A Guide to a Somatic Movement Practice
The Anatomy of Center
Nancy Topf, with Hetty King
An introduction to embodied movement through the work of a dance education pioneer
“A potent handbook for easeful, intelligent self-use.”—Barbara Forbes, Wendy Perron’s Notable Dance Books of 2022
“Nancy Topf is a legend. We are lucky to have this book that so beautifully and lovingly details Hetty King’s personal journey to somatic education and practice with Topf. Through King’s stories and Topf’s drawings and movement activities, we get to know Topf, her legacy, and the profound nature of her work. From those new to somatic education to Certified Movement Analysts, there is something in this book for everyone.”—Jody Gottfried Arnhold, founder, Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) 92Y
“A brilliantly creative practice guide you will want to return to again and again. Filled with pragmatic teachings and whimsical prose, this book should be read by anyone who wants a more intimate and embodied relationship with their own anatomy, with Topf as your gentle guide and trusted teacher.”—Susan Bauer, author of The Embodied Teen: A Somatic Curriculum for Teaching Body-Mind Awareness, Kinesthetic Intelligence, and Social and Emotional Skills
“Topf’s life work is brought to light through these pages. Her ideokinetic somatic approach centers on the dynamic relationship of anatomical imagery and movement explorations that can elicit profound responses and open one to new discoveries for creative expression while cultivating a deep support and joyful bodily presence.”—Helena Thevenot, Miami Dade College
In this introduction to the work of somatic dance education pioneer Nancy Topf (1942–1998), readers are ushered on a journey to explore the movement of the body through a close awareness of anatomical form and function. Making available the full text of Topf’s The Anatomy of Center for the first time in print, this guide helps professionals, teachers, and students of all levels integrate embodied, somatic practices within contexts of dance, physical education and therapy, health, and mental well-being.
Hetty King, a movement educator certified in the Topf Technique®, explains how the ideas in this work grew out of Topf’s involvement in developing Anatomical Release Technique—an important concept in contemporary dance—and the influence of earlier innovators Barbara Clark and Mabel Elsworth Todd, founder of the approach to movement known as “ideokinesis.” Featuring lessons written as a dialogue between teacher, student, and elements of the body, Topf’s material is accompanied by twenty-one activities that allow readers to use the book as a self-guided manual. A Guide to a Somatic Movement Practice is a widely applicable entry point into the tradition of experiential anatomy and its mindful centering of the living, breathing body.
Nancy Topf (1942–1998) was a choreographer, dancer, and internationally known teacher who helped pioneer Anatomical Release Technique and developed her own approach known as the Topf Technique/Dynamic Anatomy®. Hetty King, a dance teacher and movement educator based in New York City, is a certified practitioner of the Topf Technique®.
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- Table of Contents
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