Dance Therapy

Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) uses free movement, props and music to bring out pent up emotions storied in our bodies. 

The American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual. 

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) in layman terms means the use of movement to bring about a release. It essentially helps in catharsis of pent up emotions that are stored in our body. It benefits both mental and physical health in various ways. It helps to attain a mind-body coordination and bring about a balance between the two. It basically helps to reduce stress, disease prevention, mood management, self esteem, self awareness, body image muscular strength, coordination, mobility and decreased muscular tension among many others. DMT can be used for all populations and with individuals, couples, families and groups.

Why DMT?

  • Promotes self awareness, self esteem and provides a safe space to express feelings 
  • Body and mind are interconnected so that a change in one impacts the other
  • Movement can express and bring out aspects of personality
  • Non verbal means help to communicate part of therapeutic relationship
  • Movements can be symbolic and can represent unconscious material/processes
  • Movement improvisation can bring about new ways of being.

History of DMT

Dance movement therapy, like any other art forms, did not develop in thin air. Many different cultures, influences, histories have contributed to the growth of dance therapy. Many other fields like anthropology, non verbal communication, psychiatry, psychology have contributed to the speed of this field. 

USA in 1900’s was a period of Classical ballet. Classical ballet was the most remarkable dance form for the elite class in that time. But it soon lost its fame and began to deteriorate. This led to many changes in the dance culture, leading to the beginning of an exciting phase in history. It brought in a wave.

The history of dance follows four waves: 

  • Wave I: In 1905, Isodora Duncan, a pioneer of modern dance broke away from the theme and structure of ballet. She, alongwith her contemporaries designed dances that were not close to ballet. She got away from the themes and designed her own. She addressed contemporary issues and brought together a dance filled with emotions, stories andimagery. She also changed the way of dressing of all the dancers. She talked about personal movement and language. Soon her kind of dance gained importance and other people began to embrace her philosophies and prinicples. It eventually came to be known as modern dance in USA. 

Mary Wingman reinforced same views. She introduced morphic fields. Then the concept of expressionistic dance was introduced. The concept of expressionistic dance was to fuse form and content together and return to their own lives. Martha Graham came up with her own technique. Her forte was contraction and expansion. This was the end of the first wave. 

  • Wave II: In 1940’s, during the World War II, people went through a lot of war trauma. People needed psychiatric help . To help the people, group therapies were introduced. Drama, dance, art, music and other such therapies were used as alternative methods to relieve them from war trauma. 
  • Wave III: In 1942, Marian Chace, the pioneer of dance therapy took over. She was initially invited by St. Elizabeth hospital to help the war traumatised people by using dance as a meduim. She observed that people responded to music and dance and started verbalising their problems. It was then that she decided to research deeper into it and practice dance therapy more profoundly. It was in this hospital that dance therapy was introduced and the use of tranquilisers was proposed and used to pacify the patients. 
  • Wave IV: It was in this wave that dance therapy started professionally. In 1970, Marian Chace became the President of American Dance Therapy Association. She taught people the techniques, methods of dance therapy and introduced courses in Dance Movement Therapy. 

Due to this wave in dance therapy, hundreds and thousands of people have benefitted from this therapy. It definitely has brought in a lot of energy, enthusiasm and the zeal in people who really want to make a difference by the use of dance and movement.

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