulates respect and is surrounded by a dignity rising from the depths of human existence. As we dance Nature we realize union and interdependence with Nature itself which at the same time guides and teaches us. We discover the existence of an infinite connection in constant and dynamic relation between ourselves and everything around us. With exercise, it becomes natural for us even when we think our body is rigid to become one with our dance, without any prejudice. Body and mind are totally united, flexible, without hesitation, they are the total perfection of human personality. This is the Way of the Bodhisattva, the way of the one who donates himself, the way of the one who sees himself in others.

Written by