April 21, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine
Award-winning research links Buddhism and modern dance
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa - Sarah Joy Stallsmith, a senior dance major at Slippery Rock University, has won third place at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's philosophy conference for her research paper examining similarities between contemporary dance and Zen Buddhism.
It was an exciting paper to write. I think they liked it because I was drawing parallels between two disparate art forms," Stallsmith said.
"Moving to Awareness: Zen and Contract Improvisation" explores breathing and concentration techniques used in dance and Zen. Stallsmith concluded that the two art forms, despite differences, enhance each other. Proficiency in Zen will improve a person's ability to understand contract improvisation dance and visa versa, she said.
Contact improvisation, featuring animated moves with lots of breathing and concentration, is about 35 years old and part of the modern dance movement. Buddhism has a history many centuries old.
Stallsmith presented and won the award at the state system's Interdisciplinary Association for Philosophy and Religious Studies. She also presented her findings at SRU's 2008 Symposium for Student Research and Scholarship. "I was really excited to win third place," she said.
Stallsmith said she plans to become a dance performer and teacher after graduating from SRU in May.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.