Circus, Dance, and Sacred Literature

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Ora Horn Prouser
contact email: 

Humans have always moved or danced as a way of ritualizing their relationship to the Divine. These dances expressed an understanding of God(s), the relationship of human beings to the divine world, and were an expression of thanksgiving for the life cycle events that move history forward: birth, death, and all that is between. Some circus arts, find their earliest documentation as religious practices. This book begins the investigation of what it means for these practices to meet their holy origins once more, not as a form of expression but as a mode of study.

This proposal envisions an exciting addition to the canon of biblical interpretation. The Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) has found success in using the arts to process biblical texts, specifically, in using physical arts, such as circus and dance, to gain important insights into biblical study. The results lead to textual insights that were not readily found in traditional text study. This is not simply referencing text in art, nor just another form of experiential learning. This is serious textual study using the body as much as the mind and heart in analysis.

We propose an edited volume that will review selected literature; provide methodological background and approaches; suggest applications to specific sacred texts; root our method in embodiment and pedagogic theories; engage in serious artistic and textual studies; reveal the intersection of these arts in religious and specifically Jewish history and thought. This volume explores AJR’s methodology, its understanding of how one thinks in art rather than in word, how it joins study and artistic practice, and how circus and movement, in particular, can be used to help unlock sacred traditions. The proposed collection will be of value to the academic in textual and artistic fields, religious leaders, and educational practitioners. And, while we are writing as Jewish professionals studying Hebrew Bible, our methodology crosses all religious, cultural, and literary borders.

We invite those who have pertinent ideas to share on this topic (dancers, circus artists, educators, biblical scholars, etc) to submit abstracts of 250-300 words for papers to be included in this edited volume. Submissions should be sent to Dr. Ora Horn Prouser at ohornprouser@ajrsem.org by November 15, 2019.  Feel free to be in touch with any questions.

Topics may include :
The use of arts (particularly physical and movement arts) as a means of study.
The intersection of religion and circus or religion and dance.
Grounding arts education in embodiment theory.
The presence of circus and dance throughout Jewish history and sacred text.
Circus or dance as modern religious or spiritual practices.