Monday, September 19, 2016

Dance Movement Therapy or Dance Therapy

It might sound as purely theoretical question, but no matter how much academic the inquiry may sound, defining the strategic development is meaning building a framework for our group spiritual growth and expansion. Just several months ago, it started as traditional Dance Moving Therapy class, but eventually it moved to the more leveraged Dace Therapy session, which is commonly called as dance interventions approach in the scientific literature.

At this point, it would be beneficial to discuss the differences between “Dance Movement Therapy” and the “Dance interventions”, as it is currently defined by most researchers. According to the Institute of Dance Movement therapy, dance movement therapy (DMT) is a “form of psychotherapy which uses creative movement and dance as a process to further emotional, physical, cognitive and social integration within a therapeutic relationship.” The institute goes on to say that DMT is “based on the assumption that an individual's movement reflects his/her individual way of thinking and emotional processes”. The institute also stresses that “DMT does not focus on dance - dance steps and movement sequences are very rarely taught during sessions” (IDMT website).

The American Dance Therapy Association also defines DMT as “the psychotherapeutic use of    movement to promote emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of individuals,”
(ADTA website). Whist DMT is practiced in numerous variations of the community settings, it became necessary to make certain meaningful distinction between dance classes, or dance-based interventions, and specific DMT programs and variations.

So, summarizing the DMT definition, it focuses on the therapeutic benefits of the dance and movement, considering the dance and movement as mere tools to enhance the students’ well-being and improve physical, and mostly, emotional state.

At the opposite range of the dance related therapeutic activities can be placed free-style dancing. It also has multiple shapes and variations, like Ecstatic dance, 5 Rhythms dance, Elementals Dance, Biodanza, and many others, but the main idea, and class development, comes from the same sacred source. Frankly, the free form dancing has been around in the history of humankind, in some form or another, for about 30,000 years. Shamans used it as a tool for setting forth what is commonly called "dream change." The primary notion being that by getting into a trance-like state, a shaman could purposefully alter reality as we know it. Another belief was that each of us has, within us, a vast knowledge about ourselves and our place within the universe. This is frequently called the "True Self." Shamans believed the only way to tap into the True Self or this vast knowledge is through Ecstatic Dance.

When we dance, our movement activates its related network territories, lighting up all of our associated memories, readying them to be changed, to be updated to this new time and place. Of course, any dance is good. The beauty of the Wave of 5 Rhythms, for example, is that it’s created to take us through a series of different and distinct rhythms that elicit very different kinds of movement and different associations, all on a path to an experience of selflessness. The rhythms incorporate cycles of birth, death, and rebirth and that she knows that’s true because she experienced the rhythms during the birth of her child. From the standpoint of neuroscience, the experience of rebirth is more than a metaphor.

Defining the place of the freeform dance, we can highlight that it should be considered more as moving meditation, than dance per se, letting the students to go deeper in subconscious through releasing the emotions, letting the body to free up the accumulated tensions and blocks with minimum to zero guidance from the class facilitators.

So, how we are positioning our Dance Therapy classes on the revealed scale? Probably, somewhere in the middle, between the therapy focused movement and self-healing moving meditation. We craft the program of the classes, using the freeform dance as the background self-valuable therapeutic activity to warm the bodies, help opening the souls, and activate the energy flow through the human chakras, while crafting the thematic psychological exercises to explore the particular activities topic, prepared for the class, emotional, mental, behavioral, or somatic.

The classes in series do not require consecutive participation in all the previous activities, and can be attended on the drop-in basis. However, each following class tends to get a minor step forward, extending the horizons and getting deeper in the process of the self-improvement and self-healing. 

Today, Conscious Dancer magazine lists almost 150 variations of ecstatic/freestyle dances offered throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, and Australia. The dance now integrates Hula-Hoops, hip-hop, and Acro yoga with Contact Improvisation and Authentic Movement. Music varies from electronic mixes, kirtan chants, and tribal drums to tango and classical ballet.

In our niche, we are preparing the music sets, not commonly used for the dance therapy classes. It includes retro, Jazz, classic, Spanish guitar, Klezmer, and popular hits of the previous century.

We are yet to get to the global map of Conscious Dancer. But before we do, we need to shape up the approach, establish the direction for development and commonly accepted boundaries, all with love and enthusiasm, of what we are doing, and how we are moving forward. We cannot do that without YOU! Join the interactive dialog and tell us what your vision is, and what can we do to make the class better for YOU!