Cloud Hands
The Gentle Mind-Body Arts of Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung


T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Dance
Dancing Within the Silent Dawn: Taijiquan


Compiled and Indexed by
Michael P. Garofalo

Quotes    Links   Bibliography   Notes



November 18, 2006





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    "Tai-chi used to be only for women and children, old people and the weak.  It is a very
interesting practice because it teaches the right kind of breathing (as in zazen),
together with suppleness of the body and concentration of the mind.  It has been 
called "standing Zen"; but when all is said and done, it is just a dance, a sort of
gymnastic without the true spirit of Zen."
-  Taisen Deshimaru, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts, 1982, p. 40

    Deshimaru Roshi goes on to praise kendo, swordsmanship, as the noblest of the
martial arts and closest to the spirit of Zen.  Taijiquan does have some of the 
spirit of Chan/Zen, and swordsmanship has always been part of Chinese 
martial arts, including Taijiquan.  With no disrespect to the late Roshi, I favor 
Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt's views on Zen and Tai Chi; and both offer a sense of the
'true spirit of Zen."  And, "just dancing" is "just" as useful for many as the "just sitting" 
that Deshimaru Roshi so wholeheartedly praises as the primary path to profound 
awareness, peace, and insight.    



    "After practicing T'ai Chi with music for a sufficient length of time, you will forget the 
music, the movements and even yourself, although you will proceed as usual.  At
this stage you will be in a trace and your five attributes: form, perception, consciousness,
action and knowledge, will be empty.  This is complete relaxation of the body and mind.
It is very good for health and the way to immortality.
    Of course, if you can reach the highest level while practicing T'ai Chi without music,
so much the better.  I cannot do it because I am a human being, an ordinary,
ignorant person with a heart like a monkey and a mind like a horse.  I must use
music as a means of concentration, as a stepping stone to the highest level of
T'ai Chi."
-   Master T. T. Liang, (1900-2002), 1992, Imagination Becomes Reality, p. 60.  


There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. 
-   Vicki Baum  


I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance. 
-   Friedrich Nietzsche


    "Then there is the question of whether or not to practice with music.  Like everything
else, it should be done in moderation, if at all.  Sometimes putting on some soothing,
meditative music can help to create an atmosphere that encourages us to train.  The
music quiets us down and fills the space so that it does not feel so empty.
    If you know a form well, it can be great fun to put on music with a strong beat, Latin
or reggae music, for example, and just dance the form.  I encourage my students to
let the music carry them and to let the movements open up and flow spontaneously.
To begin with it might feel strange, and you may loose your place.  If you have been
practicing for a time and the form sits well, then it will fell less like your are doing
something completely different than that you are stretching the boundaries of what
you know."
-   Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt, T'ai Chi as a Path of Wisdom, 2001, p. 239..  


There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good. 
-   Edwin Denby  


To dance is to be out of yourself.  Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. 
-   Agnes De Mille  


    "If you practice Tai Chi Chuan as a dance, which in my opinion is not a wise thing to do,
and moreover is insulting to all the great Tai Chi Chuan masters in the past who have 
bequeathed to us this wonderful martial art, you will get the benefits that a dance will give, 
such as elegant movement, loosening joints and gentle blood circulation. But, if you 
wish to have the kind of radiant physical, emotional and mental health that characterize
accomplished martial artists, you have to practice Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art."
-   Sifu Wong Kiew Kit, Shaolin Kung Fu  


"Dance first.  Think later.  It's the natural order."
- Samuel Beckett 


I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer. 
For the dance is his ideal
-   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


    "Here is a metaphor about truly feeling life as you embark upon an ultimate physio-spiritual
experience and dance to your own inner rhythms and beat doing it your way, on your terms.
You start to feel better and better about yourself and your choice to take the time to celebrate
the gift of the physical life.  You will begin to feel the magic of total surrender as your body
becomes a temple and you cease to be spiritually homeless.  No longer separate from your
body, you once again become one with the rhythms of nature and somehow feel in sync with
them, the way the physical is supposed be as you coordinate body with mind and spirit.
With this experience, you encounter for the first time, perhaps, the beauty of being alive 
and the truth about full-spectrum fitness for the ultimate game of life as you "dance with the
-  Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang, "Working Out, Working Within," p. 259.  


