DMT is based on the theoretical interdependence between movement and emotion. When one dances, it’s usually from outside to inside but in dance therapy, it’s an expression from inside to outside. Rather than escaping, one confronts his/her problems. Introduction to Dance Movement Therapy workshop has been conducted at various places like Atlas Copco, Thermax, BMC Software, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Creaticity Festival. Several introductory workshops are conducted to engage people with the therapeutic effects of movement. The major themes covered are self-awareness, emotional expression, distress, body awareness.
Self Awareness DMT is a holistic process that involves motion, movement, and realization of one’s body which leads to a deeper sense of self-awareness. Through activities and experiencing on their own, participants get insights and are able to learn a lot of new things about oneself. One is enabled to give meaning to one’s own movement. One of the participants shared that by attending a workshop, she realised that she has been escaping change for a long time but it is necessary for her.
Emotional Expression The offer of new possibilities for expression and communication through the use of the body is fundamental to dance movement therapy. DMT fosters self-expression; expression of inner thoughts and feelings in an individual, through freedom of speech, different forms of action and artistic endeavors. Participants are willing to allow themselves to be open enough for people to see their real self. Ko suggested that DMT is a medium to get in touch with different kinds of emotions at different levels and understand emotional reactions. We are habitual to contain our emotions rather than expressing emotions in our daily lives. DMT provides an opportunity for expansion.
Body Awareness Enhancing the internal understanding of the parts that make up one’s body, where they are located, how they feel, and even what they can do is a key element of DMT. The sense that one has of one’s body is a mechanism especially focused in DMT. One becomes aware of the blockages and is able to connect with the body on a deeper level. DMT acts as a medium for the participants to reconnect with their own bodies through movement.
About the Participants
Dance movement therapy is used with clients of all ages, ethnic backgrounds. The workshops have been conducted for 1500-2000 people ranging from 18-40 years in different settings. People have attended the workshop for diverse reasons; to know about themselves, for their passion of dance, to feel relaxed or to explore a new field. Sometimes participants don’t know each other while sometimes they are familiar with each other. There were several ideas and inhibitions that restricted the people from participating in the group. The participants of the workshops varied from being a passionate dancer on one end to being a person who runs away from dance. Some people were also interested to know about the therapeutic aspect of the dance.
Ground rules are set collaboratively by participants and the facilitator(s). A dance movement facilitator creates a holding space for all the participants in the group. They ensure that everyone is comfortable in the group and respects each others’ boundaries. The therapeutic essence of DMT is that the safety of the participants and confidentiality are of utmost importance.
Structure of the session
A session generally begins with an opening ritual followed by a warmup which acts as a body preparatory exercise and helps the participants to get familiar with space. It breaks the ice for a group of heterogeneous participants and makes them actively engage with the process. Then a series of activities and improvisation techniques are done according to the central theme and objective of the session. Next, a cool down is done to bring back the participants to normal pace before leaving the room. Lastly, sharing and processing of the session are done to understand how participants can connect the things experienced in the session with their daily lives.
Use of Props It adds a fun element while allowing participants to let down their guard and overcome inhibitions. They help the participants to be creative and be more enthusiastic.
Impact of the session
The psychotherapeutic use of movement furthers the emotional, intellectual, physical, and social integration of the individual. Based on the feedback collected from the participants and the observations of the facilitator, the following is the impact and experience of the participants in the sessions.
Emotional Participants used a movement as the medium to express and process their ongoing emotional experience. The process is joyful and cathartic for the group. Participants are in direct contact with their inner emotional life and personal meanings that is derived from body-felt experiencing. While engaging in the group work, participants have reported that they forget about the worries and daily hassles of their lives.
“I could relive my childhood days and connect with myself.”
-Participant in DMT workshop, Pune University
Physical The psychotherapeutic use of movement allows the participants to build their movement repertoire and enables them to express themselves through movement. It also helps in enhancing body coordination and expands the range of motion.
Dance movement therapy fosters bodily experiences and their emotional expression.
Social The activities have been helpful for facilitating interpersonal interaction. It helps them in building rapport with group members and fosters a sense of belongingness and attachment.
“I learned how to communicate non verbally.”
-Participant in DMT workshop, Creaticity Festival
Intellectual Participating in DMT workshops has facilitated personal learning and self-awareness for the participants. Participants also improve their cognitive abilities by practically applying the techniques learned in the sessions. Creativity is the essence of DMT.
Participants were able to identify diverse components of the session that are useful in their daily lives. One lady shared that she’ll dance with her husband when she wants to argue. Another participant shared that the meditation technique learned in the session will be easy to practice in her daily routine and for one of the participants, the activities conducted in the session will help her in her professional space also.
The imagery used in the session for cool down appealed differently to each participant. It was interesting to know that even though the activity was not about embodiment, one of the participant was attuned to the imagery as if it was her. She was comfortable vocalising her viewpoint even when all the other participants were sharing a different perspective. Similarly, one of the participants shared that he gave new meaning to the imagery and then followed the instructions of the facilitator regarding visualisation. He was comfortable with the process by changing the imagery to his suitability. Thus, a facilitator can keep the imagery open for the participants to choose for themselves. Different groups have a different way of responding to activities. Some groups are more enthusiastic and open while some are more reserved and hesitant to move freely. In order to run an efficient group, a facilitator must be creative and know how to do improvisation to cater to all the participants.
“All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”
Ko, K.S. Am J Dance Ther (2016) 38: 358. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10465-016-9223-3