Expanding the Boundaries of Systems Inquiry through Movement and Music – Online


  • Barbara Widhalm California Institute of Integral Studies


living systems awareness; autopoiesis; creative movement; multiple ways of knowing


I invite us to a playful opportunity to experience the online ISSS conference AS a living system, through movement, music, and interconnection!

Perceiving living systems through movement, music, and heart-to-heart connection may not be the norm for academic conferences in the systems sciences, and yet I consider these ways of knowing an advancement in this transdiscinplinary field, while, at the same time, tapping into ancient ways of systemic interweaving in community.

Biodanza is a system of integration that works with the magic of music, movement, and connection: connection with ourselves, each other, community, and all of life. This modality draws on the teachings of autopoiesis (Capra, 2014; Varela & Maturana, 1991) and other systems-based scholars and practitioners. It emerged under the wings of psychologist, anthropologist and artist Rolando Toro (Biodanza; 2009, 2014) in the 1960s and has since spread all over the world (IBF, 2022). Biodanza sessions are designed to help participants develop capacities for adaptability and fluidity in their lives and to become more attuned to life’s pattern language and self-organizing possibilities. Worldwide, thousands of groups gather each week to practice this Dance of Life.

I invite us to a playful gathering celebrating life online! We will have fun playing games while being in feedback in pairs and small groups, dance freely individually, go inward and practice archetypal gestures of connecting with the sacredness of life, and simply be present with each other in the here-and-now, supported by beautiful music.  

For this workshop, I can envision several different formats.

  • One or more workshops (60 – 120 minutes), with the themes aligned to the conference. Brief sharing before and/or after the session is possible.
  • A series of brief optional exercises in preparation for a roundtable dialog, to help us enter into a more heart-centered field from which to listen and speak in a field of shared inquiry.
  • A short series of exercises (30 - 60 minutes) daily to help us integrate, embody, and harvest the conference experience.

Capra, F. & Luisi, P.L. (2014). The systems view of life: A unifying vision. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.


International Biocentric Foundation (IBF). 2022. Retrieved from: http://biodanza.org/en

Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1991). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. New York, NY: Springer.

Toro, R.A. (2009). Biodanza. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Cuarto Proprio

Toro, R. A. (2014). El principio biocentrico: Nuevo paradigma para las ciencias humanas: La vida como matriz cultural. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Cuarto Proprio

Widhalm, B. (2011). Nature as guide to vibrant learning: A living systems educational framework for learning experience design toward a vibrant sustainable world. A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities with a concentration in Transformative Learning and Change; California Institute of Integral Studies; San Francisco, CA.

Widhalm, B. (2019). En cada vivencia nacen bebes – Biodanza as a living system: An exploration how the Biodanza system mimics life’s organizing principles and how Biodanza facilitators can nurture a group’s living systems awareness and co-creative capacities. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles School of Biodanza.


 living systems awareness; autopoiesis; creative movement; multiple ways of knowing

Author Biography

Barbara Widhalm, California Institute of Integral Studies

Adjunct faculty and program specialist, University of New Mexico Doctoral student in Transformative Learning and Change, California Institute of Integral Studies Sustainability Education Consultant