"Never trust spiritual leader who cannot dance."
-  Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid, 1994


    "T'ai-Chi Ch'uan exists for itself, in itself, and by itself through the very complex nature
of its own physical, mental, emotional world.  Music is extraneous to the essence of
T'ai-Chi Ch'uan.  It is a distraction, a crutch, to woo and reduce the student into 
thinking that calmness is being attained.  It is a deception to make T'ai-Chi Ch'uan 
palatable by romanticizing the exercise.  
    Actually, music prevents the doer from concentrating on the harmonious relationship
of form and self, of being "aware" and developing insight and conscious tranquility.
    Instead of "listening" to oneself, with music one leans on the outside world, which
undermines the essential spirit of T'ai-Chi Ch'uan.  Away with the notion that sound
must bombard the ears."
-   Sophia Delza, The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience, 1996, p. 233.


"Everything in the universe has rhythm.  Everything dances."
-   Maya Angelou  


Movement never lies.  It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather. 
-   Martha Graham 


Dance is a song of the body.  Either of joy or pain. 
-   Martha Graham  


The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word. 
-   Mata Hari  


We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive... and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. 
-   D.H. Lawrence


    "Even if your main objective of practicing Taijiquan is not for combat but for health, you still 
have to practice it as a martial art if you want to get value for your time and effort spent. If 
you practice it as a dance or some form of physical exercise, which will be inevitable if you 
miss its martial art aspects, the benefits you get from your Taiji dance or Taiji gymnastics 
are generally less than what you would get if you spend the same amount of time and effort 
on conventional dances and gymnastics typically found in the West."
-   Basic Self-Defense of Taijiquan   


Dance till the stars come down from the rafters
Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.
-   W.H. Auden

It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer. 
-   Shanna LaFleur  


    "Remember that dance has a dimension beyond the physical. The body, as imperfect as it always is,
is only part of the picture.  Your energy, the quality of your movement, your feeling about the world,
your dance spirit - that is what we see under the lights"
 Dance Magazine, March 2005


Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere
translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. 
-   Havelock Ellis

Dance is the hidden language of the soul. 
-   Martha Graham

Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery. 
-   Martha Graham  


    "Tai chi chuan embraces more than one discipline. In North America, the main styles taught 
include Yang (the most popular), Chen and Wu. All three may be likened to dance disciplines 
ranging from ballet to modern. Central to all tai chi chuan styles is the "form" — a series of 
interconnected movements, executed slowly and reflectively.  Witness tai chi chuan in action, 
and you'll appreciate why it's called a "slow solo dance" or "meditation in motion." The movement 
flows from one position to the next, with minute adjustments of an eye, a wrist, the neck. The short 
form of a style takes 10 minutes to perform; the long form, a half-hour or longer.  But merely learning 
a form — short or long — isn't the only object of tai chi chuan. The experience of repeating the 
form every day, and the inward journey it demands, is what yields benefits, including stress 
reduction, muscular strength and peace of mind. Practitioners will go a lifetime without perfecting 
their form; it merely continues to evolve with each exercise."
-   Huan Zhong Taijiquan


Dancers are the athletes of God. 
-   Albert Einstein  


Dancers are instruments, like a piano the choreographer plays. 
-   George Balanchine  


"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak."
-   Hopi Indian Saying


Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. 
-   William Stafford  


Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made. 
-   Ted Shawn, Time, 25 July 1955  


Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance. 
-   Ezra Pound  


I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express
what it too deep to find for words. 
-   Ruth St. Denis  


Talk about dance?  Dance is not something to talk about.  Dance is to dance. 
-   Peter Saint James   


Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. 
-   Kurt Vonnegut

Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking. 
-   John Wain  


You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, 
that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, 
and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.     

