March 19-22, 2009  

Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being and Healing Conference


Bradford Keeney

Pre-Conference ½ Day Workshop: Thursday, March 19, 1-5pm, The Ark Dance Studio

Keynote Address: Thursday, March 19, 8pm, Nelson Music Room, Duke University East Campus

Bradford Keeney, Ph.D., has been called “an all-American shaman, the Marco Polo of psychology, and an anthropologist of the spirit” by the editors of Utne Reader. Elders of indigenous traditions throughout the world – including the Kalahari Bushmen, the Caribbean Shakers of St. Vincent, the Guarani Indians of the Amazon, and leaders of the Japanese healing tradition of Seiki Jutsu – have embraced Keeney as an elder and spokesperson for the old ways of ecstatic shaking. Following an academic career as a systems theorist and psychotherapist, he spent over a decade traveling the globe, living with spiritual teachers, shamans, healers, and medicine people who trusted him to share their words with others – modern cultures in need of Elder wisdom. The result of Keeney’s work is one of the broadest and most intense field studies of healing and shamanism, chronicled in the critically acclaimed book series, Profiles of Healing, an eleven-volume encyclopedia of the world’s healing practices. His autobiography, Bushman Shaman, tells how he became a n/om-kxao (healer) with the Kalahari Bushmen. Megan Biesele, Ph.D., former member of the Harvard Kalahari Research Group, writes: “There is no question in the minds of the Bushman healers that Keeney’s strength and purposes are coterminous with theirs. They affirmed his power as a healer.” Keeney presently conducts his clinical work at the Center for Children and Families, Monroe, Louisiana. He also serves as Professor of Transformative Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco; Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and founding director of the Bushman (San) N/om-Kxaosi Ethnographic Project, Institute for Religion and Health, Texas Medical Center, Houston.

WORKSHOP: LIFE FORCE THEATRE: An Introduction to Shaking Ecstasy

The LIFE FORCE THEATRE is a ceremonial performance space where participants work the spirit with ecstatic forms of joyous expression. The LIFE FORCE THEATRE arouses enormous inspiration, rooted in the ancient shaking body practices of the Kalahari Bushmen, an almost extinct Japanese tradition called Seiki Jutsu, the spirited ceremonies of the Caribbean, and the enthusiastic services of sanctified African-American church. Your body is immersed in an amplified current of the life force (or kundalini, chi, holy spirit, or what the Bushmen call n/om), moving you literally to pulse, vibrate, and shake with its resonance. In this ocean of joyous expression, your heart opens and carries you into natural bliss. The LIFE FORCE THEATRE is an ongoing revival of ecstatic praise that is open to everyone. This celebrative workshop welcomes the infusion of shaking joy that can enliven the body, center the mind, and awaken soulful presence. Within this vibrant arena, transformative experiences of all natures are called forth: deep healing, changes of heart, changes of mind, changes of soul.

KEYNOTE SPEECH: SHAKING: The Original Path to Ecstasy and Healing

Can ecstatic expression be the next revolution in spirituality, healing, and creative performance? Forget practically everything you thought to be true about spirituality, healing, creativity, performance, and well-being. Tonight Professor Keeney will take you to the very beginning, to the time “when all things were complete in matters of mystery and spirit.” The spontaneous movement and vocal expression of heightened joy and love comprise the original path to ecstasy and healing. From the Kalahari Bushmen to ecstatic shamans, jazz innovators, and extreme improvisationalists, the teachings of “wild experience” await being reawakened in our everyday lives. Move over meditation: It’s time for shaking ecstasy!


Across The Threshold: Creativity, Being & Healing is sponsored by the Duke University Dance Program, with support from a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, Duke University; The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; and the Robertson Scholars Program Collaboration Fund. Co-Sponsors include the Duke University Department of Theater Studies, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Religion, Graduate Liberal Studies, The Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University Music Department and the Women’s Studies Program.

2009 Conference Keynote Speaker and Performer

Bradford Keeney, Ph.D., will lead a pre-conference workshop and deliver the keynote address on Thursday, March 19, 2009. His field studies on healing and shamanism are chronicled in the critically acclaimed book series, Profiles of Healing, an eleven-volume encyclopedia of the world’s healing practices. He is the author of Shaking Medicine : the Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement. Read more >
Bradford Keeney website:

Vincent Mantsoe, a South African dancer and choreographer, will lead a workshop on Friday, March 20 and present the keynote performance on Saturday, March 21, 2009. Mantsoe merges several movement influences into “Afro-fusion”, drawing on traditional African dance forms with a contemporary approach from modern, ballet and Asian forms such as Tai Chi, Martial Art and traditional Balinese dance. Read more >
Vincent Mantsoe website: