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Daphne Lowell and Alton Wasson

Daphne and Alton, Co-Directors of Contemplative Dance, share an abiding curiosity about and awe for the wisdom of the body’s way, and a deep, well-tempered respect for each other. They began working together in 1983, exploring Authentic Movement and teaching workshops and college courses. In 1989, with their friend and colleague Mary Ramsay, they began teaching annual Contemplative Dance summer workshops at Hampshire College, and in 1994 they began offering the Year-Long Programs. They have taught at the National Common Boundary Conferences, Omega Institute, Naropa Institute and the National Sacred Dance Guild Festival. They organized the first Authentic Movement Facilitators’ Retreat in 1995 and in 2006 the first International Authentic Movement Gathering. They have published in A Moving Journal, the Authentic Movement edition of Contact Quarterly (Vol. 27/2), and Authentic Movement: Moving the Body, Moving the Self, Being Moved (Jessica Kingsley, 2007).

Daphne and Alton are influenced by the work of Mary Whitehouse and their studies of Authentic Movement with Janet Adler and of Active Imagination with Edith Sullwold. They bring to their collaboration training in dance, meditation, ministry, Body-Mind Centering, Psychosynthesis, Jungian and Gestalt therapies.


“I relish this practice because it brings me home to myself, provides me with insights and ideas, heals the splits in my being, allows me to engage with spirit in a full-bodied way, and offers me an occasion to work with other people in rare depth and trust. It is refreshing and deeply satisfying. It produces, to my eye, dances that are more engaging, genuine, subtle and human than much dance I see. It provokes questions about the nature of performance and provides a ground for ritual and the spiritual dimension.”

Daphne Lowell,Professor of Dance and Movement Studies at Hampshire College and the Five College Dance Department, studied Authentic Movement with Janet Adler and Edith Sullwold in the Mary Starks Whitehouse Institute in 1982-83. She studied dance at the University of Utah (MFA) and anthropology, religion and creativity at Tufts University (BA), and performed in national tours with the Bill Evans Dance Company. She co-directs the dance program at Hampshire, and has served as chair of the Five College Dance Department. She choreographs and performs from her Contemplative Dance practice, teaches it in her college classes, and has published on it in A Moving Journal, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines (Rosen, 1999), the Authentic Movement edition of Contact Quarterly (Vol. 27/2), and Authentic Movement, Volume Two (Jessica Kingsley, 2007).


“I think of this work as Active Imagination through movement. I experience sensations, feelings, memories, images and the numinous in a process that is more satisfying and challenging to me than any other practice I know. Through this embodiment, the psyche unfolds in its own organic way, at its own pace. This is a spiritual practice which helps integrate body and soul, personal and archetypal, inner and outer, the conscious and the unconscious both in myself and in the people with whom I work. It is a way of creating a more poetic and artful holding of life’s difficulties and life’s bounty.” — alton

Alton Wasson
graduated from Yale Divinity School (MDiv, STM) and has been a chaplain at Yale, a professor of Religion and Humanistic Psychology at Prescott College, and a faculty member of the Center for Depth Psychology and Jungian Studies. He was introduced to Whitehouse’s work in 1969 by Ed Maupin who presented it as “your own yoga.” In the 70’s and 80’s he continued exploring this work with Janet Adler and Edith Sullwold. He has published essays in A Moving Journal, Contact Quarterly (Vol. 27/2), and Volume II of Authentic Movement (Jessica Kingsley, 2007). He taught Contemplative Dance at the first World Somatics Congress. He leads trips honoring the spirit of place in Italy, Greece and on river trips through the Grand Canyon. He has a private practice and consults with corporations and educational institutions on issues of diversity and holistic education.
Read some of Alton's essays on his website www.altonwasson.com.