- Krishnamurti
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.  Great dancers are not great because of
their technique, they are great because of their  passion.                                          

- Martha Graham
There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn 
music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.                                            

- Michel de Montaigne
For what is it to die, But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?  
And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, 
Then we shall truly dance.     

- Kahlil Gibran

Live a balanced life - Learn some and think some, and draw and paint and sing and
dance and play and work every day some.
-   Robert Fulghum   


There was a star danced, and under that was I born.
-   William Shakespeare   


When you take dancing lessons, you learn steps and you learn steps and you learn steps.
It can go on for a long time. And then one day, you just learn to dance, and it is so different.
-   Bill Austin   


I am lost, and I rejoice in the openness I cannot decide where to go, so for now, I will dance where
I am and be. There is no goal, no destination, just wilderness and life and being. I sing and dance 
and live in the wilderness, and I am home.  

- Tziporah

If I can not dance, I want no part in your revolution.
-   Emma Goldman   


Human beings, vegetables, or comic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the
distance by an invisible player
-   Albert Einstein   


Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
-   Rabindranath Tagore  


Draw a crazy picture 
Write a nutty poem 
Sing a mumble-gumble song 
Whistle through your comb 
Do a loony-goony dance 'Cross the kitchen floor 
Put something silly in the world 
That ain't been there before.                                           

- Shel Silverstien
The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music.  Bodies never lie.                 

- Agnes De Mille


I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.  
-  Mikhail Baryshnikov  
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.  
-   Japanese Proverb   

The main thing is dancing, and before it withers away from my body,
I will keep dancing till the last moment, the last drop.
-  Rudolph Nureyev  


Dancing is my gift and my life… God gave me this gift to bring delight to others.
I am haunted by the need to dance. It is the purest expression of every emotion,
earthly and spiritual.  It is happiness.
-   Anna Pavlova  


Dancing is a sweat job.
-   Fred Astaire  


Dance is the movement of the universe concentrated in an individual.
-   Isadora Duncan  


Ah, if you could dance all that you've just said, then I'd understand.
-   Nikos Kazantzakis  


The energy doesn’t end at the hands. I want such intensity that it feels like light is
streaming from every finger.
-   Bob Fosse  


How can we know the dancer from the dance?
-   William Butler Yeats 


La danse, c`est le mouvement, et le mouvement, c`est la vie.
(Dance is movement, and movement is life.)
-   Ludmilla Chiriaeff



Taijiquan and Dance
Links and Bibliography



Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient:  The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness.   By Will Johnson.
Boston, Shambhala, 2000.  137 pages.  ISBN: 1570625182.  MGC.  

Arthritis Therapy - Exercise: Taijiquan

Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang)

The Beauty of Gesture: The Invisible Keyboard of Piano and T'ai Chi
.  By Catherine David.
Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1996.   166 pages.  ISBN: 1556432194.  MGC

The Body, Bodywork, Somatics, Health and Social Change.    By Don Hanlon Johnson.  

Breathing and Taijiquan

Chen Style of Taijiquan   

Dance and T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Dance Links (DMOZ)

Dance Movement Therapy: A Creative Psychotherapeutic Approach.  By Bonnie
Meekums.  Sage Publications, 2002.  130 pages.  ISBN: 0761957677.

Dance Therapy and Depth Psychology: The Moving Imagination.  By Joan Chodorow.
Routledge, 1991.  172 pages.  ISBN: 0415041139.   

Dancing: Erowid Spirit Vaults 

Dancing Quotations

Dancing Tao

Diabetes Therapy - Exercise: Taijiquan

Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji
.  By Chungliang Al Huang.
Berkeley, California, Celestial Arts, 1973, 1987.  188 pages.  ISBN: 0890875049.

