Performance Studies

Working between Religious, Cultural, and Performance Studies methodologies, I research states of consciousness, contemplative practice, and the social justice turn in Western contemplative and artistic communities through a Buddhist phenomenological lens. My field work is with two primary cohorts: Theravāda Buddhist meditators and dance-based performance artists. Combining work with meditators and dancers reveals similarities and differences in both View and praxis. The arts at their best teach us how to feel, and how to stay open to mystery, dissonance, and not-knowing. Meditation at its best does the same, but with different methods and aims. Live art is a culture’s visible growing edge, while dedicated contemplatives, often in seclusion, push that edge perhaps further, before returning to share their insights. Fluent translators between the academic, spiritual, and artistic communities are rare, and I hope through this work and my further research to become one, in service of my own and others’ deep well-being.

Current writing is focusing on issues of privilege, trauma, and systemic oppression in relation to Buddhist doctrines of renunciation, reincarnation, and Dependent Origination. See blog for recent sketches on Buddhism, Yoga, and Social Justice.

Dissertation & Published Work

PhD Dissertation (2016): “This Very Body is the Bodhi Tree: The Performance of Contemplative States in the Western Jhāna Revival & Contemporary Movement Theater” (abstract)

“Commit, Amplify, Inquire: Dark Work and Remix as Contemplative Rehearsal Practices” in Blum, ed., Dancing with Dharma: Essays on Movement and Dance in Western Buddhism (McFarland, 2016)

“Her Heart Can Lift Mountains by Beating: Form and Formlessness in Performance Process” in Hunter, Krimmer, Lichtenfels, eds., Sentient Performativities of Embodiment: Thinking alongside the Human (Lexington, 2016)


Recent performance projects

UnpUBLISHED Work (do not cite without permission)

The One Who Listens: Meaning, Time, and Momentary Subjectivity in Music (2013) (presented at Performance Studies International 19, Stanford 2013.)

Inner and Outer Object, Inner and Outer Gaze: Paradoxes of Buddhist Performance (2013)

Hugo Wolf’s song “Der Verlassene Mägdlein”, an analysis (2012)

Inverted Bowls: Buddhist practices as protest vocabulary (2011)

Buddhist Pragmatic Phenomenology: an object-oriented inquiry (2012)

The White Empty Space: A conversation with Jason Engelund on Buddhism and contemplative photography (2012)

You Are the Music While the Music Lasts: Improvisation, silence, practice, research
(presented at IGPS Symposium, UC Davis, 2011)

Standing Somewhere and Nowhere: Buddhism, performance and social change (2011)

Memory, Hope, Recapitulation, Anticipation: Meditations on time initiated by Haydn piano sonata #49 (2011)

Mother Chord: Authority, meaning, and collaboration in music (2011)

Reason Exhausted, Concerns Forgotten: notes on a life in art and Dharma (2011)
(autobiographical reflections)

Deep River, Great Blackness: Ritual space and Black Power in the Art Ensemble of Chicago (2010)

From Nothing to Something: Music in experimental dance from Judson to Contraband (2010)