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Dance: Movement Therapy

Merging motion with medicine for nearly seven decades, this field offers a big payoff for practitioners and patients alike.


ance/movement therapy is an established modality based upon the idea that “the body and the mind are inseparable.” Nancy Beardall, Ph.D., dance therapy coordinator at Lesley University, describes current educational trends. “The 21st century brings a national focus on holistic health practices, prevention, and wellness programs in education that include body awareness and dance as well as the physical, social, and emotional needs of an aging population.” The first wave of dance/ movement therapy (DMT) in the U.S. began in 1942 when dancer and choreographer Marion Chace began giving classes to patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., and word of the positive effects began to spread among psychiatrists and physicians. More than two decades later, Chace would become the first president of the American Dance Therapy Association that she helped establish in 1966. DMT is a paradigm shift in Western medicine because it approaches healing as a cocreative process shared by the therapist and patient. With the view that movement reflects personality, DMT encourages improvisation as a way to experiment with new ways of being. Angela Gallo, director of the dance program at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., sees a growing interest in dance/ movement therapy among undergraduates there. “The field is becoming much more popular—as things like yoga and Pilates are becoming mainstream and entering the gyms, there’s a growing awareness of the mind-body connection. We’re trying to give the students who are interested in doing something with dance besides performing or choreographing another option as a career pathway.” Ellen Hill, MMT, director of the dance therapy department at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, has exciting news for students. “There are more positions available that can be filled. In the past two years all of our graduates have immediately found jobs.” The scope of DMT goes far beyond


conscious dancer | spring 2009

centering the body and reducing stress. From holistic birth preparation to elder care, DMT is helpful through all stages of life. Individuals challenged by autism, learning disabilities, or mental retardation connect on a sensory-motor level to expand skills and increase cognitive ability. People with disabilities, including those who are blind or deaf, are able to reduce feelings of isolation and communicate better. DMT is also used to treat Parkinson’s disease, posttraumatic stress disorder, bulimia, and more. Because the areas where DMT is useful are so varied, practitioners are in demand in a wide range of settings. From daycare facilities to nursing homes and medical, educational, and rehabilitation centers, licensed therapists unite body and mind, using dance and movement to create better lives.

D a n c e T h e r a p y. e d u Antioch University in Keene, New Hampshire complements their MA program with a minor in counseling to broaden job opportunities. Center For Movement Education and Research in California offers the only DMT Alternate Route Trainings west of Colorado that adhere to ADTA guidelines. Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, excels in preparing undergraduates for advanced studies in counseling and movement therapy. Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, offers an ADTA-approved Masters program as well as a graduate certificate in Laban Movement Analysis. Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides clinical education experience through university affiliates in the tri-state area. Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a multi-modal program that encourages the use of the arts as a therapeutic tool. Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, offers a somatic counseling psychology program that has been ADTA-approved since 1987. Pratt Institute in New York City was recently listed among the accredited universities in the U.S. with the highest incomes for graduates.

Energy: Movement Arts Choreographing our DNA with focused intention and a shift towards love.


pigenetic medicine is a new term coined by author and researcher Dawson Church, Ph.D., to describe healing techniques that operate upon or over (epi) the control level of the gene. These methods allow for dancing with energy on the deepest and most subtle of levels. In his book The Genie in Your Genes, Church says, “We are conscious energy systems capable of controlling our genes at a molecular level.” Energy medicine and energy psychology are fields of practice where the focus is on intention and consciousness first, rather than the symptom-based approach of traditional medicine. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), for example, starts with an affirmation and then taps acupressure points and conducts brief sequences of eye movements. Researchers understand that the tapping stimulates piezoelectric current (electricity due to pressure) through energy meridians in the body. Epigenetic medicine takes the view that healing is a process, not an event. Modern science has confirmed the presence of a class of genes called Immediate Early Genes (IEGs),

Profile for Conscious Dancer

CD Magazine #8  

Dance Therapy, Energy Medicine, TakeTina, Dancing & Fashion, Sound Healing, and Superfood Mixes

CD Magazine #8  

Dance Therapy, Energy Medicine, TakeTina, Dancing & Fashion, Sound Healing, and Superfood Mixes