Health Aspects of Taijiquan   

Meditation (Moving or Dance) Links from DMOZ

Middle Eastern Dance Links

Offering from the Conscious Body: The Discipline of Authentic Movement.  By Janet Adler.
Inner Traditions Intl. Ltd., 2002.  264 pages.  ISBN: 0892819669.

Rhythmic Dance, Philosophy, and Practical Spirituality.  By Susan Kramer.  

Qigong: Essence of the Healing Dance.   By Gary Garripoli.  Health Communications,
1999.  300 pages.  ISBN: 1558746749.

Relaxation and Taijiquan

Returning to Health: With Dance, Movement and Imagery.  By Anna Halprin.  
Life Rhythm, 2002.   193 pages.  ISBN: 0940795221.

Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes.   Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis,
and its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.  By Shems Friedlander,
Annamarie Schimmel, and Nezih Uzel.   Parabola Books, Revised Edition, 2003.  168 pages.

Sacred Women, Sacred Dance: Awakening Spirituality Throught Movement and Ritual.
By Iris J. Stewart.  Inner Traditions Intl. Ltd., 2000.  246 pages.  ISBN: 0892816058.  

The Serpent and the Wave: A Guide to Movement Meditation.  By Jalaja Bonheim. 
Berkeley, California, Celestial Arts, 1992.  Index, 258 pages.  ISBN: 0890876576.

Sun Style of Taijiquan

T'ai Chi as a Path of Wisdom.   By Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt.  Boston, Shambhala, 2001.  
256 pages.  ISBN: 1570624453.   Excellent guide for beginning students!  MGC.

The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience
: Reflections and Perceptions on Body-Mind Hamony.
By Sophia Delza.  Foreward by Robert Cummings Neville.  State University of New York
Press, 1996.  Index, 330 pages.  ISBN: 0791428982. 

Tai Chi Music.   Composed by Jenny Ly.  Performers: Megan Hobbs on flute,
Sharon Lee on violin, and others.  Audio CD released in August 2001.  
ASIN:B00005OSW9.  Produced by Dr. Paul Lam.  

Tai Chi Music From the Silk Orchestra.  Pat Clemence and the Silk Orchestra "plays all 
new World Music for tai chi chu'an. Ideal track lengths for class or individual practice, as 
well as for international style competition and demonstration. Inspirational music for 
slower and more dynamic practice, as well as sabre and sword forms, pushing hands 
and breathing meditation.  Featured on numerous Wu style Tai Chi videos, this music
is suitable for all styles of tai chi chu'an and the martial arts."  Includes one 30 minute 
performance for use with the 108 form.  Information  73' 18 minutes long.  CD.  

Taijiquan and Dancing: Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes

Taijiquan Classics

Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong

The Teachings of Master T. T. Liang: Imagination Becomes Reality.  A Complete Guide to the
150 Posture Solo Form.  Compiled by Stuart Alve Olson.  287 pages.  Minnesota, Dragon Door
Publications, 1986, 1992.  Second Edition.  MGC.  ISBN: 0938045091.  Hundreds of detailed
pictures of the form, including some interesting multi-exposure photographs of Mr. Olson doing
the long form.  "Why I Adopted Music to T'ai Chi Ch'uan," pp. 59-60.

Walking and Taijiquan   

Walking Meditation 

Wisdom Comes Dancing: Selected Writings of Ruth St. Denis on Dance, Spirituality and
the Body.   Ruth St. Denis (1878-1968).  Edited by Kamae A. Miller.   Peaceworks Intl., 
1997.  220 pages.  ISBN: 0915424142.

The Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering.  
By Linda Hartley.   North Atlantic Books, 1995.  ISBN: 155643174.

Yang Style of Taijiquan  

Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace,
and Power.  By Peter Ralston with Laura Ralston.  Berkeley, California,
Frog, Ltd..  183 pages.  ISBN: 1583941592.



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