Dance/movement therapy (DMT) can be an avenue for creating a symbolic transformation of individual, or community experience. DMT can use the same characteristics of weight, balance, and dynamics as do everyday actions such as walking, working, playing, or communication. Out of our everyday and ordinary motor activities, DMT can select, heighten or subdue, gestures/postures and body movement to achieve something which transcends the ordinary.
For instance as a teen I learned a West African Maize Dance from the Arthur Hall African American Dance company. This dance uses the movements of planting, tending, and harvesting of maize as the core elements of the dance. Taking these agrarian movements and enacting them outside of their usual context begins the process of symbolic transformation. As the movements are performed an element of artistic quality begins to emerge and becomes evident in the transitional movements that occur between planting, tending, and harvesting. This Maize Dance combines the ordinary with the extra ordinary; taking the everyday actions and ritualizing them in a way that expresses and celebrates an important aspect of West African culture.
Symbolic transformation can take place on an individual level as well. Once, working with a client an opportunity arose to explore the bodily expression of sadness; i.e. what are you doing/feeling physically when you are sad. The client took the ordinary movements/gestures/postures of their sadness and made them bigger and smaller, connecting, un-connecting and reconnecting them as they slowly evolved into a pattern. As this client continued with their exploration a transformation occurred and new movements, suggestive of another feeling emerged. Asking the client to add words to their exploration of the new movements provided a clearer understanding of sadness.
Enacting movements/postures/gestures outside of their usual context allows the possibility of experiencing in way that can be more; objective and subjective. Making bigger and smaller, connecting and reconnecting, movement and feelings emerge uncensored, allowing a different understanding of the original feeling and all that surrounds it. The therapeutic process of dance movement therapy can guide the mover as they explore, uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary.
I am a group therapist who generally works with adults. I facilitate groups using creative arts, processing oriented, or psycho-education. Sometimes I actually sort of combine these in to a psycho-educational process oriented creative group. I provide info (psycho-educational, we talk about it from a personal perspective, and than create something out of the discussion.
One thing I have notice over the decades is that when people are stressed or overwhelmed about events in their life they tend towards a negative self perception. Below is a handout that I often use. One way of using this is to start out discussing what is positive self esteem, how you get it, maintain it, and why bother with it. I than pass out the hand out and folks write and than we share it in the group or in groups of 2 or 3 folks.
Positive Statements about you
- I like myself because:
- I’m an expert at:
- I feel good about:
- My friends would tell you I have a great:
- My favorite place is:
- I’m loved by:
- People say I am a good:
- I’ve been told I have: